CyberHymnal + 1928 BCP +
Ordo Kalendar + Tracts for our Times

Meditations On The Holy Eucharist

Regarding ...

Temptation, Perplexity, Sorrow, Joy, Despondency, Penitence, Sickness, Death, Hallowing Daily Work

compiled by an Associate of the
Sisterhood of the Holy Nativity

"The King is near of kin to us."
2 Samuel 19:42

How many and many a soul there is who thinks that the season of temptation is one in which he may not draw near to the Great King on His Sacramental Throne! But surely this is a great mistake, and the mistake arises because we confound together the temptation and the yielding to temptation. The yielding to temptation is sinful, but it is no sin to be tempted. Our Lord Himself was tempted "in all points like as we are, yet without sin."

Temptation is an assault from one or other of our three great enemies, the world, the flesh, or the devil; and in the time of assault we want all the help we can get to free ourselves from it.

"The King is near of kin to us." Ah, yes, He is indeed; He has stooped and become Incarnate, Very Man; so that none so well as He "knows what is in man." He knows the fiery strength and power of temptation, for He has been through it Himself, yet without sin; therefore "Come unto Me," he says.

O tempted soul, do not refuse to come to Him because the temptation is so strong. JESUS thy King is stronger! Be the temptation ever so powerful or so alluring, be it week-day or Sunday, come to the Holy Eucharist, and there kneeling at His Altar in deepest humility, entreat of Him that which He will never refuse thee - grace and strength to refuse evil and choose the good. In the virtue of that Communion His strength will pass out to thee and thou wilt go forth and conquer.

"There they dwelt with the KIng for His work."
1 Chronicles 4:23

How many people think that their daily life of honest, hard-working labour and their religion are two separate things! Things which may run side by side, like Sunday and Monday, but never mingle together; and no doubt in past times of neglect, the Church closed all the week, has strengthened, if not given birth to, this idea. Men often think their daily life of toil is a great hindrance to their religious life and their Church work and become inclined to discontent, and to fancy that they could have placed themselves out to greater spiritual advantage than the all-wise Providence of God has done.

Ah, how endless are the lessons we have to learn from the Incarnate Life of JESUS! Eighteen years in the carpenter's shop as a working man at Nazareth; three years spent in His public ministry. Note the proportion one to the other. Surely the error is our own, and we must learn to blend the life of religion and the life of labour together. "There they dwelt with the King for his work." And the work, what was it? Quite ordinary labour among plants, and hedges and pottery, (1 Chron. 4:23, yet even for that common work they must dwell "with the King."

And the Christian soul who truly meditates on the mysteries of the carpenter's shop at Nazareth, grasps this fact of dwelling with the King, and his whole life is raised and elevated by it. To him it is no inconsistent thing to come in his working clothes to some Church where the daily Sacrifice is offered, and there, in the sacramental Presence of his Lord, dedicate himself and his day's labor to the Great King. No, he knows it is no inconsistent thing, even though all through the long hours of the day his ears be assailed by impious, blasphemous, and impure language; he, in the union of the Holy Eucharist is "dwelling with the King" and he looks out as from the shadow of a Great Rock.

What is inconsistent is to leave the dwelling of the King, and to join in the sin of the whole world around. "There they dwelt with the King for His work."

"Let my Lord the King now speak."
2 Samuel 14:18

The soul, seeing "the King is near to kin to us," should never try to settle those difficulties, questions, doubts, which come to all in the course of life, apart from the King. He should come to the King in the covenanted Presence of the Eucharist, and there lay the trouble or the difficulty before Him, and ask His ever-ready help. He need never fear that his difficulties are too small to engage the attention of the King, for "who is like unto the Lord our God, that hath His dwelling so high, and yet humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and earth!"

