Develop the Spirit of Communion

Holy Communion  by Saint Peter Eymard (Part 1)

The love of Jesus Christ reaches its highest perfection and produces the richest harvest of graces in the ineffable union He contracts with the soul in Holy Communion. Therefore, by every desire for goodness, holiness, and perfection that piety, the virtues, and love can inspire in us, we are bound to direct our course toward this union, toward frequent and even daily Communion.

Since we have in Holy Communion the grace, the model, and the practice of all the virtues, all of them finding their exercise in this divine action, we shall profit more by Communion than by all other means of sanctification. But to that end, Holy Communion must become the thought that dominates mind and heart. It must be the aim of all study, of piety, of the virtues. The receiving of Jesus must be the goal as well as the law of life. All our works must converge toward Communion as toward their end and flow from it as from their source.

Let us so live that we may be admitted with profit to frequent and even daily Communion. In a word, let us perfect ourselves in order to receive Communion worthily, and let us live with a constant view to Communion.

But perhaps you will say that your nothingness is overwhelmed by the majesty of God. Ah, but no! That majesty, the celestial and divine majesty which reigns in Heaven, is not present in Holy Communion. Do you not see that Jesus has veiled Himself in order not to frighten you, in order to embolden you to look upon Him and come near to Him?

Or perhaps the sense of your unworthiness keeps you away from this God of all sanctity, to show you His goodness simply and solely? Do you not hear that sweet voice inviting you: “Come unto me”? Do you not feel the nearness of that divine love like a magnet drawing you? After all, it is not your merits that give you your rights, nor is it your virtues that open to you the doors of the Cenacle; it is the love of Jesus.

“But I have so little piety, so little love; how can my soul receive our Lord when it is so lukewarm and therefore so repulse and so undeserving of His notice?”

Lukewarm? That is but one more reason why you should plunge again and again into this burning furnace. Repulsive? Oh, never, to this good Shepherd, this tender Father, fatherly above all fathers, motherly above all mothers! The more weak and ill you are, the more you need His help. Is not bread the sustenance of both strong and weak?

“But if I have sins on my conscience?” If, after examination, you are not morally certain or positively conscious of any mortal sin, you may go to Holy Communion. If you forgive all who have offended you, already your own offenses are forgiven you. And as for your daily negligences, your distractions during prayer, your first movements of impatience, of vanity, of self-love, as likewise for your failure, in your sloth, to put away from you immediately the fire of temptation — bind together all these shoots of Adam’s sin and cast them into the furnace of divine love. What love forgives is forgiven indeed.

Ah, do not let yourself be turned away from the Holy Table by vain pretexts! If you will not communicate for your own sake, then communicate instead for Jesus Christ. To communicate for Jesus Christ is to console Him for the neglect to which the majority of men have abandoned Him. It is to confirm His wisdom in instituting this Sacrament of spiritual sustenance. It is to open the riches of the treasures of grace that Jesus Christ has stored up in the Eucharist, only so that He may bestow His gifts. By receiving Communion, therefore, you fulfill the glorious purpose of the Holy Eucharist, for if there were no communicants, this fountain would flow in vain, this furnace of love would inflame no hearts, and this King would reign without subjects.

Holy Communion not only gives to the sacramental Jesus the opportunity to satisfy His love; it gives Him a new life that He will consecrate to the glory of His Father. In His state of glory, He can no longer honor the Father with a love free and meritorious. But in Communion, He will enter into Man, associate with him, and unite with him. In return, by this wonderful union, the Christian will give members, living and sentient faculties, to the glorified Jesus; he will give Him the liberty that constitutes the merit of virtue. Thus, through Communion, the Christian will be transformed into Jesus Himself; and Jesus will live again in him.

Something divine will then come to pass in the one who communicates; man will labor, and Jesus will give the grace of labor; man will keep the merit, but to Jesus will be the glory. Jesus will be able to say to His Father: “I love Thee, I adore Thee, and I still suffer, living anew in my members.”

