Fourth in a Series on the Life of Grace
Fr. Raphael M. Moss, O.P.
Our reason tells us that Almighty God, the Creator of the universe, is not only infinite in power but also infinite in goodness; and from this St. Thomas argues, in the beginning of his wonderful treatise on the Incarnation, that as it is the nature of goodness to communicate itself to others, it is only fitting that God, who is the Supreme Goodness, should communicate Himself to His creatures in a supreme and infinite way.
Quod quidem maxime fit per hoc quod naturam creatam sic sibi conjungit, ut una persona at ex tribus, Verbo, anima et carne, sicut elicit Augustinus.
He so joined created nature to Himself that one Person is made up of these three - the Word, a soul and flesh, as Augustine says. (Summa Theologica, 3a, 1, 1.)
In this wonderful mystery, God became man, and all creation bent the knee in adoration before One who was truly God and Man; yet even here His infinite goodness would not find its limitations. By the Incarnation He had joined our nature to His own, so that we, who are made a little lower than the angels, are in a manner raised above them by this act of infinite condescension on His part; for, as St Paul says:
He took not on Him the nature of the angels, but of the seed of Abraham He taketh hold.
Yet He desired to do more for us. Not only did He seek a union with our nature, but also with each individual member of our race, as though His love were ever urging Him to perfect and complete that union which is the end of love and for which He made us. In God's love of His creatures, therefore, is to be found the explanation of the mystery of the Incarnation; and that same infinite love is likewise the only possible explanation of the mystery of the Blessed Sacrament, of which we have now to speak.
The blessed Sacrament! All the sacraments are holy and blessed because of their nature and their super natural work; but here the love of God has won so glorious a triumph that human language is unable to express it, and can only repeat Sanctissimum Sacramentum - the most Holy Sacrament, the Blessed Sacrament! Hence it naturally holds a special and a most important place in our brief survey of the spiritual life, completing and perfecting the good work which baptism begins, so that we should stand in need of it and its abundant blessings even if we were so happy as to have never lost our baptismal innocence, and it is not too much to say that all the other sacraments are but a preparation for the Holy Eucharist.
The first thing that ought to strike us when we begin to consider this uttermost pledge of God's love of us is the variety of names that have been given to it, although, as we have just remarked, our language finally confesses its unfitness for a subject so august, and "the Blessed Sacrament," the name which expresses the least, and therefore, perhaps, suggests the most, is the commonest name of all. The explanation of these various names, as given by St. Thomas, is worthy of notice.
In three different ways, may we look at this Holy Sacrament. With reference to the past, it calls to mind the passion of our Lord, which was a true and real sacrifice, and hence this name is given to it as well, and we speak of it as the "Holy Sacrifice." With reference to the present, it shows forth the unity of the Church, of which it is the bond, and therefore it is called the "Communion." And lastly, with reference to the future, it is a type of that divine fruition which will be given to us in our eternal home, and since it is the way thither, we call it our "Viaticum," or again, the "Eucharist" - great grace - either because the grace of God is life everlasting, or because it gives us Christ, the author of grace. (Summa Theologica, 3a, 75, 1.)
But all these names assume the real presence of our Saviour in this sacrament, and therefore for the greater increase of our faith in this, the central dogma of our Catholic worship, we may, with all due reverence, examine into it more closely.
It goes without saying that we cannot prove the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament by any arguments which have the force of demonstration. But in our first conference we showed that, in addition to the senses and understanding, we have another source of knowledge in the supernatural power of faith, and it is by faith, and faith alone that we can penetrate the veils that shroud this mystery.
Nevertheless, here, as in all God's works and manifestations of Himself, there is a striking fitness which appeals most strongly both to faith and reason. The Old Law, as the inspired writer reminds us, was but a "shadow of good things to come." Its various sacrifices were a type of that most perfect sacrifice, which the Incarnate Son of God would one day make, and all their power and spiritual worth was due to that great fact. But when the New Law came to put an end to types and shadows, it seems but fitting that its sacrifices should be a reality; and that the victim offered on its altars should be in very deed and truth the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world.
