PRAYER TO OUR LADY OF THE MOST BLESSED SACRAMENT
O Mary, sweet Mother of Jesus and our own tender mother, we love to call you Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament, because you were the first tabernacle of the Most High and the first adorer of Our Lord and Saviour. You have, indeed, given us the blessed Eucharist. It was your “fiat,” your acquiescence in the incarnation of the Son of God—the divine Word—that began the great mystery of the union with us which Jesus accomplished during His mortal life, and which He continues in the Holy Eucharist. And after Our Lord's ascension into heaven you became the model and mother of all adorers of Jesus in the tabernacle by adoring and serving Him with loving assiduity. Pray for us who have recourse to you, that we may love Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist ever more and more with a love like that which inflamed your own immaculate heart, O Mary, so that we may seek in all things His pleasure and His glory, and may daily grow more like Him, and thus be able to exclaim with the burning heart of the great apostle, St. Paul: I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. It is your mission, dear Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament, to form Jesus in His adorers. Dying for love of us, He, in His agony on the cross, bequeathed you to us as our mother, and confided us to your maternal care; help us, then, to be more devoted to Him in the sacrament of His love; help us to show our love for Him by striving to draw others to the love of His sacred Heart, and by our constant efforts to imitate His meekness, humility, and patience, His poverty, obedience, and purity, His boundless and all-embracing charity, and, indeed, all those virtues which He taught us in His mortal life from Bethlehem to Calvary, and of which He continues to give us an example in His eucharistic life upon the altar. May His kingdom be established in the whole world; may He live and rule in all hearts. Blessed and praised every moment be the most holy and divine sacrament. Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament, pray for us—pray that we who now adore and love Jesus here below under the veil of the sacred species, may one day have the joy to behold Him in His unveiled beauty in the realms above, and to sing His praises with the angels and the saints, and above all with you, dear Mother, in eternal tabernacles. Amen.
From St. Peter Julian Eymard's “Month of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament”
“Mary, Mother of Jesus, Maria de qua natus est Jesus,” is the foundation of our devotion toward Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and the first bond which unites Mary to the Eucharist.
We believe, and this belief is our sweetest joy, that the Adorable Body of Our Lord, really present in the Eucharist, is the same Body that was formed of the most pure blood of Mary, nourished by her substance and her virginal milk.
On the altar, we adore the true Son of the Virgin, and with the Church we sing, associating the Mother with the Son, the Cause with the effect, the Source with the rivulet, the Principle with the consequence: “Ave, verum Corpus natum de Maria Virgine—Hail, true Body of the Lord, born of the Virgin Mary!”
St. Ambrose, even in his day, laid the first foundations of our devotion when he placed on the lips of the Saviour, instituting the Holy Eucharist, these memorable words: “This is truly My Flesh for the life of the world. Believe it firmly. This is absolutely the same Flesh which was formed and was born of Mary, which suffered on the Cross, and which issued glorious from the tomb. It is the same, I repeat to you: Haec, inquam, ipsa est.”*
*De Consec. D. 2. Quoted by Ben. XIV. in opere de Canonizatione SS. Lib. iv., c. xxxi.
Again, let us quote the words of the Bishop of Poitiers: “Mary is in some way associated to the Real Presence of Jesus in the tabernacle. The first blasphemy against the reality of the Sacrament of the Altar consisted in denying that the Eucharistic Body of the Lord was the Body born of Mary.”*
*Homily pronounced at Issoudun.
We all know the following words of St. Augustine, now become classic: “Caro Jesu caro est Mariae, et ipsam Mariae carnem nobis manducandam dedit ad salutem.*—The Flesh of Jesus is the Flesh of Mary, and the Saviour gives us this Flesh of Mary as the nourishment of our salvation.”
*Comment sup. Psalm xcviii.
On these words, Père Binet exclaims: “He who will dive deeply into this mystery, will find sublime thoughts.”*
*Le Chef-d'Œuvre de Dieu.
But more happy is he to whom Mary herself deigned to reveal it. St. Ignatius of Loyola once had an admirable vision on this subject. “As I was communing with the Holy Spirit before Mass,” he tells us, “it seemed to me that I felt and that I saw something very bright, of a fiery color and strange appearance. As I was preparing to ascend the altar, and afterward when, being clothed with the sacred vestments, I was celebrating the Holy Sacrifice, I experienced a violent interior shock, accompanied by abundant tears and sobs, and at time even by the loss of speech. Then I felt, nay, I saw the Blessed Virgin exercising her influence with the Father in my behalf, so that, during the Canon and the Consecration of the Mass, I could neither see nor feel anything, excepting her who is, so to say, a part of this immense grace, and the gate by which we arrive at it. By a spiritual perception, I understood that she showed me in the act of Consecration the existence of her own flesh in the Flesh of her dear Son, that is to say, that which had been formed of her virginal substance. The perception of what had been revealed to me was so interior that I cannot express it.”*
*Extract from the Table de la Cène, à Rome. Père Machault took this incident in the life of St. Ignatius from J. Nieremberg's Life of the saint. L. iv.