This is what gives Communion its highest power: it is a second and perpetual incarnation of Jesus Christ. Between Jesus Christ and man, it forms a union of life and love. In a word, it is a second life for Jesus Christ.

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A Story of St. Michael — 11

Saint Michael is the angel mentioned by Hermas in his celebrated work The Pastor. One day he appeared to him with six other blessed spirits. Go, build, he said to them. Hermas saw a great tower being erected. The six builders and several thousand others brought them stones. The builders employed some of them, but broke others and threw them aside.  The ones they were throwing out rolled into a deep place occupied by a furnace where they became fiery. And as the spectator asked for an explanation of this scene, Saint Michael told him: The stones used for the construction are the faithful who walk in the path of the commandments, those which are rolled into the place of fire represent the sinners who died impenitent.

This is the Day of Judgement: the angels, under the direction of Saint Michael, will make this choice of souls. Let us be worthy stones to be used in the Divine construction.

Prayer :

At this terrible time, O Saint Michael, men will have need of your bountiful protection; I ask it of you for them. If I have to life in the days of abomination and desolation, do not permit that I am a victim of seduction; give me the strength and courage to resist to the blood, if necessary; mark my forehead with the saving sign; finally, let my name be written in the book of life, and may I follow the divine Lamb to His glorious kingdom. Amen.



St. Michael — Angel of the End Times

A day will come when, according to the biblical expression, our world will be closed like a book. This will be the day of God, the day of His justice, of His triumph. God must have the last word to show that He is the all-powerful Master, the sovereign judge. It is also necessary that in the face of the universe, virtue is rewarded, vice is punished and humiliated!

Saint Michael will have a grand role to fill in the events which will be accomplished then. In a brilliant way, he will appear as the soldier of God, the avenger of his rights.

But having placed a foot on the earth and the other in the sea, he will cry that there is no more time, and he will have to fight a great fight.

When will approach the end of the world, the man of sin will attempt a supreme effort against God and His Christ. Michael, the champion of the rights of God of Heaven, will rise again, and will defend the servants of Christ, overthrowing the seducer from his throne and kill him. This is the teaching of the of the doctors. They teach us, by the witness of Saint Gregory, that the Archangel Saint Michael will be the celestial envoy who will kill the Anti-Christ. It is written, it’s true, that the Lord Jesus will kill the Anti-Christ by a breath of His mouth; but the commentators understood by these words a command given by the Christ to His Archangel: Saint Michael will act as His minister, as a ray of His glory.

Then will sound the solemn hour, the last hour.

Next all the inhabitants of the earth must appear before the Eternal One. At the voice of the Archangel, at the resounding call of the trumpet, a mighty life will flow in the bowels of the upset ground and at the last sound of the angelic instrument, in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, the men will come out of their graves.

The cross of Jesus Christ, in the valiant hands of Saint Michael, the standard bearer, will hit their frightened eyes. Then, like the lightning that shines in the west and illuminates to the east, the Christ will appear majestically in the midst of a shining cloud of celestial spirits.

All men will be there, assembled by the angels: the wicked seized with terror, aghast in inexpressible anguish; the good ones filled with an indelible hope and raised by love, throwing themselves into the air at the coming of the Savior. The angels will make the preparatory separation for judgment and the discussion will open.

The sentence will be pronounced, the angels will fly to its execution. Taking the head of the brilliant cortege, Saint Michael will lead the Elect to Paradise and will present them before the throne of God. Then thundering like lightning, he will hurl the damned into the abyss of fire, and bury the gates forever. Such will be the prelude to eternity.

The Church calls this the Day of Judgement. Happy they who, while they live, have asked Saint Michael’s help and protection for they will not perish in the day of terror.

 

Practice: The sentence which is laid upon us on the last day will be such as we shall have prepared it during our lifetime; God will only ratify our choice: it's up to us to choose.