Moreover, since it is by faith that we please God and are brought near to Him, and faith is "of all things that appear not," the more the object of faith is hidden and concealed, the more perfect will be our act of faith, and the more pleasing its sacrifice in God's sight. Hence when the apostle saw his Master standing before him in all the beauty of His risen life, and fell down at His feet with that cry of adoration, "My Lord and my God," it was the hidden Godhead which his faith confessed. He saw the humanity, and believed in the divinity. "More blessed are they," said our Lord with gentle reproof, "that have not seen, and yet have believed." This blessedness of faith is peculiarly ours, for in the most holy Sacrament, Manhood and Godhead are equally concealed.
But the true explanation of the real presence is to be found in that "exceeding love wherewith Christ hath loved us." We must remember that we are speaking of love that is infinite, wielding power that is infinite likewise. It was this love, as we have already said, which made the Son of God become incarnate, and because a friend delights in the society of his friends, the Son of God finds His delights amongst the children of men. His visible, bodily presence will be our reward when the time of trial is over, but whilst it lasts, we must walk by faith rather than by sight; and His impatient love, as though unable to wait, obliges Him to give us an abiding presence none the less real because hidden under a veil.
Love, therefore, is the only explanation of this marvellous condescension on the part of God, and if the love of God be in our hearts, our faith in it becomes an easy task. To refuse to believe in it is to deny God's love of us. For love of us God became incarnate, He who is the "Brightness of God's glory," veiled His Majesty in the bonds of weakness, and appeared in the world as a helpless little child. For love of us, He would go even further, and He veiled the winning beauty of His human nature under the whiteness of a little bread! And we? "Let us love God," says St. John, "because God hath first loved us." But how can we prove our love? By believing in His love of us, and imitating it in our feeble fashion. For love of Him we strip ourselves, not of any just rights, but of the stolen, gaudy trappings of self-love, we lay down at His feet the empty claims of foolish vanity, which make us odious even in the sight of men; we hide ourselves beneath the sober garments of obedience, and placing upon our minds the chains of faith, in lumine Tuo, videbimus Lumen - in the light He gives, our blindness disappears.
Let us turn now to the sixth chapter of St John's Gospel, in which we have recorded the promise of the Blessed Sacrament. The Evangelist tells us first of all of the wonderful miracle of the multiplication of bread in the desert, and calls our attention to its immediate consequence.
When those men had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, they said: This is of a truth the prophet that is to come into the world.
The Jews expected a Messiah or Saviour, and the sign of His presence amongst them was to be His power of working miracles like to those of their great leader Moses. On this occasion, therefore, when our Lord had fed them with miraculous bread in the desert, the remembrance of the manna must have flashed across every mind in that great multitude, and the conclusion seemed obvious:
Of a truth, this is the prophet that is to come into the world.
Jesus Christ accepted the comparison, for He was the Saviour and Messiah promised from the beginning, but the sign which He would give was something far more divine than the mere multiplication of bread; and on the very day following this great miracle, He declared its nature in the most emphatic language to the crowd who followed Him with such enthusiasm:
Moses gave you not bread from heaven, but My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world.
But as the Jews understood Him to refer to some earthly sort of bread, like the manna in so far as it was food for the body only, our Lord at once explained His words, and at some length, and with the greatest clearness put before them the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist:
Amen, amen, I say unto you, he that believeth in Me hath everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that if any man eat of it, he may not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever, yea, and the bread which I will give is My Flesh for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us His Flesh to eat? Jesus therefore said unto them: Amen, amen, I say unto you, except you eat the Flesh of the Son of man and drink His Blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood hath everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My Flesh is meat indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood abideth in Me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me, the same, shall live by Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead, he that eateth this bread shall live for ever.
The effect of these words of our Blessed Lord upon His audience was immediate and startling:
This is a hard saying, who can hear it, who can believe it? And many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.
Now if our Lord had not meant the real presence as we understand it, how strange and unreasonable must His conduct and His language appear! For He had reminded them of the manna, formed by angels, miraculous in every way, and He promised to give them something greater. How could mere bread and wine compare with such a gift? It might indeed, like the manna, be the figure of something else, but it would be incomparably the weaker figure of the two. His hearers took Him at His word, and understood Him literally, and, instead of correcting them and putting an end to their difficulties, He confirmed what He had said, and allowed them to depart. Must we say that He deceived them, or that He promised what He could not perform, He who was the Almighty God of truth? Our faith in Jesus Christ bids us see in these words of His, the promise of the Blessed Sacrament, and that same faith shows us the literal fulfillment of the promise, when on the last night of His life He took the bread and wine into His hands, and changed them into His own very Body and Blood by His word of almighty power. We naturally turn once more to the divinely-inspired words of holy Writ:
Now whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread and blessed and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, and said: Take ye and eat, this is My Body. And taking the chalice, He gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this, for this is My Blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many, unto the remission of sins.
