HOW ONE BECOMES A HERMIT, RECLUSE OR ANCHORITE?

“Now is the time to answer your summons and live your vocation! It is now that you must donate yourself to God and to God alone! You have to become patient as God has no concept of time; You must listen carefully to the guidance of the Holy Spirit;You must love! You must forgive, you must fast and you must praise and thank God for your opportunity to love and pray without ceasing!  No one said it would be easy, the best things in life never are.”


Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; 
for love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave.  Its flashes are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned. Song of Solomon 8:6-7

  1. Your profession is what you prepared for, but your vocation and what you were born for.
  2. Your profession is your career, but your vocation and mission are tasks for your whole life.
  3. Your profession is your skill, but your vocation is a gift.
  4. Your profession does not only depend on you, yet your vocation does not depend on men.
  5. Your profession can be linked to a business, your vocation is not tied to business, homes or offices.
  6. You can be dismissed and lose your appointment, yet you can never be dismissed from your vocation.
  7. You can withdraw from your employment and retire, yet you can never withdraw and retire from your vocation.
  8. A profession is temporary. Your vocation is permanent.
  9. Open your heart to Christ and follow his call. Live your vocation!
  10. Donated yourself to the sacred and united hearts of Jesus and Mary Most Holy.

eremo nel deserto

When St. Basil wanted to confirm the monastic ideal in his friend Gregory, he refers to the fact that “He who loves God abandons everything and retires into solitude with God.” (basilio, Ep. 2, 4; teodoreto, Φιλοΰεος ιστορια (PG 82), cfr. u. ranke-heinemann, op. cit. 18-25)

Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide for the way is wide and easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14) is a difficult recommendation within the Scriptures, it becomes our project for life!

Jesus says that narrow gate leads to a “hard” road, one that will take us through hardships and difficult decisions. Following Jesus requires the crucifixion of our flesh (Galatians 2:20; 5:24; Romans 6:2), living by faith (Romans 1:17; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 10:38), enduring trials with Christlike patience (James 1:2–3, 12; 1 Peter 1:6), and living a lifestyle separate from the world (James 1:27; Romans 12:1–2). When faced with the choice between a narrow, bumpy road and a wide, paved highway, most of us choose the easier road. Human nature gravitates toward comfort and pleasure. When faced with the reality of denying themselves to follow Jesus, most people turn away (John 6:66). Jesus never sweetened the truth, and the truth is that not many people are willing to pay the price to follow Him.

“First and foremost, the monk should own nothing in this world, but he should have as his possessions solitude of the body, modesty of bearing, a modulated tone of voice, and a well-ordered manner of speech. He should be without anxiety as to his food and drink, and should eat in silence.” St. Basil.

We therefore have to persevere in our hope, and the earnest of our righteousness, which is Jesus Christ, “who bore our sins in His own body on the tree,” “who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth,” yet He endured all things for us, that we might live in Him. That being the case, we must be emulators of His patience; and if we suffer for His name’s sake, let us glorify Him. For He has set us this example Himself, and we believe that such is the case.

WHY GO INTO THE DESERT?

Charles de FoucouldWe must go through the desert and dwell there, to receive the grace of God; it is there that one empties oneself, that one drives away from us all that is not God and that this little house of our soul is completely emptied so as to leave all the space to God alone … The Israelites passed through the desert; Moses lived there before receiving his mission; St. Paul, who came out of Damascus, went to spend three years in Arabia; Saint Jerome and Saint John Chrysostom were prepared in the desert … It is indispensable. And a time of grace. It is a period through which every soul that wants to bear fruit must necessarily pass. You need this silence, this recollection, this oblivion of all creation in the midst of which God puts in it his kingdom and forms in it the inner spirit … The intimate life with God … The conversation of the soul with God in faith, in hope and in charity … Later, the soul will produce fruits exactly to the extent that the inner man will be formed in it. [Thoughts taken from an anthology of the writings of Bl. Fr. Charles Eugène de Foucauld o.c.s.o.]

Sometimes a man of the century offended by and weary of society, which is ordinarily unfaithful, will long for loneliness, and imagines the hermitage as a panacea for his embittered heart, pretending that the desert is a land for the pursuit of leisure for his mind which has been downtrodden by societal expectations. Yet such convictions do not compare with the authentic conditions of solitude, in which the divine anchorites enclosed themselves, nor did these convictions lead them into the desert. [Rho, F.G., 1821. Su costumi degli anacoreti egiziani e siriaci: operetta, Brescia: Foresti e Cristiani.]

There are different situations and experiences that can lead one to embrace an eremitic or anchoritic life. There are priests, monks, nuns and even lay people, who, not finding the right community of spirit, prayer and penance, or not wanting to compromise their faith, and with a desire to serve God in solitude, have gone to the desert and did Father Charles de Foucould and Bro. Carlo Carretto, who wanted to answer the call to fight their imperfections and do penance, it took God three times to call Bro. Carlo who nearly got married. There are others who retired from the world in old age. People who at a young age had not thought about consecrating themselves to God but in old age, remembered His call and the desire within their soul, that the world and its distractions, with all its sin, buried under so much ash and dust. It is never too late to embrace the anchoritic and eremitic life, it is never too late to become a bride of Jesus Christ. It is never too late to better yourself not only physically but spiritually.  God never withdraws His call! Even when man betrays God, God will always remain faithful!

Hasten, dear soul, you still have time, it is not too late to give God’s call a generous YES, and to give yourself completely over to Jesus!

THE CALL

Is Christ calling you?

Is it the desire to stay away from people or is it the simplicity of lifestyle that attracts you? Do you think it may be a passing phase or is it something you’ve been reflecting on for years? Is it a symptom of some problem? Or is it the only possible solution?

It is important to discern and to find out why you would like to withdraw and live as a hermit or an anchorite, which is called living in the desert. In this vocation, it is not aEremita nel deserto matter of going to the desert of a hermitage to escape from problems and painful situations or to live alone without being disturbed and without rules, because without faith in Christ and without prayer you will not succeed.

It is also essential that you have a spiritual guide with whom to observe and advise you on the aspiration that you feel in your heart.  Even if your vocation is a personal thing, you are well advised to consult a good spiritual guide who knows the value of a life of prayer, penance, solitude, silence and adoration. God calls his beloved souls into the desert, and if he does and wants you to be a hermit, he places the longing in your heart to withdraw from the crowd, from the world and all of its noises. Do not withdraw so as to escape, nor because you are afraid of the world, not to abandon the world (its souls) but to help the world (the souls) through prayer, recollection, penance, fasting, giving oneself to God as a sacrifice, as spouses of Christ, and a soul of prayer. This is a method of being of service to the world, of serving our Lord and the Church. The life of a person who embraces this form of life becomes in itself a praise to God. It becomes a psalm that is sung before his throne!

