The Priesthood 3-5
The Priest in Union with Christ
Fr. Reginald Garrigou-LaGrange, O.P.
TAN BOOKS AND PUBLISHERS, INC. Published on the web with permission.
The Four Ends of Sacrifice And Priestly Perfection
THIS chapter is based to a large extent on the teaching of St. Peter Julian Eymard, Founder of the Congregation of the Fathers of the Blessed Sacrament, who devoted much of his writings to a discussion of this particular question [Meditationes pro exercitiis spiritualibus]. He was specially inspired by God to establish for his own religious and for the faithful in general an almost continual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. From the outset he was afflicted with trials. He had but one companion, who, as soon as he realized that no other vocations were forthcoming, left his friend with no intention of returning. St. Peter Eymard remained on his knees before the Blessed Sacrament and was inspired by God to say: "Lord, I will not rise unless my friend returns." Some hours later, his friend did return, to be followed later on by many other fine vocations. Today this Congregation has spread throughout Europe and the two Americas and is meeting with striking success.
Before studying the teaching of St. Peter Eymard, we must first remind ourselves of the general teaching concerning Eucharistic worship and the interior life of all the faithful.
Eucharistic Worship and the Interior Life
It is true for all Christians that the Eucharist is the Divine sustenance of their interior life, for it nourishes their faith, hope, charity, religion and all the other virtues.
The Eucharist nourishes our faith since it is the crowning mystery of faith, presupposing the mystery of the redemptive Incarnation of the Son of God, the mystery of the Trinity and the mystery of man's elevation to the life of grace; it is also the pledge of eternal life. In consequence, a single Eucharistic miracle which sets its seal on the truth of this Sacrament confirms at the same time both the truth of all the other mysteries which it presupposes and also the validity of the other Sacraments which are ordered to the reception of the Eucharist. This would apply in particular to the validity of all the priestly ordinations and episcopal consecrations which have taken place without interruption since Christ's institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood of the New Law.
Similarly, the virtue of hope is nourished by the Eucharist, since hope relies on the help of Divine grace. Now the Eucharist contains not only grace, but also the Author of grace-----hence its pre-eminence above all other Sacraments.
The Eucharist nourishes also the virtue of charity, in so far as Holy Communion joins us to Christ and increases our charity toward God and our neighbor-----a charity which is not mere sentiment, but is active and effective. The Eucharist is the bond of charity uniting together at the same Divine banquet the members of every Christian family, the poor and the rich, the learned and the ignorant, all Christians throughout the world. And so in Holy Communion are verified the two principles: goodness is essentially diffusive, and, the loftier its nature, so much the more completely and abundantly does it give itself to others. Material goods cannot be completely possessed by several individuals at the same time, but spiritual goods can. In fact, they are then more completely possessed by each of the individuals, so that if anyone wished to reserve them exclusively for himself, he would thereby lose both charity and the spiritual goods. For that reason, everyone can possess at the same time the same truth, the same virtue, the same Christ present in the Eucharist after the manner of a substance, the same God hidden in our souls and clearly revealed in Heaven.
Finally, the Eucharist nourishes the virtue of religion, because the supreme act of religion is the act of sacrifice, an act which is both internal, external and public. The Eucharistic Sacrifice is the Sacramental continuation of the Sacrifice of the Cross, which is infinite in its value. The principal Priest, Christ Himself, could not be more closely united either to God or to the people who form His Mystical Body, or to the Victim, which is Himself. Therefore, both Victim and principal Offerer are of infinite value.
and the Eucharist
[Cf. St. Peter Eymard, loco cit., vol. III, pp. 43, 82-87, 98-112, 161, 230-232]
1) The priesthood and the spirit of sacrifice.
2) The four ends of sacrifice; Christ's interior life in the Eucharist, a model of the principal virtues of charity, religion, humility, poverty; belief in the Eucharist; confidence; charity; reparative charity in imitation of Christ the Victim; Litany of the Eucharistic Heart.
