The Bread That Our Heavenly Mother Gives Us

by Fr. Stefano Manelli,
OFM Conv., STD

Imprimatur, 1973

The Holy Eucharist is the Bread that comes from our Heavenly Mother. It is Bread produced by Mary from the flour of Her immaculate flesh, kneaded into dough with her virginal milk. St. Augustine wrote, "Jesus took His Flesh from the flesh of Mary."

We know, too, that united to the Divinity in the Eucharist there is Jesus' Body and Blood taken from the body and blood of the Blessed Virgin. Therefore at every Holy Communion we receive, it would be quite correct, and a very beautiful thing, to take notice of our Holy Mother's sweet and mysterious presence, inseparably united with Jesus in the Host. Jesus is always the Son She adores. He is Flesh of Her flesh and Blood of Her blood. If Adam could call Eve when she had been taken from his rib, "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh" (Gen. 2:23), cannot the holy Virgin Mary even more rightly call Jesus 'Flesh of my flesh and Blood of my blood"? Taken from the "intact Virgin" as says St. Thomas Aquinas, the flesh of Jesus is the maternal flesh of Mary, the blood of Jesus is the maternal blood of Mary. Therefore it will never be possible to separate Jesus from Mary.

For this reason at every Holy Mass which is celebrated, the Blessed Virgin can repeat with truth to Jesus in the Host and in the Chalice, "You are my Son today I have generated You" (Ps. 2:7). And justly St. Augustine teaches us that in the Eucharist "Mary extends and perpetuates Her Divine Maternity", while St. Albert the Great exhorts with love, "My Soul if you wish to experience intimacy with Mary let yourself be carried between Her arms and nourished with Her blood" ... Go with this ineffable chaste thought to the banquet of God and you will find in the Blood of the Son the nourishment of the Mother.
Many Saints and theologians (St. Peter Damian, St. Bernard, St. Bonaventure, St. Bernadine ...) say that Jesus instituted the Eucharist above all for Mary and then through Mary, the Universal Mediatrix of All Graces, for all of us. And from Mary therefore Jesus comes to be given to us day by day; and in Jesus is always the Immaculate flesh and the Virginal blood of His Most Holy Mother which penetrates into our hearts and inebriates our souls. In an ecstasy during the celebration of Holy Mass, St. Ignatius of Loyola contemplated one day the reality revealed by this most sweet truth and he remained celestially moved for a long time.
Furthermore, if we reflect that Jesus, the Fruit of Mary's immaculate womb, constitutes all of Mary's love, all of Her sweetness, all of Her tenderness, Her whole riches, her whole life, then we see that when we receive Him we cannot fail to also receive her who, by ties of the highest love, as well as by ties of flesh and blood, forms with Jesus one unity, one whole, as She is always and inseparably "leaning upon her Beloved" (Cant. 8:5). Is it not true that love, and above all divine love, unites and unifies? And aside from the Unity in the bosom of the Blessed Trinity, can we think of a unity more close and total than that between Jesus and the Virgin Mary?

Mary's purity, her virginity, her tender ways, her sweet manner, her love, and even the very features of her heavenly face---all these we find in Jesus; for the most holy humanity assumed by the Word is wholly and only Mary's humanity, on account of the great mystery of the virginal Conception accomplished by the Holy Spirit, Who made Mary Jesus' Mother, while consecrating her as a Virgin that would be forever undefiled and glorious in soul and body.
And thus "The Eucharist," writes St. Albert the Great, "produces impulses of a love that is angelic, and It has the unique power to put in souls a holy feeling of tenderness toward the Queen of Angels. She has given us what is Flesh of her flesh and Bone of her bone, and in the Eucharist she continues to give us this sweet, virginal, heavenly banquet.

Finally, in the eternal generation of the Word in the bosom of the Trinity, the Father gives Himself wholly to the Son, Who is "Mirror of the Father", similarly in the temporal generation of the same Word in the bosom of humanity, the Mother of God gives herself wholly to the Son, to her Jesus, "the virginal Flower of the Virgin Mother" (Pius XII). And the Son in His turn gives Himself wholly to the Mother, making Himself similar to her and making her "fully Godlike" (St. Peter Damian).
St. Peter Julian Eymard, that Saint so totally devoted to the Eucharist, declared that even in this world, after Jesus' Ascension into Heaven, the Blessed Virgin "lived a life in and by the Blessed Sacrament;" and thus he liked to call her "Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament." And Padre Pio of Pietrelcina would sometimes say to his spiritual children, "Do you not see the Madonna always beside the tabernacle?" And how could she fail to be there ---she who "stood by the Cross of Jesus" on Calvary (John 19:25)? Therefore St. Alphonsus Liguori, in his book of devotions, used to always join a visit to the Blessed Virgin Mary to each visit to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. And Saint Maximilian M. Kolbe used to recommend that when we go before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, we never fail to remember Mary's presence, calling on her and associating ourselves with her, at least seeing to it that her sweet name comes to mind.

