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Meditations and Devotions relative to this Preparatory Grace; to be used in the Days of Preparation, or at any Time of Spiritual Communion.
St. Bernard's Meditation and Prayer.
THE chalice which thou, O sweetest Saviour Jesus, didst drink, hath made thee infinitely amiable; it was the work of my redemption. Certainly nothing does more pleasingly invite, or more profitably require, or more vehemently affect me, than this love: for by how much lower thou didst for me descend in the declinations of humility, by so much art thou dearer to me in the exaltations of thy charity and thy glory. Learn, O my soul, how thou oughtest to love Christ, who hath given us his flesh for meat, his blood for drink, the water of his side for our lavatory, and his own life for the price of our redemption. He is stark and dead cold, who is not set on fire by the burning and shining flames of such a charity.
Blessed Saviour Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, the Fountain of life and salvation; by thee let us have access to thy heavenly Father, that, by thee, he may accept us, who, by thee, is revealed to us. Let thy innocence and purity procure pardon for our uncleanness and disobedience; let thy humility extinguish our pride and vanity; thy meekness extinguish our anger; and thy charity cover the multitude of our sins.
O blessed Advocate and Mediator, intercede for us with thy Father and ours, with thy God and ours: and grant that, by the grace which thou hast found, by the prerogative which thou hast deserved, by the mercy which thou hast purchased for us, that as thou wert partaker of our sufferings and infirmities, so we, by thy death and resurrection, and by thy infinite gracious intercession, may be made partakers of thy holiness and thy glory.
Let the brightness of thy divine grace for ever shine upon thy servants, that we, being purified from all error and infidelity, from weak fancies, and curious inquiries, may perceive and adore the wisdom and the love of God, in the truth and mysteriousness of this divine sacrament. And be pleased to lighten in our spirits such a burning love, and such a shining devotion, that we may truly receive thee, and be united unto thee; that we may feed on thee the celestial manna, and may, with an eye of faith, see thee under the cloud, and in the veil; and, at last, may see thee in the brightest effusions of thy glory. Amen.
A Confession of Faith in Order to the Mysteries of the Holy Sucrament, taken out of the Liturgy of St. Clement; to be used in the Days of Preparation and Communion.
HOLY, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth; heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Blessed art thou, O God; and blessed is thy name for ever and ever. Amen.
For thou art holy; and in all things, thou art sanctified and most exalted; and sittest on high above all, for ever and
Holy is thine only begotten Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ; who, in all things, did minister to thee his God and Father, both in the creation of the world, and in the excellent providence and conservation of it. He suffered not mankind to perish; but gave to him the law of nature, and a law written in tables of stone, and reproved them by his prophets, and sent his angel to be their guards. And when men had violated the natural law, and broken that which was written, -when they had forgotten the divine judgment manifested in the deluge upon the old world, in fire from heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah, in many plagues upon the Egyptians, in the slaughters of the Philistines,-and when the wrath of God did hang over all the world for their iniquity, according to thy will, he who made man, resolved to become a man; he who is the Lawgiver, would be subject to laws; he
that is the High Priest, would be made a sacrifice; and the great Shepherd of our souls, would be a lamb, and be slain for us. Thee, his God and Father, he appeased, and reconciled unto the world, and freed all men from the instant anger. He was born of a virgin, born in flesh; he is God, and the Word, and the beloved Son, the first-born of every creature, according to the prophecies which went before him, of the seed of Abraham and David, and of the tribe of Judah.
He who is the Maker of all that are born, was conceived in the womb of a virgin; and he that is void of all flesh, was incarnate and made flesh: he was born in time, who was begotten from eternity: he conversed piously with men, and instructed them with his holy laws and doctrine: he cured every disease and every infirmity: he did signs and wonders among the people: he slept, and ate, and drank, who feeds all the living with food, and fills them with his blessing: he declared thy name to them, who knew it not: he enlightened our ignorances: he enkindled godliness, and fulfilled thy will, and finished all that which thou gavest him to do.
All this when he had done, he was taken by the hands of wicked men, by the treachery of false priests and an ungodly people, he suffered many things of them, and, by thy permission, suffered many things of reproach. He was delivered to Pilate the president, who judged him that is the Judge of the quick and dead, and condemned him who is the Saviour of all others. He who is impassible, was crucified; and he died, who is of an immortal nature; and they buried him, by whom others are made alive; that, by his death and passion, he might free them for whom he came, and might dissolve the bands of the devil, and deliver men from all his crafty malices.