3) Conclusion. The Eucharist and priestly perfection; the Eucharistic vocation.
The Priesthood and the Spirit of Sacrifice
It is the office of a priest to offer the unbloody Sacrifice of infinite worth, to absolve sinners and thus regenerate in them the life of grace, to lead them to eternal life, and-----especially-----to preach the Gospel to the poor. For this he needs purity, humility, meekness, effective charity-----all of which he acquires for the glory of God and the saving of souls. He should imitate the example of the Apostles, who stated as their reason for ordaining deacons to look after the works of mercy: "We will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word." [Acts 6: 4] Otherwise there will be plenty of outward activity but with little to show for it; tremendous strides but not in the right direction. Furthermore, the cry of St. John the Baptist should find an echo in the life of every priest: "He must increase, but I must decrease." [John 3: 30]
To this end he should live according to the spirit of Christ: "He who is joined to the Lord, is one spirit" [1 Cor. 6: 17]: "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." [Rom. 8: 9] This spirit is one of truth and love and sacrifice: truth, for Christ has said: "For this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth" [John 18: 37]-----"You are the light of the world" [Matt. 5: 14]-----"You shall be witnesses unto Me" [Acts 1: 8]; love, which manifests itself in meekness: "Learn of Me, because I am meek, and humble of heart" [Matt. 11: 29], and in zeal which perseveres unto death-----Christ loved me, and gave Himself for me [cf. Gal. 2: 20]; sacrifice, "He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me; . . .And that taketh not up his cross, and followeth Me, is not worthy of Me." [Matt. 10: 37-38] This sacrifice will be rewarded a hundred-fold. "To him that overcometh, I will give the hidden manna." [Apoc. 2: 17]
The Four Ends of Sacrifice
The duty of Divine worship is fulfilled by the worthy celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass, which should be offered each day with greater faith and hope and charity and fervor of the will, even if sensible fervor is lacking. We also adore God by Holy Communion, by visits to the Blessed Sacrament, by reparative worship, petition and thanksgiving. It is impossible to find on earth a loftier or holier or more liturgical form of worship than this Eucharistic worship, in which the priest is given unrivaled opportunities for cultivating the virtue of belief in Christ hidden under the species of bread and wine, and also the virtues of hope, charity, religion and humility, together with the corresponding gifts of the Holy Ghost. And by the exercise of these virtues and gifts the priest attains to his perfection.
All priests, no matter how weak or imperfect their spiritual character, can and must desire this perfection so that they may become true adorers of Christ in the Eucharist. We know only too well the tremendous effort that is required to attain to a position of standing in civil society, to become, for example, an advocate, or a doctor, or a professor, or a jurist. But even the most unassuming of priests or the faithful can join in this Eucharistic worship, and if they are sincerely humble and devout, they will find themselves making much progress in it: "Come to me, all you that labor, and are burdened, and I will refresh you" [Matt. 11: 28]; "I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly." [John 10: 10] Holy Communion gives the soul the strength it needs to avoid sin and to resist the temptations of the flesh and the devil, and also to increase in the love of God "with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind." [Luke 10: 27] This growth in love through Holy Communion and adoration is accompanied by a corresponding growth in the seven gifts and docility to the Holy Ghost.
But there are two aspects of this Eucharistic adoration which deserve special consideration-----the four ends of sacrifice and the virtues which Christ exemplifies in the Eucharist.
The first end of sacrifice is adoration; hence, the holocaust is the principal sacrifice, since the purpose of its offering is adoration. Throughout the ages men have been quick to forget their obligation to worship God, while readily paying homage to the flesh, to wealth, to the progress of science, to reason, to themselves. They have thus prepared a fruitful soil for the deification of the state or of society, for rationalism which idolizes man's reason, and so on. This neglect of Christ the Savior is not confined to unbelievers or to the indifferent, but extends to all ungrateful Christians-----even, on occasions, to His own ministers who love Him, not as His sons but as mercenaries interested only in rewards. They love Him not for His own sake but for their own selfish interests. And once deprived of its ruling spirit of charity, there can be little adoration.