But it does not mean that you remain immobile and kneeling all day just to pray. Day and  night become prayer, especially by performing penance, mortification and completing your daily work. Ora et labora means to pray and work. You will have hear many religious orders using the motto Ora et labora (“Pray and work”), daily life in a Benedictine monastery consists of three elements: liturgical prayer, manual labor and Lectio Divina, a quiet prayerful reading of the Bible.  St. Benedict said: “Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore the brethren should have specified periods of manual labor as well as for prayerful reading [lectio divina].”

The Anchorite and Hermit has times where they devote themselves to work, not only for spiritual reading (formation) but also to manual work such as in the vegetable garden, cleaning the hermitage, the cell, sewing etc. Then there is intellectual work: no physical effort is made in intellectual work, it focuses on our use of reasoning. Correspondence and administration is completed; or you accompany souls on their journey, or translate books and spiritual writings so as to guide others in their discernment or spiritual journeys.

THE SENSE OF LIVING IN THE DESERT IS IN MORTIFYING ONESELF, IN DOING PENANCE ...

“The sense of living in the desert lies in mortifying oneself, in doing penance, in humility, in the whole detachment from material goods, from honours, resisting pleasures, in forgiveness of your enemies, in the sincere love of your neighbours.  This is admired in the solitary Saints; The miser, the arrogant, the shameless, the greedy, the negligent and the vindictive will clearly discover the deformity of their own condition, which by continuing with the thinking of current societal praxis are extremely difficult to detect in oneself.  Sometimes the man of our times offended and weary of Society, ordinarily unfaithful, longs for loneliness, and imagines the hermitage as a balm for his embittered heart, pretending the desert is a distraction to his mind oppressed by social ideals. But the circumstance of solitude are not in harmony with such delusions, in which the divine anchorites were enclosed, nor did such circumstances conduct them to the desert.  They did not hide in the hermitages because they were tired of worldly pleasures, but to deprive themselves of all mundane and useless pleasures!  The solitudes, which welcomed the anchoritic saints into its womb, were already great tracts in a land abandoned by men as too unsustainable for the survival of humankind, in many places the desert is considered more effective as a destroyer of its inhabitants than in sustaining them.” 

“Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth” [1 Samuel 3:9]

“Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth” is a declaration of complete availability, of surrendering to his will, it is the decision to abandon oneself into the arms of God, promising Him not only that you will  always listen and be attentive to his direction, but also of  your absolute obedience to Him.

… God calls us because he loves us, because his invitation is in view of a duty to be carried out, a mission to be undertaken for the salvation and joy of many.

Consider where God calls you, if he calls you to be active or more contemplative, a pilgrim hermit (who is always on pilgrimage, thus giving the whole world a testimony that on earth we are pilgrims and we are only passing through), a hermit with a permanent home “stabilitas” (who lives in a place, in a field, an actual hermitage or with a community), a hermit with a special apostolate, or one who remains alone in recollection and solitude with Christ. Being a hermit does not necessarily mean staying locked up indoors. You can maintain contact with the outside world, if God so wishes it for you. Over half of the hermits live in urban areas. There are a wide variety of eremitic orders, to which do you feel drawn to? What is your heart telling you? What do you feel you are called to?

Or do you feel called to live a completely solitary life, out of sight from cities and people, not communicating with people outside of your hermitage, yet live an austere contemplative life? Do you want to live in a cell? By what means are you able to undertake this kind of life? With vocation and by the will and support of God. What matters is to remain in His intention, to listen to Him and do His will. To be guided by God and by His holy providence, which is our blessing. Feel what God tells you and what your spiritual advisor guides you towards. If you do not want to live alone and separated from your spiritual brothers and sisters, from other Hermits and Anchorites, you could see if God wants you to live close to others and therefore live within a monastic community, although each of you remains faithful to your individual and unique vocation. You could live attached to an Order, which gives you the solitary life you seek, the silence and the solitude necessary, to follow the rule for which you have decided or made a vow to live by doing penance. Some want to live in a Charterhouse, be withdrawn and always in silence, yet in communities like the Carthusians. But most important is what God wants from you. If you do not feel called to live in a Charterhouse, and you do not know where to go, stay where you are until God shows you, it may be subtle or very obvious. Increase your prayer and know that what matters is to remain in the divine will, which also means: remaining in a state of grace and then listening to what Jesus tells you in your heart. This is what matters most and it is the only way to become saints.

If you have not yet found the right place where you can serve God and where you can become a saint, live daily in the union with God through the Sacraments, through prayer, penance and the mortification. You must mortify yourself, you must do penance and ask God for His graces and blessings. Every day we must work toward our sanctification. This work cannot and must not be postponed, it requires: mortification, penances, prayers, vigils and fasting cannot without ceasing. You cannot delay using the excuse of hot yet having found the hermitage in the desert which is the right place “for you”, so get to work. God calls you, so do not make him wait. Give God your FIAT [an authoritative command or order to do something; an effectual decree] with words and deeds! Now we have to work for the kingdom of God, we must work toward our own sanctification now. If you wait for another occasion, another circumstance, another hermitage or another day to become saints, you will never achieve your vocation and become one. 

“Now is the time to answer your summons and live your vocation! It is now that you must donate yourself to God and to God alone! You have to become patient as God has no concept of time; You must listen carefully to the guidance of the Holy Spirit;You must love! You must forgive, you must fast and you must praise and thank God for your opportunity to love and pray without ceasing!  No one said it would be easy, the best things in life never are.”

Do you really feel you have to work for God? Not only to pray (to pray is to work: it is to serve God for the salvation of souls) yet also to be engaged for the greater glory of God? [Ad maiorem Dei gloriam] You could collaborate with the founding of a hermitage, in the village where you will live with God, this is how St. Mary’s Hermitage was founded. It would be a place where hermits and solitaries live withdrawn from each other yet are united spiritually. Initially the cells of the solitaries and hermits were never far from each other. When the desert Fathers built a hermitage never far from a well where they would draw0 the water needed to live. This water well is necessary as the water of life and for us in the same manner that the Sacraments and Daily Mass are necessary for us to live in the full grace of God. Ideal for a Hermit of our times, the hermitage would not be far from a church, in order to attend Mass. But those who have no possibility of attending Mass do not be discouraged. Faith helps you. Many fathers and mothers of the desert had to endure long periods without the Sacraments. We remember that St. Benedict, as a hermit in his cave, did not have Mass daily. We recall St. Francis of Assisi and his brothers received Holy Communion only once a year. Think of the Venerable Mary of Egypt patron of penitents, who endured more than twenty years without attending Mass. Of course, it is not ideal and can be dangerous, it is also a very heavy and painful cross to bare. As monastics we must ensure that we attend Mass daily or as often as possible.