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A Story of St. Michael — 10

It is moving, the story of Lot with his family being saved from the fire of Sodom. The inhabitants of this city had put the finishing touches on their infamies, the day had arrived where God would take a glaring vengeance. But there was there one family that was just. Two angels under a human form presented themselves to Lot. We are going to destroy this guilty city, they said to him, take with you your wife and your children, and leave. The moment arrived, Lot seemed to hesitate. They took him by the hand and dragged him, saying: Save yourself, lest you perish with the others, and walk without looking behind you.

The commenters think that these were the envoys of Saint Michael, who stayed with Abraham, who saved Lot and his family. He will so save the families who have remained worthy of the kindly look of the Most High.

Prayer :

Visit, Lord, this house and cast away from it all the pitfalls of the enemy; may your holy angels who live there safeguard us in peace and may your blessing be always upon us. Hear us, Lord, and deign to send from heaven your holy angel, to guard, support, protect, visit, and defend all those that your Providence has gathered under this roof. Amen.

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St. Michael — Angel of Family

The origin of the family is divine: God himself has established it in giving to man a helper like unto himself. His end is also divine: it is to raise for Heaven the elect, destined to fill the emptiness left by the defection of the rebellious angels. It is the reason for the jealous hatred of Satan against families, and it is also the reason for the unceasing protection of the entourage of heavenly spirits with Saint Michael at their head.

The impious attacks today have the family for their principal object. They know well that the family is to society what the root is to a tree, the source to the river, the base of the building. Is it not the family that brings to society its prosperity and strength, but also its decadence and ruin? This is why the impious strive to shield it from the influence of religion, sure that if they succeed in destroying the family, it will destroy this influence in society.

Alas! They succeed only too well. The family is profoundly touched. How many homes are there without Faith, without religion, without God? But also, too often what discomfort, what sufferings, what disorders, and what ruin is the result! God does justice to Himself. If He is present, He consoles and blessed; He guards the cradles, He causes virtue and honour to grow, and death is made peaceful. But if He is driven out, He takes revenge. And for that it is not necessary that He curse, it is enough that He abandons.

A family appeared on earth, type of all the others, the Holy Family. When one studies their life, one can admire angelic intervention everywhere. This presence of angels was more a mark of honour due to the divinity. Jesus Christ wished this manifestation for us to know the invisible ministry filled by angels in the children of the Faith.

The guardian angel of the Holy Family was Saint Michael. He watched over them and saved them in the hour of danger. In this august function, he has received a special gift to protect Christian families. Saint Michael will save families assembled under his beneficent patronage and will deliver them from perils which threaten them in faith and morals. Under his high inspirations, the father will be a man of work, a man of duty, a man of virtue, and he will exercise in his house a recognized and loved authority. The mother will form a spirit of sacrifice and piety, and she will be the angel of the home. The children will grow in obedience and respect, and there will be joy and honour in the household.

Such are the lessons given by Saint Michael to the family in the shade of his wings.

The old dying Jacob recognized that his angel had delivered him from all evils. The joy that this memory gave him made him wish for his children such a blessing. The protecting angel did not fail them. Let us read the stories of the patriarchal families, we will find on every page, the intervention of the angels. The power of these blessed spirits is not diminished. So let us have confidence in them and let us think to invoke them.

 

Practice: Let us often invoke the guardian angel of families, and let us ask for the protection of Saint Michael upon our houses.

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A Story of St. Michael — 9

The treasurer of the king of Poland had lived for many years in sin. He found himself at the point of death and in great danger of damnation. He confessed to himself that in this extremity, he looked at himself as lost and abandoned to the demons. But Saint Michael, who he had honoured during his life, appeared to him, chasing away his enemies and telling him that he had obtained from God eight days to repair the disorders  of his conscience. Informed and fortified by such a grace, the sinner called a priest, and confessed with such great sorrow, received with devotion the Sacraments and died at the time marked, full of hope for his salvation. (Taken from Saint Michael, by Saint Alphonsus)

Prayer :

O Great Prince of Heaven, I have chosen you today as my protector and my advocate. Deign to admit me to the number of your devoted servants. Assist me during this life, so that I may never offend the most pure eyes of God. Defend me against the temptations of the devil, and at the hour of death, obtain peace for my soul and lead it into the Eternal Kingdom. Amen.