He never need fear to pour out his troubles in his own simple language, as a child would speak to its father; whether it is that he is in doubt as to which of two courses he should pursue; whether he should take a certain situation or not; what advice it would be best to give under certain circumstances; guidance as to choice in marriage (and how seldom is this sought for!); light as to his vocation in life; God's Will in such and such a matter. Having done this in all faith and trust, the soul should wait for the response, wait for the still, small Voice speaking within. "Let my Lord the King now speak;" and be assured that if we ask in faith and wait with patience, the answer will come in some little unexpected event. In some sign it may be in some advice given, some unusual circumstance arising in daily life. The prayer may sometimes seem to be unanswered, but may it not be that we lack the listening ear, and do not wait for the King to speak?

It is not that we pray less, but that we should listen more; perhaps he has "many things" to say to us, if we would but listen to His Voice.

"The King also Himself passed over the brook Kidron ...
and wept as He went up."

2 Samuel 1523, 30

Perhaps it is in times of sorrow that the soul most naturally turns to Jesus Christ; to come to Him in other and more joyous seasons requires some spiritual training; but in sadness there is the same natural impulse to draw near to the Man of Sorrows as there was in old time in the hearts of the two sisters of Bethany when they sent to Him, saying, "Lord, he whom Thou lovest is sick." It is the craving of the human heart for sympathy, and the felt conviction that none can sympathize like those who have borne trouble, that has brought all the world in their various and multitudinous sorrows to the Feet of Jesus Christ.

Yes, our "King also Himself, passed over the brook Kidron," the brook of sadness, and, moreover, "He wept as He went up" - Jesus wept!" Blessed life of human sorrow, in which His Sacred Heart becomes so truly the Consoler of ours!

but healing and helpful as it is to meditate on that Incarnate Life of human sympathy, the child of the Catholic Church can rise beyond that; he would do more than merely gaze on the beauty of that Life, he will seek sacramental union with Jesus in the Eucharist; and thus feeding on the heavenly mysteries, he will obtain the power and principle that is the source of all that tender sympathy, and will return from his Communion strengthened as well as comforted.

And so in times of sorrow, when death has visited the house, and hearts are wrung with grief, the Christian mourner does not for "custom's" sake spend the Sunday in the house; he knows too well for that (for has he not often experienced it?) the power, help, guidance, and consolation to be found in coming into the King's Presence and uniting himself with Him in the Eucharist; and therefore in his sorrow with much thankfulness he draws near to the Altar of the Lord.

"With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought:
they shall enter into the King's palace."

Psalm 45:15

With joy and gladness! Yes, Christian soul, remember that; thy joys and pleasures should be taken to the King's palace, there to receive His sanction and His blessing. The King loves to rejoice with those who do rejoice; it is He Himself Who has made our nature capable of joy, that nature which was originally made in His own image and likeness; and as the Christian soul is to set before himself the holiness, the purity, the love of God, so it is to set before himself the joy of God. The rapture of man's truest, fullest joy can never be satisfied in this world, because that cannot be wholly reached until he attain to the full likeness of the Divine image in which he was originally made. Man was made for God, and cannot be satisfied except in God: "When I awake up after Thy likeness, I shall be satisfied with it."

But in the pilgrimage of life God gives foretastes of future joy; all the varied beauty of nature, tree, river, flower, and bird, are gifts of pleasure from the Hand of the Almighty Father to train the soul in His own Divine attribute of joy. "The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy," etc. Does the Holy Spirit here teach us that the joy of God has its source in the love of God? the love of the three blessed Persons of the Trinity the One for the Other?

And so it is in man's nature, formed after His own likeness; joy ever has its source in love, and love for one another has its great counterpart in the love of the Blessed Trinity.

Oh surely, then, our happiness, our love, our joy, are very dear to our King! And how He loves that soul who comes in trusting confidence and lays them all at His Feet in the Holy Eucharist, knowing that he receives them back from Jesus hallowed, quickened, dedicated!