The teachings of the Church tell us that if the next Church where Mass is held is more than one hour away (even on foot, if one does not have the car to get there), one does not sin if Sunday does not you can get there. If we have the opportunity to have Holy Mass often in our desert, in our hermitage, we rejoice, consider it, appreciate it and thank God! But if it does not, we rejoice all the same, and we offer everything. God trusts us, and since Bothe the sweet and the bitter comes from Him, it means, if He were to send it to us, that we are able to endure this Cross too. We have to sacrifice everything! Those who have an Internet connection can follow Holy Mass at Glenstal Benedictine Abbey, in Murrow County Limerick, Éire, online (click here) and make spiritual communion see below, you may also worship God in Eucharistic adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the altar in a live broadcast from The Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Kraków  (click here).

St Thomas Aquinas defined Spiritual Communion is an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament and in lovingly embracing Him as if we had actually received Him”  but circumstances have impeded them from receiving actual Holy Communion. The impeding circumstances might be a number of things: the person could already have received holy Communion twice that day; or the person could be in detention and unable to attend Mass; or the person might be elderly and housebound watching Mass on the television or listening to it on the radio; whatever the circumstance your intention must be that you wish to be more deeply united to Jesus Christ at that moment.  One of the prayer said at Spiritual Communion is “ At Thy feet, O my Jesus, I prostrate myself and I offer Thee repentance of my contrite heart, which is humbled in its nothingness and in Thy holy presence. I adore Thee in the Sacrament of Thy love, the ineffable Eucharist. I desire to receive Thee into the poor dwelling that my heart offers Thee. While waiting for the happiness of sacramental communion, I wish to possess Thee in spirit. Come to me, O my Jesus, since I, for my part, am coming to Thee! May Thy love embrace my whole being in life and in death. I believe in Thee, I hope in Thee, I love Thee. Amen.

God loves us so much and appreciates all of our sacrifices. It is He who gives us the gift of suffering with love. We offer all our suffering to save souls. And we offer to God with the suffrages, the most precious Blood of Jesus Christ, in expiation of our sins, in suffrage of the Holy Souls of purgatory, for the priests and needs of the holy Church.

OR DO YOU FEEL CALLED TO LIVE AS A RECLUSE?

A monk or nun are defined as a recluse when they adopt an extreme form of penitential life, which consists in locking himself up in solitude within a restricted space, either for a limited period of their life or forever (immured). These cells are normally found in a monastery or church, which is why this form of life should not be confused with that of a  monaca carmelitanahermit. Having the “desire” to withdraw and immure oneself as a recluse does not mean vocation. One should be very prudent and carefully discern whether this form of life is the will of God for you. I would strongly recommend, initially discussing the matter with your parish priest or to find a religious order that can help you discern and realise your call, but it will not be easy, because it is an extremely radical life, equally because a call to such a form of life, should be observed for years, and only accepted after a mature age, time of trial and true discernment. To decide to be immured we need a good Spiritual Father to accompany you with great prudence and possibly a Bishop who supports and blesses you to take this step.

WHAT FORM OF EREMITICAL LIFE DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE CALLED TO LIVE?

Choose a holy rule endorsed by the Catholic Church, which will guide you and you will not be alone! The holy rules that have already been approved by the Catholic Church guarantee us of a sure way to reach heaven. You already have a father with you, the Saint who wrote the holy Rule. This Rule can be adapted together with your spiritual guide and approved by your bishop, if he finds that it conforms, you will adapt your rule or your own customs for everyday life in your desert.

If today you took the decision to obey God’s call for you to a life in the desert, one that calls you to an eremitic or anchoritic life, you will begin to live this celestial life now. You can begin to live it now and where you are. God will then guide you to a hermitage suitable for you. Most importantly and what matters most is that you leave everything behind, to shed off your past life and give everything to God. St. Luke the Evangelist tells us that we must decide if we can follow God “Many people were traveling with Jesus. He said to them,“If you come to me but will not leave your family, you cannot be my follower. You must love me more than your father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters—even more than your own life! Whoever will not carry the cross that is given to them when they follow me cannot be my follower.” Luke 14:25-27  So my advice would be not to procrastinate – get on with it. You will therefore begin to live your celestial vocation today, which is important and will prepare you for the road ahead. What’s more, if you follow God it actually becomes a great adventure. And if you have to move often? Take as an example St. Benedict and his life or even of St. Romuald the founder of the Camaldolese Order, although both had to move often and had not received the full plan that God had in mind for them, they lived humbly every day and with every single breath they lived FIAT (from Latin, ‘Thy will be done’) given to God.

DE CONTEMPTU MUNDI

Disciple: Master, how can man completely detach himself from the world?

OFM EremitaMaster: The soul that loves God [finds] its rest in God only. First detach from thyself the outward bonds, then strive to bind thy heart to God. To be detached from matter is prior to being bound to God.  When a child has been weaned, bread is given him as food. And a man who wishes to become excellent in God, has first to wean himself from the world, as a child is weaned from his mother’s breasts. Bodily labours are prior to psychic service, as the creation of the body takes place before that of the soul. For he who does not perform bodily labour, does not perform physical labours either. For the latter are born out of the former as the ears from mere grains. And he who does not perform physical service, is also devoid of spiritual gifts.

Temporary suffering for the sake of the truth is not to be compared with the delight preserved for those who perform labours of excellence. As the weeping of the time of sowing is followed by the joys of harvest followed by joy.  So are the labours for the sake of God, the bread earned with sweat, delights the workman; labours for the sake of righteousness, the heart that has received the knowledge of Christ.  Suffer contempt and humiliation in the thought of excellence, for the: sake of the heart’s familiarity of speech with God. Every time a man suffers a hard word with discernment, save only when it is caused by his own fault, he receives a crown of thorns on his head for the sake of Christ; blessed is he! At other times he is crowned and knows it not.

