Featured Image
Corpus Christi processionSidney de Almeida /

(LifeSiteNews) — A great solemnity has this day risen upon our Earth: a Feast both to God and men, for it is the Feast of Christ the Mediator who is present in the sacred Host that God may be given to man, and man to God. Divine union — yes, such is the dignity to which man is permitted to aspire, and to this aspiration, God has responded, even here below, by an invention which is all of Heaven.

It is today that man celebrates this marvel of God’s goodness. And yet, against both the Feast and its divine object there has been made the old fashioned objection: How can these things be done? (John 3:9, 4:53) It really does seem as though reason has a right to find fault with what looks like senseless pretensions of man’s heart. Every living being thirsts after happiness, and yet and because of that it only aspires after the good of which it is capable, for it is the necessary condition of happiness that in order to its existence there must be the full contentment of the creature’s desire. Hence, in that great act of creation which the Scripture so sublimely calls His playing in the world, (Proverbs 8:30-31) when with His almighty power, He prepared the heavens and enclosed the depths, and balanced the foundations of the earth, (Proverbs 8:27, 29) we are told that Divine Wisdom secured the harmony of the universe by giving to each creature, according to its degree in the scale of being, an end adequate to its powers. He thus measured the wants, the instinct, the appetite (that is, the desire) of each creature, according to its respective nature so that it would never have cravings, which its faculties were insufficient to satisfy.

In obedience, then, to this law, was not man, too, obliged to confine, within the limits of his finite nature, his desires for the good and the beautiful, that is, his searching after God, which is a necessity with every intelligent and free being? Otherwise, would it not be that, for certain beings, their happiness would have to be in objects, which must ever be out of the reach of their natural faculties? Great as the anomaly would appear, yet does it exist. True psychology, that is, the true science of the human mind, bears testimony to this desire for the infinite. Like every living creature around him, man thirsts for happiness. And yet, he is the only creature on earth that feels within itself longings for what is immensely beyond its capacity. While docile to the lord placed over them by the Creator, the irrational creatures are quite satisfied with what they find in this world. They render to man their several services, and their own desires are all fully gratified by what is within their reach: it is not so with Man. He can find nothing in this his earthly dwelling which can satiate his irresistible longings for a something which this Earth cannot give, and which time cannot produce: for that something is the infinite.

God Himself, when revealing Himself to man through the works He has created, that is, when showing Himself to man in a way which His natural powers can take in: God, when giving man to know Him as the First Cause, as Last End of all creatures, as unlimited perfection, as infinite beauty, as sovereign goodness, as the object which can content both our understanding and our will — no, not even God Himself, thus known and thus enjoyed, could satisfy man. This being, made out of nothing, wishes to possess the Infinite in his own substance. He longs after the sight of the face, he ambitions to enjoy the life, of his Lord and God. The Earth seems to him but a trackless desert where he can find no water that can quench his thirst. From early dawn of each wearisome day, his soul is at once on the watch, pining for that God who alone can quell his desires. Yes, his very flesh too has its thrilling expectations for that beautiful Infinite One. (Psalm 62) Let us listen to the Psalmist, who speaks for us all: As the hart pants after the fountains of water, so my soul pants after you, God! My soul has thirsted after the strong, living, God: when will I come and appear before the face of God? My tears have been my bread, day and night, while it is said to me daily: Where is your God? These things I remembered, and poured out my soul in me, for I will go over into the place of the wonderful tabernacle, even to the house of God. With the voice of joy and praise, the noise of one that is feasting. Why are you sad, my soul? and why do you trouble me? Hope in God, for I will still give praise to Him: the salvation of my countenance, and my God. (Psalm 41)

If reason is to be the judge of such sentiments as these, they are but wild enthusiasm and silly pretensions. Why talk of the sight of God, of the life of God, of a banquet in which God Himself is to be the repast? Surely, these are things far too sublime for man, or any created nature, to reach. Between the wisher and the object longed for, there is an abyss— the abyss of disproportion, which exists between nothingness and being. Creation, all powerful as it is, does not in itself imply the filling up of that abyss. If the disproportion could ever cease to be an obstacle to the union aspired to, it would be by God Himself going that whole length, and then imparting something of His own divine energies to the creature that had once been nothing. But, what is there in man to induce the Infinite Being, whose magnificence is above the heavens, to stoop so low as that? This is the language of reason.

But, on the other hand, who was it that made the heart of man so great and so ambitious that no creature can fill it. How comes it that while the heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament declares how full of wisdom and power is every work of His hands, (Psalm 18:2) how comes it, we ask, that in man alone there is no proportion, no order? Could it be that the great Creator has ordered all things, excepting man alone, with measure, and number, and weight? (Wisdom 11:21) That one creature who is the masterpiece of the whole creation, that creature for whom all the rest was intended as for its king, is he to be the only one that is a failure, and to live as a perpetual proclaimer that his Maker could not, or would not, be wise, when he made Man? Far from us be such a blasphemy! God is love, says Saint John, (1 John 4:8) and love is the knot which mere human philosophy can never loosen, and therefore must ever leave unsolved the problem of man’s desire for the Infinite.

Yes, God is charity. God is love. The wonder in all this question is not our loving and longing for God, but that He should have first loved us. (1 John 4:10) God is love, and love must have union. And union makes the united like one another. Oh the riches of the Divine Nature in which are infinite Power, and Wisdom, and Love! These three constitute, by their divine relations, that blessed Trinity which has been the light and joy of our souls ever since that bright Sunday’s Feast, which we kept in its honor! Oh the depth of the divine counsels in which that which is willed by boundless Love finds, in infinite Wisdom, how to fulfill in work what will be to the glory of Omnipotence!

Glory be to thee, O Holy Spirit! Thy reign over the Church has but just begun this Year of grace, and thou art giving us light whereby to understand the divine decrees. The day of thy Pentecost brought us a new Law, a Law where all is brightness; and it was given to us in place of that Old one of shadows and types. The pedagogue, who schooled the infant world for the knowledge of truth, has been dismissed; light has shone upon us through the preaching of the Apostles; and the children of light, set free, knowing God and known by him, are daily leaving behind them the weak and needy elements of early childhood. (Galatians 3:5, 24-25; 4:9) Scarcely, O divine Spirit, was completed the triumphant Octave in which the Church celebrated your Coming and her own birth which that Coming brought, when all eager for the fulfillment of your mission of bringing to the Bride’s mind the things taught her by her Spouse (John 14:26), you showed her the divine and radiant mystery of the Trinity, that not only her Faith might acknowledge, but that her adoration and her praise might also worship it. And she and her children find their happiness in its contemplation and love. But, that first of the great mysteries of our faith, the unsearchable dogma of the Trinity, does not represent the whole richness of Christian revelation. You, O blessed Spirit, hasten to complete our instruction, and widen the horizon of our faith.

The knowledge you have given us of the essence and the life of the Godhead, was to be followed and completed by that of His external works, and the relations which this God has vouchsafed to establish between Himself and us. In this very week when we begin under your direction, to contemplate the precious gifts left us by our Jesus when He ascended on high; (Psalm 67:19) on this first Thursday, which reminds us of that holiest of all Thursdays — our Lord’s Supper — you, O divine Spirit, bring before our delighted vision the admirable Sacrament which is the compendium of the works of God, one in Essence and three in Persons; the adorable Eucharist, which is the divine memorial (Psalm 110:4) of the wonderful things achieved by the united operation of Omnipotence, Wisdom and Love. The Most Holy Eucharist contains within itself the whole plan of God with reference to this world of ours. It shows how all previous ages have been gradually developing the divine intentions which were formed by infinite love and, by that same love, carried out to the end, (John 13:1) yea, to the furthest extremity here below, that is, to Itself; for the Eucharist is the crowning of all the antecedent acts done by God in favor of his creatures; the Eucharist implies them all; it explains all.

Man’s aspirations for union with God,—aspirations which are above his own nature, and yet so interwoven with it as to form one inseparable life,—these strange longings can have but one possible cause, and it is God himself—God who is the author of that being called Man. None but God has formed the immense capaciousness of man’s heart; and none but God is willing or able to fill it. Every act of the divine will, whether outside himself or in, is pure love, and is referred to that Person of the Blessed Trinity who is the Third; and who, by the mode of his Procession, is substantial and infinite love. Just as the Almighty Father sees all things before they exist in themselves, in his only Word, who is the term of the divine intelligence,—so, likewise, that those same things may exist in themselves, the same Almighty Father wishes them, in the Holy Ghost, who is to the divine will what the Word is to the infinite intelligence. The Spirit of Love, who is the final term to the fecundity of persons in the divine essence, is, in God, the first beginning of the exterior works produced by God. In their execution, those exterior works are common to the Three Persons, but they are attributed to the Holy Ghost, inasmuch as he, being the Spirit of Love, solicits the Godhead to act outside Itself. He is the Love who, with its divine weight and influence of love, sways the Blessed Trinity to the external act of creation; infinite Being leans, as it were, towards the deep abyss of nothingness, and out of that abyss, creates. The Holy Spirit opens the divine counsel and saysLet us make man to our image and likeness! (Genesis 1:26) Then God created man to his own image; he creates him to the image of God,  (Genesis 1:27) taking his own Word as the model to which he worked; for that Word is the sovereign archetype according to which is formed the more or less perfect essence of each created being. Like him, then, to whose image he was made, Man was endowed with understanding and free will. As such, he would govern the whole inferior creation and make it serve the purposes of its Creator, that is, he would turn it into an homage of praise and glory to its God; and though that homage would be finite, yet would it be the best of which it was capable. This is what is called the natural order; it is an immense world of perfect harmonies; and, had it ever existed without any further perfection than its own natural one, it would have been a masterpiece of God’s goodness; and yet it would have been far from realizing the designs of the Spirit of Love.

With all the spontaneity of a will which was free not to act, and was as infinite as any other of the divine perfections, the Holy Spirit wills that Man should, after this present life, be a partaker of the very life of God by the face to face vision of the divine essence; nay, the present life of the children of Adam here on this earth is to put on, by anticipation, the dignity of that higher life; and this so literally that the future one in heaven is to be but the direct sequel the consequent outgrowth of the one led here below. And how is man, so poor a creature in himself, to maintain so high a standing? How is he to satisfy the cravings thus created within his heart? Fear not: the Holy Ghost has a work of his own, and he does it simultaneously with the act of creation; for the Three Persons infuse into their creature, Man, the image of their own divine attributes; and upon his finite and limited powers graft, so to say, the powers of the divine nature. This being made for an end which is above created nature; these energies superadded to man’s natural powers, transforming, yet not destroying, them and enabling the possessor to attain the end unto which God calls him;—is called the supernatural order, in contradistinction to that lower one, which would have been the order of nature had not God, in his infinite goodness, thus elevated man above his own mere state as man, and that from the very first of his coming into existence. Man will retain all those elements of the natural order, which are essentials to his human nature; and with those essential elements, the functions proper to each: but there is a principle that, in every series, that should give the specific character to the aggregate which was the end proposed by the ruling mind. Now, the last end of Man was never other in the mind of his Creator than a supernatural one; and consequently, the natural order, properly so called, never existed independently of or separately from the supernatural.

There has been a proud school of philosophy called “free and independent,” which professed to admit no truths except natural ones, and practice no other virtues than such as were merely human: but such theories cannot hold. The disciples of godless and secular education, by the errors and crimes into which their unaided nature periodically leads them, demonstrate almost as forcibly as the eminent sanctity of souls which have been faithful to grace, that mere nature or mere natural goodness never was and never can be a permanent and normal state for man to live in. And even granting that he could so live, yet man has no right to reduce himself to a less exalted position than the one intended for him by his Maker. “By assigning us a supernatural vocation, God testified the love he bore us; but at the same time, he acted as Lord and evinced his authority over us. The favor he bestowed upon us has created a duty corresponding. Men have a saying, and a true one: ‘He that hath nobility, hath obligations:’ and the principle holds with regard to the supernatural nobility, which it has pleased God to confer upon us.” (Mgr. Pie, Bishop of Poitiers, First Synodical Instruction on the Chief Errors of our times, viii.).

It is a nobility which surpasses every other; it makes man not only an image of God, but like unto him! (Genesis 1:26). Between God,—the Infinite, the Eternal,—and Man, who but a while back was nothing, and ever must be a creature,—friendship and love are henceforth to be possible:—such is the purpose of the capabilities, and powers, and the life bestowed on the human creature by the Spirit of Love. So, then, those longings for his God, those thrillings of his very flesh, of which we were just now reading the inspired description by the Psalmist (Psalm 62) —they are not the outpourings of foolish enthusiasm! That thirsting after God, the strong, the living God; that hungering for the feast of divine union;—no, they are not empty ravings. (Psalm 41) Made partaker of the divine nature, (1 Peter 1:4) as Saint Peter so strongly words the mystery, s it to be wondered at if man be conscious of it and lets himself be drawn by the uncreated flame into the very central Fire it came from to him? The Holy Spirit, too, is present in his creature, and is witness of what himself has produced there; he joins his own testimonies to that of our own conscience, and tells our spirit that we are truly what we feel ourselves to be—the sons of God. (Romans 8:16) It is the same Holy Spirit who, secreting himself in the innermost center of our being, that he may foster and complete his work of love,—yes, it is that same Spirit who, at one time, opens to our soul’s eye by some sudden flash of light the future glory that awaits us, and then inspires us with a sentiment of anticipated triumph;(Ephesians 1:17-18Romans 5:2) and then, at another time, He breathes into us those unspeakable moanings (Romans 8:26), those songs of the exile, whose voice is choked with the hot tears of love, for that his union with his God seems so long deferred. There are, too, certain delicious hymns which, coming from the very depths of souls wounded with divine love, make their way up to the throne of God; and the music is so sweet to him that it almost looks as though it had been victorious and had won the union! Such music of such souls does really win if not the eternal union,—for that could not be during this life of pilgrimage, and trials, and tears,—still it wins wonderful unions here below, which human language has not the power to describe.