How natural, then, and right it is to seek His Presence in a celebration of the HOly Eucharist before starting a day's pleasure or excursion, on a birthday or any festival, or as a thanksgiving for any prosperity that has come to us, or for any special success in anything that we have undertaken, giving God the Glory therein! And in courtship, in the pure love which youth and maiden bear one to another, they should hallow that affection by making Jesus their Companion by their continual approach together to the Altar of the Lord, by their continual partaking together of that holy Food, and joy and gladness entering into the King's palace. Why is it that so often during the time of courtship and marriage the soul becomes careless, neglectful, falls into sin, sin which leaves a lifelong stain behind it?

It is because they have failed to grasp the fact that the Almighty Father loves to see His children happy; they do not understand the sympathy of Jesus Christ, and so they have their pleasures apart from Him; they let their merriment be with things that are sinful, and then there is but a short step into sin itself, and thus they go farther and farther from their true happiness, until at last they end in misery and wretchedness. So grievous are the consequences of not seeking Jesus in their joy, and making Him a sharer in their gladness!

The child of the Catholic Church knows so well the loving interest that the King takes in him, that his pleasure and his love are not complete unless they have the seal of the King's benediction. His fullest earthly happiness is not perfect unless, as with the two going to Emmaus, that glorious Third draw nigh as the Companion of the way: "Jesus Himself drew near and went with them".

"So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty."
Psalm 45:11

There is another form of trial which some times attacks the Christian soul, and that is spiritual depression. Spiritual depression comes from a want of the great virtue of hope, and some characters suffer from it more than others. It makes the soul feel "out of heart" with itself and all it tries to do and be; makes it think that all is of no use, that it does not get on - in fact gets worse instead of better, and that it is hardly any good to try any more, etc. This is the first stage, and the soul should bravely try to realize that it is simply a trial that he is passing through, and endeavor to fight against it as he would any other trial. This is not easy to do, because the soul often finds it so difficult to realize that it is trial and not sin, and the difficulty and uncertainty seem to increase the despondency. Still it is a very urgent duty to regard this first stage as a mere passing trial and to fight against it, for otherwise Satan will not lose his opportunity. Satan will do his utmost to make the despondent soul neglectful, persuading that because such and such a duty seems of no use to leave it off; thus the temptation fits in with the trial, and the soul too often is beguiled by Satan and becomes neglectful. This is the second stage, into which if the soul falls there is plain cause for spiritual depression - he is neglecting the things which belong unto his peace.

How necessary, then, is it to strive to overcome spiritual depression while it is merely a trial, and before it has led to what may so soon become sin! How many people oppressed with this trial recklessly cast away their chief weapon, by keeping away from Holy Communion because they do not "feel good enough to go!" The soul does not go to the Holy Eucharist because it is "good enough to go!" but it goes to gain spiritual strength to fight against and to overcome sin.

It will be a help to the soul suffering under spiritual depression to turn the mind entirely away from itself, the usefulness of its own efforts, its own want to love and desire, etc., and to fix its thoughts on the King, not "How miserable and unworthy is my love for the King! but "How great is the King's love for me, and how much he desires my love!" To dwell in thought on the great, enduring, individualizing love of the King, and that He condescends to feel a real want of the soul's love in return, "so shall the King greatly desire thy beauty;" the beauty of the soul is to answer the purpose for which it was made, i.e., to love God.

Christ ever loves the soul, even though some cloud seems to hide out the vision of Himself; it is for the childlike soul to recognize this, and with the eye of faith to cling close to Him, even though the cloud seems so black that it appears to be a wall of separation. Faith, then! How near to the dark cloud is the bright beauty of the rainbow?

"Return to thy place, and abide with the King;
for thou art a stranger, and also an exile."

2 Samuel 15:19

Let us suppose the soul has neglected Christ, and that (as is ever the case) sin has followed upon neglect. Neglect is like the entering in of the thin end of the wedge; sin follows easily when neglect has prepared the way. The sin has been committed, and it has stained the soul, but not parted it from God; for that soul has been so long in the atmosphere of holy love, that the very yielding to evil startles and surprises it, so that almost upon the commission of the sin comes repentance, the lowly self-reproaching conscience, the deep humble sorrow for sin. How happy it is for the soul when penitence follows quickly upon sin!