Père de Machault, a son of St. Ignatius, speaks of this vision, and confirms it by his testimony in his admirable treatise: Des Grands Biens de la Sainte Eucharistie. He says in his simple faith: “Who can tell the divine effects produced by Holy Communion in Ignatius' heart all on fire, when considering at the altar that the Son and the Mother are but one flesh and one blood, or, at least, that the Son is a part of the Mother, he feasted on the delicious thought, that in the Eucharist he received not only the Flesh and the Blood of Jesus, but in a goodly share the flesh and the blood of Mary also, as the Blessed Virgin herself disclosed to him in a notable vision.”*
*T. ii., p. 564.
It is a doctrine received in our own day and taught by all, that Mary is the universal dispensatrix of the graces of her Divine Son.* In Jesus Christ, as in the Head of the Church, resides the plenitude of every grace. In Mary, also, there is a certain proportionate plenitude, founded on that of Jesus Christ, of which it is, as it were, the conduit, and which suffices for the salvation of the entire world.
*Throughout this chapter we shall quote from St. Alphonsus di Liguori.—Glories of Mary, ch. v., vi., and vii.
“We say that Mary is full of grace for three reasons: ... the third is, that she is commissioned to pour out grace upon all mankind. It is very much for a saint to be able to obtain the salvation of several souls confided to him; but the highest degree of power would be, to have sufficient grace for the salvation of the whole world. Now, this is the power that dwells, both in Jesus and in Mary, for in every spiritual danger, we can obtain safety from the glorious Virgin. In every virtuous work, she can help us. She herself says: ‘In me is all hope of life and salvation.’ ”—(Ecclus. xxxiv., 25.)*
*St. Thomas, in Salut, Angel.
This plenitude of grace has caused Mary to be called the mystical neck through which passes to the members of Jesus Christ all the supernatural influence sent them by that august Head. In Christo fuit plenitudo gratiae sicut in capite influente; in Maria sicut in collo transfundente.* St. Bernardin says: “Since Mary has given to the world Jesus Christ, the Author of Grace, all the vital influences that flow into His mystical body, pass through Mary.”
*Contenson, quoted by St. Liguori.
St. Germain of Constantinople, supports his words on this truth when he says: “No one, O Mary, receives any grace except through thee.”* St. Bernard gave utterance to this beautiful and well-known word: “Let us love, let us love the Most Blessed Virgin with all our heart, for such is the will of her Son, who wants us to receive everything through her.”†
*Serm. de Zona Mariæ.
Mary is not only the mystical neck, but the channel, the aqueduct, without which the world would perish for want of the waters of divine life. If it was so long deprived of grace, it was because that divine channel had not yet been established between God and man. “But,” adds St. Bernard, “Mary was given to the world as an aqueduct, by which God's graces incessantly flow to the earth. What honor, what love does not Our Lord oblige us to render her, since He has filled her with the plenitude of all good in such a way that, if we have some hope, some grace, some chance of salvation, we have it all from Mary!”*
Contenson places on the dying lips of Jesus these merciful words: “O men, behold your Mother! My Wounds are the sources of grace, but their streams, their currents, are spread abroad only by the channel of Mary.”
“Certainly,” says St. Liguori, “we do not say that God cannot, we say that God will not, grant us grace without the intercession of His Mother.”
“Jesus is the only Mediator of justice who can ask in His own name, and in consideration of His own merits and His own rights. Mary herself obtains what she asks only through the merits of the Saviour, and in virtue of prayer made in the name of Jesus Christ; nevertheless, such is the order freely determined by God, that Mary's mediation always intervenes in the dispensation of grace. This order admirably restores the plan vitiated and destroyed by sin; for as a man and a woman concurred in our loss, a man and a woman ought to labor together to redeem us.*
“And while God willed to create all things out of nothing, by His power alone, He has willed to re-establish nothing without Mary's concurrence.”†
*St. Bernard, in Signum magn.