In this mysterious song between the Divine Spirit and man’s soul, we are told by the Apostle that He who searcheth hearts, knoweth what the Spirit desireth, because he asketh for the saints according to God. (Romans 8:27). What a desire must not that be, which the Holy Spirit desireth! It is as powerful as the God who desires it. It is a desire, new, indeed, inasmuch as it is in the heart of man, but eternal, inasmuch as it is the desire of the Holy Spirit, whose Procession is before all ages. In response to this desire of the Spirit, the great God, from the infinite depths of his eternity, resolved to manifest himself in time and unite himself to man while yet a wayfarer; he resolved thus to manifest and unite himself not in his own Person, but in his Son, who is the brightness of his own glory and the true figure of his own substance. (Hebrews 1:3) God so loved the world (John 3:16) as to give it His own Word —that divine Wisdom, who, from the bosom of His Father, had devoted Himself to our human nature. That bosom of the Father was imaged by what the Scripture calls Abraham’s bosom, where, under the ancient covenant, were assembled all the souls of the just, as in the place where they were to rest till the way into the Holy of Holies should be opened for the elect. (Hebrews 9:8) Now, it was from this bosom of His eternal Father, which the Psalmist calls the bride-chamber (Psalms 18:6), that the Bridegroom came forth at the appointed time, leaving his heavenly abode and coming down into this poor earth to seek his Bride; that, when he had made her his own, he might lead her back with himself into his kingdom, where he would celebrate the eternal nuptials. This is the triumphant procession of the Bridegroom in all his beauty; (Psalms 44:5) a procession whereof the Prophet Micheas, when speaking of his passing through Bethlehem, says that his going forth is from the days of eternity. (Micah 5:2). Yes, truly from the days of eternity; for as we are taught by the sublime principles of Catholic theology, the connection between the eternal procession of the divine Persons and the temporal mission is so intimate that one same eternity unites the two together in God: eternally, the Trinity has beheld the ineffable birth of the Only Begotten Son in the bosom of the Father; eternally, with the same look, it has beheld him coming, as Spouse, from that same Father’s bosom.

If we now come to compare the eternal decrees of God one with the other, it is not difficult to recognize which of them holds the chief place and, as such, comes first in the divine intention of creation. God the Father has made all things with a view to this union of human nature with his Son;—union so close that, for one individual member of that nature, it was to go so far as a personal identification with the Only Begotten of the Father. So universal, too, was the union to be that all the members were to partake of it in a greater or less degree; not one single individual of the race was to be excluded, except through his own fault, from the divine nuptials with eternal Wisdom, which was made visible in a Man, the most beautiful above all the children of men. (Psalms 44:3For, as the Apostle saysGod, whoheretofore commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath himself shined in our hearts, giving them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in, and by, the face of Christ Jesus. (2 Corinthians 4:6). So that the mystery of the Marriage Feast is, in all truth, the mystery of the world and the kingdom of Heaven is well likened to a King who made a Marriage for his Son. (Matthew 22:1-14)

But where is the meeting between the King’s Son and his Betrothed to take place? Where is this mysterious union to be completed? Who is there to tell us what is the dowry of the Bride, the pledge of the alliance? Is it known who is the Master who provides the nuptial banquet and what sorts of food will be served to the guests? The answer to these questions is given this very day, throughout the earth; it is given with loud triumphant joy. There can be no mistake; it is evident from the sublime message, which earth and heaven re-echo, that He who is come is the Divine Word. He is adorable Wisdom, and is come forth from his royal abode to utter his voice in our very streets, and cry out at the head of multitudes, and speak his words in the entrance of city gates; (Proverbs 1:20-21) he stands on the top of the highest places by the way, in the midst of the paths, and makes Himself heard by the sons of men. (Proverbs 8:1-4) He bids his servants go to the tower and the city walls with this his messageCome! eat my Bread, and drink the Wine which I have mingled for you; for Wisdom hath built herself a House; supported on seven pillars; there she hath slain her victims, mingled her wine, and set forth her table; (Proverbs 9:1-5all things are ready; come to the marriage! (Matthew 22:4)

Wisdom, that earnest forth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end, disposing all things with strength and sweetness! (Prima ex Ant. maj. Adventus) we besought thee, in the season of Advent, to come unto Bethlehem, “the house of Bread;” thou wast the long Expected of our hearts. The day of the glorious Epiphany showed us the mystery of the Nuptials, and manifested to us the Bridegroom; the Bride was got ready in the waters of the Jordan; we commemorated the Magi, who, with their gifts, hastened to the royal nuptials, where the guests were regaled with a miraculous wine. (Ant. Epiphany ad Benedictus) But the Water which, to make up for the deficiency of a bad tree, was changed into wine, was a prophetic figure of future mysteries. The Vine, the true Vine, of which we are the Branches, (John 15:5) has yielded its sweet-smelling flowers, and its fruits of honor and riches. (Ecclesiasticus 24:23) “Wheat hath abounded in our valleys, and they shall sing a hymn of praise; (Psalm 64:14) for this strength of the earth shall cover the mountain-tops, and its fruit shall go up beyond Libanus. (Psalm 71:16)

Wisdom, thou noble queen, whose divine perfections enamor, from early childhood, hearts that are taken with true beauty! (Wisdom 8:2) The day of the true Marriage Feast is come. Thou art a mother full of honor, and a young Bride in thy charms, and thou comest to nourish us with the bread of life, and give us to drink of a cup of salvation. (Ecclesiasticus 15:2-3) Thy fruit is better than gold; and thy blossoms, than choicest silver. (Proverbs 8:19) They that eat thee, shall still hunger after thee; and they that drink thee, shall again thirst for thee; (Ecclesiasticus 24:29) for thy conversation hath no bitterness, nor thy company any tediousness, but joy and gladness, (Wisdom 8:16) and riches, and glory, and virtues. (Proverbs 8:18)

During the days of this great Solemnity, when thou art seated in a pillar of a cloud and placest thy throne in the holy assembly, we would fain take each mystery of this thy divine banquet, and ponder over its marvels, and then publish them, yea, go to choir with thee, 0 beautiful Wisdom, and sing thy praise in the presence of thy Angels, who will be there adoring the Sacred Host! (Ecclesiasticus 24:1-7) Do thou vouchsafe to open our lips and fill us with thy Holy Spirit, O divine Wisdom! that so our praise may be worthy of its theme, and, as thou hast promised in thy Scriptures, may it abound, may it be full to overflowing, in the mouths of thy faithful worshipers! (Ecclesiasticus 15:5-10)


The Night Office for this Festival has a special interest of its own: it is the memory of that holy night when, as the Church expresses it, faith shows us our Lord presiding, for the last time, at the figurative Pasch, and following up the feast of the typical Lamb with the banquet of his own Body. For the reasons specified yesterday, we give the entire of today’s Office.

In order to induce the Faithful to prefer the prayers of the Liturgy to all others, we would remind them that the Sovereign Pontiffs have solemnly opened the treasures of the Church in favor of such as, being contrite, and having confessed their sins, shall assist at any of the Canonical Hours, either on the day of the Feast, or during its Octave. Pope Martin the Fifth, by his Constitution Ineffabile Sacramentum, which allows this Feast and Octave to be celebrated, with the ringing of bells and solemnity, even in places which are under an interdict, confirmed and added to the Indulgences granted, by Urban the Fourth, in the Bull Transiturus. Finally, Pope Eugenius the Fourth, mentioning the acts of those two Pontiffs, (Const. Excellentissimum) doubled the Indulgences granted by them. These Indulgences are as follows : two hundred days are granted for fasting on the eve, or for any good work substituted for the fast, at the discretion of the Confessor: on the day of the Feast, four hundred days for assisting at first Vespers, Matins, Mass, or second Vespers; two hundred days for holy Communion, over and above those granted for assisting at Mass; a hundred and sixty days for each of the Hours of Prime, Tierce, Sext, None, and Compline; two hundred days for the Procession, on the day of the Feast itself, or during the Octave; two hundred days, likewise, for assisting at Vespers, Matins, or Mass, during the Octave, and eighty days for each of the other Hours.

After the PaterAve, and Credo, have been said secretly, the Church commences her Office by her usual Matin supplication:

℣. O Lord! thou wilt open my lips,

℟. And my mouth shall declare thy praise.

℣. Incline unto mine aid, O God!

℟. O Lord! make haste to help me.

℣. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:

℟. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.


Then follows, with its glad refrain, Christum Regem, the Invitatory Psalm, whereby the Church invites her children, every night, to come and adore the Lord. On this Feast, she, as Bride, addressing herself to us as the faithful subjects and courtiers of the King of glory, invites us to pay our homage to Him, whose goodness towards us is all the more telling, because of his infinite majesty.


Let us adore Christ, the King, who ruleth the nations: Who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.


Come let us praise the Lord with joy: let us joyfully sing to God our Savior; let us come before his presence with thanksgiving; and make a joyful noise to him with psalms.

Let us adore Christ, the King, who ruleth the nations: who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods; he will not reject his people; for in his hand are all the ends of the earth: and the heights of the mountains are his.

Who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

For the sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land: come let us adore and fall down: and weep before the Lord that made us; for he is the Lord our God; and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.

Let us adore Christ, the King, who ruleth the nations: who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

Today if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, according to the day of temptation in the wilderness: where your fathers tempted me, they proved me, and saw my works.

Who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

Forty years long was I offended with that generation, and I said: These always err in heart: and these men have not known my ways: so I swore in my wrath that they shall not enter into my rest.

Let us adore Christ, the King, who ruleth the nations: who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost: as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

Let us adore Christ, the King, who ruleth the nations: who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

After the Invitatory, in which we have commemorated the transfer of Christ’s kingdom to the Gentiles, the Church intones the triumphant Hymn, which, in its noble verses, recounts the Last Supper, and celebrates the wonderful favors bestowed upon men, that glorious Night.


Let our joys blend with this sacred Solemnity: and let our praises resound from our inmost heart; let old things give way; let all be new, both hearts, and words, and works!

We are celebrating that night’s Last Supper, when, as faith tells, Christ gave to his brethren, the Lamb and unleavened bread, as the law, given to the ancient fathers, prescribed.

After giving them the figurative Lamb, and when the repast was over, we confess with faith, that our Lord, with his own hands, gave his Body to his disciples: and so gave It, that the entire was given to all, and the entire to each.

They were frail, and he gave them his Body as food: they were sad, and he gave them his Blood, for their drink; saying: Take the Cup I deliver unto you! Do ye all drink thereof!

Thus did he institute this Sacrifice, whose ministry he willed should be entrusted to Priests alone; who were so to partake of it themselves, as to give it to others.

The Bread of Angels becomes the Bread of men; the Bread of heaven puts an end to the types; O wonderful thing! he that is poor, and servant, and lowly, eateth the Lord!

We beseech thee, O Triune Deity, do thou so visit us, as we worship thee; lead us by thy ways to the term we aim at,—to the light, wherein thou dwellest.


These preludes made, we begin the solemn Office of the night, which is divided into three Vigils or Nocturns.


Christ is the Just Man by excellence; He is the tree, which brings forth its fruit in due season, the fruit, that is, of salvation, which the Lord gave us to taste at the time of His death. The first Psalm offers us this beautiful symbolism, which the Fathers have so often dwelt upon in their writings.

ANT. The Lord gave us to taste of the fruit of salvation, at the time of his death.


Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the chair of pestilence.

But his will is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he shall meditate day and night.

And he shall be like a tree which is planted near the running waters, which shall bring forth its fruit, in due season. And his leaf shall not fall off: and all whatsoever he shall do shall prosper.

Not so the wicked, not so: but like the dust, which the wind driveth from the face of the earth.

Therefore the wicked shall not rise again in judgment: nor sinners in the council of the just.

For the Lord knoweth the way of the just: and the way of the wicked shall perish.

ANT. The Lord gave us to taste of the fruit of salvation, at the time of his death.

The second Psalm of this Nocturn tells us of the peace and abundance enjoyed by the man who puts his confidence in the God of justice. Corn, wine, and oil are the riches of God’s house: it is mainly by these three elements, that the Church confers a daily increase of holiness in them that have become her children by the water of baptism. What, indeed, has she, to be compared with the beautiful Corn of the elect, and Wine that produceth virgins? (Zechariah 9:17)

ANT. The faithful, multiplied by the fruit of corn and wine, rest in the peace of Christ.


When I called upon him, the God of my justice heard me: when I was in distress, thou hast enlarged me. Have mercy on me: and hear my prayer.

O ye sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? why do you love vanity, and seek after lying?

Know ye also that the Lord hath made his holy one wonderful: the Lord will hear me when I shall cry unto him.

Be angry, and sin not: the things you say in your hearts, be sorry for them upon your beds.

Offer up the sacrifice of justice, and trust in the Lord: many say, Who sheweth us good things?

The light of thy countenance O Lord, is signed upon us: thou hast given gladness in my heart.

By the fruit of their corn, their wine and oil, they are multiplied.

In peace in the selfsame I will sleep, and I will rest:

For thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope.

ANT. The faithful, multiplied by the fruit of corn and wine, rest in the peace of Christ.

