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From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

℣. In resurrectione tua, Christe, alleluia.
℟. Cœli et terra laetentur, alleluia.
℣. In thy resurrection, O Christ, alleluia.
℟. Let heaven and earth rejoice, alleluia.

THE third sacrament—the Holy Eucharist—is so intimately connected with our Redeemer's Passion that its institution could not be deferred till the Resurrection had taken place. On Maundy Thursday, we honoured the solemn act whereby our Jesus prepared for the morrow’s sacrifice, by instituting the mystery of his Body and Blood, which are really immolated in the Eucharistic Supper. The Apostles were not only admitted, as all future generations were to be, to partake of the divine Food, which giveth life to the world,[1] but they moreover received power from Jesus, the Priest for ever,[2] to do what he himself had just done. The great Mystery was inaugurated; the new priesthood was instituted: and now that Jesus is risen from the dead, he makes known to his Apostles the whole importance of the gift bestowed upon mankind at the Last Supper; he bids them begin the exercise of the sublime power conferred on them, as soon as the Holy Ghost, by descending upon the earth, shall give to the Church the signal for her using the prerogatives wherewith she has been endowed; and, finally, he teaches how they are to perform this special function of their Priesthood.

At the Last Supper, the Apostles were still carnal-minded men. They were taken up with the sad event that was about to happen, and overcome with grief at their divine Master telling them that that was the last Pasch he was to keep with them. They were not, therefore, in a fit state to appreciate what it was that Jesus had done for them, when he uttered those words: Take ye and eat; this is my Body. Drink ye all of this; for this is my Blood. Still less did they understand the greatness of the power they received, of doing what their Lord himself had just done in their presence. Now that Jesus is risen from the grave, he unfolds all these mysteries to them. The sacrament of the Eucharist was not instituted during these days, but it was made known, explained, and glorified by its divine institutor: and this circumstance gives a fresh lustre to the sacred season we are now going through.

Of all the sacraments, there is not one that can be compared in dignity to that of the Eucharist. The others give grace; this gives us the very Author of grace. The others are only sacraments; this is both a sacrament and a sacrifice. We will endeavour to explain it in all its magnificence, when we come to the bright feast of Corpus Christi. Let us for the present pay the tribute of our loving adoration to our Jesus, the Living Bread, that giveth life to the world.[3] Let us acknowledge his immense love for his sheep. He seems to be on the point of leaving them that he may return to his Father, and yet his love retains him amongst them by means of this august mystery, wherein he is truly though invisibly present.

Be thou blessed, then, O Son of the Eternal Father! who, even in the days of the ancient covenant, didst assure us that thy delights are to be with the children of men.[4] Thou provest it now by this wonderful sacrament, which reconciles thy two announcements, apparently so contradictory: thy leaving us, and thy abiding ever in our midst.

Be thou blessed for having provided for the nourishment of our souls as well as for that of our bodies. At Christmas we welcomed thy birth at Bethlehem, which signifies a House of Bread. Thou wast both the Saviour who was born for us, and the Food that came down from heaven to nourish our souls.

Be thou blessed, who, not satisfied with working the greatest of wonders at the Last Supper, by changing bread into thy Body and wine into thy Blood, hast also willed that this same miracle should be renewed, everywhere and to the end of time, for the support and consolation of our souls.

Be thou blessed in that thou hast put no limits to our longing after this Bread of Life. On the contrary, thou biddest us make it our daily Bread, and this in order that we may not faint in the way of this our exile.

Be thou blessed for the generosity wherewith, out of thy desire to communicate thyself unto us, thou hast exposed thyself to the blasphemies of heretics, to the sacrileges of bad Christians, and to the indifference of the tepid.

Be thou blessed, O divine Lamb, who enrichest the new Pasch by the shedding of thy Blood, and invitest the new Israel to a banquet where thy sacred Body is offered as nourishment to thy faithful; there do they receive life at its very source, and share in the ineffable joys of thy Resurrection.

Be thou blessed, O Jesus, for having instituted, in the Holy Eucharist, not only the greatest of the sacraments, but also a sacrifice which surpasses all others; a sacrifice whereby we are enabled to offer to the divine Majesty the only homage that is worthy of him, give him thanks in keeping with his favours to us, make him a superabundant atonement for our sins, and finally beg and obtain from him all the graces of which we stand in need.

Be thou blessed, O Emmanuel, who, having promised to give us this heavenly Food, didst fulfil thy promise on the eve of thy Passion, and gavest us this adorable sacrament as the testament of thy love. In the interval between thy Resurrection and Ascension, thou didst reveal to thine Apostles the excellency of thy gift, that so we might receive it with becoming faith.

We offer thee, dear Jesus, this homage of our faith. We confess that in this august Mystery the bread is changed into thy Body, and the wine into thy Blood: and we believe it, because thou hast said it, and because thou canst do all things.

In praise of our Paschal Lamb, who gives himself to us to be our nourishment, let us recite the following beautiful canticle, composed by Notker for the Church of Saint Gall.


Agni paschalis
Esu potuque dignas,

Moribus sinceris
Praebeant omnes se Christianae animae.

Pro quibus se Deo hostiam obtulit
Ipse summus Pontifex.

Quarum frons, in postis est modum
Ejus illita sacrosancto cruore, tuta a clade Canopica,

Qua crudeles hostes
In mari rubro sunt obruti.

Renes constringant ad pudicitiam:
Pedes tutentur adversus viperas;

Baculosque spirituales
Contra canes jugiter manu bajulent;

Ut Pascha Jesu mereantur sequi,
Quo de barathro victor rediit.

En redivivus mundus,
Ornatibus Christo consurgens, fideles admonet,

Post mortem melius
Cum eo victuros.

That they may be worthy
to partake of the Paschal Lamb,

Let Christians fit themselves
by holy lives.

Jesus, the High Priest, offered himself,
for their sakes, as an oblation to the Father.

They are signed, as were the doors of the Israelite houses, with the most holy Blood
of the Lamb; they are protected from the slaughter that fell upon Egypt,

When the cruel enemies
were engulfed in the Red Sea.

Let the faithful gird their loins with purity;
let them protect their feet against vipers;

And let them ever carry spiritual staves in their hands,
to defend themselves against dogs;

That thus they may deserve to follow Jesus' Pasch,
whereby he rose again victorious from the tomb.

Lo! the earth is come once more to life, and, by her loveliness,
rises together with Christ. She teaches us,

That we, after death,
are to share in Jesus’ victory.


[1] St John vi 33.
[2] Ps. cix 4.
[3] St John vi 33, 41.
[4] Prov. viii 31.