God condescends in the Holy Eucharist to bring us ecstatic joy.
In the Holy Eucharist, divine love restrains omnipotence; infinite justice ceases to urge its inexorable claims on sinners. In this mystery, the infinite God is bound by space; the Eternal God is conditioned by time; the divine immensity descends to our littleness; the light of God’s unspeakable beauty and majestic glory, which floods Heaven, filling the saints with rapturous delight, conceals its radiant splendor before our weak eyes, and adapts itself to the dimness of our sight, which can behold the unseen only “through a glass in a dark manner.”
In this mystery, no sacrifice is too great, because every attribute of the infinite Lover of men yields to His intense longing to be one with souls, to thrill them with ecstatic joy, “to inebriate them with the plenty of His house,” to lavish upon them His divinity by a condescension so immeasurable, and humiliation so profound, as to elude the grasp of the keenest of even angelic minds. (6-7)
What wonder, then, that we feel in our moral lives effects so signal after Holy Comunion, an overflow of indefinable joy, a consuming heavenly sweetness, an almost miraculous transformation, an exulting consciousness of a new life rising up within us and pervading our souls. A yet greater wonder is the presence of the eucharistic God in us in a nature glorified, but nevertheless like our own, for He assumed our flesh. If recollected, we fell keenly the presence of the sacramental Savior! (7)
What of vista of sublime thought this mystery unfolds to the reflective mind! How it visualizes the sanctity that should adorn the soul once the eucharistic King enters into it! He becomes one with us to supernaturalize every faculty, every thought, every desire, every sense and every act. He strives to rivet our attention on heaven; to free us in our struggle for salvation from the most abject servitude of our worst enemy; to annihilate unmortified self, that He may wholly preoccupy us, for when he takes possession of us, His mind must be ours. (Transforming Your Life Through the Eucharist, Kane, 8)
His presence brings peace, wonder, awe, and humility.
This intimate fellowship with Christ, the source of joy, delights us and gives us peace and rest. This, in turn, is accompanied by increasing wonderment mingled with salutary fear, because the better we know Him, the more His presence fills us with awe, and the more His holiness haunts us with a lively sense of our unworthiness, which forces us to rid ourselves of all that is earthly, that we may welcome and entertain our God with all our powers, under the spell of the radiant beauty of His majestic Person. (Transforming Your Life Through the Eucharist, Kane, 34)
Before Communion, we ask for deep love, joy, and faith to prepare us for a heavenly beauty.
With an ardor that dilates our hearts with exquisite joy we will constrain Him to ennoble our thoughts and desires so that we may embrace Christ with a faith that moves mountains, and with a love supremely sacrificial. Then, will we glorify our hidden God, and our souls will be His home until the shadows flee away, and we return with the garnered fruits of infinite, eternal love to contemplate forever the inexhaustible beauty that we adored under the Eucharistic veil. (Transforming Your Life Through the Eucharist, Kane, 123-124)
Post-Communion is occupied with being captivated by Jesus within our soul.
In Holy Communion, we are alone with God. Blissful solitude, where the soul can rise above the world, and with mute wonder, with breast breathless adoration, bask in the eloquently solemn silence of the divine presence. In this solitude, where the voice of God is most articulate, we can support and sustain our conscious weakness with the strength of the personal revelation of the sacramental God.
Our doubt and fear will vanish before Him who alone can satisfy the insuppressible longings of the soul. With inconceivable generosity, Christ can grant all we ask, and more, for the incapacity of man cannot limit the bounty of God. In adapting Himself, however, to our limitations, He veils His eternal glory with the appearances of bread and wine, so as not to overpower us.
The period of thanksgiving should be for us, hushed in the bosom of the hidden Christ, one of wrapped recollectedness, of wondering contemplation that marvels at the infinite perfections of Him whom we have received, of faith that renders these perfections visible, and of speechless amazement at the greatness of the gift.
Our every faculty should be under the absolute control of the awe-inspiring Presence, the ears of our soul docilely attentive to the voice of God, the eyes of our soul, enamored of divine fascination, feasting upon our best Benefactor. (Transforming Your Life Through the Eucharist, Kane, 103)
God steps out of His hiddenness.
Here [in the Eucharist], at last, is right worship, ever longed for and yet surpassing our powers: adoration “in spirit and truth”. The torn curtain of the Temple is the curtain torn between the world and the countenance of God. In the pierced heart of the Crucified, God’s own heart is opened up—here we see who God is and what he is like. Heaven is no longer locked up. God has stepped out of his hiddenness. (The Spirit of the Liturgy, Ratzinger, 47-48)
Incomprehensibility of Christ in the Eucharist
How admirable is Your work, O Lord! How great Your power! How infallible Your truth! For You spoke and all things were made, and this, which You commanded, was done. It is a wonderful thing, worthy of faith, overpowering human understanding, that You, O Lord, my God, true God and man, are contained whole and entire under the appearance of a little bread and wine, and without being consumed are eaten by him who receives You!
You, the Lord of the universe, Who have need of nothing, have willed to dwell in us by means of Your Sacrament. Keep my heart and body clean, so that with a joyous and spotless conscience I may be able often to celebrate Your Mysteries and to receive for my eternal salvation what You have ordained and instituted for Your special honor and as an everlasting memorial. (Imitation of Christ, A Kempis, 219)
God’s love in the Eucharist gives us joy.