He who flees from the fame [that rests] on knowledge, will perceive in himself the hope of the world to come.  He who promises to leave the world, yet quarrels with men concerning [worldly things because he is not willing to give up anything of what is agreeable unto him, he is perfectly blind, because he has given up the whole world voluntarily, yet quarrels about a part of it. If anyone flees from what is agreeable [unto him] in this world, his mind will behold the world to come.  He who is master of possessions, is the slave of passions. Do not estimate gold and silver only as possessions, but all things thou possessest for the sake of the desire of thy will.  He who cuts off impediments from fear of affections, he is a wise man indeed.  Without the constant service of excellence true knowledge cannot be found. Not by bodily works alone is the knowledge of life acquired, but by directing our efforts to the cutting off of mental affections.

He who labours without discernment will easily become the victim of the causes of sin when they present themselves to him. Never praise him who labours with his body, but concerning his senses is lax and without constraint, to put it another way, whose ears and mouth are open and whose eyes are prone to wander.  (St. Isaac of Nineveh)

HOW CAN I LIVE THIS FORM OF CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE ON MY OWN?

In today’s world, it is difficult to be completely self-sufficient, but with the grace of God one has all the help that is needed to survive, without having to work in the world.

If God wants otherwise, then it is He who wants and allows us to do some work outside of the hermitage. Hermits and Anchorites are in the sure hands of God. Living by God’s providence, and if one embraces the Benedictine Rule, as a necessity to maintain oneself, even by the work of their own hands.

Do you want to be a hermit in your home, cultivate your own food, and manage your life yourself?  Or do you feel you have to stay in a rented apartment in the city and go to work to support yourself? Both can be modern hermit lifestyles, but this form of life: living in the city and working in the world is not as ideal as it may seem and can cause difficulties for the Hermit.

Personally I would advise people to search for a desert far from urban areas and cities,Fra Carlo  after having tried eremitic life in London, the distractions were constant, the noise, advertising, fights in the streets, drunk people, traffic and on one or two occasions people being lewd in view of everyone.  I also endured an unprovoked attack which hospitalised me for a couple of weeks.  Yet God may as it happens call some soul to live in the desert of the city, as he did with Brother Carlo Carretto of the Little Brothers of the Gospel (link).

In prayer, try to discern what God puts in your heart and what you feel is the right thing to do, always remaining faithful to Jesus. Listen to Jesus who speaks to you in your heart and calls you to live a life that is totally surrendered to him.

The ideal form of life for an anchorite is to live alone. To have his refuge, his cell, his cave. This is the blessed hermitage: the house in the desert is the embrace of Christ. Being away from the noise of the city and of the world with all of its distractions and vanities.

With your spiritual guide see if it would be better to live this call with private vows or if it is not appropriate to make your vows  under an Abbot or a Bishop.  It would be exceptional to find a Bishop who guides you according to your vocation and who consecrates you to God!  Keep in mid though that there are Bishops who do not accept vocations to the eremitic life and some even look upon them with an element of suspicion.  Do your research, has the diocese admitted other hermits, solitaries or anchorites?

Occasionally it occurs that the soul who want to follow the call of God yet they cannot find an amenable bishop, or a hermitage or a suitable convent, and it will make them wonder why God is calling them if there is no established opportunity to live out this call. It took me three years before I found the correct combination of diocese and location for my vocation.  One person informed me that he had heard that in this day and age God does not call anyone, since there are no tangible prospect for realising this vocation and mission. Recalling the past of the Dissolution of the Monasteries, which took place in England between 1536 and 1541 by which Henry VIII the Tudor King of England using his First Act of Supremacy in 1534 allowing the crown to confiscate and disbanded monasteries, priories, convents and friaries in England and Wales and Ireland, misappropriating their income, dispose of their assets. The policy was made to increase the regular income of the Crown, former monastic property were sold off to fund Henry’s military campaigns. For hundreds of years men and women in consecrated life underwent severe persecutions, torture and martyrdom. England was not alone in this form or persecution In the countries of the Habsburg monarchy, under the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II and self proclaimed guardian of Catholicism, struck viciously at the Church and attempted to make the Church a tool of the state, independent of Rome. Religious were deprived of the tithes, ordered to study in government seminaries, bishops had to make a formal oath of loyalty to the crown. He considered himself a man of the Enlightenment and ridiculed the contemplative monastic orders, which he considered useless, frivolous and unproductive. He therefore suppressed over 700 monasteries and reduced the number of monks and nuns from 65,000 to 27,000. He completely prohibited and eliminated eremitic life within his kingdoms.

It did not mean that God stopped calling anyone to to a vocation! It did not mean that Certosinithere were no souls being called to serve him in adoration and prayer or as brides of Christ. On the contrary, it was exactly during these times of persecution that God gave so many penitent souls, hermits, anchorites, and solitaries. Whenever there are attacks against faith, against vocations, against consecrated life, against the adoration of the One Triune God, many vocations are awakened.  Before you were born, God had already chosen you in the womb, and called you by name. He gives one a specific and unique mission. The Holy Spirit breathed into the hearts of many souls the desire to consecrate their lives to God. These souls, precisely because they could not find a faithful or fervent community, because the convents had been closed or destroyed, or because they wanted to live a completely solitary life, they never gave up, the persevered and had already began to live their vocation daily, without waiting for the day “that they would be given their own cell, or hermitage, or the  appurtenant silence”. They naturally continued to search for a suitable place where they could live out their vocation in tranquility. They went to the desert. They withdrew. In times of great persecution there were so many souls who ran into the desert to worship God, in peace and quiet. Yet even during times of no persecutions, when the Catholic religion was accepted and left in peace, as it had been from the time of Constantine the Great, many souls fled to the desert, to do penance because knowing themselves as Christians too much appreciated by the world, they knew that this was not a good portent, since Christ tells us that those who follow him will be despised and persecuted! For sins and the worldliness of many, Christians began to ask God for forgiveness. Instead they chose what we call the “white martyrdom” for Christ, which is penance, solitary and ascetic life in the desert, a life as a hermit or an anchorite.

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SOUL OF ADORATION

When society forgets about God and they stop praising Him, let us gather around God present in the cell of our heart and in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar to adore Him. Our donation, prayer and adoration, are the incense on the altar of God and the hymns of Praise.  You can live the call of a hermit or an anchor, spending several hours a day in front of Jesus in adoration of the Eucharist. If you cannot physically place yourself in front of the most holy, worship Him wherever you are, in Spirit and Truth. Some are blessed with having a little chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed or they live near a church that they can  enter at any time to adore the most Holy Trinity in the Blessed Sacrament at the altar, ever present in the tabernacle of a Catholic Church. This would be the idyll. 

Watch the Holy Hour at Gethsemane (here)!

