Fr. Albert Tesniére, S.S.S.
The Eucharist is the Pledge and the Foretaste of Heaven.
Adore, behind the cloud of the sacred species, as in a heaven which has drawn nearer to earth, and where He wills to reside that He may be more accessible to us, the King of angels, the Sovereign who reigns radiant and triumphant in the heaven of His glory.
He is the same here in the sweet light of the Eucharistic cloud, so well suited to the weakness of our eyes, as in the splendor of His throne in the highest heaven. He is here to give us the pledge and the foretaste of what we shall possess in the heaven of His glory.
He is the pledge, that is to say, the promise, the assurance, the agreement to give us His Paradise. Has He not in fact said: "He who eats My flesh has eternal life;" "I am the Bread of heaven, he who believes in Me shall not die"? He has therefore taken an engagement upon Himself; the Eucharist guarantees the truth of His word; it publishes it everywhere, and keeps in violable its integrity.
Besides, having given Himself, as He does in the Eucharist, He gives Himself necessarily afterwards in heaven. What is heaven? The possession of Jesus, the perpetual and assured possession of Jesus, a mysterious reception of Jesus, without reserve and without end; He in us perfectly, we completely in Him behold heaven! But what is the Eucharist? The possession of Jesus, the permanent presence of Jesus; the sacramental reception of Jesus. The mode differs, it is true; here Jesus is veiled, and we are powerless to possess Him perfectly, and to be ever present with Him; and even in the eating, faith alone enjoys Him, whilst the senses remain outside His contact, often incommoding faith, clouding its glance, and impairing its flight. But, nevertheless, the foundation is the same, and Jesus gives Himself here as He does there, really.
Have we any reason then to be astonished that the Eucharist should be the pledge of heaven? Having bestowed on us this first gift, cannot the Saviour afterwards give Himself in heaven? Appreciate this truth, and adore Him who wills to engage Himself as irrevocably to us as we are inconstant to Him.
The foretaste - it is more than a pledge; it is an anticipated participation in the blessing promised and repeated; it is already a beginning of enjoyment of all of which the full possession is reserved for us. What is heaven from this point of view? The perfect possession of all good things. Do not the Scriptures call the Eucharist "the Bread which contains all delights"? And does not Jesus also say that it is the "Bread of heaven"? Cannot then the divine beatitude allow itself to be tasted in the Bread of God, seraphic joys in the Bread of Angels, something, finally, of what it is in heaven in the Bread of heaven?
Ah, it is not this food that is to blame for so much misery in this valley of tears, but only ourselves, whose faith allows itself to be obscured by the fascinations of earthly treasures, whose heart so soon becomes too much weakened by material pleasures, to be able to enjoy the pure delights of future blessings.
Adore, then, with gratitude, admiration, and confusion the "living Bread come down from heaven in order to make of this our earth the threshold of Paradise."
How great is the goodness of God, how earnest His love, how impatient He is to heap His mercy upon us! In truth, it might have seemed to be sufficient in order to prove to us more of love than we shall ever merit, to have promised us heaven as a recompense for our labors and our struggles, and to wait in order to give it until the measure of our merits should be filled.
No! The Saviour who acquired for us a right to heaven by His death, who delivers up to us the price of it in His blood, which all the Sacraments diffuse in us; who has taught us the path by His saving words, who has opened the gate of it by entering therein first Himself, and who is occupied in preparing our place for us in it, - this infinitely kind Saviour, this Jesus wills to come back to us to lead us there by the hand, as it were; He wills to give Himself up beforehand for us that He may guarantee the access to it for us; He wills to make us experience some of the delights which await us there in order to attach us to it forever, by separating us victoriously from the temporary but seductive good things of this world.
Oh God, what wouldst Thou not have done to bring me at last to heaven? And if I do not go there, how just and deserved will be my chastisement! Will it ever equal the love Thou hast shown to make me avoid it?
Oh Lord, my God, beauty without stain, sovereign goodness, life without end, substance of all happiness and of all good, how great is my shame when I recall to mind Thy promises, Thy calls, the pledge and the foretaste of heaven which Thou procures! for me by this heavenly Sacrament!
The fact is, that I hardly ever think of heaven except when I am unhappy and deprived of the joys which I had ardently sought after upon earth. Heaven then appears to me desirable only in proportion to what I suffer. But let human happiness shine upon me only a little, let me have the enjoyments which my heart and my senses call for, then immediately my eyes cease to be raised towards Thee; and if I think of heaven it is to supplicate Thee, alas! not to call me thither until I have completely emptied the cup which inebriates me.
Divine Sacrament of heaven, it is into this earthly, obscure, and filthy soul that Thou hast cast Thyself; I understand but too clearly that Thou art but little appredated therein, and that Thou remainest inert, powerless to excite the production of the holy desires, the sweet joys, the ardent impatience, the lofty aspirations of the Saints towards the heavenly country and towards Thee, who art all the treasure of it.
Let us make, at the foot of the Sacrament of heaven, the most urgent resolutions relative to the great duty of hope; let us make our daily prayers and frequent communion rest upon them; but let it be upon one condition: that we recall them to mind in each one of our thanksgivings, to examine if we are faithful to them.
There is no doubt but that this practice will disengage us from the ties of the flesh, will raise us above the frivolities of this world, will make us despise them and love eternity; it is then that we shall feel in the depths of our heart the assurance of heaven. It is then that we shall really experience how truly the Bread of life contains the foretaste of its eternal delights.
Ask at each Communion for final perseverance, and the desire for heaven. Each time, make a sacrifice of one of the things which might retard the possession of it for us.