The presence in the economy of Redemption of this sweet and beneficent Mediatrix, is a mystery full of love and mercy. “Toward her,” says St. Bernardin, “all men who ever have existed, who do exist, or who ever will exist, cast their suppliant glances as to the means of their salvation and the work of the ages.”* And it is with good reason, “for all the holiness, all the honor, all the glory that have been, that are, and that will be conferred on any creature whatsoever, from Adam even to the consummation of time, on the Apostles, the Prophets, the just, and the humble of heart, have come to us from thee, O thou immaculate One, and it is in thy plenitude that every creature rejoices.”†
*Serm. in Pentec.
†S. Ephrem, quoted in the Life of M. Olier.
From the foregoing authority, we may draw conclusive inference, with regard to the subject under consideration. If all good things come to us by Mary, the Eucharist, which is the Gift of gifts, is also the fruit of her mediation. This conclusion is but just. We shall explain it, by studying the foundations of Mary's power. We shall see that what constitutes her authority over the graces of Redemption, forever establishes her power over all those of the economy of the Holy Eucharist.
“If Mary,” says Suarez, “is called to dispense all the graces that Redemption has acquired for us, it is because of the special manner in which she co-operated in that great work. For although she has not, indeed, properly speaking, purchased us, and in rigorous justice merited anything for us, nevertheless, she was the Co-Redemptrix of the human race (adjutrix redemptionis, says Blessed Albertus Magnus), by her special co-operation in our salvation. Mary did, in effect, give to the Saviour from her own substance the Sacred Humanity, which formed the price of our purchase. She offered It for our salvation. She desired our Redemption, and she procured it by her prayers and petitions. Hence, her titles: “Cause of our Salvation,” “Life of the World,” “Redemptrix,” “Hope of Creatures,” which the Fathers lavish on her.*
*A certain author tells us that in the writings of the Fathers, Mary is called Co-Redemptrix twenty-two times.
Mary's participation in our salvation consisted chiefly in furnishing to Jesus Christ His Flesh and His Blood, which He offered on the Cross for our ransom. This is the reason of Mary's power over all the graces purchased by that Precious Blood.
“By listening to Mary, and granting all her requests,” says St. George of Nicomedia, “Jesus Christ only discharges a debt to His Mother: Filius quasi exsolvens debitum, petitiones tuas implet.”*
*Or. de Sim. et Anna.
“Courage, confidence, Mary! Fearlessly petition for us. Thou hast for debtor Him who gives to all. We are God's debtors; but to thee, O Mary, God Himself is indebted.”*
*S. Methodius, Orat. B. M. V.
Jesus Christ a debtor to Mary?—In what?—“Ah, yes!” exclaims the Bishop of Tulle, “He is in debt to her. He owes to her all that He has gained by His Incarnation.”*
*Discourse for the Coronation of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.
He is born, He grows, He dies, He saves us in His Blood. Having thus satisfied His infinite love for His Father and for us, having procured for His Father greater glory than He could ever have rendered without that Body, having been able to love man with a love such as He never could have bestowed upon him had He not taken a Heart of Flesh, and come to the school of misery to learn mercy,* what gratitude does He feel toward His Mother, who gave Him that Body and that Heart, who gave Him the means of manifesting His love in the work of Redemption! “Ah! My Mother,” He seems to say to her, “take all My merits. All My graces are thine. It is by thy help that I have acquired them. Thou didst furnish the capital. Dispose, as its Mistress, of the revenue that it produces.”
*Ep. ad Hebræos: Tentatus per omnia. . . ut misericors fieret.
Redemption is continued in the Eucharist. It is in the Eucharist that it is applied. God is again glorified therein, man again saved by the Sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ. The Son of God there satisfies His consuming love for man, there exhausts the means inspired by His zeal, for the glory of His Father;—but without Mary there would be no Eucharist! Without her Jesus would never be our nourishment, never give us His Flesh to eat, His Blood to drink!
And yet, He came down from heaven to be our Bread in the Sacrament, to be the Life of the world: Ego veni ut vitam habeant, et panis quem ego dabo caro est pro mundi vita.* During His life, He was pressed by consuming desire to institute the Sacrament, and to fulfil the end for which He came: Desiderio desideravi hoc pascha manducare vobiscum. But that plan of His wisdom, those desires of His Heart, He can accomplish only by the Flesh that He took from Mary: “For,” says St. Augustine, “it was the flesh that ruined us, and it is the flesh that must work our restoration.”—Suarez also, says that, for the remedy to be suited to the disease, it was necessary that Jesus should give us His Flesh to eat and His Blood to drink.
