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Fourth Decade
Author: Nathaniel Slattery
Posted: Month of the Holy Family, 1st Day, Year of Our Lord 2023, Vigil of the Purification
Artist Merry Joseph Blondel from Musée Carnavalet

These are fictive meditations on the fifteen traditional mysteries of the Rosary. This fourth is the Presentation, which is the mystery by which Our Lady who needs no purification walks to the Temple in Jerusalem several miles away, accompanied by Saint Joseph, receives the Purification rite by which She encourages us, having abstained from the Temple service forty days within the cave of the Nativity (we have an analogous rite called re-churching which I recommend you ask your priest about). She then presents Our Lord to Saint Simeon, offering Him to God the Father, though this is unnecessary as well, since the oblation which Christ made of Himself from the first moment of His Incarnation fully placed Him into the hands of God the Father, and theologians teach that all men are obligated to make a similar oblation and consecration as soon as they attain reason, which you should pray for your children, that they maintain first innocence and never commit a mortal sin. She then receives the wonderful prophecies which promise Her Sorrows, allows for the death of the patient servant of God Almighty, and inspires the holy widow Anna to speak of the Redeemer publicly. This in the very city where Herod had been located, who meditated the death of Our Lord and many children. Our Lady then redeems Our Lord for five shekels. The Holy Family returns to Nazareth after the Christmas season to begin the Hidden Life. If you are aware of the Rosary and do not pray it, or if you do pray it and do not attempt to meditate upon it, then you are acting foolishly. May the Lord reward you for your labors.

Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart,

Pray for me and for my son, whom I present to you, as your possession,

May the sword which pierces Your soul reveal to You,

Thoughts of our hearts which are pleasing to You.

 Fourth Decade

I entered through the door with worries and concerns, and had set for myself the simple goal of avoiding entanglements in conversation, alone today for sickness in the family, and always impeded by a crowd of good Christly friends, the type for which once I had prayed. And no doubt I desired their friendship, but it was a special judgment of God that I saw them here and rarely anywhere else, because I live in a land where there was one people for six days of the week and another for the seventh, and even that was being assaulted all the time. And so for them, it was rest to see and speak with one such as me, while for me, my heart longed deeply for the One above them in His throne here, and if they were good company, they were in a place rather suited for solitude.

I wore a tired and bedraggled expression a moment, before I thought of Francis de Sales. I sighed internally and let it come within my heart, all that conversation. But my heart was absent, there before the throne already, and so they received sweet, disjointed answers to their polite inquiries and expositions. Oh, but what pride! There was no danger of them taking me away from that throne, but the danger was all in my own depravity, which loved to sit and listen to those clever words I uttered. I always wonder when God will remove from me this gift, since I make it such an occasion for vanity. Better that than I should descend to Hell!

But I was foolish, too, and misremembering what the patterns were without my family. For the sheep obeyed the secular clock while the shepherd obeyed the sacred clock, and every one of them entered sharply by the silent setting of the first hour of the afternoon, but he was detained by his love for those who importuned him another fifteen minutes or so. And so I, who loved to get a glimpse of him, foresaw and employed to tranquilize my heart, which had grown restless at the foot of the throne without its body for companion. So I went in.

Again, that rush of worry and complaint came, but the fall to one knee at two places reminded me where the throne was. For it was a humble thing, despite all. Of gleaming gold and worked in beauty, surrounded by cherubim, and with great richness, still it did not impress itself naturally. Perhaps, it was our modern architecture, which had the foolishness of a backdrop of eclectic, pointless stones, like a chaos not of nature but of Hell, which made it difficult to see anything against it, even the large crucifix. And so, too, the windows which were opposed and set behind the throne, drowning it in a view of the mountains beyond, and taking the mind violently away from Heaven and towards Earth.

Perhaps and likely. Such is the just judgment of God into which I was born. But here I was now, and kneeling, and saying a chaplet, and eager to grab what merit I could from resisting the plague of Modernism which engulfs everything, and meekly seeking to enter that combat with my heart, driving stakes into it, so that it could not escape the Cross. But lately I had gained some confidence, and let it wander as on a chain, if it seemed to be going upward.