It is not uncommon in certain parishes to find that the faithful do not go to Mass except on Sunday, and never pay a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. Christ is left alone in the Eucharist for almost the entire week, whereas each day He could be an abundant source of grace. Such parishes present a picture not only of lack of charity, but also of lack of hope and faith, which are normally revealed through the virtue of religion that they inspire.
For that reason, adoration of Christ our Savior present in the Eucharist is to be highly recommended; this adoration will of itself make reparation for much ingratitude, indifference and lack of care about salvation.
The second end of sacrifice is thanksgiving for all God's gifts to man, for the creation of the human race and its elevation to the order of grace and glory, for the redeeming Incarnation, for the institution of the Eucharist and the graces which flow from it, for the innumerable Masses offered and Communions received during the past twenty centuries for the strengthening of souls.
Many people never spare a thought for these Divine gifts, and thus they sink to the lowest depths of ingratitude, since these gifts have been so precious and so widespread. Whereas children normally show some sign of gratitude to their parents for what they do, many people never so much as say "thank you" to their Divine benefactor, Who is the source of all the gifts in the world.
scourge of ingratitude is not confined to individuals, but has affected
groups and societies, there must be collective and public thanksgiving.
This is the second reason for the Eucharist and forms the basis of its
In fact, the Eucharist commemorates all the unparalleled gifts which it presupposes-----the Incarnation and the Redemption-----and administers to us the fruits of redemption. In the words of St. John Fisher, the English Martyr, the Mass is like a spiritual sun which radiates its light and warmth to us each day-----words which were directed against the Lutherans who denied the Mass, and whose churches were cold for want of warmth from this spiritual sun. These additional gifts of the Mass and Holy Communion call for a further and special act of thanksgiving, and devotion to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus exists for this very purpose of thanking God for the institution of the Eucharist. The "Eucharistic Heart of Jesus" is to be understood as referring to the Heart of Jesus who gave us the gift of the Eucharist and continues to do so daily.
The third end of sacrifice is reparation for the sins committed against God, especially for the acts of sacrilege sometimes so atrocious and clearly instigated by the devil. God alone knows the enormity of some of these acts of sacrilege, which remind us of the treachery of Judas. In reparation for such abominable behavior, the Mass should be celebrated with reverence, and the Blessed Sacrament should be publicly exposed for adoration.
of reparation restores to God the Father and to Christ the accidental
of which they are deprived by such sins, and it is also a source of joy
to them-----a joy which many have refused to give.
It puts us in mind of the act of reverence paid by St. Veronica during
the Passion, when she wiped the face of Christ with a towel, on which
left an impression of His countenance.
Public reparation wards off those heavy, public chastisements of God which the world has deserved by its sins; it also pleads for mercy for sinners, that they may return to the way of salvation and repent of their sins. All this is accomplished by the act of sacrifice. And among the souls who have fully grasped this purpose of sacrifice are some who offer themselves as victims. In saving the world from the dread chastisements of God, they serve a purpose in the spiritual sphere similar to that of a lightning conductor in the material sphere. "He hath chastised us for our iniquities: and he will save us for his mercy." [Tob. 13: 5] This mercy is won for us by the act of reparation in Eucharistic worship, which perpetuates the act of reparation offered in the sacrifice of the Cross.
The fourth end of sacrifice is to request the Divine help and all the graces necessary for salvation, especially the grace of final perseverance. True, this grace cannot be merited but it can be obtained through the impetratory power of prayer, especially of the highest form of prayer contained in the actual offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass, in which endures the intercession of Christ "always living to make intercession for us." We should unite ourselves to His intercession, just as we unite ourselves to His adoration and reparation and thanksgiving. The value of our own acts are thus increased beyond all measure.