We have already seen how the holy Eucharist was the bond of union between the Faithful, and the center of Catholic communion. “What the Sacrifice of the New Testament is for us Christians, from a social point of view, that same were the mosaic sacrifices, heretofore, for the Jews, although in a manner wholly external and figurative. The following Antiphon tells us the reason of the Church’s selecting the Psalm she has done for the third one of this Nocturn: it was, that she might remind us of her own superiority, in this respect, over the rejected Synagogue. The Lord himself is the glorious portion of her inheritance, and the cup of her joy.

ANT. The Lord hath brought us together, by the communion of the cup, wherein God himself is received; not by the blood of calves.


Preserve me, O Lord, for I have put trust in thee. I have said to the Lord, thou art my God, for thou hast no need of my goods.

To the saints, who are in his land, he hath made wonderful all my desires in them.

Their infirmities were multiplied: afterwards they made haste.

I will not gather together their meetings for blood offerings: nor will I be mindful of their names by my lips.

The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and of my cup: it is thou that wilt restore my inheritance to me.

The lines are fallen unto me in goodly places: for my inheritance is goodly to me.

I will bless the Lord, who hath given me understanding: moreover my reins also have corrected me even till night.

I set the Lord always in my sight: for he is at my right hand, that I be not moved.

Therefore my heart hath been glad, and my tongue hath rejoiced: moreover my flesh also shall rest in hope.

Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; nor wilt then give thy holy one to see corruption.

Thou hast made known to me the ways of life, thou shalt fill me with joy with thy countenance: at thy right hand are delights even to the end.

ANT. The Lord hath brought us together, by the communion of the cup, wherein God himself is received; not by the blood of calves.

℣. He hath given them to the Bread of heaven, alleluia.

℟. Man hath eaten the Bread of angels, alleluia.

The priest begins the Lord’s Prayer:

Our Father.

The rest is said in silence, as far as the last two petitions. The priest says aloud:

℣. And lead us not into temptation.

The choir answers:

℟. But deliver us from evil.

Then the priest:

Graciously hear, O Lord Jesus Christ, the prayers of thy servants, and have mercy upon us: who, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest forever and ever.

The choir answers: Amen.

Then one of the choir rising, turns towards the priest, and bowing down, says:

Pray, Father, give thy blessing.

Then the priest:

May the eternal Father bless us with an everlasting blessing.

℟. Amen.

The first Nocturn Lessons are taken from one of St. Paul’s Epistles. After chiding the Faithful of Corinth for their having allowed abuses to creep into their religious meetings, the Apostle recounts the institution of the blessed Eucharist: he tells them the dispositions they should bring with them to the holy Table, and speaks of the grievous crime committed by him who approaches unworthily.

Our readers will observe how admirably the Responsories are composed of passages from both Old and New Testament Books; they are thus brought side by side, the more clearly to show the harmony between the Law, the Prophets, and the Gospel, on the mystery of the Eucharist. The Office of the Blessed Sacrament is thus enriched with the chief prophecies and figures which had foretold the adorable Presence, and had kept the just men of the former Covenant in expectation of the promise, which is now our reality.


From the First Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians 11:20-32

When ye come together into one place, it is not now to eat the Lord’s Supper, (your meetings are not worthy of the mystery ye celebrate.) For everyone taketh before his own supper to eat. And one, indeed, is hungry, and another is drunk. “What! have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the Church of God, and put them to shame that have not? What shall I say unto you? Do I praise you? In this I praise you not.

℟. The multitude of the children of Israel shall sacrifice a kid, at the evening of the Pasch. * And they shall eat flesh, and unleavened cakes.

℣. Christ our Pasch is sacrificed: therefore let us feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. * And they shall eat.

BLESSING. May the Only Begotten Son of God vouchsafe to bless and help us.

℟. Amen.


For I have received of the Lord, that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye and eat: this is my Body, which, shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. In like manner, also, the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as ye shall drink, for the commemoration of me. For, as often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, ye shall show the death of the Lord, until he come.

℟. Ye shall eat flesh, and shall have your fill of bread: * This is the Bread, which the Lord hath given you, that ye might eat it.

℣. Moses gave you not bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true Bread from heaven.* This is.

BLESSING. May the grace of the Holy Ghost enlighten our senses and our hearts.

℟. Amen.


Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord. Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep. But if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But whilst we are judged, we are chastised by the Lord, that we be not condemned with this world.

℟. Elias beheld at his head a hearth-cake; who, rising, eat, and drank: * And he walked, in the strength of that food, unto the mount of God.

℣. If any man shall eat of this Bread, he shall live forever. * And he walked. Glory. * And he walked.


The fourth Psalm of our Matins speaks of the all-powerful efficacy of the Christian Sacrifice. The Lord’s protection and help in the battles of this life; joy, exaltation, abundance: all are assured to the man who will but have recourse to it. For the Victim is Christ, with which no other can compare for perfection; it is a whole-burnt offering, whose sweet odor ascends, from our earthly altar, to heaven’s sanctuary, and thence brings down the salvation of the right hand of the Most High. It is to Christ Himself, that the Psalmist here makes his prayer for victory.

ANT. May the Lord be mindful of our sacrifice, and our whole-burnt offering be made fat.


May the Lord hear thee in the day of tribulation: may the name of the God of Jacob protect thee.

May he send thee help from the sanctuary: and defend thee out of Sion.

May he be mindful of all thy sacrifices: and may thy whole burnt offering be made fat.

May he give thee according to thy own heart; and confirm all thy counsels.

We will rejoice in thy salvation; and in the name of our God we shall be exalted.

The Lord fulfill all thy petitions: now have I known that the Lord hath saved his anointed.

He will hear him from his holy heaven: the salvation of his right hand is in powers.

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will call upon the name of the Lord our God.

They are bound, and have fallen; but we are risen, and are set upright.

O Lord, save the king: and hear us in the day that we shall call upon thee.

ANT. May the Lord be mindful of our sacrifice, and our whole-burnt offering be made fat.

The soul that follows her Lord wants for nothing. Happy sheep! its Shepherd’s crook leads it to such rich pastures! to such refreshing water springs! Let us join the saintly servant of God, and sing the praises of the Chalice which inebriateth, and of the Table prepared for him against all enemies; when he leaves that Table, he goes forth like a Hon breathing fire; he has been made an object of terror to the devil. (St. John Chrysostom In Joan)

ANT. The Lord’s Table is prepared before us, against all them that afflict us.


The Lord ruleth me: and I shall want nothing. He hath set me in a place of pasture.

He hath brought me up, on the water of refreshment: He hath converted my soul.

He hath led me on the paths of justice, for his own name’s sake.

For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me.

Thy rod and thy staff, they have comforted me.

Thou hast prepared a table before me against them that afflict me.

Thou hast anointed my head with oil; and my chalice which inebriateth me, how goodly is it!

And thy mercy will follow me all the days of my life. And that I may dwell in the house of the Lord unto length of days.

ANT. The Lord’s Table is prepared before us, against all them that afflict us.

The sixth psalm of these Matins was inspired into David’s soul, when he was obliged to keep far off from the tabernacle and the holy ark, because of Saul’s angry persecution, which necessitated his hiding in the mountains near the Jordan. It is the beautiful canticle already cited by us, as so strongly expressing man’s thirst, even in this mortal life, after his God. The mere recollection of the feasting, which awaits him in the wonderful tabernacle in the House of God, comforts him amidst his troubles, and rouses his hope. Let us get the spirit of this celestial poetry into us; it will kindle within us the flame of love.

ANT. Let them that feast at the Table of the Lord, make the voice of joy resound.


As the hart panteth after the fountains of water; so my soul panteth after thee, O God.

My soul hath thirsted after the strong living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God?

My tears have been my bread day and night, whilst it is said to me daily: Where is thy God?

These things I remembered, and poured out my soul in me: for I shall go over into the place of the wonderful tabernacle, even to the house of God:

With the voice of joy and praise; the noise of one feasting.

Why art thou sad, O my soul? and why dost thou trouble me?

Hope in God, for I will still give praise to him: the salvation of my countenance, and my God.

My soul is troubled within myself: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan and Hermoniim, from the little hill.

Deep calleth on deep, at the noise of thy flood-gates.

All thy heights and thy billows have passed over me.

In the daytime the Lord hath commanded his mercy; and a canticle to him in the night.

With me is prayer to the God of my life. I will say to God: Thou art my support.

Why hast thou forgotten me? and why go I mourning, whilst my enemy afflicteth me?

Whilst my bones are broken, my enemies who trouble me have reproached me.

Whilst they say to me day be day: Where is thy God? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why dost thou disquiet me?

Hope thou in God, for I will still give praise to him: the salvation of my countenance, and my God.

ANT. Let them that feast at the Table of the Lord, make the voice of joy resound.

℣. He hath fed them with the fat of wheat. alleluia.

℟. And filled them with honey out of the rock, alleluia.

Our Father.

After the Pater noster, which is said as prescribed above, in the first Nocturn, the Priest says:

May his goodness and mercy help us, who, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth forever and ever. ℟. Amen.

The Angelic Doctor is made to provide us with the second Nocturn Lessons: his own words are going to be read to us, words which will aid our faith to enter into the science of the divine Sacrament, “as far as it can be understood by man whilst on the way, and humanly be defined.” These were the words of our Lord, when approving the doctrine “of Thomas, on the Sacrament of the Body.” (Act SS. ad diem 7 Martii; cap. ix. 53.) Three cities, Paris, Naples, and Orvieto, — had the honor of being, each in its turn, the scene of these manifestations of Christ to his faithful servant, the Angelic Doctor. There is still venerated in the Church of St. Dominic, at Orvieto, the Crucifix, by which our Lord spoke, when giving his divine approval to the Office we are actually celebrating. Let us, then, listen, with veneration, to the following passage, which the Church has selected from one of the Saint’s Treatises. As to its scholastic phraseology, let us remember, that, although, in itself, it is not learning, yet it was the war- dress wherewith our forefathers of the 13th Century deemed it necessary to accouter Theology, when she had to come to close argument with dry logicians.

BLESSING. May God the Father almighty be propitious and merciful unto us.

℟. Amen.


Sermon of Saint Thomas of Aquin.

The immeasurable blessings of divine bounty, which have been shown upon the Christian people, confer an inestimable dignity upon it. For neither is there, nor ever was there, any nation so great, that hath gods so nigh them, as our God is present with us. For the Only Begotten Son of God, wishing that we should be partakers of his divinity, assumed our nature, and was made Man, that he might make men gods. And, moreover, he conferred upon us, unto salvation, the whole of that which he assumed of ours. For he offered to God his Father, for our reconciliation, his own Body, as a victim, on the altar of the Cross: he shed his Blood, that it might be our ransom and our laver to cleanse us: that being redeemed from a miserable slavery, we might be cleansed from all sins. But that the remembrance of so great a benefit might abide in us, he left to the Faithful, under the species of bread and wine, his Body for food, and his Blood for drink.

℟. Whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake, and gave to his disciples, and saith: * Take ye, and eat: This is my Body.

℣. The men of my tabernacle said: Who can give us of his Flesh, that we may be filled? * Take ye.

BLESSING. May Christ grant unto us the joys of eternal life.

℟. Amen.


O precious and wonderful banquet! health-giving, and replete with every sweetness! For what can possibly be more precious than this banquet? wherein, not the flesh of calves and. goats, as heretofore in the Law, but Christ, very God, is put before us, that we may take him. What more wonderful than this sacrament? for, in it, bread and wine are substantially changed into the Body and Blood of Christ; and, therefore, Christ, perfect God and Man, is contained under the species of a little bread and wine. He is, therefore, eaten by the Faithful, but not lacerated: nay, when the Sacrament is divided, he remains whole, under each particle of the division. But, the accidents subsist, in the same, without a subject, in order that there may be room for faith, inasmuch as the visible is invisibly taken, being hid under a species not its own; and the senses are kept free from deception, for they judge of accidents (which are the only things) known by them.

℟. Jesus took the cup, after he had supped, saying: This Chalice is the new testament in my blood: * Do ye this for the commemoration of me.

℣. Remembering, I will remember, and my soul shall languish within me. * Do ye this.

BLESSING. May God enkindle within our hearts the fire of his love.

℟. Amen.


Again, there is no sacrament more health-giving than this, in which sins are wiped away, virtues are increased, and the mind is made rich with the abundance of all spiritual gifts. It is offered, in the Church, for the living and the dead; that what was instituted for the salvation of all, may profit all. Finally, no one can adequately express the sweetness of this Sacrament, by which, spiritual sweetness is tasted in its very source: and remembrance is solemnly made of that most perfect charity evinced by Christ in his Passion. Wherefore, in order that the immensity of this charity might the more deeply be impressed on the hearts of the Faithful, it was at the last Supper, — when, having celebrated the Pasch with his disciples, he was about to pass out of this world unto his Father, — that he instituted this Sacrament, and left it as the perpetual memorial of his Passion, the fulfillment of the ancient figures, the greatest of the miracles done by him, and the special consolation to them that were to be sad because of his absence.

℟. I am the Bread of life: your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead: * This is Bread coming down from heaven; that if any man eat thereof, he may not die.

℣. I am the living Bread, that came down from heaven; if any man shall eat of this Bread, he shall live forever. * This is Bread. Glory. *This is Bread.


The seventh. Psalm of these Matins is a sequel to the one immediately preceding it in the Psaltery. The two are inspired by the same trying circumstances; there is the same idea running through both; and several of the expressions are identical. We have the cry of the poor soul when, being harassed by her enemy, she is longing for her God; she has the wish and the confidence of, at last, seeing the holy mount, and that altar of God, where God gives himself in the person of the Incarnate Word, of that Christ, who comes for the purpose of restoring their youth to his happy adorers and guests.