Still we must never think that sorrow can make up for sin. It is true that God has a great regard for contrition or sorrow for sin, but then that is because of His own great love and goodness, not because our sorrow can make up in any way the injury sin has done to God.

We must remember both the justice and mercy of God; His justice as well as His mercy, His mercy as well as His justice. Some there are who on their repentance, confident in the mercy of God, rush at once to their Communions; some there are who let months pass before they dare present themselves at God's Altar. The soul which has a knowledge of the exceeding sinfulness of sin will rightly fear to press too boldly into the King's Presence after sin committed; but yet knows, on the other hand, that if he let too long a time pass without his Communion, Satan will be at hand to take advantage and tempt him again in his weakness. How difficult the soul often finds it to discern between undue presumption and undue despondency! - when it would be best to stay away from his Communion for a time, when it would be best to come.

How well it would be for that soul, and how much future sin and misery it might prevent, if instead of waiting and hesitating, at once in humble confession he would seek the Church's absolution, and receive to his comfort and assistance "ghostly counsel and advice" from those who have received the power of the Holy Ghost for that special office!

"Return to thy place, and abide with the King;" yes, and never leave Him more.

"Thy King cometh unto thee."
Zechariah 9:9

Yes. Now laid on a bed of sickness, "thy King cometh unto thee." Hitherto in health and strength it has been the privilege of the true Churchman to go out day by day and seek the Eucharistic Presence of the King, in all seasons of joy and sorrow of work and leisure, in trial and perplexity.

But now sickness has laid him low, and he can no more wend his willing footsteps with gladness to the House of the Lord; still that near approach of the Great King, loved and cherished in health, will not be wanting to him now. The Church has provided the Office for the Communion of the Sick, and it is the duty and privilege of His Priests to minister the Blessed Sacrament to the sick and dying.

How happy is that soul who has long and earnestly prepared for his last illness, to whom the last summons comes as an expected friend, whose prayers have gone up day by day, it may be for years past, that a holy and peaceful death might be granted to him! Whether his sickness be short or whether it be long and tedious, what a much-prized blessing will be his constant Communion! He will not be, as so many alas! who seek Jesus for the first time on their death-beds; and who scarcely knowing what they are doing, make their first Communion with minds impaired and weakened by sin and suffering.

Oh no! the Eucharist is far different to him. It is as the familiar embrace of a dearly loved friend, the deeply valued guiding star of a lifetime, the tried and proved counsellor of many years. What peace will that soul experience at the last, who will all through the burden and heat of the day make Jesus his "Guide even unto death!"

"The King said, Come thou over with Me,
and I will feed thee with Me in Jerusalem."

2 Samuel 19:33

The last Communion! the sacred Viaticum! What is its message to the dying Christian? Spiritual strength, comfort, hope, all that he most needs in his last extremity. Now, indeed, does he receive the answer to all the prayers that he has prayed, perhaps years before, for grace that he might die a holy death; for in the Ear of God, with Whom there is no such thing as time, those prayers are as fresh as if they had been prayed today. The soul now unable to pray through bodily exhaustion, and perhaps is in mortal agony, has the spiritual power and the final perseverance, which are given to him by the grace of God in answer to his former prayers, which are even now ascending to the Throne of Grace.

What is the Eucharistic message? "Come thou over with Me," the King says; yes, the final passage over the waters of the Jordan has yet to be made, the bank is steep and difficult, the water is dark and cold, and the way unknown; but the King says to His faithful servant, "Come thou over with me!"

"I will feed thee with Me," the fulfilling of many Eucharists, the realization of His unveiled Presence, the Beatific Vision is at length attained!" "I will feed thee with Me in Jerusalem." Jerusalem the golden! Jerusalem the vision of peace! Here, indeed, in that heavenly banquet is the fullness of joy forevermore.

Then, then, unveiled wilt Thou appear
To those who walking with Thee here
These wilds have trod;
In faith that with the Cherubim,
The Saints and hosts of Seraphim
May join the eternal hymn
To Thee, O God! Amen.