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St. Michael — Angel of Sinners

Sin is a revolt against God. This is the act of the angel refusing to God adoration and obedience and claiming to be equal to Him. To men as well, the great voice of the Eternal has said: I am the Lord! And like Lucifer, man repeats the response: I will not serve. He has broken with God: his spirit and his heart, through the most deserved punishment, hangs in shame and filth.

But his act of revolt has been accomplished under an evil impulse. Satan is the father of Sin. The first he committed it, he brought it into the world, and maintains it with all his power. The old scene of the fall to the earthly paradise is renewed, always the same, and in everyone of us, with his seductive promises, alas! And with his lie and his ruin. The demon is faithful to his role, which is to deceive men and to train him in his fall. But to the side of the angel of seduction, there is the angel of repentance and salvation.

Saint Michael has seen in the heart of God his ardent love of man, and he fell in love in his turn of compassion and charity for this weak being pummeled by the blows of the Enemy. The Fathers and the commentators show Saint Michael to us in Paradise, reproaching, it is true, Adam for his prevarication and expelling him from Heaven like the evil spirits, but opening his heart to hope, encouraging him, and educating him. Since then, he has not ceased to approach souls to pull them away from Satan, to deliver them from their shameful chains which hold them in evil, and to bring them back to Jesus Christ.

Saint Sophronius called him the guide of those that stray, and the inspiration of those who fall. According to the pious deacon Pantaleon, he leads sinners to repentance and procures for them the remission of their faults. When he sees one of his servants in disgrace with God, says Saint Alphonsus of Liguori, he prays the Lord to wait for his repentance, and carries himself somehow a surety for the sinner, promising to God that he will not longer offend Him, because he will be careful t rescue him when he sees him in danger of falling back. Finally Saint Francis de Sales affirms, as a truth attested by the Fathers, that Saint Michael has received from God the particular gift of touching the heart of the most hardened sinners, to inspire in them a sincere repentance.

Is that not what the Church recognizes when she makes us confess our faults to God first, then to the Virgin Mary, then to Saint Michael? So the great Archangel is charged with carrying the accusation of our faults before the throne of God and there to implore mercy for us. Saint John one day heard him make this supplication: Pardon, Lord, pardon, you open the book and break the seal. To Heaven in our favour, Saint Michael reiterates the same prayer: Pardon, Lord, for your creature, and curse the tempting angel!

Scripture provides us with proof of his intervention in favour of souls. In one vision of Zachary the high priest appears before the Angel of the Lord— Saint Michael, says the commentators—and Satan comes to accuse him. The Archangel defends him: God overwhelms you with His wrath, he says to Satan. And, calling the angels, he orders them to remove from the high priest the sordid garments that cover him, and robe him in a precious garment and to put a crown upon his head.

So Saint Michael pleads for sinners and obtains for them the grace to return to life.

 

Practice: Let us often pray to Saint Michael for the conversion of sinners.

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A Story of St. Michael — 8

A priest, celebrating the Mass of the Dead, recommended some souls who had been dear to him; in pronouncing these words in the liturgy: That Saint Michael usher them into the holy light!  At the same instant, he saw the glorious archangel come down from Heaven into Purgatory to deliver them.

The author who reported this fact, tells another one that can be summed up as well: a monk of Cîteaux, after his death, appeared to a priest, his friend, and revealed to him that he was still in Purgatory, but he would be delivered if, at the Mass, he recommended him to Saint Michael. The priest hastened to do so and he saw, as did other witnesses, the soul of his friend being conducted to Heaven by the holy Archangel.

Prayer :

O Great Saint Michael, you whom God has charged with bringing to Heaven the souls of the elect, I pray to you for all those that I have loved and that are now no longer. Deign to visit them, assist them, and succour them amidst the flames where they burn, in the dark prison where they weep. Grant that God may admit them sooner to the place of refreshment, of light, and of peace. And when the hour will come for my soul to descend to this somber sojourn, I beg you, intercede for it and come to succour it. Amen.