Even after Mass, Christ's intercession continues in the Eucharist. We should join in this prolonged act of prayer by making our own prayer less individualistic and more concerned with the Church, its bishops and priests, that God may give them the necessary zeal and courage; with the peace and concord of nations; with the freedom of the Church and the sanctification of souls; with the conversion of sinners and unbelievers. Such prayer is in harmony with the intentions of God, and, if it is offered by several at the same time humbly, confidently and perseveringly, it is certain to bear abundant fruit.
We find, among those who fully understand this particular purpose of sacrifice, souls of a more contemplative disposition, like Mary Magdalen at the feet of Christ, or the Angels adoring the King of Heaven. There are others who are consumed by an ardent love for the Church of Christ-----living lamps, so to speak, burning in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Or perhaps they remind us of Our Lady in the upper room after the Ascension, whose prayer of intercession for the Church they are continuing. Other souls of a more active character take part in the worship of the Eucharist in order to perfect their interior life, which is the vital principle of a fruitful apostolate.
These, then, are the four ends of sacrifice, and their consideration is not without its practical value because it shows how we remember, in the first place, God's unending life by the act of adoration; secondly, the past by our act of thanksgiving for gifts received and by our act of reparation for sins committed; and, finally, the future by our request for Divine help.
Eucharistic worship, when viewed in this light, unites us closely to Christ the Priest, to His reparative adoration, to His intercession and to His thanksgiving.
Christ's Interior Life in the Eucharist: A Model of the Principal Virtues
order to approach this question in a true theological spirit, we should
remember that the Christ present in the Eucharist is the risen Christ
in glory in Heaven. He no longer suffers nor merits, but exercises
virtues which continue after death by His adoration, intercession,
and so on. Moreover, Christ in Heaven knows quite clearly what is
on earth; He is fully aware of the Eucharistic worship of the present
which increases His non-essential happiness, and also of the acts of
which deny Him
St. Thomas reminds us that in Heaven the virtues of faith and hope cease to exist; the Beatific Vision replaces faith, and the permanent possession of God replaces hope. But charity remains; so also do the moral virtues and the seven gifts. [Summa, Ia IIae, q. 67] True, the material of the moral virtues will be missing in Heaven, but not their formal element-----their ordering of man toward sanctity: "There is no place in Heaven for inordinate desires and the pleasures of food and sex, nor for fear and daring in dangers of death, nor for the distribution and exchange of goods used in this life."
In the light of these principles, it is easy to understand the distinction made by St. Peter Julian Eymard between what can be said of the Eucharist with literal truth [loc. cit., p. 88], and what is only metaphorically true. It is literally true to say that in the Eucharist, Christ no longer leads an external life, He no longer visits the sick or preaches. He is present in the Tabernacle as "a prisoner of love," a prisoner of His own choosing. He does not use any external sense faculty to grasp the surroundings of the Eucharist; these He knows through His infused knowledge and the Beatific Vision. Therefore Christ's life in the Eucharist is entirely interior and yet most perfect, thus teaching us the virtues of solitude, silence and recollection. He is most anxious to give us there an example of many of the virtues-----charity for His Father and for souls, religion [insofar as He is adoring, thanking and interceding with His Father unceasingly], humility and obedience in being completely subject to the Divine Will, meekness, since He never experienced any unruly passion.
But above all, as St. Peter Eymard says [loc. cit., p. 90], "The life of Christ in the Eucharist is a life of love for His Father, to Whom He is incessantly offering His actions, His Sacramental presence, His previous Passion now commemorated in the Mass. It is also a life of love for men who have to be saved. His heart is the center of all hearts."
An excellent example of this devotion for the Eucharist is Our Blessed Lady: "Her heart was drawn toward the Blessed Sacrament as iron is towards a magnet." [Loco cit., p. 93] And she should not be denied the miraculous privilege, granted to some of the Saints, of preserving the sacred species incorrupt within herself from one Communion to the next.