In the life of the Dominican friar, St. Hyacinth, we read that once in order to avoid a profanation of the Blessed Sacrament, the Saint hastened to the tabernacle to take out the ciborium containing the sacred Particles, in order to put it in a safer place. When, hugging Jesus in the Eucharist close to his breast, he was about to leave the altar, he heard a voice coming from the statue of the Blessed Virgin which was next to the altar, saying, "What? Would you take Jesus away without taking me?" The Saint halted in surprise. He understood the message, but he did not know how he could manage to carry Mary's statue too. Puzzled, he drew near the statue to see if he could take it with his one free hand. There was no need to strain himself, for the statue became as light as a feather. There is a precious lesson in this miracle: When we take Mary along with Jesus, she adds absolutely no weight or cost, for in a wonderful way they abide in one another (John 6:57).

The reply St. Bernadette Soubirous gave was very beautiful, when someone put this tricky question to her: "What would please you more, to receive Holy Communion, or to see the Madonna in the grotto?" The little Saint thought for a minute and then answered, "What a strange question! The two cannot be separated. Jesus and Mary always go together."

The Madonna and the Holy Eucharist are by the nature of things united inseparably "even to the end of the world" (Mt. 28:20). For Mary with her body and soul is the heavenly "tabernacle of God" (Apoc. 21:3). She is the incorruptible Host, "holy and immaculate" (Eph. 5:27), who, with her very self, clothes the Word of God made Man. St. Germain ventured to call her "sweet paradise of God." According to a pious opinion, supported by the ecstasies and visions of St. Veronica Giuliani and especially those of Blessed Magdalen Martinengo, within her breast the Blessed Virgin in Paradise preserves and will always preserve Jesus in a visible Host; and this is for her "eternal consolation, is an occasion of rejoicing for all the blessed inhabitants of Heaven, and in particular is an everlasting joy to all devotees of the Blessed Sacrament." This is represented in the "Madonna Mediatrice Universale," which Mother Speranza in recent times has painted and which has been placed in the Shrine at Collevalenza. It is the same as the image often reproduced in monstrances (sacred stands for exposing the Holy Eucharist for adoration) of the last century, which represent the Madonna, and make a place in her breast for the visible cavity in which the consecrated Host is put. "Blessed is the womb that bore Thee!" cried the woman amid the crowd (Lk. 11 :27). Thus in some of the churches in France the tabernacle used to be encased in a statue of Our Lady of the Assumption. The significance is quite clear: it is always the Blessed Virgin Mary who gives us Jesus, Who is the blessed Fruit of her virginal womb and the Heart of her Immaculate Heart. And She will forever continue to carry Jesus in the Holy Eucharist within her breast so as to present Him for the joyful contemplation of the Saints in Heaven, to whom it is even now given to see His Divine Person in the Eucharistic Species, according to the teaching of the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas' Aquinas.

It is in the Eucharist, and especially in Holy Communion, that our union with the Madonna becomes a full and loving conformity with her. We receive her devoted care and protection along with the Blessed Sacrament. her tender attentions overlook nothing as Christ is united to each of us, her children, moving her to pour out all her motherly love on our souls and bodies. The great St. Hilary, Father and Doctor of the Church, wrote this excellent passage: "The greatest joy that we can give Mary is that of bearing Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament within our breast." Her motherly union with Jesus becomes a union also with whoever is united to Jesus, especially in Holy Communion. And what can give as much joy to one who loves, as union with the person loved? And we—--do we not happen to be beloved children of the heavenly Mother?

When we go before Jesus on the altar, we always find Him "with Mary His Mother," as the Magi did at Bethlehem (Mt. 2:11). And Jesus in the sacred Host, from the altar of our hearts, can repeat to each of us what He said to St. John the Evangelist from the altar of Calvary, "Behold thy Mother" (John 19:27).

St. Augustine beautifully illustrates even better how Mary makes herself our own and unites herself to each one of us in Holy Communion. He says, "The Word is the Food of the Angels. Men have not the strength to feed It to themselves, nor need they do so. What is needed is a mother who may eat this supersubstantial Bread, transform it into her milk, and in this way feed her poor children. This mother is Mary. She nourishes herself with the Word and transforms It into the Sacred Humanity. She transforms It into Flesh and Blood, i.e., into this sweetest of milk which is called the Eucharist."

