On Thursday, the eve of the Passion, Jesus Christ took bread, and having blessed it, broke and distributed it to His apostles, saying to them, “Take and eat: This Is My Body, which shall be delivered for you.” Then taking the chalice, He blessed and gave it to them, saying, “Drink ye all of this, for this is the chalice of my blood which shall be shed for you.” He thereafter added, “This do in remembrance of me.” These words, in all their precision, simplicity, and clearness, contain the institution of the adorable Sacrament of the Eucharist, an irrefragable proof of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in this Sacrament, and the demonstration of His perpetuity in the Church. But rather than indulge in reasoning, let us set forth briefly the principal effect. Jesus Christ, before instituting it, had said that this sacrament would communicate life eternal to those receiving it; and this, in one aspect at least, and so far as it is given to man to understand the mysteries of God, is comprehensible. Sin had implanted in man the germ of death and vice. By reason of his disobedience man had become incapable of good, or even of a holy thought, as the great Apostle tells us. Now, in God is the source of being, life, good, virtue, and all excellence. God, by communicating Himself substantially to man by means of this august sacrament, implants the germ of immortality and virtue. Man, if limited to his own powers, could not even think out a useful way of becoming virtuous, for whence should he take the principle of virtue and the means of putting it in practice? He would consequently have to incur eternal loss, since salvation without virtue is a thing utterly impossible. But once pervaded with the principle of grace by an intimate union with God, he has but to let it develop and to cultivate the good seed sown in him. Thus does the diamond, of itself colorless and dim, absorb the light when exposed thereto, becoming a sparkling centre of light, and shining with a radiant lustre. The more vivid the light, the more brightly will the diamond shine, if it be pure. In like manner, the more man launches himself into the Divine substance, the more will he therewith be inundated by holy communion; the more potent also will his life become in virtues strong and manifold, and, consequently, in sure claims to salvation.
Reflection – With what respect, love, and ardor ought we not to receive this divine food, “which maketh to live forever”!