Again, Jesus Christ can do all that in the Sacrament only by the Flesh that He owes to Mary. Here again, as in the Incarnation, He is her debtor, and He has only one means by which He can worthily discharge His debt of gratitude, and that is, to give over to Mary the dispensing of all the graces comprised in the Eucharist, as He remitted into her hands the entire and absolute disposal of all His other graces. And that is just what He has done. Who can doubt it for an instant? We shall, a little further on, specify which are the principal graces that Mary draws for us from the Eucharistic treasures of Our Lord. We are, at present, anxious to establish, on a still more magnificent foundation, Mary's power over the Eucharist, the source of our confidence, the motive of the fervent prayers that we address to Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
All the created graces that the Sacrament of the Eucharist comprehends, are in Mary's hands. But even that is little. In the Sacred Host, is the Author Himself of grace, Jesus, the infinite and eternal God. Now, Mary has a mother's power over Jesus in the Eucharist, the power of a Mother! She gives, she dispenses, also, the Uncreated Grace, and that is what constitutes her the Mistress, the Lady of the Blessed Sacrament! Blessed Albertus Magnus says: “Through Mary come to us all the grace, created and uncreated, that the world has ever received, or will receive: Per ipsam exivit quidquid gratiae unquam creatum vel increatum in hunc mundum venit vel venturum fuit.”*
*Quoted in the Life of M. Olier.
Here we find in the Eucharist that law, admirable and full of love, which the Holy Gospel proclaims on every one of its pages, Jesus giving Himself through Mary. It is formulated in these typical words of St. Matthew, Chapter ii.: Et invenerunt Puerum cum Maria matre ejus.
This law is invariable, so much so that Richard of St. Laurence felt authorized to place on the lips of Our Lord the following words: “No one can come to Me unless My Mother draws him to Me.”* St. Bernard, also, predicts certain failure to him who thinks to find the Son without the Mother: “Nunquam invenitur Christus nisi cum Maria, nisi per Mariam; frustra igitur quærit, qui cum Maria invenire non quaerit.”†
*De Laud., B. M. V.
†Spec. Mar., lect. vi.
Still more, according to the same saint, to wish to remain apart from Mary, to separate Jesus from His Mother, is a crime. “Not only they,” he says, “sin against Mary who positively insult her, but they, also, who do not call upon her, who neglect her necessary intercession.”
Mary is the treasury of Jesus Christ. It is He Himself whom she possesses, He Himself whom she gives: Thesauraria Jesu Christi.*
Bossuet, in beautiful words, declares the law necessitating the union between Jesus and Mary, the mission of Mary to give Jesus to the world in all His mysteries. He quotes St. Thomas' words: “Mary has received so great plenitude of grace, that she approaches nearer than any other creature to the Author Himself of grace, and having once conceived and brought forth Him who is the Author of grace, she has, by so doing, poured grace into all human nature.” Here we touch upon a main point of the mystery, upon the basis which forever associates Mary to Jesus, which renders her the dispensatrix of Jesus Himself. “It was necessary,” says Bossuet (Serm. III. upon the Conception), “that Mary should concur by her charity in giving its Redeemer to the world. As this truth is well known, I shall not pause to demonstrate it to you; but I shall not suppress a consequence which, perhaps you have not sufficiently considered. It is that God, having willed to give us Jesus Christ through the Blessed Virgin, that order is not changed, and the gifts of God are without repentance.”
It is, then, Mary's great mission to give Jesus to the world in all His manifestations, in all His mysteries, as she did at first in the Incarnation. If we open the holy Gospel, we shall there find this truth as clear as day.
Jesus desires to go to sanctify John by His presence, and it is Mary who carries Him over the journey. She is the Sacrament of Jesus, and her maternal voice is the channel of the Saviour's divine influence upon the Precursor. Mary gives Jesus to St. John the Baptist.
Some months later, the Magi, the first-fruits of the Gentiles, and in them of all nations, find the Child with His Mother,—the Infant-God on the lap, in the arms of Mary, who presents Him to their adoration. Mary gives Jesus to the world.
Forty days have scarcely passed since His Birth, when Mary presents Jesus in the Temple. She, in very truth, offers Him to God, despoiling herself in His hands of all her rights as a mother over her Babe. She gives Him for the salvation of the world, ratifying by this public offering the sacrifice that Jesus had made of Himself to His Father from the first moment of His conception. Mary gives her Son in sacrifice for us.
Again, on the day of His first public manifestation, it is Mary who draws Jesus forth from His obscurity. She wins for Him the assured faith of His first disciples, until then wavering: Et crediderunt in eum discipuli ejus.* At Cana, it is Mary who again gives Jesus.