Thus it is quite natural that the great as well as the lesser Marian shrines always foster devotion to the Holy Eucharist, so much so that they can also be called Eucharistic shrines. Lourdes, Fatima, Loretto, Pompei, come to mind, where crowds approach the altar in almost endless lines to receive Mary's blessed Fruit. It cannot be otherwise; for there is no bond so close and so sweet with the Madonna, as the one realized in receiving the Holy Eucharist. Jesus and Mary "always go together," as St. Bernadette said.

Remember, too, that at Fatima the Madonna asked that, together with the holy Rosary, there be above all the Communion of Reparation for all the offenses and outrages which her Immaculate Heart receives. She is looking for loving hearts that want to console her by welcoming her into their home, as St. John the Evangelist did (John 19:27). We truly welcome her in the home of our hearts with the warmest hospitality, the hospitality dearest to her, every time we invite her company by way of our receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, when we present her with the living, true Jesus for her great comfort and delight. We need to appreciate what a great grace this is to have the Madonna's full care and attention with Jesus and in Jesus. Ah, St. Ambrose wanted all Christians to have "Mary's soul to magnify the Lord and Mary's spirit to exult in God"! This is the favor granted us in the noblest way in every Holy Communion. Let us reflect on it with love and gratitude.

One of the old monstrances made in the figure of Mary carrying the Holy Eucharist in her breast has these words inscribed on its base: "O Christian who comest full of faith to receive the Bread of life, eat It worthily, and remember that It was fashioned out of Mary's pure blood." Mary can quite rightfully beckon to us and speak to us in the words of the inspired prophet, "Come and eat my bread, drink the wine I have prepared" (Prov. 9:5). Saint Maximilian M. Kolbe wanted to convey the thought of this passage when he proposed that all altars of the Blessed Sacrament be surmounted with a statue of the Immaculate Virgin with her arms extended to invite us all to come eat the Bread that She herself had made.

With beautiful imagery, St. Gregory of Tours said that Mary's Immaculate bosom is the heavenly cupboard, well-stocked with the Bread of Life that was made in order to feed her children. "Blessed is the womb that bore Thee and the paps that gave Thee suck!" exclaimed a certain woman to Jesus (Lk. 11:27). The Immaculate Virgin carried Jesus within her while His Body was being formed from her own flesh and her own blood. Thus every time we go to Holy Communion, something sweet to recall is that Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the Bread of Life produced from Mary with the flour of her Immaculate flesh, kneaded with the admixture of her virginal milk. She has made this for us, her children. And we realize more fully our brotherhood with one another as we all partake of this savory, exquisite Bread of our Mother.

Communion With Mary (Meditating on the Hail Mary)


O holy Virgin, I am about to receive thy Jesus. I wish my heart were like thine when thou didst become Mother of the Savior at the time of the Annunciation of the Angel.

Hail Mary

I greet thee, good Mother. Allow me to unite myself with thee to adore Jesus. Lend me thine affections, thy sentiments. Moreover I ask thee to adore Him for me. Hail, O true Body of Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary! I believe, and I adore Thee.

Full of grace

Thou, Mary, wert worthy to receive the all-holy God, for thou wert full of grace from the first moment of thy life. But I am poor and sinful. My evil ways make me unfit to go to Communion. O my Mother, cover me with thy merits and lead me to Jesus.

The Lord is with thee

The Lord is with Thee, O most Holy Virgin. By thy ardent longing thou didst draw Him down from Heaven into thy heart. Instill also in my heart an ardent longing and an insatiable hunger for Jesus, so that I can truly say, "Come, O my Jesus, I long for Thee with the heart of Mary, Thy Mother and mine."

Blessed art Thou among women

Blessed art Thou, O Mary, who hast never known the remorse that comes from committing sin; for thou art free of every kind of sin and imperfection. But I know I have sinned, and I am not sure that I have been sufficiently sorry. Make me understand the evil of my sins and the goodness of God Whom I have offended. I weep for my sins. Present me thus penitent to thy Jesus.

And blessed is the Fruit of Thy womb

Ah, good Mother! What a great gift thou hast given us in giving us our Savior, Jesus! And behold, He wants to come to me to make me an especially beloved child of thy heart. I go with confidence to receive Him, and I say to Him: "My Jesus, I abandon myself to Thee. Come to give me strength to serve Thee faithfully, and the hope of enjoying Thee forever with Thy Mother in Heaven."


Grant, O Mother, that I experience those sentiments that thou didst experience as thou didst live in Jesus' company, as thou didst call Him by name. I am now about to receive Him. Allow me to be able to say to Him: "Come, O my Jesus. Thou wilt find in me the same welcome that Thou didst have from Thy Mother on earth. I hope that through her intercession Thou wilt welcome me into Heaven."