ANT. I will go in to the altar of God: I will take the Christ, who reneweth my youth.


Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man.

For thou art God my strength: why hast thou cast me off? and why do I go sorrowful whilst the enemy afflicteth me?

Send forth thy light and thy truth: they have conducted me, and brought me unto thy holy hill, and into thy tabernacles.

And I will go in to the altar of God: to God who giveth joy to my youth.

To thee, O God my God, I will give praise upon the harp: why art thou sad, O my soul? and why dost thou disquiet me?

Hope in God, for I will still give praise to him: the salvation of my countenance, and my God.

ANT. I will go in to the altar of God: I will take the Christ, who reneweth my youth.

The eighth Psalm celebrates, with enthusiasm, the sovereign goodness of the God of Jacob. He had, by numberless prodigies, worked the deliverance of His people. Open thy mouth, He said, and I will fill it; and He, this day, keeps His word, notwithstanding the frequent sad frowardness of His unworthy children. He feeds them with the fat of wheat; He fills them with honey out of the rock; that is to say, He gives them to taste the ineffable sweetness of Christ, who is the wheat of the elect and the rock of the desert. (Zechariah 9:17; 1 Corinthians 10:4)

ANT. The Lord hath fed us with the fat of wheat; and hath filled us with honey out of the rock.


Rejoice to God our helper: sing aloud to the God of Jacob.

Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel: the pleasant psaltery with the harp.

Blow up the trumpet on the new moon, on the noted day of your solemnity.

For it is a commandment in Israel, and a judgment to the God of Jacob.

He ordained it for a testimony in Joseph, when he came out of the land of Egypt: he heard a tongue which he knew not.

He removed his back from the burdens: his hands had served in baskets.

Thou calledst upon me in affliction, and I delivered thee: I heard thee in the secret place of tempest: I proved thee at the waters of contradiction.

Hear, O my people, and I will testify to thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken to me, there shall be no new god in thee: neither shalt thou adore a strange god.

For I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.

But my people heard not my voice: and Israel hearkened not to me.

So I let them go according to the desires of their heart: they shall walk in their own inventions.

If my people had heard me: if Israel had walked in my ways:

I should soon have humbled their enemies, and laid my hand on them that troubled them.

The enemies of the Lord have lied to him: and their time shall be forever.

And he fed them with the fat of wheat, and filled them with honey out of the rock.

ANT. The Lord hath fed us with the fat of wheat; and hath filled us with honey out of the rock.

Christ is that living God, who makes my heart and my flesh rejoice. Let us take this next Psalm, and sing the praises of the altars of the Lord of hosts, our King and our God. Those altars are a house for the sparrow, and a nest for the turtle-dove. Happy they who dwell in those lovely tabernacles!

ANT. We have taken Christ from thine altar, O Lord; in whom our heart and flesh rejoice.


How lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of host! My soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord.

My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God.

For the sparrow hath found herself a house, and the turtle a nest for herself where she may lay her young ones.

Thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my king and my God! 

Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, O Lord: they shall praise thee forever and ever.

Blessed is the man whose help is from thee: in his heart he hath disposed to ascend by steps, in the vale of tears, in the place which be hath set.

For the lawgiver shall give a blessing, they shall go from virtue to virtue: the God of gods shall be seen in Sion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer: give ear, O God of Jacob.

Behold, O God our protector: and look on the face of thy Christ.

For better is one day in thy courts above thousands. I have chosen to be an abject in the house of my God, rather than to dwell in the tabernacles of sinners.

For God loveth mercy and truth: the Lord will give grace and glory.

He will not deprive of good things them that walk in innocence: O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.

ANT. We have taken Christ from thine altar, O Lord; in whom our heart and flesh rejoice.

℣. Bring forth bread out of the earth, alleluia.

℟. And may wine cheer the heart of man, alleluia.

Our Father.

After the Pater noster, which is said as in the first two nocturns, the priest says:

May the almighty and merciful Lord deliver us from the chains of our sins. ℟. Amen.

Here is read the first sentence of the Gospel of the Mass of this Feast; and the interpretation of it, as given by St. Augustine, is immediately added. The holy Doctor dwells particularly on the unity which our Lord intended to produce among His followers by the august Sacrament. He shows the necessity of the interior dispositions required for receiving this Sacrament with fruit; and lays special stress on this one effect, — that it is to make man live for Christ, just as He lives for His Father.

BLESSING. May the reading of the Gospel bring us salvation and protection. ℟. Amen.


Lesson from the holy Gospel according to John 6

At that time, Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: My flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. And the rest.

Homily of Saint Augustine, Bishop.

Seeing, that men desire this, by the food and drink they take, that they may suffer neither hunger nor thirst, this result is not gained by any other than this food and drink, which makes them immortal and incorruptible who take it; that is, the very fellowship of the saints, where there is peace, and full and perfect unity. For — as also men of God, who preceded us, understood this subject — it was for that purpose that our Lord Jesus Christ commended his Body and Blood in such things as are brought, from being many, into one. For the first of these is made into one, out of several grains; and the second flows into one, out of several berries. He now, at last, explains how that is effected which he is speaking: and what it is to eat his Body, and drink his Blood.

℟. He that eateth my flesh, band drinketh my blood, * Abideth in me, and I in him.

℣. There is no other nation so great, that hath its gods so nigh unto it, as our God is present with us. * Abideth.

BLESSING. May the divine assistance remain always with us. ℟. Amen.


He that eateth my Flesh, and drinketh my Blood, abideth in me, and I in him. This, then, it is to eat that meat, and drink that drink: to abide in Christ, and have Him abiding in one’s self. And, therefore, he that abideth not in Christ, and in whom Christ doth not abide, certainly does not spiritually either eat his Flesh, or drink his Blood, although he may, carnally and visibly, press the sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood with his teeth: but rather, he eateth and drinketh the sacrament of so great a thing to his own judgment, seeing, that he, unclean as he is, had presumed to approach Christ’s sacraments, which no one worthily receives, unless he be clean: of whom it is said: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.

℟. The living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: * So, he that eateth me, shall live by me.

℣. The Lord hath fed him with the bread of life and understanding. * And he. Glory. * And he.

BLESSING. May the King of Angels lead us to the fellowship of heavenly citizens. ℟. Amen.


As, says he, the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so, he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. It is as though he should say: “That I should live by the Father, (that is, should refer my life to him as to one greater), it was done by that emptying of myself, in which he sent me. But that anyone live by me, it is done by that participation whereby he eateth me. I, therefore, being brought low, live by the Father; man, being raised up, liveth by me.” But if the words, I live by the Father, are taken in this sense, that the Son is of the Father, not the Father of the Son, they must be so taken without lessening the equality (between Father and Son). And yet, we are not to take those words, So he that eateth me, the same shall live by me, as meaning equality between Christ and ourselves: (they do not mean that) but they show the grace (bestowed by him in his office) of Mediator.


We praise thee, O God! we acknowledge thee to be our Lord.
Thee, the Father everlasting, all the earth doth worship.
To thee the Angels, to thee the heavens, and all the Powers,
To thee the Cherubim and Seraphim, cry out without ceasing:

Holy! Lord god of Sabaoth!

Full are the heavens and the earth of the majesty of thy glory.
Thee the glorious choir of the Apostles,
Thee the laduable company of the Prophets,
Thee the white-robed army of martyrs doth praise.
Thee the holy Church throughout the world, doth acknowledge:
The Father of incomprehensible majesty,
Thy adorable, true, and only Son,
And the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete.
Thou, o Christ, art the king of glory.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
Thou, being to take upon thee to deliver man, didst not disdain the Virgin’s womb.
Thou , having overcome the sting of death, hast opened to believers the kingdom of heaven.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.
Thee we believe to be the Judge to come.

All kneel at the following verse:

We beseech thee, therefore, to help thy servants, whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious Blood.

Make them to be numbered with thy saints in eternal glory.

Lord, save thy people, and bless thine inheritance.

And govern them, and exalt them forever.

Every day we magnify thee.

And we praise thy Name forever and ever.

Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us, this day, without sin.

Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us.

Let thy mercy, Lord, be upon us, as we have put our trust in thee.

In thee, O Lord, have I put my trust: let me not be confounded forever.

The three vigils of the night are over. The Church has kept watch for her Spouse; and, to beguile the hours, which seemed to go so slowly on, she has been singing the praises of her Beloved, and beseeching him, with most ardent prayers, to come quickly. Blessed Mother Church! For, blessed are they whom, when the Lord returneth from the nuptials, he shall find watching, ready to open to him at his first knocking. He will gird himself, as our Jesus says in the Gospel, and will make them sit down to meat; and, passing, will minister unto them ; and, if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants! (Luke 12:36-38) These divisions, called “Nocturns,” which are so long a portion of the Divine Office, yet are independent of the seven Canonical Hours of the day, have been interpreted as signifying those long ages, when the human race, sitting as it was in darkness, and a prey to the anger of God, was asking the Mediator to come, who was to justify the world by his Blood, (Romans 5:9) and bring back the light, by restoring that peace with heaven, which had been broken by original sin. Equally with the prayers of the Patriarchs and the desires of the Prophets, there were the Church and all the just, whose supplications were being heard in anticipation, and were shortening the time when the Messias was to come, and, therefore were hastening the day when was to be offered the great Sacrifice, whereby sin was to have an end, the justice of God be made manifest, and the covenant with many be confirmed. (Daniel 9:24, 27)

But, the Church awaits her Spouse every day still. It is true, he came but once to die; but he comes down every day from heaven, in order to enrich his Bride, in the act of the daily Sacrifice; wherein a ceaseless application is made of the merits of the Sacrifice of the Cross, which was offered up once for all, and for all future ages. This daily visit of her Jesus is the one hour to which the Church directs all she does; it divides her days into two parts, one of desire, the other of thanksgiving. She gives expression, seven times each day, to the feelings of her heart; and to this her sacrifice of praise, which is the joyful outcoming of the eucharistic Sacrifice, she invites her children. It was from the Royal Prophet that she learnt this, (Psalm 118:164) as also the setting singers before the Altar, and making sweet melody by their voices. (Ecclesiasticus 47:11)

For, as soon as David had brought the Ark into Jerusalem, with all the solemnity recorded in Scripture, and had completed the sacrifices, he appointed a choir of Levites to minister before it, and to glorify and praise the Lord God of Israel, in the name of all the people. (1 Chronicles 16:2, 4, 37, 41) Later on, when, full of days, he crowned on Sion that son of his, who was to have the happiness, which had been denied to himself, of building the Temple of Jehovah, (1 Chronicles 23:1) he put into Solomon’s hands the plans of the great building, which was to substitute stability for the tent-like structure of the days of desert life. David himself drew up the permanent arrangement which was to regulate divine worship as required by the new order of things. (1 Chronicles 28:11-13) To the four-and-twenty priestly families, who were appointed to take their turns, week by week (or, in our own way of expressing it, to be hebdomadarians) in the offering of the sacrifices, there were added, as a natural complement, four thousand singers or psalmists, (1 Chronicles 23:5) who were likewise divided into four-and-twenty sets; they were to keep up an unbroken ministry of prophecy or praise, under the direction of Asaph, Heman, and Idithun, and receive lessons from two hundred and eighty- eight, who, as being skilled in the science of sacred chant, and in giving praise with harp, psaltery, and cymbal, taught the song of the Lord to their brethren. (1 Chronicles 25:1-7) Praise, or choral chanting, was prophecy in those days, just as now, in the New Testament, it is confession, that is, celebration; they sang in hope, as we sing in faith; but the object of all these chants, both theirs and ours, was and is the same, that is, Christ our Lord; and hence, so many of the sacred formulas of Israel have become those of our Mother the Church.

David was the perfect type of Christ. As such, he would not merely provide the people with the words of their chants, by giving them his inspired Psalms, but he takes his place among the very Levites, clad, like them, with a robe of fine linen, and directing their songs, on that great day of the carrying the Ark into the holy city. (1 Chronicles 15:27) “O most excellent precentor!” says the devout and learned Abbot Rupert: “he leads the sacred choirs, and dances before the Ark of the Lord’s covenant. O King! Prince of sacred rites! what means this excessive enthusiasm of one so noble as thou? Observe, how he, who is not of the priestly race, commands the priests, and gives his orders to the Levites, that they be sanctified; he appoints the chanters; he selects who are to sing mysteries, and who the song of victory for the octave; he arranges them that are to blow the trumpets, them that are to strike the horns, and them that are to sound harps, or cymbals, or psalteries, or organs. In all these things, he foresaw his Son, (Christ our Lord); he ventured upon an office, which he knew was to belong to this his Son; for the Ark of the Covenant was a figure of the human nature to be assumed by him, since it contained the manna of the Word, and the tables of the Testament, and the rod of priestly and kingly power. It is for this reason, that our David, after he had destroyed the kingdom of death, as the other David had destroyed that of Saul, carries the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, and sets it in the heavenly tabernacle, which himself had prepared. The Church seeing this, she, like the former people, excites herself to sing with her David. The whole multitude, therefore, of the sons of Jacob sing harmoniously; and David himself plays the harp in the house of the Lord; for, whatsoever Israel sings, she learns it from David, her master, her precentor, who, with the finger of God, strikes the harps of our hearts. It is David that rouses the souls of men, so that they give forth sounds of bodily harmony, at one time low, at another high, or grandly; and under the dictate of one same faith, the immense body of the Church, spread as she is throughout all nations, sings, everywhere, a chant, which is varied, yet one, and she sings it to her Head, who is Christ, and it sounds sweetly in his ear.” (Rupert. De div. Off. lib. 1. cap. 17)

But the dawn of our Feast is upon us. Turning towards the East, the Church knows, through the twilight, that her Spouse is preparing to visit her. She is all joy at this hour, when the king of day is about to shine on our earth ; she has her solemn Office of Lauds, full of gladness and praise, as its name indicates; and, in this Office, she invites earth, and sea, and firmament, to sing canticles which are worthy of our Jesus, who is the true Sun, for he is rising upon us, and, as the Psalmist tells us, is himself rejoicing, as a giant, (Psalm 18:6) to come to the Altar of Sacrifice.


