How providentially perfect that we complete this long treatise on the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar on the day It was established by Jesus Christ - Maundy Thursday. We wrap up the Holy Sacrifice with the great gift we receive when we receive Our Lord into our hearts physically and spiritually in Holy Communion: The greater effects of Sanctifying Grace. The chief effects of a worthy Holy Communion are:
1. A closer union with Our Lord, and a more fervent love of God and of our neighbor.
What food and drink do for the body, the Eucharist does for the soul. It unites our body and soul to that of Christ. In Holy Communion we become united with Him, as He Himself promised. "He who eats My flesh, and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him" (John 6:57).
2. An increase of sanctifying grace.
As St. Thomas says, "As an offshoot from a good tree, when grafted upon a wild one, draws out its bitter taste, and makes it bear good fruit, so the body of Jesus Christ, when ingrafted in us, corrects our faults, and enables us to bring forth fruits of justice like unto those He Himself performs."
3. Preservation from mortal sin and the remission of venial sin.
Holy Communion preserves us from falling back into sin by lessening the violence of our passions and temptations, and by infusing new light into our souls, by which we see the power and folly of sin. As food repairs bodily waste, so Holy Communion repairs waste in the soul, caused by faults.
4. The lessening of our inclinations to sin, and the help to practice good works.
Holy Communion gives our soul an extraordinary vigor. As our bodily life depends on the union of our body with our soul, so our supernatural life depends upon the union of our soul with God. The closer this union, the more vigorous will be our supernatural life; in Holy Communion our soul is more closely united with God than if we melted two pieces of wax into one.
After Holy Communion we should spend time adoring Our Lord, thanking Him, renewing our promises of love and of obedience to Him, and asking Him for blessings for ourselves and others.
We should not leave the church immediately after receiving Holy Communion. We should pray at least ten or fifteen minutes, thanking our Divine Guest.
Our Lord is actually and personally present in us as long as the appearance of bread remains, for at least ten minutes after receiving Holy Communion. Shall we treat God the Son coldly, by doing nothing when He comes? For earthly guests we exert ourselves to the utmost, to entertain them and make their stay enjoyable. Shall we then say to Christ, "I am glad You came, Lord? Now goodbye, because I must go home." And forget Him?
If our work or duties prevent our staying in church to give proper thanksgiving, let us remain recollected and in union with Jesus on our way home; and let us remember Him with love throughout the entire day.
Once Saint Philip Neri noticed that a certain parishioner, for no reason, habitually left the church immediately after receiving Holy Communion. In order to correct him, he told two acolytes one day to accompany the man with lighted candles as he walked home. The acolytes did as they were told. The people in the streets stared in surprise, and the man seeing his escort asked them the reason for their following him. They replied that Father Philip Neri had so instructed them. The man returned to the church to find out St. Philip's purpose. The Saint answered, "We have to pay proper respect to Our Lord, Whom you are carrying away with you. Since you neglect to adore Him, I sent two acolytes to take your place." Realizing his fault, the man knelt and made proper thanksgiving after Holy Communion.
How we should show our gratitude to Jesus for remaining always on our altars in the Holy Eucharist:
Note: This was written before "always on our altars in the Holy Eucharist" was changed by Vatican II reforms and Paul VI's New Mass - an 'abomination of desolation.' Bishop Morrow did not foresee that "always" was not held sacred by the progressive reformers of Vatican II who allowed and, indeed, pushed for the altars to be stripped of the tabernacles. That in and of itself should convince so many Catholics that man has replaced God in the house of the Lord and prompt all Catholics to clamor for His return front and center on the altars universally. Because of the nature and logistics of the Novus Ordo this cannot be done and therein tells the tale once more of the end of the eternal sacrifice as foretold in Sacred Scripture in Daniel 9: 27, described in the Book of Macchabees and which Our Lord warned of in Matthew 24, 15. "When therefore, you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken by Daniel, the prophet, standing in the holy place: he that readeth let him understand." Sadly, so few heed His words, so unaware and blinded are they of the desolation that has occurred on our sacred altars in Catholic churches universally. Bishop Morrow's beautiful words remind us all the more how precious having Jesus front and center in every church meant and still means to Traditional Roman Catholics.
We should show our gratitude to Our Lord for remaining always on our altars in the Holy Eucharist by visiting Him often, by reverence in church, by assisting every day at Mass when this is possible, by attending parish devotions, and by being present at Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
Whenever the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, a light must always be kept burning before It. Olive oil should be used; in case of necessity the bishop may permit the use of a substitute.
1. Paying visits to the Blessed Sacrament is a loving gesture towards Our Lord really present there. He is our best Friend; shall we not pay Him a call one in a while?
Saint Robert Bellarmine, a Cardinal and Doctor of the Church, while still a student, used to pay a visit to the Blessed Sacrament every time he passed a church. When he was asked why he did this, he answered, "It would be ill manners to go by a friend's house without a word of greeting." The church door is always open to admit us, a constant invitation to us to visit Our Lord Who calls, "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).
2. Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is an act of worship in which the Sacred Host, placed in the monstrance is exposed to the people for adoration, and is lifted up to bless them. The ciborium may be used instead of the monstrance.
Cardinal Newman said of Benediction, "It is Our Lord's solemn benediction of His people, as when He lifted up His hands over His children, or when He blessed His chosen ones when He ascended up from Mount Olivet." At Benediction, at least twelve candles must be used on the altar. The Sacred Host must be incensed twice - immediately after the Exposition, and at the second stanza of the Tantum ergo. The priest uses the cope, which is a large silk cloak enveloping his entire body. On his shoulders he used a humeral or shoulder veil, with which he holds up the monstrance in blessing.
3. Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament consists in placing the sacred Host in a monstrance at some height above the altar for the adoration of the faithful. During the exposition, someone must always be on guard in the church.
The Blessed Sacrament is solemnly exposed on certain occasions, as in the afternoon services on Sundays and holydays, on the eves of First Fridays, on the feast of Corpus Christi, etc. An all-night vigil is kept before the Blessed Sacrament in the Repository on the night of Holy Thursday. In many places an all-night vigil is also held on New Year's Eve. It is usual to pray before the solemnly exposed Sacrament on your knees.
4. The Forty Hours' Devotion is a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, in memory of the forty hours during which the body of Jesus stayed in the Holy Sepulcher, after His burial on Good Friday up to His resurrection on Easter.
Relays of worshipers take turns at adoration, watching and praying. On the altar at least twenty candles are kept burning continually. This devotion appears to have developed from the Corpus Christi processions.
5. The Holy Hour is a devotion in honor of Our Lord. It is often made before the Blessed Sacrament, although this is not necessary to gain the indulgences. The devotion consists of an hour of mental or vocal prayer in union with the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Olives, in honor of His agony.
The Holy Hour may be made either in public or in private. If in public, it must be made in church or chapel any our of the day or night of any day in the week.
Next Issue: The Sacrament of Penance
For previous installments, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH Archives