This month shall be to you the beginning of months. (Exodus 12:2.)
A great number of devout persons consecrate the Month of June in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. For this reason, it is called the month of the Sacred Heart. We wish to consecrate it to the Most Blessed Sacrament, and I think that the name of the month of the Blessed Sacrament is more justified than the other.
Both feasts, that of the Sacred Heart and that of the Blessed Sacrament, (Corpus Christi) usually fall during this month; but the latter is the more solemn and of a superior rite. It is also much more ancient in the Church and should be dearer to us. It is a very good thing to honour the Sacred Heart as the seat of the infinite love of Jesus Christ; but Eucharistic souls should honour it in the Most Blessed Sacrament. For where is the Heart of Jesus truly and substantially living if not in the Eucharist and in heaven?
Many persons honour the Sacred Heart on pictures and make these representations the object of their devotion. This kind of worship is good: but it is only relative. We ought to go beyond the image to the reality. In the Blessed Sacrament, this Heart is living and beating for us. Let then this living and pulsating Heart be the centre of our life. Let us learn to honour the Sacred Heart in the Eucharist. Let us never separate the Sacred Heart from the Eucharist.
In the course of the year, the entire thirty days of several months are consecrated to special devotions. For example, there is the month of Mary, which is nothing other than a feast of thirty days in honour of the Most Blessed Virgin. During that month, we honour all her virtues and all the mysteries of her life; and we never fail to receive some new favour or other. There is also the month of Saint Joseph. A special month will soon be dedicated to the fostering of every important devotion. So much the better! It is an excellent thing of great consequence to Catholic piety. For we have the time in a month to cover the entire object of the devotion, to consider, it from every angle, and to acquire a correct and thorough knowledge of it. By making daily and appropriate meditations and by centering our acts, virtues, and prayers on the same object for a whole month, we soon get a true and solid devotion to the mystery we are honouring. When everything is focused on one thought, such a thought is powerful and exhaustive.
Our devotion must be strong and valid, and must tend to a single object. Why do not a greater number of devout persons attain noteworthy sanctity? Because they have no unity in their piety. They have not enough food to provide for the nourishment and growth of their spirit of piety. They do not know how to draw up for themselves a set of truths to live by. You are aware what excellent results a mission produces in a parish which had hitherto remained deaf to the pressing exhortations and the heroic example of its pastor. The reason is that a mission is nothing other than an uninterrupted succession of exercises. It makes use of all the means capable of touching the heart, striking the imagination and forcing one to serious reflection. A mission is a torrent of grace formed by a gathering together of all the means of salvation. Is it surprising that it triumphs over the most hardened hearts? When all our thoughts and exercises of piety are brought together and concentrated on a single object, they lead us to the highest virtue and overthrow every obstacle. Let us then have a devotion that is concentrated and continuous.
It is said that to correct a bad habit or an ingrained vice, we must first be vigilant and fight against ourselves for some time before starting a movement of progress toward the opposite virtue. Once this initial start is given, we move ahead with giant strides. The same holds good for the subject in which we are presently interested. It will take us some time before we succeed in loving with a strong and enlightened love the Most Blessed Sacrament, the mother and queen of all other devotions and the sunlight of piety.
Devotion to Mary is good and excellent, but it must tend and be related to devotion to the Eucharist, just as Mary herself tends and is wholly related to Jesus Christ. Scripture fittingly compares her to the moon, which receives all its light from the sun and reflects it back to the sun. Well, since the month of Mary effects so many conversions, produces so much good in souls, and obtains so many graces of every kind, what will not the month of the Most Blessed Sacrament do, since you are asked to honour the virtues, the sacrifices, and the very Person of Jesus Eucharistic? If you know how to direct your readings, aspirations, and virtues to the Eucharist, you shall have won some great victory over yourself by the end of the month. Your love shall have grown; and your grace will be more powerful.
Our Lord has said that he who eats His Flesh and drinks His Blood shall have life in him. What will it be if you supplement your sacramental Communion by a continuous communion of thirty days to His love, His virtues, His holiness; and His life in the Most Blessed Sacrament? That is what we mean by unity in piety. Without it, you can have good thoughts, but you will not have a real principle of life. A passing rainstorm merely skims over the soil, but a fine, persistent rain soaks into the earth and makes fertile.
The thought, of the Eucharist, fostered consistently for a whole month, will become a rich fountainhead that will make your virtues thrive, a divine force that will make you advance rapidly on the road to holiness. Basing our stand on pure reason and natural philosophy, we can assure you that if you train your mind for one month on the same subject, you will have acquired the habit of it. Do not fear lest concentration on a single thought narrow your outlook. The Eucharist contains all the mysteries and all the virtues; it offers you the means of making them live anew and of considering them in action in their living exponent, present before you. This greatly facilitates meditation.