My chaplet finished, the tabernacle and the Crucifix, Saint Joseph and the Immaculate Heart taken in briefly, I bowed my head and closed my eyes to see which way it willed to go now.

It went to the weather, which was gloomy with a freezing rain and high wind. Was it Thursday? No, but I had resolved to call it Eucharist day, and besides, it was the Lord’s day, and how could I forget? But how far from that midweek day? Because I had been told to beware of cold Thursday mornings, for the sake of the coming Chastisement and three days of darkness. But I was as far as could be from that day.

 I squeezed my eyes harder and bowed my head lower, and offered to my heart the image of Saint Joseph. But that was as opposed to its solemn inclinations as could be, and to expect it to meditate upon the joyful mysteries, which otherwise so often filled me with tears— thinking of that simple and good saint dying peacefully in the hidden life with Jesus and Mary before ascending the very pinnacle of Heaven above all saints and angels—, was to expect miraculous help. For which, indeed, I did pray.

“Assist me, good angel. Assist me, Saint Joseph. Intercede for me, Blessed Mother. Come to me, oh Blessed Lord, and grant me good meditations.”

The Immaculate Heart then flashed, and the Crucifix next, with several rapid pictures of God’s might in some of the physical terrors to come: floods, fires, earthquakes, plagues, objects falling from the sky with fire and blood, the cosmos winking out here and there, mountains toppling, the Heavens rolled up like a garment. This went by rapidly and was replaced by that tabernacle which stood closed but in my mind’s eye now opened and emitting a glorious light as of the highest heaven above the sun that would grow old, and in it, I saw the glory of God. Angels trumpeted out in waves to left and right, and as they came, in the center an approaching form.

Bells rung. I stood, then opened my eyes. They were fixed on the tabernacle. It was closed and as dim as before when I saw and genuflected to it.

My friends emerged with my pastor, and I struck my heart to remind it of reverence, and I bowed my head again as they passed, and they were shortly before the altar kneeling.

“Asperges me,” the pastor chanted and flicked each boy to right and left with the aspergum and holy water as the cantor responded. His voice brought to mind his face for me, and what a good and simple man with joy and adventure, a love for flying and a love for music beyond what could be understood by terms. He chanted, “Domine hyssop, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem de albabor,” but I had to strike my heart again because it had wandered off to that time he had flown me in his plane.

Despite my proximity, the priest went down two lanes before mine, and in between, the cantor rung out, “Gloria Patris, et Filii, et Spiritui Sancti,” as we all bowed our heads towards the tabernacle, and then the priest straightened and resumed, as the cantor continued, “Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et saecula saeculurum. Amen.”

There was not much hope for meditation during all that time, but my mind held onto the open image of the tabernacle in glory forced by human reason atop the closed, dim tabernacle.

When the priest came back, and I turned to him in time to see and then feel the cold, shocking flick of water upon the lower part of my face and chin, my mind caught hold of it. What small sins were sitting upon me which God deserved cleansed before I received Him? The place struck suggested wrath and obstinance, and what easier sin to find in my life?

“Oh God,” I said in my heart, “forgive me please for how I treat my wife and children. Oh, what great gifts you’ve given me! Oh, how I once prayed so desperately for such gifts. Wretched man am I! I can’t have patience for children and women? What do I expect from them? Why could I possibly resent them? Oh God, cleanse me of this, relieve me, perfect me, grant me meekness. Oh, by Thy Precious Blood, do not forsake me! Let it not be said that You begin a work and do not finish it. Bring me into the Blessed Company. Have mercy on me.”

The priest returned to the sacristy, and everyone dropped from standing, I to kneeling, without unclasping my hands or interrupting my prayers.

“Prepare me for a good and holy Communion. Let me receive You worthily,” and so on.

