THE PRESENCE OF THE IMMACULATE LAMB
The Lord Speaks
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh. . . . Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” John 6:53-58.
While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Mark 14:22-24.
“The memory of Christ Jesus crucified was ever present in the depths of his [Francis’] heart like a bundle of myrrh, and he longed to be wholly transformed into him by the fire of love. In his extraordinary devotion to Christ, he fasted every year for forty days, beginning at the Epiphany, the time when Christ himself lived in the desert. Then he would go to some lonely place and remain there shut up in his cell, taking as little food and drink as possible, as he spent all his time praying and praising God. He loved Christ so fervently and Christ returned his love so intimately that he seemed to have his Savior before his eyes continually, as he once privately admitted to his companions. He burned with love for the Sacrament of our Lord’s Body with all his heart, and was lost in wonder at the thought of such condescending love, such loving condescension. He received Holy Communion often and so devoutly that he roused others to devotion too. The presence of the Immaculate Lamb used to take him out of himself, so that he was often lost in ecstasy.” St. Bonaventure, Major Life of St. Francis, IX:2.
“. . . Every day he humbles himself just as he did when he came from his heavenly throne (Wis. 18:15) into the Virgin’s womb; every day he comes to us and lets us see him in abjection, when he descends from the bosom of the Father into the hands of the priest at the altar. He shows himself to us in this sacred bread just as he once appeared to his apostles in real flesh. With their own eyes they saw only his flesh, but they believed that he was God, because they contemplated him with the eyes of the spirit. We, too, with our own eyes, see only bread and wine, but we must see further and firmly believe that this is his most holy Body and Blood, living and true. In this way our Lord remains continually with his followers, as he promised, Behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world (Mt. 28:20).”
Source: The Admonitions by St. Francis
From A Letter to the Entire Order
by Saint Francis
Let everyone be struck with fear,
let the whole world tremble,
and let the heavens exult
when Christ, the Son of the living God,
is present on the altar in the hands of a priest!
O wonderful loftiness and stupendous dignity!
O sublime humility!
O humble sublimity!
The Lord of the universe,
God and the Son of God,
so humbles Himself
that for our salvation
He hides Himself
under an ordinary piece of bread!
Brothers, look at the humility of God,
and pour out your hearts before Him!
that you may be exalted by Him!
that He Who gives Himself totally to you
may receive you totally!
From the Testament of Saint Francis
And God inspired me with such faith in his churches that I used to pray with all simplicity, saying, “We adore you, Lord Jesus Christ, here and in all your churches in the whole world, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.”
Prayer After Communion
Pierce, O most Sweet Lord Jesus, my inmost soul
with the most joyous and healthful wound of Your love,
with true, serene, and most holy apostolic charity,
that my soul may ever languish and melt with love and longing for You,
that it may yearn for You and faint for Your courts,
and long to be dissolved and to be with You.
Grant that my soul may hunger after You, the bread of angels,
the refreshment of holy souls, our daily and supersubstantial bread,
having all sweetness and savor and every delight of taste;
let my heart ever hunger after and feed upon You,
upon whom the angels desire to look,
and may my inmost soul be filled with the sweetness of Your savor;
may it ever thirst after You, the fountain of life,
the fountain of wisdom and knowledge, the fountain of eternal light,
the torrent of pleasure, the richness of the house of God.
May it ever compass You, seek You, find You, run to You,
attain You, meditate upon You, speak of You,
and do all things to the praise and glory of your name,
with humility and discretion, with love and delight,
with ease and affection, and with perseverance unto the end.
May You alone be ever my hope, my entire assurance,
my riches, my delight, my pleasure, my joy, my rest and tranquility,
my peace, my sweetness, my fragrance, my sweet savor, my food,
my refreshment, my refuge, my help, my wisdom, my portion,
my possession and my treasure,
in whom may my mind and my heart be fixed
and firmly rooted immovably henceforth and for ever.
Source: Saint Bonaventure