30 May 2024

Bishop Challoner's Meditations ~ Friday Within the Octave of Corpus Christi


Consider first, that all the sacraments are sacred and mysterious signs of divine graces and of heavenly truths, which are concealed under these outward appearances, and through them are conveyed to our souls; but that the blessed Eucharist in particular, as it is the greatest of all the sacraments, contains more and greater mysteries than any of the rest. Here our Lord gives himself to us in quality of our food; that as sin and death, and all our miseries, came to us originally by eating of the forbidden fruit, so grace and life, and all our good, should come to us by eating here of the fruit of the tree of life, which he has left us under the form of bread, a form as being the most expressive to us both of his real and his mystical body. ‘He is the living bread that came down from heaven for the life of the world,’ John vi. 51,52. And his body has all the qualities of bread in regard to our souls, inasmuch as it is the true food and nourishment of our souls unto life everlasting. Therefore this form of bread is the most proper to express to us the true living bread which it contains, namely, the true and real body of Christ, and its qualities and effects in being the food, nourishment, strength, and life of our souls; and at the same time is also most proper to express to us the mystical body of Christ, which is his church; and the union of concord and charity by which all its members, like so many grains of corn, are so closely united, as if it were one bread, by means of the holy Communion, according to that of St. Paul, i Cor. x. 17, ‘We being many, are one bread, one body, all that partake of one bread.’

Consider 2ndly, that in this most holy sacrament and sacrifice, the death and passion of the Son of God is also in a lively manner represented to us, and all the mysteries of our redemption are solemnly celebrated; inasmuch as, by the separate consecration of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, the true Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, presents himself to his Father upon our altars, under the figure of death, that is under the sacramental veils, which represent his body as delivered up, broken, and slain for us, and his blood as shed for us. So that here the whole passion and death of Christ is solemnly acted as a most sacred tragedy, by himself in person; here that death which is the fountain of all our good, is shown forth in such a manner as not only to be kept up in our remembrance, but also to live in us, and bring forth always in us the fruit of life; here the blood of Christ most powerfully pleads and intercedes for us. Here, in fine, not only the passion and death but also the victorious resurrection and triumphant ascension of our crucified King are solemnly commemorated. O my soul, admire and adore these divine mysteries.

Consider 3rdly, that the participation of the body and blood of Christ, under the sacramental veils, is no less mysterious in the mass - benefits it ensures to us with relation to our redemption and salvation. For here we receive an assurance of the share we have in our Redeemer, and in the sacrifice of his cross. Here we are mystically incorporated in him, and are made partakers of his spirit. Here we are admitted to that blood which is the seal of the new covenant; importing the remission of our sins, and our reconciliation with God, through the death of his Son together with an admittance to all graces and blessings through him. Here, in fine, we have a most certain pledge of a happy resurrection and everlasting life, and of an eternal enjoyment in our blessed country of him who thus lovingly gives himself to us in this place of banishment.

Conclude ever to approach with all reverence and love these mysteries so full of majesty and love. The high priest, in the Old Testament, was but once a year to enter into the inner sanctuary, called the Holy of Holies, and then not without divers purifications and sacrifices, and a solemn fast of all Israel. See then how pure, how holy, thou oughtest to be, who art so often admitted, by the means of this heavenly sacrament, into the sanctuary of the New Testament, that is, to these divine mysteries sanctified by the presence of Jesus Christ himself, the true Holy of Holies, of which that Jewish sanctuary was but a shadow.

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