Holy Eucharist – Part 3 of 3

Father Cassilly writes: “With the wealth of sanctifying grace received in Communion come a host of actual graces, that urge, impel the soul to numerous acts of the theological and moral virtues, and blow the fire of charity to a white heat, consuming in its flames venial faults and the remnants of past sins.”

“The normal effect of material food is to please and satisfy the taste as well as to nourish the body, and the Eucharistic food, likewise, brings with it every spiritual savor and sweetness.”

“The Eucharist, then, is a hallowing of spirit by Spirit, the sanctification of our soul by God; but it is more than this, it is the touch, as it were, of body to Body through the sacramental species. When Christ walked the earth the touch of His hand, yea, of his garment, wrought wonders, restoring health and vigor to withered limb and atrophied organ. Nor has His glorified Body today lost its health-giving power.”

“Christ’s Body and ours, when united in the Sacrament, do not form one substance, for each retains its manner of existence. But, as the theologian Vasquez teaches, since love tends to the closest possible union between lover and beloved, Christ, in the vehemence of His affection, is driven to satisfy it by joining His Body to ours.”

“Through the primal sin came the inherited rebellion of the flesh against the spirit. If man’s will refused to obey its Creator, neither would man’s body be subject to his mind. The body became a wild, independent agent, seeking emancipation from the control of reason and disregarding the command of its master. It would not brook control, so that even the Apostle of the Gentiles cried out in anguish against its tyrannous sway and capricious moods. But, at the sacramental touch of Christ’s Body it loses to an extent its self-will and ferocity, and returns in some degree to the tamed, serviceable condition in which it was created. Original justice has fled from this sin-accursed planet never to return; but in the bodies of the saints who frequently eat Christ’s flesh there is at least some approach to the state of primitive innocence, and for what is wanting Christ’s grace is sufficient.”

Father Cassilly says of one who frequently receives Holy Eucharist: “The Divine life grafted on his soul will change his nature and make him a Godlike being. Or rather, since Christ, as He Himself tells us, is the vine and we the branches, we shall be grafted on Him, and the fruit we produce shall spring from and be nurtured by the sap of the Divine life by which we shall live.

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

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Holy Eucharist – Part 2 of 3

Father Cassilly says of the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist: “The Body that was fashioned for God the Son in Mary’s womb, enters the body of each Christian and there abideth, bringing in its train a host of ministering spirits, and giving forth the same current of graces that flowed from it in Christ’s ministrations when He trod the hills and vales of Palestine. And why does He come, body and soul, into the bosom of us Christians? That He may abide in us and we in Him, that so we may have life everlasting.”

“As material food and drink nourish the body, Christ’s Body and Blood feed and strengthen the soul. Natural food enters into our arteries and veins, and is transmuted from dead elements into living tissue and substance. It is changed into us. Not so with this spiritual food of our soul. Christ’s Body is not changed into ours, but we, in a manner, are changed into Him. For, His Body is not dead, but living, and in a union of living things the higher life prevails, the inferior is absorbed into the superior. . . . By nature’s law, the elements and lower organisms minister to the higher, the inferior life is elevated to the superior. But the Divine life is higher than the human and so Christ’s life cannot be changed into ours, but ours is elevated to become His.”

“The primary effect of this Sacrament is union with Christ in charity, and this is produced by an increase of sanctifying grace. . . . This heavenly nourishment makes the recipient live, as it were, with Christ’s life, love with His charity, and under the influence of this charity grow in all other virtues. . . . As the body that is weak and anaemic easily falls a prey to the countless germs and bacilli, which ever lie in wait for it in air and water and food, seeking entrance into the circulatory system; whereas the strong and vigorous constitution easily repels these invading hordes: so, too, the soul that is frequently nourished with the Body of Christ has strength to ward off the temptations and sins that ever strive to find lodgment in it.”

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

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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.”

“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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God’s Living Temple – Part 3 of 3

Father Cassilly writes: “We must learn to regard creatures only as passing manifestations of creative power, to look through and behind them to the Creator Himself. Beautiful indeed and ravishing of spirit are created things, when regarded with a pure and simple eye as reflections of their Maker and messengers of His eternal love, but death-provoking and sinful when they wean us from God to the worship of themselves. Then they become but false gods; and we, their idolatrous worshippers. . . . Not that we are called on to eradicate or destroy our natural affections, but rather to elevate and supernaturalize them by the principles of faith and charity. Natural love which leads us away from God to rest in creatures for their own sake, is an enemy to the soul. We must learn so to love our neighbor and the good things of life that in and through them we love their Creator and use or cherish them but for Him. And so it will come to pass that the more we love God, the more tender, intense and absorbing will be our affection for all His creatures.”

“A temple is a place of silence and prayer. We escape from the turbulent tide, that ebbs and flows in the crowded city streets, into the quiet recesses of the Christian church, where the noises of life are hushed or subdued into a distant murmur. There the glow of the sanctuary lamp speaks to us of the Unseen Presence, and we whisper our sentiments of love and devotion. The temple of our soul, too, must be barred to the profane, unholy things without, it must ever be redolent of the lingering incense of prayer, and its aisles must echo only to the voice of praise and adoration. Its silence must not be disturbed by the jangling noises and discord of daily life.”

“What consolation, when harassed by the worries and trials of life, to know that we are not forced to seek rest and refreshment of spirit in a temple made with hands; that we can instantly have recourse to the hallowed sanctuary of our own soul where dwells the ineffable presence of the Triune God, to Whom we can speak in all the fulness of love, and from Whom will come an answer, soft, melodious and clear as the distant peal of an angelus bell on a still and tranquil evening!”