℣. Incline unto my aid, O God.

℟. O Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia.

The first psalm of Lauds shows us, in all his power and infinite greatness, the Lord, the King of nations, hidden in the sacred Host. By the ever-living Sacrifice, He establishes, He strengthens, the world, notwithstanding all there is to move and disturb it. The voice of the deep sea is wonderful; but far more so, in the high heaven, is the voice of the divine Victim. Infinite Wisdom bears testimony to it on this day, for it is Wisdom that hath built the house, and set forth the table, for the great Sacrifice. Let us lead lives worthy, by their holiness, of this house, whose priceless treasure is proclaimed this day by Wisdom.

ANT. Wisdom hath built himself a house, mingled his wine, and set forth his table, alleluia.


The Lord hath reigned, he is clothed with beauty: the Lord is clothed with strength, and hath girded himself.

For, by his Sacrifice, he hath established the world which shall not be moved.

Thy throne, O divine Wisdom! is prepared from of old: thou art from everlasting.

The floods have lifted up, O Lord: the floods have lifted up their voice.

The floods have lifted up their waves, with the noise of many waters.

Wonderful are the surges of the sea: wonderful is the Lord on high.

Thy testimonies, O Wisdom! are become exceedingly credible: holiness becometh thy house, O Lord, unto length of days.

ANT. Wisdom hath built himself a house, mingled his wine, and set forth his table, alleluia.

The following Psalm invites all the inhabitants of earth to enter into the house of Divine Wisdom, there to celebrate, in a becoming manner, the sweet presence of Her, whose delight it is to be thus dwelling among the children of men; and yet, this very Wisdom is the Lord of glory — the God who made us; we are is people, and the sheep of his exquisite pasture; let us proclaim his love with gladness and gratitude.

ANT. Thou hast nourished thy people with the Bread of Angels; and hast granted them Bread from heaven, alleluia.


Sing joyfully to God, all the earth: serve ye the Lord with gladness.

Come in before his presence with exceeding great joy.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: he made us, and not we ourselves.

We are his people and the sheep of his pasture; go ye into his gates with praise, into his courts with hymns: and give glory unto him.

Praise ye his name, for the Lord is sweet, his mercy endureth forever, and his truth to generation and generation.

ANT. Thou hast nourished thy people with the Bread of Angels; and hast granted them Bread from heaven, alleluia.

The two following Psalms, which, the Church joins together, are the prayer of the faithful soul at break of day. She has been awakened by the thirst for her God; she longs for the Bread of Life, which is to fill her with marrow and fatness, that is, with the very substance of Christ, with what makes even kings delighted. She is overwhelmed with joy at the thought, that, to-day, the object of her love is to receive a public triumph, which will, for at least a few hours, turn this earth — desert, trackless, and dry, as it is, into a temple, where he will receive such solemn homage! All over this world, men are going to unite in one common feeling of adoration, joy, and praise: nations will gratefully honor the divine Fruit, which this our earth hath yielded.

ANT. The Bread of Christ is fat, and it shall yield dainties to kings, alleluia.


O God, my God, to thee do I watch at break of day.

For thee my soul hath thirsted; for thee my flesh, O how many ways!

In a desert land, and where there is no way, and no water: so in the sanctuary have I come before thee, to see thy power and thy glory.

For thy mercy is better than lives: thee my lips shall praise.

Thus will I bless thee all my life long: and in thy name I will lift up my hands.

Let my soul be filled as with marrow and fatness, with thee, O Bread of life! and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.

If I have remembered thee upon my bed, I will meditate on thee in the morning: because thou hast been my helper.

And I will rejoice under the covert of thy wings; my soul hath stuck close to thee: thy right hand hath received me.

But they have sought my soul in vain, they shall go into the lower parts of the earth: they shall be delivered into the hands of the sword, they shall be the portions of foxes.

The just man, thus delivered, shall, as a king, rejoice in God; all they shall be praised who swear in Him: because the mouth is stopped of them that speak wicked things.


May God have mercy on us, and bless us: may he cause the light of his countenance to shine upon us, and may he have mercy on us.

That we may know thy way upon earth, O Emmanuel! thy salvation in all nations.

Let people confess to thee, O God: let all people give praise to thee.

Let the nations be glad and rejoice: for thou judgest the people with justice, and directest the nations upon earth.

Let the people, O God, confess to thee: let all the people give praise to thee: the earth hath yielded her fruit.

May God, our God bless us, may God bless us: and all the ends of the earth fear him.

ANT. The Bread of Christ is fat, and it shall yield dainties to kings, alleluia.

The canticle, in which the three children, in the fiery furnace of Babylon, bade all God’s creatures to bless his name, comes, today, lending a voice to all nature, and inviting the whole of God’s works to praise their Maker. How just it is, that heaven and earth should unite in paying homage to Him, who, by the great Sacrifice, which is daily renewed by the offering made of it by the Priests of the Church, has re-established all things, that are in heaven and on earth! (Ephesians 1:10)

ANT. Holy priests offer incense and Bread unto God, alleluia.

(Daniel iii)

All ye works of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.

O ye Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord: O ye heavens, bless the Lord.

O all ye waters, that are above the heavens, bless the Lord: O all ye powers of the Lord, bless the Lord.

O ye sun and moon, bless the Lord: O ye stars of heaven, bless the Lord.

O every shower and dew, bless ye the Lord: O all ye spirits of God, bless the Lord.

O ye fire and heat, bless the Lord: O ye cold and heat, bless the Lord.

O ye dews and hoar frosts, bless the Lord: O ye frost and cold, bless the Lord.

O ye ice and snow, bless the Lord: O ye nights and days, bless the Lord.

O ye light and darkness, bless the Lord: O ye lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord.

Oh! let the earth bless the Lord: let it praise and exalt! him above all forever.

O ye mountains and hills, bless the Lord: O all ye things that spring up in the earth, bless the Lord.

O ye fountains, bless the Lord: O ye seas and rivers, bless the Lord.

O ye whales, and all that move in the waters, bless the Lord: O all ye fowls of the air, bless the Lord.

O all ye beasts and cattle, bless the Lord: O ye sons of men, bless the Lord.

Oh! let Israel bless the Lord: let them praise and exalt him above all forever.

O ye Priests of the Lord, bless the Lord: O ye servants of the Lord, bless the Lord.

O ye spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord: O ye holy and humble of heart, bless the Lord.

O Ananias, Azarias, Misael, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.

Let us bless the Father, and the Son, with the Holy Ghost; let us praise and exalt him above all forever.

Blessed art thou, O Lord, in the firmament of heaven: and worthy of praise, and glorious, and exalted above all, forever.

ANT. Holy priests offer incense and Bread unto God, alleluia.

The last three Psalms of Lauds, which the Church unites under one antiphon, are also the last of the Psaltery. They sing the praise of the Lord, and urge all creatures to bless His holy name. The first of the three has a great resemblance with the canticle of the three children; the second invites the saints to sing to that Lord who has glorified them, and, by the sacred Host, has given them to partake of his own happiness and power; the third calls on everything that can breathe forth music, to come, this day, and honor the God who is present with us by the Eucharist, and give Him their sweetest melodies.

ANT. To him that conquereth, I will give hidden manna, and a new name, alleluia.


Praise ye the Lord from the heavens: praise ye him in the high places.

Praise ye him, all his angels: praise ye him, all his hosts.

Praise ye him, O sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars and light.

Praise him, ye heavens of heavens: and let all the waters that are above the heavens, praise the name of the Lord.

For he spoke, and they were made: he commanded, and they were created.

He hath established them forever, and for ages of ages: he hath made a decree, and it shall not pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth, ye dragons, and all ye deeps.

Fire, hail, snow, ice, stormy winds which fulfill his word.

Mountains and all hills, fruitful trees and all cedars

Beasts and all cattle: serpents and feathered fowls.

Kings of the earth and all people: princes and all judges of the earth.

Young men and maidens: let the old with the younger, praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is exalted.

His praise is above heaven and earth: and he hath exalted the horn (the power) of his people.

A hymn to all his saints: to the children of Israel, a people approaching to him. 


Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: let his praise be in the church of the saints.

Let the new Israel rejoice in him that made him: and let the children of Sion be joyful in their King.

Let them praise his name in choir: let them sing to him with the timbrel and the psaltery.

For the Lord is well pleased with his people: and he will exalt the meek unto salvation.

The saints shall rejoice in glory: they shall be joyful in their beds.

The high praise of God shall be in their mouth: and two-edged swords in their hands.

To execute vengeance upon the nations, chastisements among the people;

To bind their kings with fetters, and their nobles with manacles of iron;

To execute upon them the judgment that is written: this glory is to all his saints. 


Praise ye the Lord in his holy places: praise ye him in the firmament of his power.

Praise ye him for his mighty acts: praise ye him according to the multitude of his greatness.

Praise him with sound of trumpet: praise him with psaltery and harp.

Praise him with timbrel and choir: praise him with strings and organ.

Praise him on high sounding cymbals: praise him on cymbals of joy: let every spirit praise the Lord.

ANT. To him that conquereth, I will give hidden manna, and a new name, alleluia.

The following Capitulum is taken from the first Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians. We have already had it, with what precedes and continues it, in the first Nocturn Lessons.

(1 Cor. xi)

Brethren, for I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and, giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye and eat: this is my Body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me.

The Hymn is celebrated for its fourth strophe, which, in its graceful brevity, resumes the mystery of our Jesus, who is our companion, food, ransom, and recompense. Let us sing it, with gratitude, confidence, and love.


The divine Word coming forth, yet leaving not his Father’s right hand, went forth to do his work; and reached the evening of his life.

When about to be given over, by a disciple, to his enemies, he first gave himself to his disciples, in the food of life.

He gave them his Flesh and his Blood under the twofold species, that he might thus feed man, who is of a twofold nature.

He was born, and became our companion; he eat with us, and became our food; he died, and became our ransom; he reigns, and is our reward.

O saving Host, that openest heaven’s gate! we are pressed by wars and foes; O give us strength and aid!

May everlasting glory be to the Triune God! and may he give to us life without end, in our country above!


℣. He hath placed peace in thy borders, alleluia.

℟. And filleth thee with the fat of corn, alleluia.

The Canticle of Zachary is now sung: it is the Church’s daily welcome of the rising Sun. It celebrates the coming of Jesus to his creatures; the fulfillment of the promises made by God; and the apparition of the Divine Orient in the midst of our darkness.

ANT. I am the living Bread, that am come down from heaven; if any man shall eat of this Bread, he shall live forever, alleluia.

(St. Luke, i.)

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: because he hath visited and wrought the redemption of his people.

And hath raised up an horn of Salvation to us, in the house of David his servant.

As he spoke by the mouth of his holy Prophets, who are from the beginning.

Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us.

To perform mercy to our fathers, and to remember his holy testament.

The oath which he swore to Abraham, our father; that he would grant to us.

That being delivered from the hand of our enemies, we may serve him without fear.

In holiness and justice before him, all our days.

And thou, child, Precursor of the Emmanuel, shalt be called the Prophet of the Most High: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord, to prepare his ways.

To give unto his people the knowledge of salvation, unto the remission of their sins.

Through the bowels of the mercy of our God, in which the Orient from on high hath visited us;

To enlighten them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death; to direct our feet into the way of peace.

ANT. I am the living Bread, that am come down from heaven; if any man shall eat of this Bread, he shall live forever, alleluia.


O God, who, under the wonderful Sacrament, hast left us a memorial of thy Passion: grant us, we beseech thee, so to reverence the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood, that, in our souls, we may always feel the fruit of thy Redemption. Who livest, etc.

