ANIMA CHRISTI: Chapter Eleven (Part Two)—In The Light Of God’s Word by Marie Paul Curley

Meditations on a Timeless Prayer

Chapter Eleven (Part Two)—In The Light Of God’s Word by Marie Paul Curley

From Soul of Christ

“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from Heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from Heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for this life of the world is my flesh.”

Theme for Holy Hour:

Jesus, the Bread of Life

The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?  So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.  Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.  Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.  Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.  This is the bread that came down from Heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died.  But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:48-58)

Suggested opening hymn: “O Sacrum Convivium” (traditionally attributed to Saint Thomas Aquinas),
or “I Am the Bread of Life,” by Suzanne Toolan, RSM (based on John 6).

Adoring Jesus In His Word

These words of Jesus can be especially powerful for those who have had an up-close encounter with death – either personally or through the death of a loved one.  Jesus calls himself, “the Bread of Life,” and promises eternal life to those of us who partake in the Eucharist.  How blessed we are to have this tremendous gift of the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus, a foretaste of his promise to share eternal life with us.

The beautiful prayer attributed to Saint Thomas Aquinas, O Sacrum Convivium, praises God for the the three ways Jesus unites us to himself in the Most Blessed Sacrament – in the past, in the present, and in the future.

O Sacred Banquet O sacrum convivium
in which Christ is received, in quo Christus sumitur
the memory of his passion is renewed, recolitur memoria passionis eius
the soul is filled with grace mens impletur gratia
and a pledge of future glory et future gloriae
is given us, nobis pignus datur,
Alleluia. Alleluia.

The First Way: Sacred Banquet

Jesus is the Sacred Banquet.  As the host, he invites us to draw near; then he becomes the meal, feeding us with the “bread” of his word and with his very self in the transubstantiated Bread and Wine which become his Body and Blood.

Jesus holds nothing back, giving himself so completely to us that the only limit to our union with him is our own limited capacity.  As the Bread of Life, Jesus wants to nourish us spiritually, strengthening our faith, hope, and love so that we can be always more intimately united with the Father through Christ, in the Holy Spirit.

This profound union with Jesus in Communion can sometimes give us tremendous joy; at other times that joy is hidden from us.  But whether we feel it or not, every Communion deepens our union with Christ, transforms us further into him image, and strengthens us for our mission of witnessing to the gospel.  Praying the following prayer is one way we can more intentionally unite ourselves with Christ in the Mass.

Offering of the Holy Mass

Accept, Most Holy Trinity, this sacrifice fulfilled at one time by the divine Word and now renewed on this altar through the hands of your priest.  I unite myself to the intentions of Jesus Christ, Priest and Lamb of God, that I may be entirely offered for your glory and for the salvation of all people.  Through Jesus Christ, with Jesus Christ, and in Jesus Christ, I intend to adore your eternal majesty, to thank your immense goodness, to satisfy your offended justice, and to beseech your mercy for the church, for my dear ones, and for myself. (Traditional, adapted)

At every Mass, Jesus invites you to enter with him into the life of the Trinity.
Pray this Offering of the Holy Mass the next time you go to Mass.

The Second Way: Sacred Memorial

At the Last Supper, Jesus clearly offers the Eucharist as a memorial of his upcoming passion, death, and resurrection – his self-offering to the Father on our behalf.  “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins,” (Matthew 26:28).

Even though the Mass is an unbloody offering in the form of bread and wine, the sacrifice of Jesus at every Mass is as complete as it was on Calvary.  Every time we go to Mass, Jesus offers himself for us again.  How can we respond?

Following Jesus Way

  1. Adore and thank Jesus for the gift of our redemption. We can thank him for the merciful love that forgives our sinfulness without a second thought; for the creative love that sustains us in our very existence; for the loving plan to bring us to the joys of Heaven.
  2. Offer ourselves with Jesus to the Father. United to Christ’s adoration, surrender, and thanksgiving to the Father, our offering is especially pleasing to the Father.  Eucharistically surrendering our love and our lives with Jesus to the Father, we grow in our love for Jesus, grow into his image, and prepare for an eternity of union with God.

The Third Way: Sacred Presence

In Union with Jesus

In becoming truly present not just spiritually but also physically, the Eucharistic Jesus offers us the tremendous gift of his companionship on our journey.  His presence in the Eucharist is not static.  His is a loving, active, dynamic presence that works within us, developing our capacity for love and preparing us for Heaven.  As the Risen Jesus accompanied the disciples who didn’t recognize him on the road to Emmaus, so the Risen Jesus in the Eucharist accompanies us in our daily steps.  Whether we begin our adoration feeling discouraged, fearful, joyful, or indifferent, the Risen Master offers us the light of the word of God, rekindles the fire of love in our hearts, and helps us to redirect our steps to follow his way.

Take some time to rejoice in the loving presence of the Risen Jesus.

Prayer to Fulfill My Mission

O my God, I will put myself without reserve into your hands…

With this prayer, ask for the grace to live according to God’s eternal, loving purpose for you.

God has created me to do him some definite service; he has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another.  I have my mission – I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.  Somehow I am necessary for his purposes, as necessary in my place as the archangel is in his.  If, indeed, I fail, he can raise another, as he could make the stones the children of Abraham.  Yet I have a part in this great work.  I am a link in the chain, a bond of connection between persons.  He has not created me for nothing.  I shall do good, I shall do his work.  I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep his commandments and serve him in my calling.

Therefore, I will trust him, whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away.  If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow my serve him.  My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us.  He does nothing in vain.  He may prolong my life, he may shorten it.  He knows what he is about.  He may take away my friends, he may throw me among strangers, he may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me – still he knows what he is about.

O Adonai, I give myself to you.  I trust you wholly.  You are wiser than I – more loving to me than I myself.  Deign to fulfill your high purposes in me, whatever they may be – work in and through me.  I am born to serve you; to be yours; to be your instrument.  I ask not to see – I ask not to know – I ask simply to be used.

Complete your work, O Lord, and as you have loved me from the beginning, so make me love you to the end.

A beautiful hymn to conclude your adoration is: “Take, Lord, Receive,” by John Foley, SJ (based on the prayer by Saint Ignatius of Loyola).

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