But, upon Calvary!—Ah! it is there that Mary truly gives Jesus to us!—“Not only,” says Père Ventura, “did Mary, in imitation of the Father, consent, but she ardently desired, she efficaciously willed, that her well-beloved Son should charge Himself with our faults, in order that we might share in His righteousness.”—“And let us not for an instant doubt,” St. Bonaventure dares to say, “that Mary's soul would not have longed to immolate her Son for the salvation of the human race, if the executioners had failed to do their work, for she desired to be in all things conformed to the Father, who had delivered His Son, and to the Son, who immolated Himself for us.”*
*La Mère de Dieu et la Mère des hommes.
To understand Mary's participation in this gift of Jesus on Calvary, let us consider St. Epiphanius' words, as quoted by Cornelius à Lapide:* “As Jesus immolating Himself on the Cross, pays to the Father the just price of our ransom, so Mary, by her offering of Him, co-operated as far as she could in the sacrifice of her Son, and consequently in our salvation, for Christ belongs to Mary, He is her riches, her all: res et peculium Virginis. He belongs to her as a son to his mother. He is a part of His Mother, that is to say, the flesh of her flesh, the bone of her bone.”—St. Bernard, therefore, did not hesitate to say: “Mary so loved the world that she gave it her only Son. She did not spare her own Son, but she delivered Him for us all!”†
*Comment. in Prov., c. viii.
†Quoted by Ventura.
Ah, well, then, will it be only in the Eucharist that Jesus will not be given to us by Mary, that He will not come to us by Mary? Will the Holy Eucharist be the only manifestation of His love in which she will not be the means, the instrument? After having given Jesus to us in the Incarnation as the principle of grace, will she not give Him in the Eucharist as the application of that grace?
Mary is our Mother, our Mother in every sense of the word; she has brought us forth in incomparable sorrow; she longs to fulfil toward us all the duties of a mother. It belongs, then, to her to feed us, and our Bread is the Eucharist; consequently, it is for her to cut our Bread for us, for her to give It to her children.
It is not possible that Mary could be excluded from this last and perpetual Gift of Jesus in His Sacrament; on the contrary, everything connected with It, claims her intervention.
We know that, for thirty years, Jesus was subject to His Mother at Nazareth. Has He now shaken off the yoke? No, certainly not! In heaven Mary is still the Mother of Jesus, and when she asks anything of her Son, gloriously seated on His throne, she does it rather as a mother who commands than as a suppliant who entreats. All legitimate relations are perfected in glory. There the son is more filial, the father more paternal, the spouse more loving, the friend more faithful. Jesus must, then, glorify and exalt the filial submission with which He honored His Mother here below, and in heaven, as in the Sacrament, our faith and our love tell us, He is still subject to His Mother. Suarez teaches that Mary always holds toward Jesus the relation of maternity, and that, for all eternity; it is, then, true to say that Jesus Christ, the Man-God, was engendered of Mary, and that she is His Mother.
Filled with amazement at the immense share which Jesus gives to Mary in all His works, we say with St. Peter Damian: “It is the invariable design of God to do everything in union with Mary, by Mary, and in Mary; so that just as nothing was made without Him, so nothing can be restored without her: Per ipsam, cum ipsa et in ipsa, totum faciendum decernitur, ut sicut sine ipso nihil factum est, ila sine illa nihil refectum sit!”—(Serm. de Annunt.)
O Mary, is it not true to say that it is to thee we owe the Eucharist? It was thy prayers, together with the loving desire of thy Son, that obtained for us Its first institution. It is thou who dost still continue to the Church the daily gift that He makes of His Flesh and His Blood. It belongs to thee, O Blessed Mother, to give thy Jesus! It is for thee to make Him known in His Sacrament, to make Him loved, to defend Him! Do thou give Him to us, for we wish to owe Him only to thee, O loving Mother!
O dear reader, always seek Jesus with Mary! Ask from Mary your Host of each day. Ask of her the graces that prepare for the Eucharist, the graces that flow from It. If by the numerous reasons that we have given, you are not yet convinced that Jesus is found only in Mary's arms, remember those words of St. Bonaventure: “Jesus is the flower that sprang from the root of Jesse. If you wish to pluck that blessed flower, bend over by your prayers the branch that bears it, and seek our Eucharistic Jesus only on the virginal bosom of Mary: Si hunc florem habere desideras, virgam precibus flectas!”—(Spec. M. V., lect. vi. c. xii.)