Excerpted from “The Real Presence” by St. Peter Julian Eymard:
THE INSTITUTION OF THE EUCHARIST
Cum dilexisset suos qui erant in mundo, in finem dilexit eos.
Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end. (John xiii. 1.)
How good is the Lord Jesusl How loving! Not satisfied with having become our Brother by His Incarnation and our Savior by His Passion, not satisfied with having delivered Himself up for us, He wants to strain His love to the point of making Himself our Sacrament of life!
With what joy He prepared this great and supreme gift of His love!
With what happiness He instituted the Eucharist and bequeathed it to us as His last will!
Let us observe this Divine wisdom at work preparing the Eucharist. Let us adore His power, exhausting itself in this act of love.
Jesus revealed the Eucharist long beforehand. He was born at Bethlehem, the house of bread, domus panis. He lay on the straw which then seemed to bear an ear of the true wheat.
At Cana and in the desert, when He multiplied the loaves, He revealed the Eucharist and also promised it. It was a public and formal promise.
He promised with an oath that He would give us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink. That was the remote preparation.
The time had come for the more immediate preparation of the Eucharist. Jesus wanted to see to these preparations Himself. Love does not unburden itself of its obligations on others. Love does everything itself. That is its boast.
Jesus selected the city: Jerusalem, the city of the sacrifices of the Old Law. He selected the house: the Cenacle. He chose His attendants in this undertaking: Peter and John, Peter, the disciple of faith, and John, the disciple of love. He appointed the time: the last hour of His life He could freely dispose of.
Finally, He came from Bethany to the Cenacle; He was full of joy; He quickened His step; He could not get there soon enough. Love welcomes sacrifice.
The time for the institution of the august Sacrament had come. What a moment! The hour of love had struck. The Mosaic Pasch was about to be consummated, the true Lamb to take the place of its figure in the Old Law, and the Bread of life, the Bread from heaven, to be substituted to the manna of the wilderness. Jesus sat down at table with a grave simplicity. They had to eat the new Pasch sitting down, in the repose of God. A deep silence came over them all; the Apostles looked on very attentively.
Jesus became meditative. He took some bread in His holy and venerable hands, raised His eyes to Heaven, gave thanks to His Father for this hour He had so desired, stretched out His hand, blessed the bread. . . .
And while the Apostles, filled with respect, dared not ask the meaning of symbols so mysterious, Jesus pronounced these beautiful words, as powerful as the creative word of God: Take ye and eat. This is My Body. . . . Drink ye all of This. This is My Blood.
The mystery of love was consummated. Jesus had fulfilled His promise. He had nothing more to give but His mortal life upon the Cross. He would give it and would rise again to be our perpetual Host of propitiation, the Host of our Communion, the Host of our adoration.
Heaven was enraptured at the sight of this mystery. The Most Holy Trinity contemplated it with: love. The Angels, struck with awe, adored it.
And with what a frantic rage were not the demons seized in Hell!
Yes, Lord Jesus, all is consummated! Thou hast now nothing more to give man to prove him Thy love. Thou mayest die now; Thou wilt not leave us, even by dying. Thy love is perpetuated on earth. Go back to the Heaven of Thy glory; the Eucharist will be the Heaven of Thy love.
O Cenacle! Where art thou? O Holy Table which bore the consecrated Body of Jesus! O Divine fire which Jesus kindled on Mount Sion, burn, spread thy flames, and set the world on fire!
Heavenly Father, Thou wilt always love men; they possess Jesus Christ forever! Thou wilt not lay waste the earth anymore with storms and floods, the Eucharist is our rainbow. Thou wilt love men since Thy Son Jesus Christ loves them so much!
What a love this good Savior had for us! Did He not love us enough to deserve our gratitude? What more do we need to consecrate our affections and our lives to Him in return?
Have we other desires still unsatisfied? Do we require further proofs of our Lord’s love?
Alas! If the love of Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament does not win our hearts, Jesus is vanquished! Our ingratitude is greater than His goodness; our malice is more powerful than His charity! Oh! No, my good Savior, Thy charity presses me, torments me, binds me!
I want to devote myself to the service and glory of Thy Sacrament. By dint of love I want to make Thee forget that up to this day I have been so ungrateful; by dint of devotedness I want to obtain forgiveness for having loved Thee so late! . . .