The reformer Melancthon compares these words to the dazzling flash of the lightning. "What comment," he asks, "can the terrified mind of man venture to make on them?" But what a strange perversion of reason is implied in those who are not ashamed to argue that when the incarnate God is heard to assert so solemnly, "This is My Body, this My Blood," He really meant us to believe that it was nothing of the kind. For us, as we have said, the real presence is a matter of faith. As defined at the Council of Trent:
If any one shall dare to deny that the Body and Blood together with the soul and the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ are truly, really and substantially present in the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, but shall assert that they are only there virtually or as in a type or figure, let him be anathema.
And then again:
Since Christ our Saviour declared that that which He offered under the appearance of bread was truly His Body, the Church of God has always held, and this Holy Synod once again affirms, that by the consecration of the bread and the wine, the whole substance of bread is changed into the substance of the Body of Christ our Lord, and the whole substance of wine into the substance of His Blood, a change which the Church justly calls transubstantiation.
With this same loyal profession of faith in our hearts and on our lips, we may now reverently investigate this wonderful mystery of faith. For it is something more than a mere presence, marvelous as that may be. We said that the only possible explanation of such a miracle was to be found in the boundless love which God has for His creatures, and that same love is the key to a yet greater mystery. For the very words of Jesus Christ, both in the promise and in its fulfillment, as well as the accidents or appearances of bread and wine which form the impenetrable veil that hides the Holy of holies, all tend to make us understand that this sacrament is meant to be the food and nourishment of our souls, and that the mystery of the real presence is but, as it were, the stepping-stone to the mystery of communion. Hence from the very early ages we find the Fathers heaping words upon words in order to impress this wonderful truth upon the minds of the faithful. They speak of the "table of the Lord," the "holy table," the "divine banquet," the "bread of the Lord," the "heavenly bread," the "cup of salvation," the "cup of life," the "holy bond of union," the "holy communion," and so on. But the Angelic Doctor seems to have surpassed them all, and sums up the whole teaching of the Church in this matter in those magnificent words which we may call the anthem of the Blessed Sacrament:
O Sacrum convivium in quo Christus sumitur, recolitur memoria passionis ejus, mens impletur gratia, et futurae gloriae nobis pignus datur.
O sacred banquet, in which Christ is received, the memory of His passion is renewed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.
Let us try to fathom some of the depths here revealed to us by the greatest of the Church's Doctors.
O Sacred Banquet! The Sacraments of the Church have been instituted for no other end than to enable us to make progress in our spiritual and supernatural life. Now, there is a great resemblance between this same spiritual life and the life of the body; for, after all, material things are meant to bring home to our senses the more hidden wonders of the spiritual world. Hence, just as the life of the body begins its existence by the act of generation, and then, by degrees, acquires strength and energy, and has to be sustained by nourishment, so also in the spiritual life. Baptism is the new birth, our spiritual regeneration, and the Sacrament of Confirmation is meant to strengthen the soul in its new life, and fit it for its work. But something else is necessary, and so in the Holy Eucharist the soul finds that spiritual nourishment for which it craves.
All this seems evident to common sense. Life, wherever it be found, of whatever grade or perfection it may be, is always dependent upon nourishment; and if we admit the existence of the spiritual and divine life, to which our souls are raised by the gift of supernatural grace in baptism, we seem compelled to admit the necessity of spiritual food. The one is not more wonderful than the other.