The distractions, preoccupations, and repentances were in many ways a part of it. Not that God willed sin, or anything besides perfection, but that, it having happened, and my state being a married father, the most necessarily engrossed with the world of all states in life, He provided means by which it all was expiated, satisfied, and sanctified. For He was more pleased by a man’s fulfilling his duties than by many prayers, but perfection— that is, to perfectly please Him— consisted in prayerfully fulfilling every duty, and prayerfully passing the time between. For both Saint Anthony of the Desert and Saint Louis King of France would employ all eternity in the contemplation of God, no matter the disparity between them on Earth as regards distracting duties.

The bell rung again, and I rose again in some surprise. The priest must walk past me from the sacristy before procession at the back, but I had been so engrossed in considering my state as to not hear him. That had not happened before. Usually, I loved to catch sight of him, the man whose virtue and merit had brought me out of my languishing darkness from which every effort of my own failed to deliver me. But this once, I had not noticed him.

He processed, and I examined the state of my soul, registering its fluid progress. It came close to adherence. Best to turn now to the most fruitful image thus far.

The priest bowed before the altar as the processional hymn ended— I had not followed it— and said silent prayers with the altar boy kneeling and responding. He stepped up to the altar, and I stared at the tabernacle, picturing that glorious unveiling and parting of the Heavens, with Christ at the right hand of the Father. But nothing was harder to picture than the Father, and what surprise was that? He was like an immense, golden glow within a throne of judgment, indeed the source of all the light before.

There was some signal between the priest and the cantor, some point of his preparations on the altar, which I resisted knowing. So many peers of mine, I knew, studied the Mass and its parts, and I had served it once and held the incense and had a great flowing grace of holy thoughts and ejaculatory internal prayers, but I did not know the Mass very well. For I converted as a husband and father, and infant children kept me far from the altar, and I received much more from simple peasant reverence and mystification. For all my life, everything I encountered by God Himself, I could master by my intellect, but not His True Worship. That, I rather plumbed the depths repeatedly like a fishing bird, coming up as soon as I filled myself.

“Kyrie eleison,” came the first cantor, and we all responded, “Kyrie eleison.” I put my whole heart quietly into it as soon as I realized it was occurring. He sung another, “Kyrie eleison,” and with the responding “Christe eleison,” I presented my addition mainly to God along with my sins. “Christe eleison,” the main cantor continued, and we had the sweet satisfaction of tasting our Savior’s name twice. “Christe eleison.” And then to answer my contrition, the Holy Ghost descended to efface both my wrath and my obstinacy, soften my heart, and grant me meekness. “Kyrie eleison.” “Kyrie eleison.” “Kyrie eleison.”

There was some brief silence, as my priest read or prayed over the Missal, and the last long eleison died out. I used it to invoke and entrust a long string of literary saints: that is, Francis de Sales, Jerome, Paul, John Newman (although I was unsure of him), Chrysostom, and, to be safe, Joseph. This because it had occurred to me that the great solution to my long request to write down a meditation worthy of the Presentation, the fourth joyful mystery, could be simply to write a thorough and typical Mass. For what was I doing besides learning to meditate? And a year before I had started profoundly with the Nativity. And there was always a graceful admixture of my reason, God’s insight, and an arrival at the pen and paper with a hope of His coming with the words. And where else was meditation more right and just and fitting but in the Mass? And where better to end? For my work on the glorious mysteries was contiguous, and indeterminate, a sort of repetitive leaping and grasping at Heaven, the beatific vision, and even now it could be accomplished as much as it would be, and how good to pair it with the Mass?

But all this threatened to distract me. It was not the highest thing. My writing, though it be a prayer, was the most profane of prayers. And now, by virtue of Calvary, God demanded everything of me, and so I handed it off to those saints.

Brief, and then, “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” while the priest raised and brought his hands together. We all stood.

The cantors took it up. “Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. Laudamus te, benedicimus te, adoramus te, glorificamus te, gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam, Domine Deus, Rex caelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens. Domine Fili unigenite, Iesu Christe, Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis; qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostrum. Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis.