Gethsemane

Those who cannot go before the Blessed Sacrament, can do so spiritually and remain heart to heart with our Lord in front of the Eucharist.  Jesus loves you and is happy to see you before Him in the Blessed Sacrament and since He knows that many souls are unable to attend Church for various reasons, He has inspired people to film Him perpetually exposed in a chapel that you can visit online.  Believe me, Christ sees you and hears your adoration. You are locked heart to heart with Him the King of hearts!

Know that we pray for your vocational discernment daily.  May our Lord walk at your side always.  Pax

THE SOLEMNITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI

Out of the numerous types in the Old Law which foretold the Holy Eucharist, two in particular are pointed out to us, because they are mentioned, one at the time when Christ promised to give His Body and Blood as food, the other at the time when He actually made the gift.  At the time of the promise Christ mentioned the manna, at the time of the fulfilment He celebrated the supper of the Paschal Lamb.

May 31, 2018.

This feast is celebrated in the  Church on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday to solemnly commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist.  Of Maundy Thursday, which commemorates this great event, mention is made as Natalis Calicis (Birth of the Chalice) in the Calendar of Polemius (448) for the 24th of March, the 25th of March being in some places considered as the day of the death of Christ.  This day, however, was in Holy Week, a season of sadness, during which the minds of the faithful are expected to be occupied with thoughts of the Lord’s Passion.  Moreover, so many other functions took place on this day that the principal event was almost lost sight of.  This is mentioned as the chief reason for the introduction of the new feast, in the Bull “Transiturus de Mundo (August 11, 1264).”

I. The Blessed Sacrament heralded in the Old Testament.

  (i) In the manna. 

(ii) In the Paschal Lamb.

II. The Blessed Sacrament promised by Christ. 

III. Fulfilment of the promise. 

(i)The manner of consecration at the Last Supper.
(ii) The Rite at once a sacrament and a sacrifice.
(iii) Security for the perpetuation of this Rite in the ordination of the Apostles as priests.
(iv) The treasure we now enjoy is to have still the same priesthood with the same sacrament and sacrifice.

The prescience which God has of all that will happen to the creatures of His hand enables Him so to order the course of events that nothing shall come upon men unexpectedly; and in such preparation is a note of that continuous system of religion which has pleased Him to reveal, first more particularly to the nation of the Jews, and afterwards to mankind generally.  iu

Christ apprised His followers of those great crimes which, had they come upon the disciples unannounced, might have caused them scandal greater than they could bear — crimes such as the treason of the apostle Judas, the malice of those highest in office, the chief priests and scribes who brought about first the crucifixion, and then the bitter persecutions which accompanied the preaching of the Gospel after Ascension Day.  Speaking on the last head Christ declared, “These things have I spoken to you, that you may not be scandalised.  They will put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you, will think that he doth a service to God.  And these things will they do to you; because they have not known the Father, nor me.  But these things I have told you, that when the hour shall come, you may remember that I told you of them.  But I told you not these things from the beginning, because I was with you. And now I go to him that sent me, and none of you asketh me: Whither goest thou?” (John 16:1-5).  Just before the Passion He gave the warning, “Then Jesus said to them: All you shall be scandalised in me this night. For it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be dispersed.” (Matthew 26:31); and indeed so much did He feel the trial to which His conduct and its consequences would expose His friends, that He affirmed, “And blessed is he that shall not be scandalised in me.” (Matthew 11:6) 

This last example leads us to another kind of scandal, which Christ wished to speak of by prolepsis — the scandal no longer of sin, but of truths so sublime as to stagger the natural intelligence.  That the Incarnate Son of God should consent to die so humiliatingly was more than men could at once believe.  And as there were many other such truths to which the human mind required to be gradually initiated, as a consequence the revelation of these dogmas was a systematic process.  In the establishment of several particulars which go to form the constitution of our Church, we may frequently distinguish three stages, — two of preparation and one of fulfilment.  We find in the Old Testament a stage of distant heralding and in the New, first a stage of direct promise, and then a stage of accomplishment in regard to the thing promised.  Thus the Church was of old prefigured in the central city of worship and of government, Jerusalem with its Temple and high priests; secondly, the founding of the Church was promised to Simon Peter, who under Christ was to be its head; thirdly, the promise was satisfied.  After “thou shalt be called Peter” followed “thou art Peter,” and after “to thee will I give the keys of the kingdom” followed the commission “feed my sheep,” “feed my lambs,” that is, be shepherd of the whole flock, be the Supreme Pastor on earth, be Shepherd-King.  Again as to the feast of Easter; the Resurrection, that great miracle in the Faith of which the Church was enabled to gather her early converts, was prefigured in the safe deliverance of Jonas after three days’ entombment in a large sea-monster; it was promised by Christ when, referring to Jonas, He said, “Who answering said to them: An evil and adulterous generation seeketh a sign: and a sign shall not be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.  For as Jonas was in the whale’s belly three days and three nights: so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.” (Matthew 12:39-40). 

On another occasion the Jews sceptically asked, “What sign dost thou give us?” to which inquiry Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will build it up.”  The words were misunderstood by His hearers and were quoted against Him on the cross: “thou that destroyest the temple of God, and in three days dost rebuild it: save thy own self: if thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (Matthew 27:40).  But, as St. John explains, Christ “But he spoke of the temple of his body.  When therefore he was risen again from the dead, his disciples remembered, that he had said this, and they believed the scripture, and the word that Jesus had said.  Now when he was at Jerusalem, at the pasch, upon the festival day, many believed in his name, seeing his signs which he did.” (John 2:21-23).  For Christ fulfilled His own prediction — resurrexit sicut dixit — and He took abundant means to impress the fact on the belief of His disciples.  A further instance of the triple stage is furnished by the Church’s initiatory Sacrament, Baptism, which first was prefigured by the waters of the Red Sea, through which the Israelites passed, out of the land of bondage: “And all in Moses were baptized, in the cloud, and in the sea:” (1 Corinthians 10:2); which secondly may be regarded as promised in the words spoken to Nicodemus, “Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5); and thirdly in due time baptism was established, though of the precise occasion we are not certain: it was part of the mission to preach (Matthew 28:19). 

After these illustrations of a definite plan on God’s part we must pass on to the Sacrament, which we venerate today, and see how it was heralded, promised, and established.  We shall find each of these stages clearly marked. 

I

Out of the numerous types in the Old Law which foretold the Holy Eucharist, two in particular are pointed out to us, because they are mentioned, one at the time when Christ promised to give His Body and Blood as food, the other at the time when He actually made the gift.  At the time of the promise Christ mentioned the manna, at the time of the fulfilment He celebrated the supper of the Paschal Lamb.