What strange things science tells us of the marvellously complicated process by which the body is nourished and kept alive! Chemistry steps in, and declares that, as a matter of fact, our bodies and all material things are built up by the combination of a few primary elements, but that only increases the wonder. A little grain of wheat, itself made up of certain elements, is hidden in the earth, and straightway it begins to live, and work, and seek out other elements by which it lives its vegetable life and at the same time gathers to itself all that is necessary for ours. It becomes our food and once more surrenders all those elements it so unerringly sought out; some being taken by the blood, others by the nerves, others again by the bones, just as our nature requires. Now, if God has done all this for a life so weak and so imperfect as the life of the body, what will He not do for a life which is divine? Its end and object is Himself, and so He makes Himself its food.
But, because as long as this world lasts, our human nature bears the penalties of sin, and has to tread a path of life surrounded by the thorns and briars of suffering, He wisely gives us this same supernatural food in a way most fitting to our state. Not in all the pomp and majesty which surround Him on His throne at the right hand of the Father, nor yet in the dazzling brightness with which He clothed His human nature at the moment of the Resurrection; but, on the contrary, in meekness and lowliness, and with a helplessness which speaks even yet more powerfully to our hearts. It is as though He had searched all the riches of creation, and finding nothing worthy of His infinite love and our inexhaustible needs, nothing good enough for souls that He had created, redeemed and sanctified, and at the same time simple enough for hearts so weak and wavering, He appealed to His own most sacred human Heart, and its answer was the Blessed Sacrament. Most truly can we call it sacramentum caritatis, the sacrament of love. Love, as we have said, desires union, and what union could be comparable to this? There is a union indeed, like that which binds together in the one Person of Jesus Christ the divine and human natures; but such a union would fail here because of its excess, since by it man's personality would cease to be. There is a moral union, like that which links together hearts and minds in earthly friendship, and that was not enough for love which is divine. Hence His wisdom devised and His power effected a union, which was at once most human and divine, most perfect and yet most natural; for He made His living self our nourishment, and since such food is of its very nature incomparably above us, instead of being lowered to our level and transformed by us, it conquers us and makes us like unto itself. It was this truth which transported the soul of St. Augustine. "I am the food of grown men," said the Voice within his soul, "grow, and thou shalt feed upon Me, nor shalt thou change Me, like the food of thy flesh, into thee, but thou shalt be changed into Me." "Truth, who art eternity," was the answering cry of his heart; "Love, who art Truth! Eternity, who art Love."
Most truly, therefore, have we here a sacred banquet, at which we assist on bended knees, seeing that the food is nothing less than the Body and Blood of Christ. "O sacred banquet, in which Christ is received!" Let us now go a step further.
The words of consecration pronounced by the rightfully ordained successors of the apostles are the self-same words as those spoken by the Saviour of the world at the moment of the institution of this most Holy Sacrament. But a wonderful thing has happened! As though astounded and overwhelmed by the greatness of the mystery, the Church, by the mouth of her priests, breaks in upon these sacred words:
Take ye and eat, for this is My Body. Drink ye all of this, for this is the chalice of My Blood, of the New and Eternal Testament mystery of faith which shall be shed for you and for many unto the remission of sins.
It is as though the overpowering realization of the effect of those divine words had on the instant provoked this strange outburst of adoring fear. For think of all that is implied by these words! In the words of a great spiritual writer:
One moment, and there is bread in the priest's hands, and wine in the chalice on the corporal. One moment, and there is the substance of bread, with its accidents inherent in it, and it would be the grossest of idolatries to offer any manner of worship to that senseless substance. Another moment, and what was bread is God! A word was whispered by a creature, and lo! he has fallen down to worship; for in his hands is his Creator, produced there by his own whispered word. One moment, and at the bidding of a trembling, frightened man, omnipotence has run through a course of resplendent miracles, each more marvelous than a world's creation out of nothing.
Yet all this is summed up in those brief words of St Thomas: "O sacred banquet, in which Christ is received!" The instant the words of consecration are pronounced the change takes place. Instead of the bread and the wine, there is present on the altar the Body and Blood of Jesus, living, glorious and triumphant. Therefore His majestic soul is there as well, the masterpiece of divine power and love, the treasury of supernatural gifts. Nor is this all. This human nature is in separably united to the Person of the Eternal Word, for the one cannot be without the other; and lastly, because it is a principle of faith that in all God's beautiful works outside Himself, the Blessed Trinity of Persons work together, and where there is One Person there also are the other Two, it follows that under the veil of this most Holy Sacrament, within our grasp, as it were, yet hidden from our eyes, lives and works that mystery of all mysteries, the most blessed and un divided Trinity. "Under the veil," we said. "The Eucharistic presence," as Bishop Hedley remarks, "is meant to have a double power over our beings. It has the effect of physical sense and the effect of faith."