St. Peter Julian Eymard is perfectly correct in speaking of Eucharistic humility, Eucharistic poverty, Eucharistic piety and Eucharistic charity. He says, for example, that in the Eucharist the Divinity, power, glory and even humanity of Christ are concealed; that He lives a life of poverty; that He labors unceasingly for the saving of souls, but mysteriously and in silence, so that the world hardly notices His activity. In consequence, anyone living in close union with Christ in the Eucharist is bound to lead an interior life of intense charity, but his external life must be poor and humble. There will be numerous occasions for inward joy, but he does not show it outwardly: His life is "hid with Christ in God."
"The virtues of his soul should be lofty and perfect, but, in appearance, simple and ordinary; in a word, they should resemble a burning brazier hidden under ashes." [Loc. cit., p. 95] The heart of Christ is a blazing furnace of charity hidden under the sacred species-----the very antithesis to anything spectacular.
Christ's life in the Eucharist is one of charity as well as of humility-----charity which is gracious, patient, beneficent. It is gracious toward the poor and afflicted, patient in waiting for us to visit Him, beneficent to all-----even to His enemies, whom He draws toward conversion. Christ is present in the Eucharist as the victim of love, immolated without the shedding of blood in the Sacrifice of Mass and attracting many souls to a life of reparation.<> An excellent summary of all that we have said about devotion to the Eucharist is contained in the Litany of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. We have not been able to obtain a copy of this litany, but there is a very good, short article on the web about the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, HERE.
Heart of Jesus
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a most effective means of making priests say Mass with great reverence, in the first place because the object of the devotion is most proper to excite sentiments of reverence during Mass and, secondly, because Jesus Christ has attached to the devotion very special graces to help priests to perform the duties of their state. It is the experience of priests who practice devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus that it inspires them with sentiments of love and reverence during the celebration of Mass such as they have never previously experienced; faith becomes more loved, and love for Jesus Christ increases perceptibly.
the celebration of Mass the priest should attend carefully to the
1) To say Mass with attention and avoid haste. Haste to leave the altar is a visible sign that the company of Jesus Christ is irksome to the priest; an extra ten minutes at very most would ensure that the Mass be said with due reverence. Is it not a great pity that any priest should, for such a small thing, deprive himself all his life of the fruit of the grandest, holiest, and most important of all his functions?
2) To make, each time he says Mass, an act of reparation to Jesus Christ by means of the holy Sacrifice for the outrages and indignities which He suffers in the Mass and in the Blessed Eucharist;
3) To thank Jesus Christ for all the benefits and all the graces which He has conferred on the Blessed Virgin; this act of thanksgiving is very pleasing to Him;
4) To ask Him with great simplicity and confidence for many things and, above all, for His perfect love. The priest should say to Him sometimes: "O Lord, make me a Saint, all the glory for it will be Thine; Thou wilt find everywhere more worthy subjects for Thy graces than I, but I make bold to say that Thou wilt find none more grateful. 'I have found Him Whom my soul loveth: I held Him: and I will not let Him go.' [Cant. 3: 4]
"Permit me, O Lord, to say to Thee: however great the benefits which Thou hast conferred on me, Thou hast not given me enough, if Thou dost not give me Thy love. O my Divine Savior, give me a heart like Thine Own, give me Thy Heart.
"Truly, a priest who does not feel the effects of a Sacrifice which is sufficient to blot out the sins of the whole world has great reason to fear. My God, what great graces Thou dost pour out on a soul that is well disposed! And who can express the sweetness that Thou dost make Thy devout priest experience at the altar?"
