by St Alphonsus Liguori
ON THE GREAT LOVE WHICH JESUS CHRIST HAS SHOWN US IN THE BLESSED SACRAMENT.
"Jesus, knowing that His hour was come, that He should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end" (St. John xiii. 1). Jesus knowing that the hour of His death was come, desired to leave us, before He died, the greatest pledge of His affection that He could give us; and this was the gift of the Most Holy Sacrament: "He loved them to the end;" which St. Chrysostom explains, 'He loved them with extreme love' He loved men with the greatest love with which He could love them, by giving them His whole Self. But at what time did Jesus institute this great Sacrament, in which He has left us Himself ? On the night preceding His death: "The same night in which He was betrayed" (writes the Apostle), "He took bread; and giving thanks, broke and said, Take ye and eat; this is My Body" (1 Cor. xi. 23, 24). At the very time that men were preparing to put Him to death, He gave them this last proof of His love. The marks of affection which we receive from our friends at the time of their death, remain more deeply impressed on our hearts; for this reason did Jesus bestow on us this gift of the Blessed Sacrament just before His death. With reason, then, did St. Thomas call this gift 'a sacrament and pledge of love;' and St. Bernard, ' the love of loves;' because in this Sacrament Jesus Christ united and accomplished all the other acts of love which He had shown us. Hence St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi called the day on which Jesus instituted this Sacrament, 'the day of love.'
AFFECTIONS AND PRAYERS.
O infinite love of Jesus, worthy of being loved with a like infinite love! Thou, my Lord, dost love men so much; how is it, then, that men love Thee so little in return? What more couldst Thou do to make Thyself loved by them? O my Jesus, Thou art so amiable and so loving; make Thyself, I pray Thee, known; make Thyself loved. When shall I love Thee as Thou hast loved me? Oh, discover to me more .and more the greatness of Thy mercy, in order that I may burn ever more and more with Thy love, and always seek to please Thee. O beloved One of my soul, would that I had always loved Thee! Alas, there was a time when I not only did not love Thee, but despised Thy grace and Thy love! I am consoled by the sorrow which I feel for it, and I hope for pardon through Thy promise to forgive him that repents of his sins. To Thee, O my Saviour, do I turn all my affections; help me, through the merits of Thy Passion, to love Thee with my whole strength. Oh, that I could die for Thee, as Thou didst die for me! O Mary, my Mother, do thou obtain for me the grace from henceforth to love God alone.