Since our Blessed Lord wished to appeal to our faith by remaining invisible, it was necessary that there should be a veil to hide Him; and on the other hand, since He desired to be really, truly, and substantially present, this same veil would serve to indicate the place of His hiding. Something to point Him out to us, and at the same time to hide Him from us, this was what the real presence demanded; and since He also wished to make Himself the food of our souls, He chose the veils of bread and wine. In these two material things, as in everything else of a like nature, we must clearly distinguish between the substance itself, which is hidden from the senses, and its outward visible appearances. As the Council of Trent declares in the words above quoted, it is the substance which is changed by the words of consecration; the appearances or accidents are kept to form the veil which hides even whilst it reveals the real presence of Jesus Christ. St. Thomas teaches that these appearances remain in their entirety, supported by the power of Him who has chosen so to use them, and he replies to the foolish objection of those who would argue from this that God deceives us:
The senses are not deceived. Their legitimate work is to judge of the accidents or outward appearances which are really and truly present before them. It is for the intellect alone to judge of the substance, and in this case the understanding is preserved from making a false judgment by the light of faith.
Time will not allow us to linger over the many other wonderful and most interesting truths which are the consequences of the real presence, and which St. Thomas explains to us with such clearness in his great Summa, but we may at least quote the lines of the Lauda Sion, in which this same great Doctor and poet-saint sums them up in his own incomparable way:
Sub diversis speciebus,
Signis tantum, et non rebus,
Latent res eximiæ.
Caro cibus, sanguis potus:
Manet tamen Christus totus,
Sub utraque specie.
A sumente non concisus,
Non confractus, non divisus:
Sumit unus, sumunt mille:
Quantum isti, tantum ille:
Nec sumptus consumitur.
Sumunt boni, sumunt mali:
Sorte tamen inaequali,
Vitæ vel interitus.
Mors est malis, vita bonis:
Vide paris sumptionis
Quam sit dispar exitus.
Fracto demum Sacramento,
Ne vacilles, sed memento,
Tantum esse sub fragmento,
Quantum toto tegitur.
Nulla rei fit scissura:
Signi tantum fit fractura:
Qua nec status nec statura
Here beneath these signs are hidden
Priceless things, to sense forbidden,
Signs, not things, are all we see.
Flesh from bread, and Blood from wine,
Yet is Christ in either sign,
All entire, confessed to be.
They, who of Him here partake,
Sever not, nor rend, nor break:
But, entire, their Lord receive.
Whether one or thousands eat:
All receive the self-same meat:
Nor the less for others leave.
Both the wicked and the good
Eat of this celestial Food:
But with ends how opposite!
Here 't is life: and there 't is death:
The same, yet issuing to each
In a difference infinite.
Nor a single doubt retain,
When they break the Host in twain,
But that in each part remains
What was in the whole before.
Since the simple sign alone
Suffers change in state or form:
The signified remaining one
And the same for evermore.
To attempt to express in our own language the theological terseness of these wonderful lines of St Thomas would be to set ourselves an impossible task. It has been well said of all his hymns that they are well-nigh supernatural, uniting the strictness of dogma with a sweetness and a melody more like echoes of heaven than mere poetry of earth.
We may now return to the anthem of the Blessed Sacrament, and briefly touch upon the remaining thoughts which it suggests, and without which our idea of this adorable mystery would be very incomplete. When our Lord instituted this most sacred pledge of His love for us, and for the first time uttered the solemn words of consecration, He added to them a command, full of divine power and authority, and yet at the same time of the most affectionate tenderness:
Do this in remembrance of Me.
Having spoken as our God and our Saviour, He now pleads as a most loving friend, and, with the very words with which He authorizes His apostles to work this miracle of love, He begs us to look upon it as a memorial of Himself and all that He has done for us.
