Continuing our meditations on the Holy Eucharist, this is excerpted from “The Real Presence” by St. Peter Julian Eymard:
Ecce Agnus Dei.
Behold the Lamb of God. (John i. 36.)
John the Baptist’s mission on earth was to announce the coming of the promised Savior, point Him out to men, and prepare the way for Him. The Church fulfills the same mission with regard to Jesus Eucharistic, a more extensive and lasting mission, which takes in every age and country. She carries out her mission by manifesting Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, by preaching Him by word, and also by the testimony of her faith and works,—–a silent preaching, but just as eloquent as the first.
The Church presents herself before us with the words of Jesus on her lips; she repeats and explains them with an authority equal to that of the Savior: “This is My Body. This is My Blood.”
She tells us, and we must believe that, by the Divine power of these sacramental words, taken in their direct and natural sense, Jesus Christ becomes truly, really, and substantially present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the altar under the appearances of bread and wine.
She tells us, and we must believe that, by His omnipotence, Jesus Christ has changed the substance of bread into His Body and the substance of wine into His Blood, and that His Soul and Divinity accompany the presence of His Body and of His Blood.
She tells us, and we must believe that the Divine work of Transubstantiation is forever being wrought in the Church through the priesthood of Jesus Christ, invested by Him with His own power when He instituted it with these words: “Do this for a commemoration of Me.”
And ever since the Last Supper, the Church has been proclaiming this belief down through the ages.
Her Apostles have had but one voice, her teachers but one doctrine, her children but one belief, one love for the God of the Eucharist.
How majestic is the voice of the whole Christian people! How touching and beautiful is the harmony of their praise and their love!
Every true child of the Church wants to bring to the feet of the Divine King present on the altar a tribute of homage, a token of his affection,—–one brings gold, another myrrh, and all bring incense. Everyone wants to have a place in the court and at the table of the God of the Eucharist.
The very enemies of the Church, the schismatics, and nearly all the heretics believe in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. . . . The truth is that one must be quite blind to deny the existence of the sun, quite ungrateful to ignore and despise the love of Jesus perpetuating His Presence in the midst of men.
As for us, we believe in the love of Jesus, and we know that nothing is impossible to the love of a God.
To the testimony of her word the Church adds the testimony of her example and practical faith. As John the Baptist, after having pointed out the Messiah, cast himself at His feet to prove the liveliness of his faith, so the Church devotes a solemn worship, her entire worship to the adorable Person of Jesus Whom she manifests to you in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
She adores Jesus Christ as God, present and hidden in the Divine Host. She pays Him the honor due to God alone; she prostrates herself before the Most Blessed Sacrament like the heavenly court before the majesty of God. Distinctions of rank are not in order here: great and small, kings and subjects, priests and people instinctively fall to their knees before the God of the Eucharist.
It is the Good God! The Church is not content to attest her faith by adoration alone; to that she adds public and magnificent honors.
The splendid basilicas are the expression of her faith in the Most Blessed Sacrament. She did not wish to build tombs but temples, a heaven on earth in which her Savior and God might find a throne worthy of Him.
With a delicate and jealous attention the Church has regulated Eucharistic worship to its minutest details. She does not rely on anyone to take in hand the matter of honoring her Divine Bridegroom; for everything is important, significant, and Divine, when there is question of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ.
She wants to consecrate to the royal service of Jesus all the most genuine and precious things in the
In her liturgy everything is related to this mystery; everything takes on a spiritual and heavenly meaning; everything has a property of its own and contains some special grace.
How easy it is for the soul to recollect herself in the solitude and silence of a church! A gathering of Saints on their knees before the tabernacle causes us to exclaim: “There is more than Solomon, more than an angel here!” Jesus Christ is here before Whom every knee bends, of those that are in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth.
In the presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament, all greatness disappears, all holiness humbles itself and comes to nothing.
Jesus Christ is there!