But then he rose again from the dead; he conversed with his disciples forty days together; and then was received up into heaven, and there sits at the right hand of God his Father.
We, therefore, being mindful of these things, which he did and suffered for us, give thanks to thee, Almighty God,
-not as much as we should, but as much as we can; and here fulfil his ordinance—and believe all that he said; and know and confess that he hath given us his body to be the
food, and his blood to be the drink of our souls; that in him we live, and move, and have our being; that by him we are taught, by his strength, enabled,― by his graces, prevented, by his Spirit, conducted, — by his death, pardoned, by his resurrection, justified, and by his intercession, defended from all our enemies, and set forward in the way of holiness and life eternal.
O grant that we and all thy servants, who, by faith and sacramental participation, communicate with the Lord Jesus, may obtain remission of our sins, and be confirmed in piety, and may be delivered from the power and illusions of the devil; and being filled with thy Spirit, may become worthy members of Christ, and at last may inherit eternal life; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
OF CHARITY, PREPARATORY TO THE BLESSED
THE second great instrument of preparation to the blessed sacrament is charity: for though this be involved in faith, as in its cause and moral principle, yet we are to consider it in the proper effects also of it, in its exercise and operations relative to the mysteries. For they that speak distinctly, and give proprieties of employment to the two sacraments, by that which is most signal and eminent in them both respectively, call baptism the sacrament of faith,' and the eucharist the sacrament of charity;' that is, faith in baptism enters upon the work of a good life; and, in the holy eucharist, it is actually productive of that charity, which, at first, was designed and undertaken.
For charity is that fire from heaven, which unless it does enkindle the sacrifice, God will never accept it for an atonement. This God declared to us by the laws given to the sons of Israel and Aaron. The sacrifice that was God's portion, was to be eaten and consumed by himself, and,
therefore, to be devoured by the holy fire that came down from heaven. And this was imitated by the Persians, who worshipped the fire, and thought what the fire devoured, their God had plainly eaten. So Maximus Tyrius tells of them, that bringing their sacrifices, they were wont to say, "O fire, our Lord, eat this meat." And Pindar', in his Olympiads, tells of the Rhodians, that when they brought a sacrifice to Jupiter, and had, by chance, forgotten to bring their fire, he, accepting of their good intentions, and pitying their forgetfulness, rained down upon them a golden shower from a yellow cloud; that is, a shower of fire came and consumed their sacrifice. Now, this is the great emblem of charity the flame consumes the feaster's sacrifice, and makes it a divine nutriment; our charity, it purifies the oblation, and makes their prayers accepted.
The tables of the Lord, like the Delian altars, must not be defiled with blood and death, with anger and revenge, with wrath and indignation: and this is to be, in all senses of duty and ministration, an unbloody sacrifice. The blood of the cross was the last that was to have been shed. The laws can shed more, but nothing else. For by remembering and representing the effusion of blood, not by shedding it, our expiation is now perfected and complete: but nothing hinders it more than the spirit of ward and death; not only by the emissions of the hand, or the apertures of a wound, but by the murder of the tongue, and the cruelties of the heart, or by an unpeaceable disposition.
It was love that first made societies, and love that must continue our communions: and God, who made all things by his power, does preserve them by his love, and by union and society of parts every creature is preserved. When a little water is spilt from a full vessel, and falls into its enemy
• Ὅτι ἐπιφοροῦντες πυρὶ ἐπιλέγουσι, Πᾶς Δέσποτα, τροφὴν ἔσθιε.
• Καί τοι γὰς αἰθούσας ἔχοντες
Σπέρμ ̓ ἀνέβαν φλογὸς οὔ
Τεῦξαν δ ̓ ἀπύροις ἱεροῖς
̓́Αλσος ἐν ἀκροπόλει, κείνοισι μὲν ξαν
θὰν ἀγαγὼν νεφέλαν,
Πολὺν ὗσε χρυσόν.
Olymp. Od. 7. 86. Heyne, ed. Bliss. vol. ii. p. 80.
ε φόνῳ καὶ θανάτῳ μὴ μιανθέντα.
6 MÁ TIS xarà Tivós, Diaconi solebant enunciare in synaxi.