“Quoniam tu solus Sanctus, tu solus Dominus, tu solus Altissimus, Iesu Christe, cum Sancto Spiritu in Gloria Dei Patris. Amen.” It was all a most beautiful thing to me, and had to be heard in chant, because, I understood the words much better than much of the Mass, having come enough times. That announcement from the angels at the Nativity, that God had received His highest glory, and there would be peace now, after four thousand years of Adam’s penance, for men of goodwill. And the series of adjulations, of fertive ejaculations of love towards the God that had done such a thing. And all the Earth had been made for such a thing, to produce first the Woman and then Her Seed. What perfection. What else could be done but to adore Him?

As His praises were sung, the priest left the altar, sat, bowed his head at the mentions of Christ’s name and the request to receive our paryers, then rose again and came back to the altar. We all followed this, rising at “Gloria” from kneeling, then sitting, bowing three times, then rising again. This was often a distraction for me. But the body offered its own worship to God, and it was something with which we ought not to interfere. So I trusted this was the case and would be rewarded, no matter how it interfered with my recollection, miserable man that I am.

The priest proceeded to the altar, prayed, “Dominus vobiscum,” and heard our, “Et cum spiritu tuo.” He then moved to the epistle at the right. He prayed, “Oremus, Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, infirmatatem nostrum propitius respice: atque ad protegendum nos, dexteram tuae majestatis extende. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.” Then we heard, “Lectio Epistolae beati Pauli Apostoli ad Romani,” and we sat, because we knew it was the epistle.

All the angels also sat upon their heels and turned, having no need for instruction as we all did, though they loved the worship of those Holy Apostle’s words read in pure Latin as Saint Jerome worshipfully rendered before giving himself completely to contemplating Christ’s earthly life, and not in all those other corruptible tongues, whether it be Hebrew which from the beginning lied and slandered, or Greek which always betrayed for vainglory’s sake as in the Fourth Cursade, or Latin’s bastard children: the vulgarity of Italian, uncleanliness of Spanish, or superfluity of French. How preposterous it would be to use the barbarous tongues! The idea offended God.

But the angels turned to their clients and sought if there were some enemy which had not been driven away by the Asperges or had been welcomed back by secret thoughts. These, weakened and wounded, some did war upon, and I asked my angel to do the same and guard my heart, while the rest turned their flaming countenances to that throne and knelt again, eager to crowd the altar where already many visiting angels attended and assisted that great one of the parish and the other of the priest. Their light would soon be dimmed by that brilliance contained within the tabernacle, and it was their anxious joy.

My dear father finished and shut the book. He prayed a while before moving to the center of the altar. There, the altar boys took the Missal and altar cloth and shifted them for the Gospel to the left. While this occurred, there was incensing, but my memory does not retain the details well. Regardless, at some point, the priest prayed, “Credo in unum Deum Patrem omnipotentem.”

The cantors responded, “factorem caeli et terrae, visibilium omnium et invisibilium. Et in unum Dominum Iesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum, ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula. Deum de Deo, Lumen de Lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero, genitum non factum, consubstantialem Patri; per quem omnia facta sunt.”

The priest descended now from the altar and knelt as did all we, slowly saying those precious words by which is signified the great humility of a God Who did not appear in palaces or rich temples, but eschewed all the world’s pomp and exalted rather its suffering, by being born in piercing cold. “Qui propter nos homines et propter nostrum salutem descendit de caelis. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine, et homo factus est.”

He went then, the priest, and sat to the side, and we bowed as he passed and sat as he sat, and did as before, bowing our heads as he did. “Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus et sepultus est, et resurrexit tertia die, secundum Scripturas, et ascendit in caelum, sedet ad dexteram Patris. Et iterum venturus est cum gloria, iudicare vivos et mortuous, cuius regni non erit finis. Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivficantem, qui ex Patre Filioque procedit. Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur: qui locutus est per prophetas. Et unam, sanctam, catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam. Confiteor unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum, et vitam venturi saeculi.” Then he rose again during the long “Amen,” and quickly approached the altar again— we bowing our heads as he passed— to read the Gospel.

