By VERY REV. ALEXIS M. LEPICIER, O.S.M. Consultor of the Sacred Consistorial Congregation, etc.
CHAPTER XXIX. HOW JESUS CHRIST TRIUMPHS OVER THE ENEMIES OF HIS WORKS
NOT only is the sacred Person of Jesus Christ made an object of contradiction by an innumerable multitude of enemies all united in refusing to acknowledge Him as their King, but He is also persecuted in His works and in the gifts He has brought us through His incarnation.
Our loving Redeemer came to save mankind, and to that end suffered unheard-of torments. As a remedy for our ills and as a comfort to us in our pilgrimage, He instituted the holy sacraments which are so many participations of His sorrowful passion, precious channels through which grace flows abundantly to our souls. But how are these received? These very benefits which should soften the heart of every man, and make him burst forth into words of vivid gratitude, are received with scorn, even with hatred. The saving institutions of Jesus, His holy sacraments, are by many unconsidered. Just as Lucifer in the beginning pretended to arrive at eternal bliss without the supernatural means ordained and willed by God, so the enemies of Christ presume to reach their desired goal, eternal happiness, without having recourse to the sacraments of the Church, which they proudly reject.
These impious detractors of the sacraments had forerunners worthy of them even in Our Saviour's own lifetime. The Holy Gospel tells us that when Jesus was staying at Capharnaum and spoke of the marvelous institution of the Blessed Sacrament in which He promised to give His flesh as food and His most precious blood as drink, not a few of His disciples were scandalized, and far from thanking Him for such condescension, withdrew from Him, murmuring scornfully: "This saying is hard and who can hear it?" (John VI, 61.)
The example of these scornful men was only too closely followed in the course of the ages. How many Christians are there, who, setting aside the gifts of Jesus Christ on futile pretexts, refuse to wash away their guilt in penance or to refresh their souls at the divine table where He has given Himself in the august Sacrament of the Altar!
The height of ingratitude was reached when this proud scorn of the sacraments of Jesus came to be erected into a system with Luther and the Protestants of the sixteenth century. These innovators, while pretending to admit the divinity of Jesus Christ and to recognize the truth of His Gospel, rejected His work for salvation, refusing to make use of those supernatural means instituted by Him to pro cure and increase divine grace in the hearts of the redeemed.
Who can say what pain these haughty refusals caused the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This loving Saviour, in order to enrich us with these life-giving sacraments, did not hesitate to suffer a bitter passion and the most cruel of deaths; and yet His children spurned them as useless: ff l have brought up children and exalted them and they have despised me" (Is. I, 2.)
It is for us to see that the saving work of the Sacred Heart of Jesus triumphs. At this
tender and sorrowful lament let us rouse our selves and promise that we will make better use of these marvelous instruments of grace, and especially of the most important of them which is the Blessed Eucharist. We will seek to console Jesus for the apostasy and ingratitude of so many of His degenerate sons who abandon themselves to perverse doctrines and go about despising these sacraments as purely human institutions. We will firmly believe that from these, as from beneficent channels, life and grace come our way.
In all ages, perverse men, inspired by the spirit of the devil, have sought to contradict, deliberately, the sanctifying work of Jesus Christ in the priesthood and in the sacraments of the Church. Such attempts were made periodically and now we see them renewed in the activities of many and especially of those who give themselves up to the occult practices of spiritism.
These people, while admitting the existence of a man called Jesus Christ, powerful in word and works, and even, as they would admit, a great benefactor of the human race, reject all priestly ministrations which they say are only accretions to His work, pure inventions of the Church. They are urged to such conclusions as these by the enemy of mankind himself, who is the spirit of error, lying and deceit. But would to God that those Christians might be fewer who, carried away by their passions, agree with these vilifiers of the faith in set ting aside and ignoring such signal channels of divine grace as are the holy sacraments and especially the most august of all, the Blessed Eucharist. Many are those who pass before churches and never enter to adore that same Jesus who is hidden there for us, under the sacramental species, day and night. They do not even reflect on the heavenly Treasure which our churches contain, and seem not to believe that the Manna of supernatural life is inclosed in the holy tabernacle.
Indeed, many pass through life without ever tasting the Heavenly Bread, which Jesus wished to be broken for them at His table. Many, also, passing before the tribunal of penance, though their consciences are weighed down by the burden of an impure life, do not condescend to approach it, refusing to confide the humble accusation of their faults to the ministers of the Church. Could there be greater oblivion of God's gifts or blacker in gratitude than this? Jesus offers the most precious gifts to man, and man refuses them, nay, he flees and abhors them.
What are we to do? Shall we be satisfied with looking on supinely at such indifference? No; if we have any sense at all of Jesus Christ, we shall fall on our knees before Him and seek to console Him for so much coldness. And how shall we console Him? By frequenting those fountains of grace more often, and drinking longer draughts of those pure streams which His love has opened for us. We shall draw from them a greater purity of life, a spirit of sacrifice and mortification, an ever-increasing desire of pleasing Him. We shall sit frequently at the Heavenly Banquet spread for our souls. Not content with partaking of the fruits of His works ourselves, we will try to lead to Him all those who are near to us either as relatives or friends. Thus in them, too, the beneficent work of the Redeemer will be accomplished; and He will reign as a beloved Sovereign over the hearts of men re deemed by His precious blood.