Eighth in a Series on the Reasons of the Eucharist
Fr. Albert Tesnière, S.S.S.
The Eucharist is the Aliment of Divine Life in Souls
Adore, before your eyes, behind the veil of the sacramental species, really present and living, God and man both together, who in the days of His earthly life pronounced these words:
I am the Bread of Life; he that cometh to Me shall not hunger. I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this Bread he shall live forever; and the Bread which I will give is My Flesh for the life of the world. He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood abideth in Me and I in him. He that eateth Me the same also shall live by Me.
Listen with the joy of life restored, of life assured, to these words which promise you, with so much certitude, the most beautiful and enviable of lives - Divine Life itself.
All life is in God as in its only source, and when from this universal source issue floods of sentient and rational life, there remains still in God a personal life of His own, a life of holiness, of light, of love, and of infinite happiness. Nothing obliges our Creator to add the gift of this better life to the gift of natural life. Nevertheless, our soul is radically capable of it; and as the first created human soul, that of our first father, was gifted and enriched by the gratuitous goodness of the Creator, our own soul joins to its radical aptitude to possess the Divine Life the imperishable remembrance of the lost possession, an immense desire to recover it, profound sorrow, and an incurable feeling of exhaustion at being deprived of it.
Now, only He who gave this Divine Life the first time can restore it to us; God the Father bestowed the first gift, God the Son restores it. We derive the germ of it when we are by baptism washed in His blood; but in order to preserve so precious a life, to develop it, to render it actual, valiant, and fruitful in holy works, to appreciate all the joys which it contains, there must be an aliment, a regular growth: it is the Bread of Life, the Bread of the Eucharist.
Oh! adore then the Divine Life, the Holy Life, the Happy Life, the Eternal Life which comes to you, which is promised you, given and assured by the Bread of the Eucharist. Adore Jesus Christ, made the living Bread and the Sacrament of divine life in our souls.
If we understand both the horror of death and the benefit of Divine Life for the soul, how shall we be able to refrain from continually blessing, with feelings of the most profound gratitude, the thought which conceived the Eucharist, the heart which gave it to us, the love which preserves it for us?
God is the life of the soul, even as the soul is the life of the body. To be born to natural life without arriving at supernatural life, after God had destined us for it, is to remain uncrowned, it is to give a stalk without a flower, a flower without fruit. More than this, to remain as we were, destitute of life on account of original sin and the sins which we fatally add to it, is to be condemned to degradation, to chastisement, to the privation of all happiness, to estrangement from God, and to be exposed to His anger. Is not this to be dead, and to have incurred death, which means eternal, horrible death?
Well, then! Let us breathe, let us hope, let us rejoice! Behold the Bread which gives growth to life, which repairs its waste, which shapes its course, which facilitates its exercise, which preserves and keeps forever the treasure of it. It is the Bread of Life, the Bread of the Eucharist! He who eats of it faithfully will never die; if he fall for a moment beneath the blows of sin, he will revive through the virtue of this Bread.
Oh Bread of Life, communicating to my weakness all the energy, all the virtues of the life of God Himself! Oh Aliment of Immortality, which fixes my perishable life upon the immutable rock of eternity! Oh Bread of Honor and of Glory, which raises me up from the abyss of nothingness and of the most profound abjection of sin, to give me access with the princes of the heavenly court to the table of the King of kings! Oh Bread of Peace, of Consolation, of Light and of Love, which gives to me a foretaste of the happiness which I shall attain if I allow myself faithfully to be led by Thy influence and Thy power! Be Thou loved, blessed, praised forever by grateful humanity!
Has the world given this cordial welcome to the gift of life? And how do we ourselves receive it? Does it produce in us these fruits of a holy and divine life?
Alas! Some, and they are very numerous, do not allow themselves to believe or to understand these benevolent advances of the Saviour; they keep aloof from His table; they lead an animal life, full of accidents, a rational life mingled with sorrow and with faults; but they leave their soul in death; they close their ears through pride, they refuse the Bread of Purity, through perversity they repel the best gift of God, in which He gives Himself!
Others, more guilty perhaps, and at any rate more base, desire to unite the Divine Life with a guilty life, to eat at the table of God and at that of demons, receiving, without the faith which enlightens, without the love which purifies, the Living Bread into their soul dead from sin. They only receive from it a greater measure of the divine anger, which buries them still more lamentably in death!
And I? Do I have the life of God? Do my thoughts find in His thoughts their rule of faith? Is He my supreme love, loved only for Himself and regulating all my other loves? And if I do not live by the life of God, is it because I do not nourish myself sufficiently with the Bread of the Divine Life, or that I do not partake aright, not bringing the dispositions requisite for receiving it, and not corresponding faithfully enough with its vital influences?
It is a sorrowful subject for examination, which, however, must be frequently approached and thoroughly discussed, for it is a question of living by the Eucharist or dying spite of the Bread of Life.
Repeat to yourself the words of the ardent desires of those who listened to the promise of the marvellous Bread of Life: "Lord, give us always of this bread." The Divine Master has introduced them into the formula of the most excellent of all prayers, "Give us this day our daily bread." Then from pity for all languishing souls, for all the hungry, the sick, and the dead which surround you, deprived of the Bread of Life through their own fault or from ignorance, repeat to Jesus in union with His apostles:
"Lord, behold in the midst of this desert of life the crowd which has nothing to eat that can really nourish it. Have pity on it!"
Practice assiduity in receiving the Bread of Life with diligent preparation and faithful correspondence to its divine influences.