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St. Michael — Angel of Purgatory

Purgatory is a place of waiting and of suffering, where souls, torn from the body they once animated, complete the purification necessary to satisfy their last debts to the justice of God. It is there that the soul yet unworthy to enjoy the Beatific vision descends, and it descends sadly. It has seen God, and it felt attracted to him, as a child to his father. It glimpsed something of the splendours of the Holy City and it was delighted. Alas! A commanding voice has cried to it: “Not yet, go away!” Then an irresistible weight drew it down. What pain! To have seen God and to be far from Him: to know where He is and not to be able to go there; to know what He gives and not to be able to present itself at His door; to see its homeland and not to be able to cross the border that separates them?

But this is only part of its suffering. The Church praying for the Dead beg God to admit them to the place of refreshment, of light, and of peace. This soul is then amid ardent fires, it is plunged in the thickest night and in the deepest desolation.

In such distress, it has need of consolation. Saint Michael is employed here, he is the angel of Purgatory. The Church prays for the dead, and in that, according to the remark of Bossuet, she indicates her opinion on the role of Saint Michael in respect to the souls detained in Purgatory, and shows what price she wants us to attach to his intercession.

God Himself has made Saint Michael Prince and Master of all souls that wish to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. He uses his power to relieve the Souls of Purgatory, to break their chains, and to introduce them to Paradise. Like a plenipotentiary, says Saint Pius V, he applies and interprets, according to circumstances, the wishes of his Sovereign; he sometimes graces the culprits who implore his protection, he shortens the detention of certain others; in a word, he is like the mediator between the supreme leader and his subjects, and even by his mediation, he obtains graces that the dignity if the sovereign seems to be unable to grant without an intermediate.

This is how Saint Michael is the angel of Purgatory. He is honoured as such by Catholic Tradition. The Prince of the Heavenly armies, says Saint Anselm, is all powerful in Purgatory, and he can aid souls that the justice and the holiness of the Most High hold in this place of torments. He is undoubtedly recognized since the foundation of Christianity, says Bellarmine, that the souls of the dead are delivery from Purgatory by the intercession and the ministration of the archangel Saint Michael. Let us add to these authorities Saint Liguori: “Saint Michael,” he says, “is charged with the care of the souls of Purgatory: he does not fail to assist them and to rescue them, by providing them much relief in their pains.”

So if we love our dead, we must pray for their intention to Saint Michael. Let us honour him ourselves, this is to our advantage. He who has honoured Saint Michael, says Saint Bernard, will not remain for a long time in Purgatory. Saint Michael will use his privilege and will soon conduct this soul to his Heavenly home.

Practice: Let us pray to Saint Michael for the souls of Purgatory and let us often have the Holy Sacrifice offered for them in his honour.

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A Story of St. Michael — 7

Forty solders of Sebaste had refused to sacrifice to idols. The governor ordered them exposed overnight on an icy pond. There they prayed and asked that as they were forty in the arena, they would be forty as well in receiving the palm of martyrdom. But one of them lost courage and threw himself into the hot bath that had been prepared next to them to try these generous confessors of the Faith. Alas! He died there immediately. The others remained more determined than ever to die for Jesus Christ. They exhorted one another when, at the third hour of the night, a great light appeared on the lake and angels descended from Heaven with crowns to place upon the heads of these heroic martyrs. One of the guards was divinely inspired, the story tells us, took the place of he who had failed.

From the testimony of Saint Ephrem, deacon of church of Edessa, it was Saint Michael who came to console the forty martyrs and soften the rigor of their torments.

Prayer :

O Saint Michael, Consoling Angel of afflicted souls, give us your strength and your efficacious protection in our trials. Teach us to suffer with resignation and through love of God. Bring down on us the graces and blessings of Heaven, so that we may bear in a Christ-like way the pains and sorrows of life and that we may deserve the reward promised by Jesus Christ to those who suffer with Him and for Him. Amen.

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