 

  1. Moses had verified his divine commission as deliverer and legislator by many signs; and this led the Jews to ask Christ for a similar token that He had been sent by God: “They said therefore to him: What sign therefore dost thou shew, that we may see, and may believe thee? What dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” (John 6:30-31) — In reply Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead.  This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die.” (John 6:48-50).  Back then to the history of the manna we must go and there we shall find characters so clearly anticipatory of the Blessed Sacrament that it will be needless to point out all the applications.  As to time the manna was given during the forty years of wandering in the desert, and the gifts did not ceased util the land of promise was reached.  Not util the corn from Egypt, the great land of corn, was consumed, did the manna appear as food from heaven in contrast to earthly food; and it lasted till the corn of Canaan could be gathered.  It is called in Exodus (Exodus 16:4) “Bread from heaven”; in the Book of Wisdom (Wisdom 16:20), “Food of angels,” “Bread from heaven, having in it all that is delicious and the sweetness of every taste,” so that “serving every man’s will, it was turned to what each man liked”; and in the Psalms (Psalms 77:24-25) occur the names “bread of heaven,” “bread of angels.”  By St. Paul the manna is styled “spiritual food” (1 Corinthians 10:3-4).  Connected with the giving of the food are some circumstances highly significant which show the constant character of God’s gifts in this world of probation, that they are not only acts of benevolence but also trials of man’s fidelity.  God clearly affirmed His purpose in the words, “that I may prove them whether they will walk in my law, or not.” (Exodus 16:4).  Amid the complaints of the people the manna was first sent, along with the flesh of quails; but the quails were not continued, and subsequently the shouting for flesh became so loud that God yielded to them in His anger.  Some Egyptian followers raised a cry, which the Israelites without hesitation joined:  Who shall give us flesh to eat: we remember the fish we ate in Egypt. Our soul is dry, our eyes behold nothing else but manna.” (Numbers 11:4)  For a month the murmurers had quails in abundance; but they paid the price of their sensuality when, smitten with plague, they left behind corpses in such abundance that the place was called, “the graves of lust” (Numbers 11:34; Deuteronomy 8). Afterwards we find the psalmist alternating from verse to verse between the favours of God and the in gratitude of the people, between the punishments and the repentances of the Israelites.  They did eat and were filled exceedingly, and he gave them their desire; they were not defrauded of that which they craved.  As yet the meat was in their mouths and the wrath of God came upon them.  And he slew the fat ones among them, and brought down the chosen men of Israel. In all these things they sinned still, and they believed not His wondrous works. And their days were consumed in vanity and their years in haste. When He slew them they sought Him, and they returned to Him early in the morning. And they remembered that God was their helper, and the Most High their redeemer.  And they loved Him with their mouth, and with their tongue they lied unto Him. But their heart was not right, nor were they counted faithful in His covenant” (Psalms 77:10; 29-38).  Truly could St. Paul say, “But with most of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the desert.” (1 Corinthians 10:5).  Such were the Jews in their reception of the manna; and when we come to the use made by Christians of the Blessed Sacrament, we shall have to observe, that, if not “with most of them,” at least with very many “God is not well pleased,” and that it is the food which “tries the people, whether they will walk in the law or not.”[1]  Another thing about the manna that is relevant to the present festival is its mysteriousness, which led the people to ask, playing upon the word manhu, “what is this?”  To him who overcometh,” says Christ in the Revelation (2:17), “He, that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches: To him that overcometh, I will give the hidden manna, and will give him a white counter, and in the counter, a new name written, which no man knoweth, but he that receiveth it.”; hidden, that is, up to the time of its being revealed in the Kingdom of Heaven, — hidden now, when in consecrating the Chalice the priest declares the work to be a “mystery of faith.”  To this character of mysteriousness we may add the mention of only one more circumstance, — the reservation of the manna in the Ark as a perpetual memorial of God’s bounty to His people.  Moses said to Aaron, “And Moses said: This is the word, which the Lord hath commanded: Fill a gomor of it, and let it be kept unto generations to come hereafter, that they may know the bread, wherewith I fed you in the wilderness, when you were brought forth out of the land of Egypt.  And Moses said to Aaron: Take a vessel, and put manna into it, as much as a gomor can hold: and lay it up before the Lord to keep unto your generations, As the Lord commanded Moses. And Aaron put it in the tabernacle to be kept.  And the children of Israel ate manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land: with this meat were they fed, until they reached the borders of the land of Chanaan.” (Exodus 16:32-35).  Afterwards Aaron’s rod was added, a memorial of the true priesthood, by the side of what typified the future victim of the Christian Sacrifice.  The additions also were symbolical, — the temple of the Christian Church, the tabernacle of the Incarnation, the שכינה (shekinah) [2] of the Sacramental Presence, the table of the fulfilment of the Law. 
  2. The second figure was that of the Paschal Supper, at which, in anticipation of Him whom the Baptist pointed out as “the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world,” a lamb was sacrificed and eaten in conjunction with unleavened bread and the wine-cup.  We notice the two words “sacrificed” and “eaten,” and observe the symbolism of the “unleavened bread,” signifying freedom from corruption, and pointing incidentally to the fact of the haste with which the people had to depart from the land of bondage, when there was no time for the ferment to do its work, and consequently it was omitted.  St. Paul speaks of the former as being more intrinsic to the rite itself (1 Corinthians 5:6-9); but the latter correlate more closely with what was signified by the girded loins and the feet shod, and the staves in the hand and the standing posture.  Thus was foreshadowed that which was to be the Food of us wayfarers, who have here no abiding city, but must be ever going forward towards the land of promise.  And just as the Jews were privileged above other peoples, so that no stranger, not aggregated to the race, might partake of their paschal supper, so we are privileged above the Jews, in that “We have an altar, whereof they have no power to eat who serve the tabernacle.” (Hebrews 13:10).  The blood of the slaughtered lamb was sprinkled or the doorposts, a sign to the death doing angel to pass; by the houses of God’s people, and a type of that still more saving Blood of which it is declared, “Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you.  He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day.” (John 6:54-55).  This discourse occurs only in the Gospel of St. John, who is also the only Evangelist to apply what was commanded concerning the Paschal Lamb to the dead body of Christ: “You shall not break a bone of him.” of the victim (John 19:36; compare John 1:29-36).  Finally, as the Sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb was one of the three annual occasions when all the men of the Jewish race had to gather in Jerusalem, so Easter or thereabouts is the season when all Christians, of sufficient age, are commanded to gather round the Altar and to eat the Flesh of the Lamb of God sacrificed for their redemption “This is what thou shalt sacrifice upon the altar: Two lambs of a year old every day continually.” (Exodus 29:38). After the putting up of the Temple the Easter lamb had to be slaughtered there by the head of the household before the priest, who poured the blood on the altar and burnt the fat there.  There were exceptional occasions when a number of families combined. 

