by St Alphonsus Liguori
ON THE DESIRE WHICH JESUS CHRIST HAS TO UNITE HIMSELF TO US IN THE HOLY COMMUNION.
"Jesus knowing that His hour was come" (St. John xiii. 1). This hour, which Jesus called 'His hour,' was the hour of that night in which His Passion was to begin. But why did He call so sad an hour His hour?
Because this was the hour for which He had sighed during His whole life, having determined to leave us in this night the Holy Communion, by which He desired to unite Himself entirely with the souls whom He loved, and for whom He was soon to give His Blood and His Life. Behold how He spoke on that night to His disciples: "With desire have I desired to eat this Pasch with you." By which words He would express to us the desire and anxiety that He had to unite Himself with us in this Sacrament of love. "With desire have I desired;" these words, said St. Laurence Justinian, were words which came from the Heart of Jesus, which was burning with infinite love: 'This is the voice of the most ardent charity.' Now the same flame which burnt then in the Heart of Jesus, burns there at present; and He gives the same invitation to all of us to-day to receive Him as He did then to His disciples: "Take ye and eat; this is My Body" (St. Matt. xxvi. 26). And to allure us to receive Him with affection, He promises Paradise to us: "He that eateth My flesh hath everlasting life" (St. John vi. 55). And if we refuse to receive Him, He threatens us with death: "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, you shall not have life in you" (St. John vi. 54). These invitations, promises, and threats, all arise from the desire of Jesus Christ to unite Himself to us in the Holy Communion, through the love that He bears us. 'There is not a bee,' said our Lord to St. Matilda, 'which seeks the honey out of the flowers with such eagerness of delight, as I have to enter into the souls that desire Me.' Jesus, because He loves us, desires to be loved by us; and because He desires us, He will have us desire Him. 'God thirsts to be thirsted after,' writes St. Gregory. Blessed is that soul that approaches the Holy Communion with a great desire to be united to Jesus Christ.
AFFECTIONS AND PRAYERS.
My adorable Jesus, Thou canst not give us greater proofs of Thy love, to show us how much Thou lovest us. Thou hast given Thy life for us; Thou hast bequeathed Thyself to us in the Holy Sacrament, in order that we may come and nourish ourselves with Thy flesh; and Thou art most anxious that we should receive Thee. How, then, can we behold all these proofs of Thy love, and not burn with love for Thee? Begone, ye earthly affections, begone from my heart; it is you that hinder me from burning with love for Jesus as He burns with love for me. And what other pledges of Thy love can I expect, O my Redeemer, than those which Thou hast already given me? Thou hast sacrificed Thy whole life for the love of me; Thou hast embraced for my sake a most bitter and infamous death; Thou hast for my sake reduced Thyself almost to annihilation, by becoming food in the Holy Eucharist in order to give Thyself entirely to us. O Lord, let me no longer live ungrateful for such great goodness. I thank Thee for having given me time to bewail the offences I have committed against Thee, and to love Thee during the days that remain to me in this life. I repent, O Sovereign Good, for having hitherto despised Thy love. I love Thee, O Infinite Goodness ! I love Thee, O Infinite Treasure! I love Thee, O Infinite Love, who art worthy of infinite love! Oh, help me, my Jesus, to discard from my heart all affections that are not directed to Thee; so that from this day forward I may not desire, or seek, or love any other but Thee. My beloved Lord, grant that I may always find Thee, grant that I may always love Thee. Do Thou take possession of my whole will, in order that I may never desire any thing but what is pleasing to Thee. My God, my God, whom shall I love, if I love not Thee, who art the Supreme Good? I do indeed desire Thee, and nothing more. O Mary, my Mother, take my heart into thy keeping, and fill it with pure love for Jesus Christ.