Holy Eucharist – Part 1 of 3

Father Francis Cassilly writes: “The manifestations of God’s love to man, which we have thus far considered, belong in general to the saints of the Old and the New Law. The gifts of nature, which are so touchingly referred to in the psalms, are the property of all mankind; and the grace of Christ has sanctified the souls of all just men who ever lived. Every descendant of Adam, who loved and served God, was endowed with grace and shared in its privileges. Hence in the Old Law the just were friends and children of God, sharers in the Divine nature, and temples of the Holy Ghost.”

He adds: “We [of the New Law] have the Incarnate God dwelling with us on earth, the Church He established, and the sacraments, those brimming channels of grace, besides a multiplicity of other gifts such as the Scriptural writings of the New Testament, the dogmatic and affective writings of the Fathers and an army of other spiritual writers, the inspiriting lives of the saints, miracles, shrines, pilgrimages and devotions, and a wonderful number and variety of religious orders and congregations.”

“Hitherto, Love had been satisfied with lifting men to the Divine sphere by grace; now it would descend to man’s level by becoming like him in all things save sin. God would empty and abase Himself, taking the form of a slave. He came upon this tiny, insignificant planet and hid himself in the womb of a Virgin Mother. . . . The petty great and powerful of earth were not there to do Him homage, but lowly shepherds adored while angel choirs filled the midnight sky with heavenly radiance and joyful psalmody.”

“Man had previously been raised to participation in the Divine nature, now God was in the likeness of man. Could Love go further? God had espoused human nature, uniting the human and divine in the Person of Christ, and, by descent from Adam through Mary, He had become Brother to each and every human being. . . . Men repudiated Christ, slew Him, fastened Him to the gibbet in obloquy and disdain, but withal they could not kill His love for them.”

To perpetuate His Incarnation, “He instituted the Eucharist, a sacrament in which veils are drawn about His humanity, as in the Incarnation the veils of flesh and blood were wrapped round the Divinity. . . . Herein arises a new union of love, between God and the Christian. Christ after His resurrection dies no more. He lives in the bosom of His Father, and daily communicates Himself, body and soul, Divinity and humanity, to the faithful. Thus are heaven and earth commingled, God daily descending to earth and men rising to celestial communion with Him.”

Quotations from Francis Cassilly, A Story of Love, 2d ed. (St. Louis: B. Herder, 1917).

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