 

II

From the prefiguration we pass to the next stage, which is the promise made by Christ in chapter six of St. John’s Gospel.  After our Lord had fed five thousand persons by the miraculous multiplication of five loaves and two fishes, and after He had, by these and other means, disposed the minds of His audience so that they should burst forth into the declaration, “Now those men, when they had seen what a miracle Jesus had done, said: This is of a truth the prophet, that is to come into the world,” (John 6:14) then it was that under an allurement and under a threat He announced that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood; though as to the mode of their so doing He gave, at the time, no indication.  They were to trust Him for finding His own way to His own ends.  The allurement He held out was ever lasting life for those who showed due obedience; the threat, in case of refusal, was everlasting death. 

If now we refer back to the manna we are reminded how it was meant to act as a test of the people, how it did try them, and was the occasion of much incredulity and murmuring.  So too was it when Christ announced the mystery of the Blessed Sacrament: He was met by incredulous questionings, by murmurings, by reference to His lowly origin at Nazareth.  Many left His previously valued company in disgust. To complete the lessons that we are intended to draw the Evangelist adds a detail which might seem out of place, but which really is very much in place.  But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that did not believe, and who he was, that would betray him.” (John 6:65) — thus coincidently with Christ’s first promise of the Holy Eucharist mention is made of Judas, who was perhaps the first sacrilegious communicant: and the mention is emphasised when, turning to His apostles Christ uttered those awful words, “Jesus answered them: Have not I chosen you twelve; and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:71)  Again at the Last Supper Christ repeated this pointed reference to Judas: and it is to keep before us the same sad aspect of a great truth that St. Paul, in the Epistle of the day, where he is describing the institution of the Blessed Sacrament, tells us that it took place “on the same night on which Christ was betrayed” by Judas; and is careful to add the warning, “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:29)

Thus does the Blessed Sacrament bring before us a repeating of the complaints, the abuses, the ingratitude which marked the giving of the manna.  Faith in the Holy Eucharist is one great test by which to distinguish heresy from orthodoxy; while among believers themselves the conduct shown to the Holy Eucharist is a test of their spiritual state in the Church.  Christ is here to distinguish believers from unbelievers; and between believers themselves, to distinguish who will and who will not live up to his faith.  Take a Catholic congregation and consider what an approximate method of distinguishing between better, worse, and worst we have in the way in which different members comport themselves towards Christ in His Sacrament.  To many persons it is what it is intended to be, a bond of close and ever closer-growing union with God; whereas to others an exemplar of God’s love to man is turned into an exemplar of man’s ingratitude to God; and it were better for such as these that the Blessed Sacrament had never been.  To them this day, with all its jubilant manifestations, is less than meaningless; but, thank heaven, there are others for whom the Feast of Corpus Christi has its proper significance. 

 

III

At length the time came for the fulfilment of figure and promise; and it would have been quite out of proportion if the antitype had not far outdone the types, which were but its foreshadowings.  Here upon there is call for a brief declaration of the dogma of the Holy Eucharist which is not likely to chill the fervour of devotion; for is it not very characteristic of the Office of to-day that in it St. Thomas has so splendidly combined dogma with devotion?  Moreover, it is a fact that among Catholics there is often what may be styled a sad incuriosity, so that about points that they might easily know they are content to remain ignorant or dubious. Curiosity in our language generally bears a bad sense, standing for the desire to learn either what does not concern us, or what it is harmful for us to pry into; but curiositas in the Latin tongue means primarily a careful investigation in the praiseworthy sense.   Such mindfulness for knowledge of the greatest of our Sacraments should be had by all; about it no one should be half-heartedly incurious. Assuming, then, that God’s words are, when He wishes it, effective of that which they signify: “He said and they were made”; “He called and they replied, We are here.”