For you see Jesus Christ in the Eucharist; you see His sacramental garment; you know through your very senses that He is there. The Host speaks to you; it rivets your attention; it presents our Lord to your senses. May this month then be a month of happiness for you, during which you can live in close intimacy with Jesus.
You know His conversation is never boresome. Non habet amaritudinem conversatio Illius. “His conversation has no bitterness.” May He make you take a giant stride toward sanctity!
HOW should you spend this month in order to derive real profit from it?
You must in the first place have some book on the Blessed Sacrament and read a little of it every day. Do not be afraid of exhausting the subject matter; the depths of the love of Jesus are unfathomable. Jesus is the same in the Eucharist as in heaven; He is ever beautiful, ever new, ever infinite. You need not, fear lest this Infinite source should run dry; Jesus has so many graces, so much glory to give us! Take a book, therefore, that treats of the Eucharist. I am fully aware that books do not make a saint, and that on the contrary it is saints that make good books. For this reason, I recommend books only as a means to instruct you and awaken thoughts in you, which you are to develop and use as food for meditation.
Take for example the fourth book of ‘the Imitation of Christ’. It is so beautiful! It must certainly have been an angel that composed it! Take the Visits to the Blessed Sacrament, by Saint Alphonsus de Ligouri. When this book was first published, it revolutionised piety. It has produced and continues every day to produce the most abundant fruits of salvation. There are so many others from which to choose. Pick one out that pleases you.
Drop your other devotions during this month; you will loose nothing by plunging wholly into the sun. Pay more frequent and longer visits to Blessed Sacrament. Receive Communion with greater fervour. Practise some virtue that is related to the state of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament: silence, or His meekness, especially His life of prayer in His Father, and His self-abasement.
Make some special sacrifice for the Blessed Sacrament. Have some fresh flower to offer Him every day. He deigns to let us draw near His adorable Person to present our offering to Him. Indeed, the great ones of earth are not so easy to approach. Let us not reject his favour or His love and our right as children of the family.
I sum up what I said: To spend this month well you must practise a Eucharistic virtue and do some reading on the Blessed Sacrament. That is more necessary than you think. With a book, you will have new ideas. Without a book, you will fall into spiritual dryness, saying the same things over and over again . . . . . . . . ut jumentum. (“I am become as a beast before You.”) The book alone is nothing; but if you draw it close to your heart, you will give it life. Holy Writ itself must be read with the heart; if it is read without faith or love, it will be a source of ruin for us just as it hardens the heart of certain unbelievers who read it every day.
Perhaps you will say: “I do not like books because I do not find in them everything my soul is seeking for. They do not satisfy me.” It is fortunate they do not. It would be a great pity if books were to constitute our whole prayer and be exhaustive of all we have to say; we would become mere talking machines. Our Saviour will not let books satisfy us altogether in prayer. We must earn His grace by our own labour, at the sweat of our brow. Never will the life of a saint, be he the greatest in the Church, entirely suit you. And why? Because you are not that saint; because you have a personal grace adapted to your nature; because you possess a personality of your own which you cannot completely ignore. Read, therefore, but expect the full fruit of your reading only from your own meditation.
“I would indeed make my adoration, or a visit, but I cannot come to the church during the day.” Do not let that stop you. Our Lord sees as far as your home; He listens to you from His tabernacle. He can see us from heaven; why could He not see us from the Sacred Host? Adore Him from where you are; you will make a good adoration of love, and our Lord will understand your desire. It would indeed be unfortunate if we could be in touch with Jesus Eucharistic only in His churches. The light of the sun envelops and illumines us even when we do not stand directly beneath its rays. In the same way, from His Host our Lord will find the means to send some rays of His love into your home to bring you warmth and strength.
There are currents in the supernatural order as in the natural. Do you not at times feel unexpectedly recollected and transported with love? The reason is you have come upon a beneficent ray, a current of grace. Have confidence in these currents, in these relations that can be had with Jesus, even from a distance. It would be a sad thing were Jesus to receive adorations from us only when we come to visit Him in church. No, no! He sees everywhere, He blesses everywhere, He unites Himself everywhere to those who want to communicate with Him. Adore Him therefore from everywhere; turn in spirit toward His tabernacles. Let your thoughts, therefore, be for Him during this month! Let your virtues and your love remain in this divine centre, and this month will be one of blessings and graces.
The Eucharistic Vocation.
“If Christians continue abandoning Jesus Christ in His temple, will not the Heavenly Father withdraw from them His Beloved Son, Whom they thus despise? Has He not already so withdrawn Him from many kings and peoples, now bewailing their lot sitting in the very shadow of death? To ward off this greatest of all calamities, let faithful souls arise and unite! Let them become adorers in spirit and in truth of Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament! Let them form a guard of honour around the Sovereign of Kings. And a devoted court around the God of love.”
--- St Peter Julian Eymard.