We stood at the prayer and remained standing for the Gospel, as nothingness stood in readiness at His Word to give forth Heaven and Earth, the only thing besides Him, all Creation. And as formless water stood ready to separate and receive the firmament, which stretches without delay at His touch, immense, without being understood even today, far beyond the greatest works and thoughts of man, a mere portion of the Creation, sublimely simple in its architecture, and never to be trespassed by Man, though they may lie.

And as the waters below stood ready to be separated from the country which He made His own, blessing it with fruitfulness, and distinguishing it from the chaos of the world about it, where evil contends with evil by vulgar might, and all edifices tumble into formlessness with little time, like a passing mist.

And as the waters above stood ready to be judged, that a third of them would be found wanting, desiring themselves exalted, seeing themselves fallen upon the Earth and its dust, crawling upon their bellies, falling further to see the exaltation of Hell.

And as the birds stood ready to receive the air, the fish the sea, with no confusion, but perfect order so that even that formless water may bear glory to God and meat to the Earth.

And as the light above which had stood ready to come and show all this, now gave no argument as its greatest ornaments were added to it: Sun, Moon, and Stars; as the contenders had already been expelled, and the Mother and Her Son needs come to perfect these Heavens.

And as the animals stood ready to be created separate from the plants, never united to them, and the men created separate from the animals, never at anytime confuted with them, and the women made from out of the men, that they may be united to them, and the Blessed Mother from out of women, that She may be united to them, and the Blessed Lord from out of His Mother, that He may be united to Her, and, through Her, to all mankind who were found worthy.

As all this, so, too, we stood to receive that same Gospel given to Adam after his sin, the True Religion from the beginning of all time, before all religion, before even the names: “Sun, Moon, and Stars”; and all the just have inherited it from Adam, son of God. We stood because we were ready to obey as all Creation obeys, and not to resist, as demons do, without accomplishing anything.

My dear father removed his maniple, laid it in the book, and stepped down to receive his berretta. Then he ascended his bare and modern pulpit, which was a podium placed upon equal footing— of a stage of movable wooden blocks— with the wooden altar. Before he had come, there had been plants all about the altar, like a jungle. He had used them to fill the baptismal pool in the Narthex.

We still stood. He made some announcements, then began to read the Epistle in English, and we sat.

“A reading from the epistle of St. Paul to the Romans:

“Brethren: Be not wise in your own conceits. To no man rendering evil for evil. Providing good things, not only in the sight of God but also in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as is in you, have peace with all men. Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: ‘Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.’ But, ‘If the enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink. For, doing this, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.’ Be not overcome by evil: but overcome evil by good.

“A continuation of the holy Gospel according to Matthew:”

Here, the priest removed his berretta, and everyone stood, and again crossed their forehead, lips, and heart with their thumb, as they had done before in Latin. “At that time, when Jesus had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him: And behold, a leper came and adored Him, saying: ‘Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.’ And Jesus stretching forth His hand, touched him, saying: ‘I will, be thou made clean.’ And fortwith his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith to him: ‘See thou tell no man: but go, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.’

“And when He had entered into Capharnaum, there came to Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying: ‘Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is grievously tormented.’ And Jesus saith to him: ‘I will come and heal him.’ And the centurion making answer said: ‘Lord, I am not worthy that Thou should enter under my roof: but only say the word and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this: God, and he goes; and to another: Come, and he comes; and to my servant: Do this, and he does it.’ And Jesus hearing this marveled, and said to them that followed Him: ‘Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel. And I say to you, that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven: but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ And Jesus said to the centurion: ‘Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee.’ And the servant was healed at the same hour.”

We all sat then, he replaced his berretta, and began, “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

“We are here in this third Sunday after Epiphany, and we continue our meditations on the ministry of Christ, which begins essentially from His Baptism, after that period of Epiphany and Christmas, and runs for a very short time until Septuagesima and then Lent, where we begin to shift and go with Our Lord into the desert for forty days, and ultimately reflect on His Passion with Passion Week, Holy Week, and Good Friday before Easter, and hopefully we enter into His Passion and unite ourselves to Him and merit that grace that will be available to us.