The sun has risen in his splendor, whilst the sweet chants of the Sanctuary have been greeting the coming of the Divine Orient. The appointed ministers of the sacred psalmody have been giving, in the name of the whole world, the solemn tribute of Lauds to God the Creator and Redeemer; and now that the king of day is up, we behold a very busy scene outside the precincts of the holy place; the children of men are all intent on a work, in which neither the desire of lucre, nor the thirst after pleasure, have any share. Tidings of salvation have been heard; the voice of rejoicing is in the tabernacles of the just; (Psalm 117:15) “God is preparing a visit to his creatures; Emmanuel, who is present in the sacred Host, is about to go forth from his Sanctuary; he is coming into your cities and your fields, to hold his court in your green forests; (Psalm 131:6) the Lord God hath shone upon you, he hath appointed this solemn day; prepare his throne, with shady boughs, and cover the way to the horn of the Altar with flowers!” (Psalm 117:27)

This announcement has excited a holy enthusiasm in the souls of men. For several previous days, many a faithful heart has had something of the feelings which animated David, when he vowed his vow to the God of Jacob: “I will not enter into the tabernacle of my house, I will not go up into the bed wherein I lie, I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or rest to my temples, until I find out a place for the Lord, and a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.” (Psalm 131:3-5) O beautiful reposoirs! resting places where are to stand the feet of the King of Peace! (Psalm 131:7) short-lived but exquisite designs! the produce of that sacred poetry which comes from the supernatural love of the Christian! We see them, today, everywhere, save, alas! where cold heresy has come to keep man from being too earnest in his worship of his Savior! On every Catholic heart, even on those who, at all other times, seem to be out of the influence of grace, the Mystery of Faith makes its power tell; and many a wife, and daughter, and sister, who have seen the other Feasts of the Year of grace pass by, and produce no effect on those who are dear to them, and are out of the Church, on this bright summer morning have beheld them all busy in preparing decorations for the triumphant Procession of the Emmanuel, (whom they have so long neglected to receive,) and spending themselves in getting the best of everything they can give, or procure, for the God who is so soon to pass by that way, and, passing, will give these dear ones the blessing of a conversion! It is the wakening up of the Faith of their baptism; it is the grace of the Sacrament of love working at a distance; a grace of a reminder of other and happier days, of first Communion perhaps; and when Jesus passes through the crowd, he will look at them, and they shall remember, and shall be converted to the Lord. (Psalm 21:28)

It is such a morning! Heaven is all gladness; earth is doing its best to be perfect; the mighty sea is to look, here and there, on some Procession of the holy Sacrament, and, seeing, will praise its Lord with the voice of its wonderful surges. (Psalm 92:4) The fields and all things that are in them, flowers, trees, branches, fragrance, all are rejoicing before the face of the Lord, because he cometh, not, indeed, to judge this world of ours with justice, (Psalm 95:11-13) but to visit us with exceeding great love!

It is very hard to be indifferent whilst everything around us is so excited at the near approach of our God. Let us, if we can take no other share in preparing for the Procession, be full of love for that most dear King who is coming, not only to receive our homage, which is so justly his due, but, moreover, to load us with blessings.


All is now ready for the triumph of our Emmanuel. Whilst the Church-Bells are convoking the Faithful to come to the great Sacrifice, for that now all things are ready, (Matthew 22:4) we offer our readers a page which will interest them : it is the last ever written for this Liturgical Year, from which they have been deriving so much instruction during all the past months. Our much loved Father is drawing a plan of the Feast; and we give it, almost exactly as we found it amongst his notes.

“The grand Feast has, at length, dawned upon us; and everything is speaking of the triumph of faith and love. During the feast of the Ascension, when commenting those words of our Lord: It is expedient to you that I go, (John 16:7) we were saying, that the withdrawal of the visible presence of the Man-God from the eyes of men on earth, would bring among them, by the vivid operation of the Holy Ghost, a plenitude of light and a warmth of love which they had not had for their Jesus, during his mortal career among them; the only creature, that had rendered to him, in her single self, the whole of those duties which the Church afterwards paid him, was Mary, who was all illumined with faith.

“In his exquisite hymn, Adoro te devote, St. Thomas of Aquin says: “On the Cross it was the Divinity alone that was hid; but here the Humanity, too, is hid”; and yet, on no day of the Year is the Church more triumphant, or more demonstrative, than she is upon this Feast. Heaven is all radiant; our earth has clad herself with her best, that she may do homage to Him, who has said: I am the Flower of the fields, and the Lily of the valleys? (Song of Solomon 2:1) Holy Church is not satisfied with having prepared a throne whereon, during the whole of this Octave, the sacred Host is to receive the adorations of the Faithful: she has decreed, that these days of solemn and loving exposition be preceded by the pageant of a triumph. Not satisfied, today, with elevating the Bread of Life, immediately after the words of Consecration: she will carry It beyond the precincts of her churches, amidst clouds of incense, and on paths strewed with flowers; and her children, on bended knee, will adore, under heaven’s vaulted canopy, Him who is their King and their God.

“Those joys, which each separate solemnity of the Year brought us, seem to come back upon us, all of them at once, today. The Royal Prophet had foretold this, when he said: “He (the Lord) hath made a remembrance (a MEMORIAL) of his wonderful works: He hath given Food to them that fear Him.” (Psalm 110:4-5) Holy Church is filled with enthusiasm, holding in her arms that divine Spouse, who said: Lo! I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. (Matthew 28:20) Nothing could be more formal; and the promise has been faithfully kept. It is true, we beheld Him ascending from Mount Olivet; he went up into heaven, and there he sitteth at his Father’s right hand: but, ever since the memorable day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit took possession of the Church, the sacred mystery of the Supper has been celebrated, in virtue of those words spoken by Jesus: Do this in remembrance of me; and from that day forward, the human race has never been deprived of the presence of its Head and its Redeemer.

“No wonder, therefore, that holy Mother Church, possessing, as she does, the Word, the Son of God, is suddenly filled with wisdom. The sacramental species, it is true, are there shrouding the Mystery; but they are only existing for the purpose of leading into the invisible. . . .”

These are the last words written for this work by our venerated Abbot: they are followed by the indication of several passages from the works of St. Augustine, bearing on the union between the Word and man, between divine Wisdom and our humanity, in the sacred Mysteries. Our beloved Father was just on the point of developing these outlines of the ineffable mystery of the Marriage-Feast in the eucharistic banquet, when death came upon him, and deprived us of a teaching, which we had all been so long and so impatiently expecting. The continuators of his Liturgical Year, have made these his words their guide during the whole Octave of this Feast. Our readers will pardon us, his children, for thus respecting the wishes of such a teacher. No doubt, the theme he left them to finish, and the plan on which he intended to treat it, are very sublime; but they hesitated not to take both up, the more so as their own weakness would be less felt now, after the nine previous volumes, and the foregoing pages of this, have prepared the faithful soul for solid and choice instruction on the mysteries of our holy Faith. There has been a progressive formation of the Christian, commencing with the subdued light of Advent, and leading up to the brilliant radiance of Pentecost; and all this must necessarily fit him for the sublime truths we are still to put before him, and which, of course, we ourselves are but taking from the Scriptures and the Fathers. Such was the plan proposed, such was the hope entertained, by the Author of this work, when he wrote the following lines in the Christmas Volume:

“In the mystery of Christmas and its forty days, the Light is given to us, so to speak, softened down; our weakness required that it should be so. It is, indeed, the Divine Word, the “Wisdom of the Father, that we are invited to know and imitate; but this Word, this Wisdom, are shown us under the appearance of a Child. . . . Now, every soul that has been admitted to Bethlehem, that is to say, into the House of Bread, and has been united with him who is the Light of the World, that soul no longer walks in darkness

“The Light has shone upon us, and we are resolved to keep up the Light, nay, to cherish its growth within us, in proportion as the Liturgical Year unfolds its successive seasons of mysteries and graces. God grant that we may reflect in our souls the Church’s progressive development of this divine Light; and be led, by its brightness, to that Union, which crowns both the Year of the Church, and the faithful soul which has spent the Year under the Church’s guidance!” (The Volume for Christmas, chap iii)

And now, after these few words of necessary digression, we resume the explanation of the Liturgy for this Feast.


The Procession, which immediately precedes Mass on other Feasts, is, today, deferred till after the offering of the great Sacrifice. In this Procession, our Jesus is to preside in person: we must, therefore, wait until the sacred Action (so our Fathers call the Mass) has bowed down to us the heavens (Psalm 17:10) where he resides. He will soon be shrouded beneath the mysterious cloud. He is coming, that he may nourish his elect with the fat of wheat, of that Wheat which has fallen on our earth, (John 12:24-25) and is to be multiplied by being mystically immolated on the countless Altars of this earth. He is coming today, that he may receive a triumph at the hand of his people, and hear the songs we shall so joyously sing to the God of Jacob. These are the ideas expressed by the Introit, wherewith the Church opens her chants during the holy Sacrifice; it is taken from the 80th Psalm, which is so very sublime, and forms one of those already recited in the Matins of this Feast.


He fed them with the fat of wheat, alleluia: and filled them with honey out of the rock, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Ps. Rejoice unto God, our helper: sing joyfully unto the God of Jacob. ℣. Glory, etc. He fed them.

In the Collect, the Church reminds us of the intention our Lord had in instituting, on the eve of his Passion, the Sacrament of love;—it was to be a perpetual memorial of the Passion, which he was then going to suffer. Our Mother prays, that being thus imbued with the spirit which leads her to pay honor to the Body and Blood of Christ, we may obtain the blessings which were purchased for us by his Sacrifice.


O God, who, under the wonderful Sacrament, hast left us a memorial of thy Passion: grant us, we beseech thee, so to reverence the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood, that, in our souls, we may always feel the fruit of thy Redemption. Who livest, etc.


Lesson of the First Epistle of Saint Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians 11:23-29

Brethren, for I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread. And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me. For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.

The Holy Eucharist, both as Sacrifice and Sacrament, is the very center of the Christian religion; and therefore, our Lord would have a fourfold testimony to be given in the inspired writings to its Institution. Besides the account given by Saints Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we have also that of St. Paul, which has just been read to us and which he received from the lips of Jesus himself, who vouchsafed to appear to him after his Conversion and instruct him.

St. Paul lays particular stress on the power given by our Lord to his disciples, of renewing the act which he himself had just been doing. He tells us what the Evangelists had not explicitly mentioned, that as often as a Priest consecrates the Body and Blood of Christ he shows (he announcesthe Death of the Lord: and by that expression, tells us that the Sacrifice of the Cross, and that of our Altars, is one and the same. It is likewise by the immolation of our Redeemer on the Cross that the flesh of this Lamb of God is truly meat, and his Blood truly drink, as we shall be told in a few moments by the Gospel. Let not the Christian, therefore, forget it, not even on this day of festive triumph. The Church insists on the same truth in her Collect of this Feast: it is the teaching which she keeps repeating, through this formula, throughout the entire Octave, and her object in this is to impress vividly on the minds of her children this, the last and earnest injunction of our Jesus: As often as ye shall drink of this cup of the new Testament, do it for the commemoration of me! The selection she makes of this passage of St. Paul for the Epistle should impress the Christian with this truth,—that the divine Flesh which feeds his soul was prepared on Calvary, and that, although the Lamb of God is now living and impassible, he became our food, our nourishment, by the cruel death which he endured. The sinner, who has made his peace with God, will partake of this sacred Body with deep compunction, reproaching himself for having shed its Blood by his sins: the just man will approach the holy Table with humility, remembering how he too has had but too great a share in causing the innocent Lamb to suffer; and that if he be at present in the state of grace, he owes it to the Blood of the victim, whose Flesh is about to be given to him for his nourishment.

But let us dread, and dread above all things, the sacrilegious daring spoken against in such strong language by our Apostle,—and which, by a monstrous contradiction, would attempt to put again to death Him who is the Author of Life; and this attempt to be made in the very banquet which was procured for us men by the precious Blood of this Savior! Let a man prove himself, says the Apostle; and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. This proving one’s self is sacramental confession, which must be made by him who feels himself guilty of a grievous sin which has never before been confessed. How sorry soever he may be for it, were he even reconciled to God by an act of perfect contrition, the injunction of the Apostle interpreted by the custom of the Church and the decisions of her Councils (Conc. Trid. Sess. xiv. cap. iv) forbids his approaching the holy Table until he has submitted his sin to the power of the Keys.

The Gradual and Alleluia-Verse are a further instance of the parallelism between the two Testaments, which we have already noticed in the composition of the Matin Responsories. The Psalmist extols the bounty of that God to whom every living creature looks for its food; and our Jesus offers himself to us, as we have it in St. John’s Gospel, as our truest nourishment.


The eyes of all hope in thee, O Lord: and thou givest them food in due season.

℣. Thou openest thy hand, and fillest with thy blessing every living creature.

Alleluia, alleluia.

℣. My flesh is truly meat, and my blood is truly drink; he that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.

Then follows the Sequence,—that well-known composition of the Angelical Doctor. The Church, the true Sion, expresses her enthusiasm, and love, for the living and life-giving Bread, in words which, at first sight, would see too precise and scholastic, to comport the poetry of form and sentiment. The Eucharistic mystery is here developed with that concision and solemnity for which St. Thomas had such a wonderful talent. The words are accompanied by a chant which is worthy of them; and the two together excite in the Christian soul the sentiments of unearthly joy, which are so peculiar to this Feast of the Sacrament of Love.


Praise your Savior, O Sion! Praise your Guide and Shepherd, in hymns and canticles.

As much as you have power, so also dare; for He is above all praise, nor can you praise Him enough.

This day, there is given to us a special theme of praise—the living and life-giving Bread,

Which, as our faith assures us, was given to the Twelve brethren, as they sat at the Table of the holy Supper.

Let our praise be full, let it be sweet; let our soul’s jubilee be joyous, let it be beautiful;

For we are celebrating that great day, on which is commemorated the first institution of this Table.

In this Table of the new King, the new Pasch of the new Law puts an end to the old Passover.

Newness puts the old to flight, and so does truth the shadow; the light drives night away.

What Christ did at that Supper, that He said was to be done in remembrance of Him.

Taught by His sacred institutions, we consecrate the Bread and Wine into the Victim of Salvation.

This is the dogma given to Christians — that bread passes into flesh, and wine into blood.

What thou understand not, what you see not — that let a generous faith confirm you in, beyond nature’s course.

Under the different species — which are signs not things — there hidden lie things of infinite worth.

The Flesh is food, the Blood is drink; yet Christ is whole, under each species.

He is not cut by the receiver, nor broken, nor divided: He is taken whole.

He is received by one, He is received by a thousand; the one receives as much as all; nor is He consumed, who is received.

The good receive, the bad receive — but with the difference of life or death.

’Tis death to the bad, ’tis life to the good: lo! how unlike is the effect of the one like receiving.