Blessed Claude de la Colombiere writes of what he himself experienced at the altar, as follows:
"I have received such great graces and I have felt the effects of this Bread of Angels so perceptibly that I cannot think of it without being touched with the greatest gratitude. From the celebration of the Mass, I have conceived great confidence that I shall persevere in good and in the desire which I have to belong entirely to God, notwithstanding the terrible difficulties that present themselves to my imagination during the course of my life. I shall say Mass every day, that is my hope, that is my only resource. The power of Jesus Christ would indeed be very little, if He were not able to sustain me from day to day. He will not fail to reproach me for my slothfulness as soon as I begin to relax my efforts. Every day He will give me fresh advice and new strength. He will instruct me, console me, encourage me, and grant me, or obtain for me by His Sacrifice, all the graces which I ask from Him. If I do not see that He is present, I feel Him; it seems to me that I am like one of the blind men who threw themselves at His feet and who doubted not that they touched Him although they did not see Him."
Such is the way in which priests should celebrate Mass, and such are the sentiments which ought to animate them in the presence of Jesus Christ.
JESUS, my sole love, I beseech Thee to draw all my thoughts to Thee.
the power of Thy love, which is more effective than fire and sweeter
honey, disengage my heart from all created things. Let me die for love
of Thee, as Thou didst die for love of me. O Lord, wound my heart in
a manner, and transfix it so thoroughly, that henceforth it may no
affect things merely human.
loving Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who art able to soften a heart
stone and melt a heart of ice, Who transformest the innermost recesses
of the soul, change my heart, and wound it with the wounds of Thy most
holy Body, and inebriate my soul in the chalice of Thy most precious
that, wherever I turn I see nothing but my crucified God, and whatever
I see appears to me bathed in Thy
Act of Reparation
O DIVINE Heart of Jesus, boundless source of love and goodness! how much do I regret that I have forgotten Thee so often and loved Thee so little! O Sacred Heart! Thou dost merit the love and devotion of all those hearts which Thou hast infinitely loved and cherished, and Thou dost receive nothing but coldness and ingratitude from them, and particularly from my own ungrateful heart, which justly deserves Thy indignation. But since Thou art a Heart of love, Thou art also a Heart of infinite goodness, from which I hope pardon and reconciliation. Alas, O Divine Heart! it is with profound grief that I acknowledge myself guilty of so much tepidity, and that I consider the unjust proceedings of my wicked heart, which has so unworthily deprived Thee of the love which was Thy due, and has applied it to itself or to some other transitory object. O Heart most gentle, if the grief and shame of a heart which sees its error is capable of satisfying Thee, pardon my poor heart; for this is the state into which its want of love and fidelity has plunged it. Alas! what could it expect but hatred and punishment, if it did not hope all from Thy mercy? O Heart of my God, Heart most holy, Heart to which alone belongs the pardon of sinners, have mercy, I beseech Thee, upon this miserable heart of mine. All its powers are united to make Thee, in all humility, a reparation of honor for all its wanderings and infidelities. Ah, how could I have refused so long to give my heart to Thee, since Thou alone art its rightful possessor! I regret from the bottom of my heart that I have wandered so far from Thee and Thy love, from the source of all good, in a word, from the Heart of my Jesus, Who, without having any need of me, sought me and loved me first. O most adorable Heart, how could I have treated Thee thus, Thee on Whose love and goodness I am entirely dependent; and if Thou wert to withdraw but for one instant either the one or the other I should be reduced to the most abject misery or utterly annihilated. How infinite has been Thy goodness, O Heart of love! to have supported my ingratitude so long; it remains only for Thy mercy to pardon my poor inconstant heart. O Heart of my Jesus! I now consecrate and give to Thee all my love and my heart; I give Thee both irrevocably, although with a deep feeling of confusion for having so long refused Thee that which was Thine own. O Divine Heart! Thou wouldst testify to me the excess of Thy love, by rendering me capable of loving Thee, and, alas! I have profited so ill by this opportunity of meriting Thy favors! I am truly grieved, and I most humbly beseech Thee, O Heart of my Jesus, to renew my heart, which was hitherto so faithless.
that henceforth it may be bound to Thee by the bonds of love, and that
it approach so much nearer to Thee as it has hitherto wandered far from
Thee; and since Thou art my Creator, be also, I beseech Thee, my
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