We must once more remind ourselves that infinite love is the key to the mystery of which we are speaking. There are some who pretend to see in it nothing but a memorial, and they base their opinion on these very words of our Lord. What a poor idea of the love of Jesus Christ! The Blessed Sacrament is indeed a memorial, but it is one in every way worthy of the Son of God. Earthly friendship may be, and surely is the brightest sunshine of our darkened lives; yet even when it shines its brightest, there looms on its horizon the cloud that may overcast it, forgetfulness and death. Hence we try to save ourselves, and fight against the threatened dark ness by every means within our power, and even when we feel that separation is at hand, most certain and inevitable, we make a last attempt to overcome its con sequences by every sort of touching artifice. Not content with promises and pledges, the one we love, and whom we now must lose, will link himself to some memorial, and leave that to us, to speak for him when he is gone.
Yet, after all, how weak the power of such memorials, how terribly inadequate their success, when measured by our longings and our hopes! So Jesus Christ, loving us all so dearly, and foreseeing the hour of separation, loved us to the very end - *infinem dilexit* - and gave us a memorial of Himself and His great love.
Do this in remembrance of Me.
And what was His memorial? Not the crib in which He rested as a little child, on His first coming into our cold world, not the cross, all stained though it was with the Blood so lavishly poured forth in the hours of His death-agony, but His own real Self. As St. Thomas says:
For a memorial is something to take the place of one's own personality, and hence, the more we can attach ourselves to it, and the more of ourselves we can put into it, the more real and perfect it will be. We try to do what we can, because our love is the shadow of God's infinite love, and we fail pitiably, because we are only human. Jesus Christ wished for a memorial because His Heart was human, and succeeded because He was God. "Take ye and eat. This is My Body. Drink ye all of this. This is My Blood. Do this in remembrance of Me."
A few more words and we have done.
O sacred banquet in which Christ is received, the memory of His passion is renewed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us!
All the sacraments are the efficient instrumental causes of grace, since they exist for no other end, but the Holy Eucharist has a power beyond them all, and very naturally so, since it contains the Author of all grace, and by His sacramental presence He pours upon the soul that torrent of grace let loose upon the world by the mystery of the Incarnation.
He that eateth Me, the same shall live by Me.
Moreover, since this sacrament is a real memorial of His passion, its power upon the souls of men is in all respects the same as that which so effectually blotted out the handwriting that was against us, and brought redemption to our fallen world. It is given to us as food and drink for no other purpose than to make us understand that it must be to our souls what food and drink are to the body, for it is meant to give us that strength and support, that new life and those new powers of which we stand in need, in other words, it is an unfailing source of grace.
The mind is filled with grace. And because the grace of God is life everlasting, in this same most Holy Sacrament, a pledge of future glory is given to us. All this grace is the promise of the glory that is to come, the fruitful seed of an eternal harvest, even as our Lord Himself declared:
He that eateth this bread shall live for ever.
The attainment of everlasting life is the chief and principal effect of this sacrament, according to the teaching of St. Thomas. For whether we look at the Holy Eucharist in itself as the Body and Blood of Christ, or whether we consider it more as a means placed at our disposal by our all-merciful God, the one end for which it ever works is the completion and perfection of man s supernatural life, the glory of the kingdom of heaven. It is the Body and Blood of Him who, by His death, opened to us the gates of heaven, and so became the Mediator of the New Testament, "that they that are called may receive the promise of an eternal inheritance." With regard to our use of it, it is, as we have said, a heavenly food, and at the same time a foretaste of that union with God to which we must aspire. It is always "under the veil," and, therefore, its delights and pleasures can never fully be appreciated here. But it is the "pledge of future glory," enabling us to wait until the appointed time. It will be to us what the heaven-sent food was to the prophet, in the strength of which he traversed the weary desert land and reached the mount of God. All this is most perfectly summed up by St. Thomas, in words that are often on our lips, though rarely truly fathomed by our minds and hearts. They may serve as a fitting conclusion:
O salutaris Hostia,
Quæ cæli pandis ostium:
Bella premunt hostilia,
Da robur, fer auxilium.
Uni trinoque Domino
Sit sempiterna gloria,
Qui vitam sine termino
Nobis donet in patria.
O saving Victim, opening wide
The gate of Heaven to us below;
Our foes press hard on every side;
Thine aid supply; thy strength bestow.
To thy great name be endless praise,
Immortal Godhead, One in Three.
O grant us endless length of days,
In our true native land with thee.