Thursday, April 05, 2007


Today is Holy Thursday, and we commemorate the institution of two Holy Sacraments; the Eucharist and Holy Orders. From Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D., comes the following meditation:


“Having loved His own…He loved them to the end” (Jn. 13:1-15), and in those last intimate hours spent in their midst, He wished to give them the greatest proof of His love. Those were hours of sweet intimacy, but also of the most painful anguish. Judas had already set the price of the infamous sale; Peter was about to deny his Master; all of them within a short time would abandon Him. The institution of the Eucharist appeared then as the answer of Jesus to the treachery of men, as the greatest gift of His infinite love in return for the blackest ingratitude. The merciful God would pursue His rebellious creatures, not with threats, but with the most delicate devices of His immense charity. Jesus had already done and suffered so much for sinful man, but now, at the moment when human malice is about to sound the lowest depths of the abyss, He exhausts the resources of His love, and offers Himself to man, not only as the Redeemer, who will die for him on the Cross, but also as the food which will nourish him. He will feed man with His own Flesh and Blood; moreover, death might claim Him in a few hours, but the Eucharist will perpetuate His real, living presence until the end of time. “O You who are mad about your creature!” exclaimed St. Catherine of Siena, “true God and true Man, You have left Yourself wholly to us, as food, so that we will not fall through weariness during our pilgrimage in this life, but will be fortified by You, celestial Nourishment!”

There are those who take the name “Christian,” but who refuse to walk with the Christ truly and really present and living among us; insisting that He did not mean literally what He stated to his followers, as recorded by St. John in chapter 6 of his gospel. Jesus tells his followers that His flesh and blood is the food they must eat, and although they think with justified horror of this in a carnal manner, he repeatedly insists that this is what they must do, not once saying that it is a symbol of Him that they must eat; confirming over and over again, you must eat my flesh and drink my blood. Those who reject the Catholic understanding point to 6:64 as the “refutation” of the Catholic and apostolic understanding; of “It is the spirit that quickeneth: the flesh profiteth nothing” they understand him to have said “my flesh profiteth nothing.” But, as we must gently insist that he specifically did not say: “My flesh profiteth nothing.” For by such an understanding, we protest that you prove too much, for if the flesh of Jesus “profiteth nothing,” then the incarnation and redemption on the cross are of no profit to us, and we are still lost in our sins. So those who fail to understand what he said, which was all present, responded in two ways: one group, saying, “this is a hard saying, who can hear it?” (Jn 6:61) abandoned Him (Jn 6:66). The second group, led by Peter, did not understand either. Peter spoke for most of them, in giving his reasons for staying, “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life;” and one stayed because he was a devil.

St. Thomas speaks to this mystery in the second stanza of the Adoro te Devote:

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore,
Masked by these bare shadows, shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at Thy service low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Seeing, touching, tasting are in thee deceived:
How says trusty hearing? that shall be believed;
What God's Son has told me, take for truth I do;
Truth Himself speaks truly or there's nothing true.

On the cross Thy godhead made no sign to men,
Here Thy very manhood steals from human ken:
Both are my confession, both are my belief,
And I pray the prayer of the dying thief.

I am not like Thomas, wounds I cannot see,
But can plainly call thee Lord and God as he;
Let me to a deeper faith daily nearer move,
Daily make me harder hope and dearer love.

O thou our reminder of Christ crucified,
Living Bread, the life of us for whom he died,
Lend this life to me then: feed and feast my mind,
There be thou the sweetness man was meant to find.

Bring the tender tale true of the Pelican;
Bathe me, Jesu Lord, in what Thy bosom ran
Blood whereof a single drop has power to win
All the world forgiveness of its world of sin.

Jesu, whom I look at shrouded here below,
I beseech thee send me what I thirst for so,
Some day to gaze on thee face to face in light
And be blest for ever with Thy glory's sight. Amen.

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