Holy Mary, Mother of God

O my Mother, how happy I am to be united with my Jesus! But how do I deserve to have my Lord come down to me? O Mary, who art holy and Immaculate, offer Him worthy thanks for me. O Thou who from the first perceived the heartbeats of that Jesus Whom I now welcome within me, Thou who loved Him more than all the Saints together hast loved Him, and who lived for Him alone when thou wert on earth, grant that I may now share thy sentiments and thy love.

And Thou, O Jesus, accept the love of Thy Mother as though it were my own and do not deny me a tender glance while I also say to Thee with all my heart, "I love Thee."

Pray for us sinners

Pray for me, O Mary. At this time unite Thy prayers to mine. And now that Jesus has come into my heart, ready to grant me all graces, I wish to ask Him above all that I never separate myself from Him by sin. And thou, O Mary, preserve me from evil, and be my refuge in temptation.


For now and from now on, beloved Mother, I beg for all the graces that are profitable to my soul. Obtain for me this favor: that I be clothed with the virtues of goodness and meekness and that my life be one of spotless purity.

And at the hour of our death

From now on my prayer, O Jesus, is that I may receive Thee worthily at the time of my death and that my death may be a holy one. I accept it, when and how Thou shalt send it to me—--I welcome it in union with Thy sacrifice fulfilled on the Cross. I accept it in order to submit myself to the Divine Will, for the glory of God, for my salvation, and for the salvation of souls.

O Sorrowful Virgin, assist me as thou didst assist Jesus in His last agony.


"So be it." O Jesus, here is the word that I want to repeat at every instant, both during my youth and throughout my life. May Thy Will be done always. And all that Thou doth provide is the best thing for me, and from now on I accept it and give Thee thanks. Amen.

Before The Holy Eucharist

The Visit to the Blessed Sacrament

My Lord Jesus Christ, Who, for the love Thou doth bear towards men, remain in this Sacrament night and day, filled with compassion and love, waiting, calling, and welcoming all who come to visit Thee: I believe that Thou art present in the Sacrament of the Altar; I adore Thee from the abyss of my nothingness, and I thank Thee for all the graces Thou hast given me, particularly for having given me Thyself in this Sacrament, for having given me Thy Most Holy Mother Mary as my Advocate, and for having called me to visit Thee in this church.

I pay reverence to Thy most loving Heart today, and this for three purposes: first, in thanksgiving for this great Gift; second, to make reparation for all the outrages Thou hast received from all Thy enemies in this Sacrament; third, I intend by this visit to adore Thee in all the places on earth in which Thou art present in this Sacrament, and in which Thou art least honored and most abandoned.

My Jesus, I love Thee with all my heart. I repent of having so often displeased Thy infinite Goodness in the past. I resolve with the help of Thy grace not to offend Thee ever again in the future; and for the present, poor sinner though I be, I consecrate myself wholly to Thee. I renounce and surrender to Thee my whole will, my affections, my desires, and all that belongs to me. From this day forward do whatever You please with me and what belongs to me. I ask and wish only of Thee Thy holy love, final perseverance, and the perfect fulfillment of Thy Will.

I recommend to Thee the souls in Purgatory, especially those most devoted to the Most Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin Mary. I also recommend to Thee all poor sinners.

O my beloved Savior, I unite all my affections with the affections of Thy most loving Heart, and thus united, I offer them to Thy Eternal Father, and I beg Him in Thy name that for love of Thee He accept them and heed them. Amen.

Spiritual Communion

My Jesus, I believe that Thou art really present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all things, and I desire to possess Thee within my soul. Since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart.

(Make a brief pause, and during it unite yourself with Jesus.)

I embrace Thee as being already there and unite myself wholly to Thee. Never, never permit me to be separated from Thee. Amen.

Visit to the Blessed Virgin Mary

O most holy, Immaculate Virgin and my Mother Mary, to thee who art the Mother of my Lord, the Queen of the world, the Advocate, the hope, the refuge of sinners, I, who am the most miserable of all sinners, have recourse today. I venerate thee, O great Queen, and I thank thee for all the graces thou hast conferred on me until now, especially for having delivered me from Hell, which I have so often deserved. I love thee, O Most amiable Lady, and because of the love I bear thee, I promise to serve thee always and do all in my power to make thee loved by others. I place in thee all my hopes; I confide my salvation to thy care. Accept me as thy servant, and shelter me under thy mantle, O Mother of Mercy. And since thou art so powerful with God, deliver me from all temptations, or obtain for me the strength to triumph over them until my death.

Of thee I ask a perfect love of Jesus Christ. From thee I hope to die a good death. O Mary, my Mother, for the love thou doth bear to God, I beg thee to help me always, but especially at the last moment of my life. Leave me not, I beseech thee, until thou seest me safe in Heaven, blessing Thee and singing thy mercies for all eternity. Amen. So I hope. So may it be.

—--St. Alphonsus Liguori



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