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

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God’s Living Temple – Part 2 of 3

Father Cassilly elaborates further on the distinction between God’s temple on Mount Zion and human souls, which are His living temples. He writes: “The temple was a holy place, for it was dedicated to the service of God. It belonged to Him, and was sanctified by His presence. On the dedication day of Solomon’s temple the priests could not enter it, ‘because the majesty of the Lord had filled it.’ ‘I have sanctified this house, which thou hast built, to put My name there forever, and My eyes and heart shall be there always’ (1 Kgs 9:3), was God’s own promise to Solomon. . . . We recall how Christ, indignant with the money-changers and traffickers in the temple, drove them out with knotted cords, and upset their tables, because they had changed the temple from a house of prayer to a den of thieves.”

“Not less holy is the Christian soul in which God dwells, or rather more sacred is the soul, for, while temples have only extrinsic holiness in so far as they are reserved for the service of God, the soul is intrinsically, formally holy, possessing moral goodness, participating in the Divine nature, beautified and sanctified by living grace of which no material building is capable.”

“St. Paul argues that as our members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, it must follow that we belong no longer to ourselves but to Him. He who buys anything becomes its owner. Now we have been bought, purchased at a great price, the blood of Christ, and so we are His property. God has sanctified us and made us his dwelling, and woe to him who violates this sanctuary and retreat, who desecrates his own soul, for such a one is guilty of rapine, he robs the Deity of His home.”

“A temple is essentially but an enclosed altar. . . . The living temple of God in the soul also has its altar of sacrifice. . . . Our own will must be offered as a sweet-smelling holocaust. How dear to the natural man it is to follow his own vagaries, to idle or labor, do or undo, choose or leave, as whim or fancy moves, without sense of responsibility or care. But the supernatural man must restrain will and fancy, make them an oblation upon the altar of self-conquest. To subdue, regulate and conquer natural inclination, and make our own will entirely subservient to God’s, is pretty much the whole of the spiritual life.”

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

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God’s Living Temple – Part 1 of 3

Father Cassilly distinguishes two kinds of temples: those made of stone and those that are alive. He writes: “God’s dwelling place is called a temple. Since the just soul, as we have seen, is God’s abode, it can very properly be styled His temple. And this is the very appellation given it by St. Paul, who tells the Corinthians: ‘You are the temple of the living God; as God saith: I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people’ (2 Cor 6:16). In another epistle he speaks thus: ‘Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?’ (1 Cor 3:16)”

“In the days of good King David God complained to him that He had no permanent dwelling place, but that, from the day He brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, He had been forced to dwell in a tabernacle or a tent. (2 Sam 7:6-7) David then began to prepare for the building of the temple, which was undertaken and finished by King Solomon. Solomon built it on a most magnificent scale, as can be seen from the fact that he had seventy thousand men to carry burdens, eighty thousand to hew stones in the mountains, and three thousand six hundred to oversee them. And he gathered workers in gold and silver, in brass and iron, marble and wood, and in purple and scarlet and blue.”

“And after the destruction of the first temple the Lord complained by the mouth of the prophet, Aggeus, that the people dwelt in ceiled houses while His own house lay desolate. This reproach moved the chosen people to begin the construction of the second temple which, however, seemed so inferior in comparison with the grandeur of the first that old men, who had seen both, wept on beholding its foundations. To encourage the builders, the prophet foretold: ‘Great shall be the glory of this house more than of the first,’ for into it would come ‘the Desired of all nations,’ meaning by this Jesus Christ.”

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

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Enemies of the Body

Father Cassilly compares earthly dwellings to the souls of the just, wherein God dwells: “An earthly habitation has many enemies—amongst them poverty, sickness and death. . . . A shadow is always impending over it. The most perfect of homes cannot endure. It is but temporal, and so meant to be. At times want and distress descend upon it.”

“And what home escapes sickness? It is a legacy of original sin and is always seeking to enter through the chinks of doorway or casement, and, in the event, it always succeeds in ensconcing itself by bedside or hearth. Yet, evil as it is, it serves to draw closer the heartstrings of the family. The memory of past tribulation is often a sweeter possession than that of a placid and even prosperity. The helplessness of the sufferer not only wins the compassion and sympathy of the strong, but it draws forth the spirit of self-sacrifice. When the invalid sees with the eyes of others, is served by their hands and nursed by their affection, the bonds of family intercourse become riveted as by steel; and thus one great purpose intended by the Creator in the institution of the family is attained, forgetfulness of self.”

“And finally death, the enemy of mankind, ruthlessly enters the happiest of homes and carries away its victims one by one; the sound of cheerful voices is succeeded by silence or the mocking echoes of noises from without, and nothing remains to tell of once happy lives save desolate rooms, and blackened embers on the hearth.”

“But in the human habitation chosen by God, there need be no fear of these enemies of domestic felicity. . . . Sorrow, though, and crosses, tribulations and afflictions will ever be with us; but, if we welcome them with outstretched hands as friends of ours and God’s, they will not harm but only purify and strengthen us.”

“God, then, has made choice of our soul for His home, there to stay, if we but permit Him, in calm and storm amidst all the vicissitudes of our mundane existence until our tenement of clay falls apart, when, clinging all the closer to our emancipated spirit, He will enlarge it with the fulness of His Being forever.”

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

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