    1. Let us contemplate on the words of consecration.  Christ took bread into His hands, and over it He said “This is my body.”  Instantly the substance of bread ceased to be and in its place was His own body, after the likeness of the change of water into wine at Cana.  Christ’s body was present by the direct force of the words; but by reason of relatedness, or inseparable connection, because Christ’s Body was combined with His Blood animated by His soul, and hypostatically united with His divinity, the whole Christ, Man and God, was present under the aspect of bread.  In addition, owing to the fact that the Trinity is one in substance or essence, where the Son was, there too were Father and Holy Ghost.  The consecration of the Chalice is explained after a like manner.  Over the wine Christ said similarly, “This is my blood”: Instantly the substance of wine ceased to be, and in its place was His own Blood.  The Blood was there by the direct force of the words; while by force of association came the soul, the body, and all three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, but primarily the Person of the Son, for He alone is Incarnate.
    2. The rite thus completed was a sacrifice, prophecy of that soon to be offered on Calvary; it was also a Sacrament of which, though Scripture does not expressly say so, it is supposed that Christ Himself first partook, and then gave to His Apostles.  In that case, it would be the one and only Sacrament that Christ received; for His baptism was clearly no more than the baptism of John, which was not our Sacrament of Baptism. 
    3. But what Christ once conferred, He intended to make a perpetual bequest.  It was “the New Testament in His Blood”; and the word “Testament” St. Paul interprets not only as a covenant, but also as a Last Will, in which Christ bequeathed to us the means of majestically “showing forth His death till He come,” that is, till the end of the world.  We have the authority of the Council of Trent for it, that in utter ing the words, “Do this in commemoration of me,” Christ ordained His apostles priests.  True, this is not the formula now used by a Bishop in the Ordination service, but it was admirably adapted for the purpose which our Lord intended; for what is at least the most essential note of all priesthood?  St.Paul answers, “Every high priest,” and also every priest, “is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices.”  To baptise, to absolve from sin, to anoint, is not the deepest character of the priesthood; but the power to offer sacrifice, that is primarily the priesthood, and that chiefly it was which Christ conferred, when after having offered the Eucharistic Sacrifice Himself, He said to His apostles, “Do this in commemoration of me.”
    4. From the consideration of what Christ did in the room of the Last Supper on Mount Zion just outside of the Old City walls of Jerusalem, we learn what a treasure we possess in the Holy Eucharist today.  We have in it our one sacrifice and our chief Sacrament; and on each of these two heads we can say some more.  The Holy Eucharist is our one great Sacrifice; one, because it is too great to allow a second; great, because of the victim and because of the priest.  The victim is Christ Himself, offered up mystically, and no longer in a bloody manner; yet really sacrificed so “the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world” is also and in a more faithful sense slain to the end of the world.  In the state of a victim to which Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is reduced the sacrifice is sufficiently provided for, without the actual shedding of blood.  Again, the Priest is likewise Christ, the one absolute independent priest of the New Law, all other priests being so relatively, ministerially, and because of their identification with Christ; an identification which never appears more forcibly than when, in the act of consecration, they each say, ‘This is my body,” “my blood.”  Here is the dignity of the Christian priesthood, after which if any one sincerely hopes for, these hopes are made good; but he must remember not to seek a dignity without its burden, privilege without its obligations.  For Christ, who communicates to the men that are His priests the power to sacrifice, expects sacrifice for sacrifice; and often the measure of success in ministerial duties is the degree of the spirit of the priest’s self-sacrifice.  Yet another remark on the Holy Eucharist as a sacrifice.  Sometimes a non catholic tells his minister that he can pray better at home, and does not need to go to church.  Well, the minister can, of course, even from his point of view, urge the duty of public worship, which binds everyone living in society; but he cannot urge what the Catholic priest can, namely, the plea that the Mass is our supreme act of worship above all private prayer, and not within the power of the layman to offer; that consequently the layman is bound to come to church, and to the morning service, rather than to the evening, because he must hear Mass.  The Mass beyond all others is the church service: it makes an altar really an altar, and not a mere table; a something as its name signifies, raised on high, the legitimate “high place,” the conspicuous spot where sacrifice is offered, and whither all faces must turn.  Hence, St. Anselm would say that “the church is made for the altar and not the altar for the church.”  Lastly we must consider the Holy Eucharist as a Sacrament, a great central Sacrament, around which all the others are encompassed, as encircling Him who is the grace giver in each of them.  Unlike other Sacraments the Eucharist is an abiding Sacrament; it is a Sacrament, not only in the act of reception, but as long as the species endure. The baptismal water and the consecrated oils we reverently keep in the church; but we do not pay to them that supreme adoration which we pay to the consecrated Host.  The Host is there to be worshipped with divine honours, but its outer appearances show us that it is further meant to serve as our food.  It is the tree of life in the paradise of God’s Church, and requires the state, if not spotless at least of restored innocence in those that eat of its fruits.  When duly prepared we partake of it; for us it is a transforming and almost a transubstantiating nourishment.  If there is any truth in the saying “Man is what he eats,” surely he who is fed on the glorified Body of Christ should be changed into some measure of another Christ.  Christ is your life,” “For me to live is Christ,” (Philippians 1:21) declares St. Paul: and though his words have not direct reference to our Sacrament, they are eminently applicable to it, and point out what should be the effect of our frequent communions. 

Corpus Christi being the wholly jubilant feast of the Blessed Sacrament, as Maundy Thursday is its half jubilant, half mournful feast, it is a day of splendour, and rightly so.  Before the great religious rebellion in England, it was a community festival, in which the civil authorities and the guilds walked in long procession. This is still done in Italy, Spain, Mexico to mention but a few, countries that have retained a catholic religious identity.  When the more solemn forms of ritual were terminated, when churches iu.jpegwere plundered of their sacramental items, and the whole service was made as joyless and almost sepulchral as possible, one great object of the change was the dissent against the doctrine of the Real Presence, — a piece of genuine Protestantism.  We keep to that which we have never renounced — to the old doctrine and the old ritual.  Yet while we go through our so called pompous ceremonies, we need to be very careful lest what our adversaries presume to be the essential evil of our mode of worship should be allowed to become an unforeseen blemish; lest we allow the outward display to steal away from the inner spirit.  We are certain that the Corpus Christi ceremonies were never meant by the Church to be performed in forgetfulness of the Body of Christ, which they profess to honour.   They were not intended to give to a church an opportunity of displaying its treasures before a vast crowd; or to give to those who take part in the function an opportunity of displaying themselves and their accomplishments; or to those who are listeners and onlookers, and ought to be something better, an opportunity for cold, dry criticism.  Christ did not make His perpetual bequest of His Body and Blood for such vain purposes.  It was an acerbic matter for the Jews, that God had to tell them more than once, “I reject your feasts and your fasts, your ceremonies and your sacrifices, because not I, but yourselves are to be found in them.” Our sacrifice in itself God cannot reject because of its intrinsic worthiness; but He could reject our manner of taking part in the Rite.  Therefore we have to look toward our temperament, to enter properly into the services of the feast, and from there carry away a great reverence for God’s sacramental presence. 

The exercise of the presence of God is a virtue proper to all feasts; but we Catholics add a belief in the sacramental presence, and should entertain for this perpetual presence such a perpetual reverence that in the words of one of the Church’s Post-communions “Being grateful for gifts received we may obtain favours yet more excellent.”  So we have to worship Christ under His sacramental veil, that the time may come for us when the veil shall be withdrawn, and faith shall give place to sight, and we shall be deluged with the glory of the Beatific Vision.  In the Post-communion for the Feast the Church reminds us that while the substance is the same, the manner of presentment and of acceptance is different: different as figure from the object figured: “Fill us with celestial grace: Thou, who feedest us below!Source of all we have or know! Grant that with Thy Saints above, Sitting at the Feast of Love, We may see Thee face to face.  Amen.” (translation of Lauda Sion Salvatorem, (Sion Lift Thy Voice and Sing) the sequence for the Mass of Corpus Christi written by St. Thomas Aquinas)

[1]     The lintel of the synagogue at כְּפַר נַחוּם (Capernaum) has been found, built around the 4th or 5th century; Beneath the foundation of this synagogue lies another foundation made of basalt, and Loffreda suggests that this is the foundation of a synagogue from the 1st century (Loffreda, 1974).  On it is carved the manna with vine-leaves and grapes. 

[2]     Shekhinah in the New Testament may be equated to the presence or indwelling of the Spirit of the Lord (generally referred to as the Holy Spirit, or Spirit of Christ) J. Hampton Keathley, III, Th.M. at bible.org.

[3]     Protestants are so called after the declaration (protestatio) of Martin Luther and his dissenting supporters.  The Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion contend that the “Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.  The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner.  And the means whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith” (Article XXVIII).