And when the Sacrament is broken, waver not! but remember, that there is as much under each fragment, as is hid under the whole.

Of the substance that is there, there is no division; it is but the sign that is broken and He who is the Signified, is not thereby diminished, either as to state or stature.

Lo! the Bread of Angels is made the food of pilgrims; verily, it is the Bread of the children, not to be cast to dogs.

It is foreshown in figures—when Isaac is slain, when the Paschal Lamb is prescribed, when Manna is given to our fathers.

O good Shepherd! True Bread! Jesus! have mercy on us: feed us, defend us: give us to see good things in the land of the living.

O You, who know and can do all things, who feeds us mortals here below, make us your companions in the banquet yonder above, and your joint-heirs, and fellow-citizens with the Saints!

Amen. Alleluia.


Sequel of the Holy Gospel according to John 6:56-59

At that time: Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: My flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.

The beloved Disciple could not remain silent on the Mystery of Love. But at the time when he wrote his Gospel, the institution of the Eucharist had been sufficiently recorded by the three Evangelists who had preceded him, as also by the Apostle of the Gentiles. Instead, therefore, of repeating what these had written, he completed it by relating the solemn promise made by Jesus on the banks of Lake Tiberias a year before the Last Supper.

He was surrounded by the thousands, who were in admiration at his having miraculously multiplied the loaves and fishes: Jesus takes the opportunity of telling them that he himself is the true bread come down from heaven and which, unlike the manna given to their fathers by Moses, could preserve man from death. Life is the best of all gifts, as death is the worst of evils. Life exists in God as in its source; (Psalm 35:10) he alone can give it to whom He pleases, and restore it to him who has lost it. Man, who was created in grace, lost his life when he sinned, and incurred death. But God so loved the world, as to send it, lost as it was, His Son, (John 3:16) with the mission of restoring man to life. True God of true God, Light of Light, the Only Begotten Son is, likewise, true Life of true Life, by nature: and, as the Father enlightens them that are in darkness, by this Son, who is His Light, so, likewise, He gives life to them that are dead, and He gives it to them in this same Son of His, who is His living Image. (St Cyril of Alex. In Johan. lib iv. cap. 3) The Word of God, then, came among men, that they might have life, and abundant life. (John 10:10) And whereas it is the property of food to increase and maintain life, therefore did He become our Food, our living and life-giving Food, which has come down from Heaven. Partaking of the life eternal which He has in His Father’s bosom, the Flesh of the Word communicates this same life to them that eat It. That, (as St. Cyril of Alexandria observes) which, of its own nature, is corruptible, cannot be brought to life in any other way than by its corporal union with the body of him who is life by nature: now, just as two pieces of wax melted together by the fire make but one, so are we and Christ made one by our partaking of his Body and Blood. This life, therefore, which resides in the Flesh of the Word made ours within us, shall be no more overcome by death; on the day appointed, this life will throw off the chains of the old enemy, and will triumph over corruption in these our bodies, making them immortal. (In Johan, lib. x. cap. 2) Hence it is, that the Church, with her delicate feelings both as Bride and Mother, selects from this same passage of Saint John, her Gospel for the daily Mass of the Dead, thus drying up the tears of the living who are mourning over their departed friends, and consoling them by bringing them into the presence of the holy Host, which is the source of true life, and the center of all our hopes.

Thus was it to be, that not only the soul was to be renewed by her contact with the Word, but even the body, earthly and material as it is, was to share, in its way, of what our Savior called the Spirit that quickeneth. (John 6:64) “They,” as St. Gregory of Nyssa has so beautifully said, “who have been led, by an enemy’s craft, to take poison, neutralize by some other potion the power which would cause death; and as was the deadly, so likewise the curative must be taken into the very bowels of the sufferer; that so the efficacy of that which brings relief may permeate through the whole body. Thus we, having tasted that which ruined our nature, require a something which will restore and put to right that which was disordered; and that when this salutary medicine shall be within us, it may, as an antidote, drive out the mischief of the poison which had previously been taken into the body. And what is this (salutary medicine)? No other than that Body which had both been shown to be stronger than death, and was the beginning of our life. For, says the Apostle, as a little leaven makes the whole paste to be like itself, so, likewise, that Body which God had willed should be put to death, when it is within ours, transmutes and transfers it wholly to Itself … Now, the only way whereby a substance may be thus got into the body, is by its being taken as food and drink.” (St Gregory of Nyssa. Orat. Catech., cap. 37)

The Offertory is taken from those words of Leviticus (xxi, t), wherein God commands the Priests of the ancient covenant to be holy, because of their having to offer incense and loaves of proposition to him, as figures of something to be at another time. As much as the priesthood of the New Testament is superior to this ministry of the figurative Law, so much should the hands of Aaron be surpassed in holiness by those that have to offer, to God the Father, the true Bread of heaven, which is the incense of infinite fragrance.


The priests of the Lord offer unto God incense and loaves: and, therefore, shall they be holy to their God, and shall not defile his name, alleluia.

In the Secret, the Priest prays that there may be, in the Church, that unity and peace, which are the special grace of the holy Sacrament, as the Fathers teach us. The very bread and wine which are offered express this: the bread is made up out of many grains and the wine out of many berries.

The Preface, both for the Feast and the Octave, is that of Christmas: we are thus reminded of the close connection which exists between the two mysteries of the Birth of Christ and the Eucharist. It was in Bethlehem, the house of Bread, that Jesus, the Bread of Life, came down from heaven through the Virgin, his ever blessed Mother.


Mercifully grant thy Church, O Lord, we beseech thee, the gifts of unity and peace, which are mystically represented in these offerings. Through, etc.


It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God; for that, by the mystery of the Incarnate Word, a new ray of thy glory has appeared to the eyes of our soul: so that, while we behold God visibly, we may be carried by him to the love of things invisible: and, therefore, with the Angels and Archangels, with the Thrones and Dominations, and with all the heavenly host, we sing a hymn to thy glory, saying unceasingly.

Faithful to her Lord’s injunction, which she brought before us in the Epistle, the Church reminds her children, in the Communion-Anthem, that they announce the Death of Christ, when they receive his Body; and that consequently, they should tremble at the very thought of an unworthy Communion.


As often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, ye shall show the death of the Lord, until he come: whosoever, therefore, shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord, alleluia.

The Church concludes the Mysteries by praying that there be granted that eternal and unveiled union with the divine Word, of which she has a pledge and figure in the partaking, here below, of the real substance of his Body and Blood, under the veil of Faith.


Grant us, O Lord, we beseech thee, the everlasting possession of thyself: as a pledge of which, we have received thy Body and Blood. Who livest, etc.


Who is this who comes up, embalming the desert of the world with her clouds of incense and myrrh, and perfumes unnumbered? The Bride has awakened of her own accord today. Full of desire to please him, and very lovely, the Church is standing round the golden litter, wherein is throned her Spouse in his glory. Near him are drawn up the valiant ones of Israel,—the priests and Levites of the Lord who are strong even with God. Go forth, ye daughters of Sion! (Song of Solomon 3:5-11) fix your gaze on the true Solomon, so beautiful in the diadem, wherewith his mother crowned him on the day of his espousals, the day of the joy of his heart! That diadem is the Flesh received by the divine Word, from the Virgin Mother, when he took our human nature for his Bride. (St. Gregory the Great, in Cant.) By this most perfect of Bodies, by this sacred Flesh, there is every day continued, in the Eucharistic banquet, the ineffable mystery of the marriage between man and eternal Wisdom. For our true Solomon, then, each day is the day of the joy of his heart, the day of nuptial rejoicing: could anything be more just than that once in the Year, holy Church should give full freedom to the transports of the love she has for her divine Spouse, who resides with her in the Sacrament of Love, although in a hidden manner? It is on this account that in today’s Mass, the Priest has consecrated two Hosts; and that, after having received one of these in communion, he has placed the other in the glittering Ostensorium, which is to be carried in his trembling hands beneath a canopy, while hymns of triumphant joy are being sung, and the Faithful, in prostrate adoration, are being blessed by their Jesus, who thus comes amongst them.

This solemn homage to the sacred Host is, as we have already said, a later institution than the Feast itself of Corpus Christi. Pope Urban the Fourth does not speak of it in his Bull of the Institution, in 1264. Twenty-two years later, Durandus of Mende wrote his Rational of Divine Offices, in which he several times mentions the Processions which were then in use; but he has not a word upon that of Corpus Christi. On the other hand, Martin the Fifth, and Eugenius the Fourth, in their Constitutions, which we have already quoted (May 26, 1429, May 26, 1433), plainly show that it was then in use, for they grant Indulgences to them that are present at it. Donatus Bossius of Milan tells us, in his Chronicle, that on Thursday the 24th of May, 1404, “there was carried, for the first time solemnly, the Body of Christ in the streets of Padua, which has since become the custom.” Some writers have concluded from these words that the Procession of Corpus Christi was not in use before that date, and that it first originated at Padua; but the words of Bossius scarcely justify such an inference, and words he uses may be understood of a local custom.

Indeed, we find mention made of this procession in a Manuscript of the Church of Chartres, in 1330; in an Act of the Chapter of Tournai, in 1325; in a Council of Paris in 1323; and in one held at Sens in 1320. Indulgences are granted by these two Councils to those who observe abstinence and fasting on the vigil of Corpus Christi, and they add these words: “As to the solemn Procession made on the Thursday’s Feast, when the holy Sacrament is carried, seeing that it appears to have been introduced in these our times by a sort of inspiration,—we prescribe nothing at present, and leave all concerning it to the devotion of the clergy and people.” (LABRE) So that the initiative to the institution of today’s Procession seems to have been made by the devotion of the Faithful; and that this admirable completion given to our Feast began in France, and thence was adopted in all the Churches of the West.

There is ground for supposing that at first the sacred Host was not carried in these Processions as it is now; it was veiled over or enclosed in a sort of rich shrine. Even so far back as the 11th Century, it had been the custom, in some places, to carry It in this way during the Processions of Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday morning. We have elsewhere spoken of these devotional practices which, however, were not so much for the direct purpose of honoring the Blessed Sacrament as for that of bringing more forward the mystery of those solemnities. (Passiontide and holy Week; Paschal Time, vol. i) Be this as it may, the use of ostensoria, or monstrances as they are termed in a Council held in 1452 at Cologne, soon followed the institution of the new Procession. They were made, at first, in shape like little towers. In a Manuscript Missal, dated 1374, the letter D, which is the first of the Collect for the feast of Corpus Christi, gives us a miniature illumination, representing a Bishop, accompanied by two acolytes, who is carrying the Host in a golden tower, which has four openings. But Catholic piety soon began to offer to its Lord all the exterior honor it could; to that Lord who hides himself and his glory in the Mystery of Love; and to the Sun of Justice thus shrouded, it suggested the compensation, poor though it must necessarily be, of a crystal sphere, surrounded by rays of gold or of other precious material, and of exposing the sacred Host within it. Not to mention other, and more ancient records, we find a very marked instance of the rapidity wherewith this use of the Monstrance was adopted: it occurs in a Gradual of the period of Louis the Twelfth (1498-1515); the initial letter of the Introit for Corpus Christi has within it a sun or sphere, like those in present use; it is being carried on the shoulders of two figures vested in copes, who are followed by the King, and several Cardinals and Prelates. (Thiers. De l’exposit. du S. Sacr., liv. ii. ch. 2)

And yet, the Protestant heresy, which was then beginning, gave the name of novelty, superstition, and idolatry to these natural developments of Catholic worship, prompted, as they were, by faith and love. The Council of Trent pronounced anathema upon these calumnies; and in a Chapter apart, (Sess. xiii. cap. v. and Can. vi.) showed how rightly the Church had acted in countenancing these practices. The words of the Council are as follows: “The holy Council declares, that there has been most piously and religiously introduced into God’s Church the practice, that each year, on a certain special feast, the august and venerable Sacrament should be honored with singular veneration and solemnity, and that It should be reverently and with every honor carried in processions through the public roads and places. For it is most just that certain holidays should be appointed, whereon all Christians should, with special and unusual demonstrations, evince their gratitude and mindfulness towards their common Lord and Redeemer, for this so unspeakable and truly divine favor in which is represented his victory and triumph over death. And it was also necessary, that thus invincible truth should triumph over lying and heresy; that her enemies, seeing all that splendor, and being in the midst of such great joy of the whole Church, should either grow wearied and acknowledge their being beaten and broken, or, being ashamed and confounded, should be converted.”

