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Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

The charity of Christ

From book "Spiritual Readings for all days of the year from texts of Saint Alphonsus of Liguori"... Why does Jesus so ardently desire that we should ...

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Spiritual Readings

Saint Alphonsus

Why does Jesus so ardently desire that we should receive Him in the Holy Communion? It is because He takes delight in being united with each of us. By Holy Communion, Jesus is really united to our soul and to our body, and we are then united to Jesus. He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me and I in him (Jo. vi. 57). Thus, after Communion, we are, says St. John Chrysostom, one body and one flesh with Jesus Christ. Hence St. Laurence Justinian exclaims " Oh, how wonderful is Thy love, O Lord Jesus, Who hast wished to incorporate us in such a manner with Thy Body that we should have one heart and one soul inseparably united with Thee!" Thus, to every soul that receives the Eucharist, the Lord says what He once said to His beloved servant Margaret of Ypres — "Behold, my daughter, the close union made between me and Thee! Love Me, then, and let us remain forever united in love; let us nevermore be separated." This union between Jesus Christ and us is, according to St. John Chrysostom, the effect of the Charity of Christ towards us.

But, O Lord, such intimate union with man is not suited to Thy Divine majesty. But love seeks not reason; it goes not where it should, but where it is drawn. St. Bernardine of Sienna says that, in giving Himself for our food, Jesus Christ loved us to the last degree; because He united Himself entirely to us, as food is united to those who eat it. The same doctrine has been beautifully expressed by St. Francis de Sales: "No action of the Saviour can be more loving or more tender than the institution of the Holy Eucharist, in which Jesus, as it were, annihilates Himself, and takes the form of food, to unite Himself to the souls and bodies of His faithful servants."

Hence there is nothing from which we can draw so much fruit as the Holy Communion. St. Denis teaches that the Most Holy Sacrament has greater efficacy to sanctify souls than all other spiritual means. St. Vincent Ferrer says that a soul derives more profit from one Communion than from fasting for a week on bread and water. The Eucharist is, according to the holy Council of Trent, a medicine which delivers us from daily faults, and preserves us from mortal sins. Jesus Himself has said that they who eat His Flesh and drink His Blood, which is the Fountain of life, shall receive permanently the life of grace. He that eateth me, the same shall also live by me (Jo. vi. 58). Innocent III teaches that by the Passion Jesus Christ delivers us from the sins we have committed, and by the Eucharist saves us from committing others. According to St. John Chrysostom, the Holy Communion inflames us with the fire of Divine love, and makes us objects of terror to the devil. "The Eucharist is a fire which inflames us, so that, like lions breathing fire, we may retire from the altar, being made terrible to the devil." In explaining the words of the Spouse in the Canticles: He brought me into the cellar of wine; He set in order charity in me (Cant. ii. 4), St. Gregory says that the Communion is this cellar of wine in which the soul is so inebriated with Divine Charity that she forgets and loses sight of all earthly things.

Some will say: "I do not communicate often; because I am cold in Divine love." In answer to them Gerson asks: Will you, then, because you feel cold, remove from the fire? When you are tepid you should more frequently approach this Sacrament. St. Bonaventure says: "Trusting in the mercy of God, though you feel tepid, approach: let him who thinks himself unworthy reflect that the more infirm he feels himself, the more he requires a physician." And St. Francis de Sales writes: "Two sorts of persons ought to communicate often: the perfect, in order to persevere in holiness; and the imperfect, to arrive at perfection."

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To thee do we sigh, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears

Saturday - Fifteenth Week after Pentecost