Rejoice, my soul, and give thanks to God for having left you so noble of a gift and so special a consolation in this valley of tears. As often as you renew this Mystery and receive the Body of Christ, so often do you enact the work of redemption and become a sharer in all the merits of Christ, for the love of Christ never grows less and the wealth of His mercy is never exhausted. (The Imitation of Christ, a Kempis, 220)
Beauty: the sweetness and fire of Jesus’ presence.
Who, indeed, can humbly approach the fountain of sweetness and not carry away a little of it? Or who, standing before a blazing fire does not feel some of its heat? You are a fountain always filled with superabundance! You are a fire, ever burning, that never fails! (The Imitation of Christ, a Kempis, 225)
The hope of seeing God’s face unveiled as we see Him with spiritual eyes in the Eucharist.
My eyes could not bear to behold You in Your own divine brightness, nor could the whole world stand in the splendor of the glory of Your majesty. In veiling Yourself in the Sacrament…You have regard for my weakness.
In truth, I possess and adore Him Whom the angels adore in heaven—I as yet by faith, they face to face unveiled. I must be content with the light of the true faith and walk in it until the day of eternal brightness dawns and the shadow of figures passes away. When, moreover, that which is perfect shall have come, the need of sacraments shall cease, for the blessed in heavenly glory need no healing sacrament.
Rejoicing endlessly in the presence of God, beholding His glory face to face transformed from their own brightness to the brightness of the ineffable Deity, they taste the Word of God made flesh, as He was in the beginning and will remain in eternity. (The Imitation of Christ, a Kempis, 240)
Strength and holiness come through frequent reception.
My soul longs for Your Body; my heart desires to be united with You. Give me Yourself~it is enough; for without You there is no consolation. Without You I cannot exist, without Your visitation I cannot live. I must often come to You, therefore, and receive the strength of my salvation lest, deprived of this heavenly food, I grow weak on the way.
Once, most merciful Jesus, while preaching to the people and healing their many ills, You said: “I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way.” Deal with likewise, You Who have left Yourself in this Sacrament for the consolation of the faithful. You are sweet refreshment to the soul, and he who eats You worthily will be a sharer in, and an heir to, eternal glory. (The Imitation of Christ, A Kempis, 221)
Eucharist &Scripture: food & light.
I feel there are, especially necessary for me in this life, two things without which its miseries would be unbearable. Confined here in this prison of the body I confess I need these two, food and light. Therefore, You have given me in my weakness Your sacred Flesh to refresh my soul and body, and You have set Your word as the guiding light for my feet. Without them I could not live aright, for the word of God is the light of my soul and Your sacrament is the Bread of Life.
These also may be called the two tables, one here, one there, in the treasure house of holy Church. One is the table of the holy altar, having the holy Bread that is the precious Body of Christ. The other is the table of divine law, containing holy doctrine that teaches all the true faith and firmly leads them within the veil, the Holy of holies. (The Imitation of Christ, A Kempis, 241 ¶ 2-3)
The soul’s love and the intellect’s eye, see Jesus in the Eucharist.
How is this Sacrament to be truly tasted, seen, and touched? With the sentiment of the soul. With what eye is It to be seen? With he eye of the intellect if within it is the pupil of the most Holy Faith. (The Dialogue of Saint Catherine of Siena, 142)
[The soul] touches with the hand of love that which the eye of her intellect has seen with the pupil of Holy Faith; and with her palate—that is, with fiery desire—she tastes My burning Charity, My ineffable Love, with which I have made her worthy to receive the tremendous mystery of this Sacrament and the grace which is contained therein. (The Dialogue of Saint Catherine of Siena, 144)
The moment of consecration prompts our homage, our silence.
The moment when the Lord comes down and transforms bread and wine to become his Body and Blood cannot fail to stun, to the very core of their being, those who participate in the Eucharist by faith and prayer. When this happens, we cannot do other than fall to our knees and greet him.
The Consecration is the moment of God’s great action in the world for us. It draws our eyes and hearts on high. For a moment the world is silent, everything is silent, and in that silence we touch the eternal—for one beat of the heart we step out of time into God’s being-with-us. (Collected, Works, Ratzinger, 134)
The sublimity, the intimacy, the condescension of Christ in the Eucharist and in Communion.
When you see the Lord sacrificed and lying before you in the high priest, standing over the sacrifice and praying, and all who partake being tinctured with that precious blood, can you think that you are still among men and still standing on earth? Are you not at once transported to heaven?
Oh, the loving kindness of God to men! He who sits above with the Father is at that moment held in our hands, and gives himself to those who wish to clasp and embrace him—which they do, all of them, with their eyes. (St. John Chrysostom, quoted in, Eucharist, Feingold, 166)
God is near: waiting for us in the Blessed Sacrament
Today this should once more sink into our hearts: God is near. God knows us. God is waiting for us in Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Let us not leave him waiting in vain! Let us not, through distraction and lethargy, pass by the greatest and most important thing life offers us. … Let us not pass it heedlessly by. Let us take time, in the course of the week, in passing, to go in and spend a moment with the Lord who is so near. (God is Near Us, Ratzinger, 103)
Natural food becomes our food for eternal life
Common bread is lifted up from the altar; the immortal Flesh of Christ is set down upon it. What was natural food has become spiritual food. What was the momentary refreshment of man has been made th eternal and unfailing nourishment of angels. (St. Stephen, Bishop of Autun, Tractatus de Sacramento Altaris, 172; Adoration, Guernsey, 60)