But to us Catholics, faithful adorers of the Sacrament of Love, “O the joy of the immense glory the Church is sending up to God this hour: verily! as if the world was all unfallen still! We think, and as we think, the thoughts are like so many successive tide-waves filling our whole souls with the fullness of delight, of all the thousands of Masses which are being said or sung the whole world over, and all rising with one note of blissful acclamation, from grateful creatures, to the Majesty of our merciful Creator. How many glorious processions, with the sun upon their banners, are now winding their way round the squares of mighty cities, through the flower-strewn streets of Christian villages, through the antique cloisters of the glorious cathedral, or through the grounds of the devout seminary, where the various colors of the faces, and the different languages of the people are only so many fresh tokens of the unity of that faith, which they are all exultingly professing in the single voice of the magnificent ritual of Rome! Upon how many altars of various architecture, amid sweet flowers and starry lights, amid clouds of humble incense, and the tumult of thrilling song, before thousands of prostrate worshipers, is the Blessed Sacrament raised for exposition, or taken down for benediction! And how many blessed acts of faith and love, of triumph and of reparation, do not each of these things surely represent! The world over, the summer air is filled with the voice of song. The gardens are shorn of their fairest blossoms, to be flung beneath the feet of the Sacramental God. The steeples are reeling with the clang of bells; the cannon are booming in the gorges of the Andes and the Apennines; the ships of the harbors are painting the bays of the sea with their show of gaudy flags; the pomp of royal or republican armies salutes the King of kings. The Pope on his throne, and the school-girl in her village, cloistered nuns and sequestered hermits, bishops and dignitaries and preachers, emperors and kings and princes, all are engrossed today with the Blessed Sacrament. Cities are illuminated; the dwellings of men are alive with exultation. Joy so abounds that men rejoice they know not why, and their joy overflows on sad hearts, and on the poor, and the imprisoned, and the wandering, and the orphaned, and the home-sick exiles. All the millions of souls that belong to the royal family and spiritual lineage of St. Peter are today engaged more or less with the Blessed Sacrament: so that the whole Church Militant is thrilling with glad emotion, like the tremulous rocking of the mighty sea. Sin seems forgotten; tears even are of rapture rather than of penance. It is like the soul’s first day in heaven; or as if earth itself were passing into heaven, as it well might do, for sheer joy of the Blessed Sacrament.” (Father Faber: The Blessed Sacrament)

There are sung, during the Procession, the Hymns of today’s Office, the Lauda Sion, the Te Deum, and, if time permit, the Benedictus, Magnificat, or other liturgical pieces, which are in keeping with the spirit of the Feast, such as the Hymns for the Ascension, as specified in the Ritual. Having returned to the Church, the function concludes, as at other Benedictions, with the Tantum ergo, the Versicle and Collect of the Blessed Sacrament. But after the Blessing has been given, the Deacon does not put the Sacred Host into the Tabernacle, but on the Throne prepared for it, and around which, for eight days, the Faithful will be keeping a devout and adoring watch.


In the Office of Vespers or Even-Song, the Church chants, and in presence of the adorable Sacrament exposed on the Throne, the wonders of this great day.

The first Psalm is on the glories of Christ, our High Priest: The Lord hath sworn: He is a Priest forever, according to the order of Melchisedech. Like this king of justice and peace, Christ selected bread and wine, as the materials of his Sacrifice: but under these appearances, was hidden the oblation which, in all things, was worthy both of the eternal Priest who offered it, and of the Father, who had begot him before the day-star.

ANT. Christ the Lord, being a Priest forever, according to the order of Melchisedech, offered bread and wine.

PSALM 109 (Dixit Dominus)

The Lord said unto my Lord, his Son: Sit thou at my right hand, and reign with me.

Until, on the day of thy last Coming, I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Christ! the Lord, thy Father will send forth the scepter of thy power, out of Sion : from thence rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.

With thee is the principality in the day of thy strength, in the brightness of the saints: for the Father hath said to thee: From the womb before the day-star I begot thee.

The Lord hath, sworn, and he will not repent: he hath said, speaking of thee the God-Man, Thou art a Priest forever, according to the order of Melchisedech.

Therefore, Father, the Lord, thy Son, is at thy right hand: he hath broken kings in the day of his wrath.

He shall also judge among nations: he shall fill the ruins of the world: he shall crush the heads in the land of many.

He shall drink, in the way, of the torrent of sufferings: therefore, shall he lift up the head.

ANT. Christ the Lord, being a Priest forever, according to the order of Melchisedech, offered bread and wine.

The Bread and Wine of the Sacrifice pointed to a banquet: this banquet is commemorated in the following Psalm, which speaks of there being a great memorial, made by our God, of all the wonders he has done for us creatures. This memorial is Christ’s giving himself, as food, to all them that fear Him. May His praise endure, then, forever!

ANT. The merciful Lord hath given food unto them that fear him, as a memorial of his wonderful works.

PSALM 110 (Confitebor tibi)

I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart: in the counsel of the just, and in the congregation.

Great are the works of the Lord: sought out according to all his wills.

His work is praise and magnificence: and his justice continueth for ever and ever.

He hath made a memorial of his wonderful works, being a merciful and gracious Lord: and, being the Bread of Life, he hath given food to them that fear him.

He will be mindful, forever, of his covenant with men: this is the time when he will show forth to his people the power of his works.

That he may give them, (his Church,) the inheritance of the Gentiles: the works of his hand are truth and judgment.

All his commandments are faithful, confirmed forever and ever: made in truth and equity.

He hath sent Redemption to his people: he hath, thereby, commanded his covenant forever.

Holy and terrible is his Name: the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

A good understanding to all that do it: his praise continueth forever and. ever.

ANT. The merciful Lord hath given food unto them that fear him, as a memorial of his wonderful works.

The Eucharist, which is the compendium of all God’s favors, is, at the same time, the most perfect act of thanksgiving, and the only adequate one, which we can offer to his divine Majesty. If, then, having come to the close of this day, and filled with emotion at the sight of the wonders of God’s goodness towards us, we cry out with the Psalmist: What shall I render unto the Lord for all the things that he hath rendered to me? let us answer, with the same prophet, in the words of this third Psalm: I will take the chalice of salvation; I will sacrifice the sacrifice of praise.

ANT. I will take the Chalice of salvation, and will sacrifice a Host of praise.


I have believed, therefore have I spoken: but I have been humbled exceedingly.

I said in my excess: Every man is a bar.

What shall I render unto the Lord, for all the things that he hath rendered to me?

I will take the chalice of salvation: and I will call upon the Name of the Lord.

I will pay my vows to the Lord before all his people: precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

Lord, for I am thy servant: I am thy servant, and the son of thy handmaid.

Thou hast broken my bonds: I will sacrifice unto thee the sacrifice of praise, and I will call upon the Name of the Lord.

I will pay my vows to the Lord in the sight of all his people: in the courts of the house of the Lord, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem.

ANT. I will take the Chalice of salvation, and will sacrifice a Host of praise.

The following Psalm proclaims, with holy enthusiasm, the loveliness of the sight offered this day by our earth. Happiness and holiness seemed, this morning, to have taken possession of the world. The oil of gladness flowed from Christ, the Head, upon all his members. The Church thrills with gladness at seeing, round about the holy Table, her children, like so many young olive plants, ready to bring forth fruits of grace and sanctification. May it be so! May this day be a new era for Sion, in abundance of all good things, and in the strengthening of peace in the holy City!

ANT. May the children of the Church be around the Table of the Lord, as young olive plants.


Blessed are all they that fear the Lord; that walk in his ways.

For thou shalt eat the labors of thy hands: blessed art thou, and it shall be well with thee.

Thy wife as a fruitful vine, on the sides of thy house.

Thy children as olive plants, round about thy table.

Behold! thus shall the man be blessed, that feareth the Lord.

May the Lord bless thee out of Sion: and mayst thou see the good things of Jerusalem, all the days of thy life.

And mayst thou see thy children’s children, peace upon Israel.

ANT. May the children of the Church be around the Table of the Lord, as young olive plants.

“Glory be to God! and Peace unto men!” Thus sang the Angels when the Bread of heaven came to Bethlehem. We have already seen, and we will return, during the days of this Octave, to see, that these are the two grand results of the Eucharist. In this fifth Psalm of Vespers, the Church invites us to sing the praises of that peace, which by the grace of her Jesus, reigns in her borders, strengthens the bolts of her gates, and fills, with blessing, her children that are within her. But it is the divine nourishment, it is the Wheat of heaven’s own making, that produces this admirable peace, by its uniting all the members to Christ, in the unity of one Body.

ANT. The Lord, who putteth peace in the borders of the Church, filleth us with the fat of Wheat.


Praise the Lord, Jerusalem! praise thy God, O Sion!

Because he hath strengthened the bolts of thy gates: he hath blessed thy children within thee.

Who hath placed peace in thy borders: and filleth thee with the fat of corn, that is, Jesus, the Bread of Life.

Who sendeth forth his speech to the earth: his Word runneth swiftly.

Who giveth snow like wool: scattereth mists like ashes.

He sendeth his crystal like morsels: who shall stand before the face of his cold?

He shall send out his Word, and shall melt them: his wind, his Holy Spirit, shall blow, and the waters shall run.

Who declareth his Word unto Jacob: his justices and his judgments unto Israel.

He hath not done in like manner to every nation: and his judgments he hath not made manifest to them.

ANT. The Lord, who putteth peace in the borders of the Church, filleth us with the fat of Wheat.

The Capitulum gives us once more the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles. It is a joy to hear him thus bearing his testimony to the institution of the Sacrament of Love, and repeating to us the parting request of our Jesus: Do this in commemoration of Me!

(1 Corinthians xi)

Brethren, for I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me.

The Hymn, which then follows, gives us the whole doctrine of the Eucharist, in a sublime and concise wording. It is the one chosen by the Church for singing the praise of the adorable Sacrament: and its last two strophes are the ones she prescribes for the rite of Benediction, throughout the Year.


Sing, O my tongue, the mystery of the glorious Body, and precious Blood which was shed as the world’s ransom, by Him who is the fruit of Mary’s generous womb, Him the King of nations.

Given unto us, and born for us from the purest of Virgins, he lived in this our world, casting the seed of the word; and closing the days of his sojourn here, by a way full of marvel.

On the night of the Last Supper, he sat at table with his brethren; and having fully observed the Law as to its legal repast, he gave himself, with his own hands, as food to the assembled Twelve.

The Word made Flesh, makes, by a word, that true bread should become Flesh, and wine the Blood of Christ; and though our sense may fail, Faith of itself is enough to assure an upright heart.

Then let us, prostrate, adore so great a Sacrament: and let the ancient law give place to the new rite: let Faith supply the senses’ deficiency.

To the Father and the Son, be praise and jubilation, salvation, honor, power and benediction: to Him that proceedeth from Both, be there equal praise!


℣. Thou hast given them bread from heaven, alleluia.

℟. Having in it all that is delicious, alleluia.

The Antiphon which accompanies the Canticle of Our Lady, is a fervent exclamation of admiration for the sacred banquet of divine union, and for the living memorial of Jesus’ sufferings: it is here that man’s soul is filled with grace, and his very body receives the pledge of future glory. The phrase is not completed: the Church seems unable to finish these last words of her love of all that she has received by the Eucharist; but the gift is too great for human words!


ANT. O sacred banquet, wherein Christ is received; the memorial of his Passion is celebrated; the mind is filled with grace; and a pledge of future glory is given unto us, alleluia.


My soul doth magnify the Lord;

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.

Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me Blessed.

Because he that is mighty hath done great things unto me; and holy is his Name.

And his mercy is from generation unto generation, to them that fear him.

He hath showed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.

He hath put down the mighty from their seat: and hath exalted the humble.

He hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away.

He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy.

As he spake unto our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.

ANT. O sacred banquet, wherein Christ is received; the memorial of his Passion is celebrated; the mind is filled with grace; and a pledge of future glory is given unto us, alleluia.


O God, who, under the wonderful Sacrament, hast left us a memorial of thy Passion: grant us, we beseech thee, so to reverence the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood, that, in our souls, we may always feel the fruit of thy Redemption. Who livest, etc.

At the close of this great Feast, which is consecrated, by the Latin Church, to the honor of the sacred Host, we will listen to the Greek Church, who, in the following passages, expresses the same faith regarding the Blessed Sacrament. These quotations are used during and after the Communion, in the Liturgy, or Mass, called “St. John Chrysostom’s.”


Receive me, communicating, this day, in thy mystic Supper. For I will not speak of thy Mystery to thine enemies, nor, like Judas, give thee a kiss, but, like the thief, confess to thee: Remember me, Lord, in thy kingdom!

Lord, I am not worthy that thou enter under the filthy roof of my soul: but, as thou deignedst to repose in the cave and manger of brute beasts; and, in the house of Simon the Leper, receive a sinner like myself, when she approached thee: deign, also, to enter into the crib of my senseless soul, and into my defiled, dead, and leprous body. And, as thou disdainedst not the unclean mouth of the sinner, who kissed thy most pure feet; — so, O my Lord God, disdain not me, a sinner. But, good and merciful as thou art, vouchsafe to make me a partaker of thy most holy Body and Blood.

O my God! forgive, pardon, remit me whatsoever sins I have, either knowingly, or through ignorance, committed either by word or deed. Pardon me them all, for that thou art good and merciful; by the intercessions of thy most pure and ever virgin Mother, keep me from condemnation, that I may receive thy precious and immaculate Body unto the cure of soul and body. For thine is: the kingdom, and power, and the glory, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, now and always, and for ever and ever. Amen.


We give thee thanks, O kind Lord, thou benefactor of our souls, for that on this present day, also, thou hast made us worthy of thy heavenly and immortal Mysteries. Direct thou our ways, strengthen us in thy fear, guard our life, make safe our steps; by the prayers and intercession of the glorious Mother of God, and ever virgin Mary, and of all the Saints.

The deacon: Let us who, being just, have been made partakers of the divine, holy, spotless, immortal, supercelestial and life-giving Mysteries, let us worthily give thanks unto the Lord.

The choir: O Lord, have mercy.

The deacon: Receive, save, have mercy upon, and preserve us, O God, by thy grace.

The choir: O Lord, have mercy.

The deacon: Let us pray, that every day of ours may be perfect, holy, peaceful, and free from sin ; and let us commend ourselves, and one another, and our whole life, unto Christ, our God.

The choir: Unto thee, O Lord!

The priest, lifting up his voice: For thou art our sanctification, and to thee we give glory, Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost, now and always, and for all ages.

The choir: Amen.

This text is taken from The Liturgical Year, authored by Dom Prosper Gueranger (1841-1875). LifeSiteNews is grateful to The Ecu-Men website for making this classic work easily available online.