“But there is a brief time set aside for meditating on His earthly ministry, where we find ourselves, and here we are met with that great example of faith, which is the centurion.

“We see this essentially and always in every Mass immediately before we partake of Our Lord’s Body and Blood, and it is therefore pointed out as a most stunning example for us to follow.

“He has great faith and is able to see Our Lord as Who He is, which is namely God, the One God Who created Heaven and Earth with His Word, which the centurion would have known not only because of the Jews and their prophecies but also because of all the philosophers and poets amongst the Greeks and Romans that had essentially figured out and taught the same thing.

“So when he comes and he asks Our Lord to do a healing, he has no doubt that with a simple command this illness, no matter what causes it, would leave. Which would be an astounding thing and shows that he could not have thought of Our Lord as simply one of many gods, because there would be no guarantee that the illness wouldn’t be maintained by an equal or more powerful god.

“And he shows this when he points out that he himself simply commands something under his authority, and he is obeyed. So he implies there that whatever is the cause of the palsy— which could be anything at all— is under Our Lord’s authority, which means that everything is under Our Lord’s authority.

“And when he says, ‘if You will’, he means that he himself submits to the authority of Our Lord, because he would not request it if Our Lord does not will it. Contrast this with the Pharisees or their descendants the Jews today, who believe that they have to trick God into giving them what they want, against His will, which Christ Himself points out later on, saying that they will be thrown into Hell for it, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. But the centurion by contrast knows that there is an order of goods. In other words, what that means, is that there is an order with one good above another, and spiritual goods above worldly goods, and whenever you ask something of God, you submit to Him what He wishes, which is to give us the highest good— that desire towards us is called charity— and the highest good is the salvation of our souls that we may see the beatific vision and be with Him in Heaven. So sometimes, He will take from us a lower good, which can be health or well-being or possessions, in order to give us a higher good. And we submit to that whenever we request anything of Him or offer up a suffering, as we see Our Lord doing during His agony. This is the right way to obey.

“Another thing Our Lord points out here is that He has not seen such faith amongst all Israel. These are the people who have all the prophets and Law and miracles and the True Faith, and He does not see in them as much of the virtue of faith as he sees in this pagan captain of soldiers, because they have added something to the True Faith, or put it on top of it to hide it, if you will, and chosen that while telling themselves that they still practice the True Faith. Which explains or at least consoles us when we look at our situation today, where most of the people in the True Church do not even believe in the basic tenets the saints have always taught, and yet it is not at all uncommon to find people outside the Church completely in love with Her Majesty and power. I have converted a few myself.

“Faith is a supernatural virue, so we need to pray for it, and we need to pray our Rosaries, where we ask for it in the first three Hail Marys.

“In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

He descended then from the podium and handed his berretta to the altar boy, ascended the altar, and took up his maniple.

There was a prayer that made us stand and a bell that had us sit. The cloth was taken off the chalice, and because I had been told what that signified, my mind went to the pillar. For Our Lord had suffered His agony, Judas’s betrayal, and the long enchained walk to the city, the beatings, the imprisonment, the examination by Pilate, the transport to Herod, worse beatings by men bribed by Jews who feared Pilate would release Him and wished Him dead first. He had already suffered the exposure to that profligate prince and the return to Pilate, and He now had been sentenced to a scourging as if for an excuse. And so He was disrobed and exposed to the crowd and the leaden whip. And this is when we sat, as if in judgment on Him at Gabbatha. Our Lord! For how often have we abused Him to His Face and beat Him with the very hand which He had before healed.

There was much incensing and the smoke obscured the worldly incidents which otherwise might intrude on heavenly thought. Whispers and silence were the rule, as God’s Body, that of Christ, was welcomed in, and the Sacrifice of Calvary was recapitulated bloodlessly and painlessly for Our Lord, due to our reverence. There was a picture here of what it might have been without sin, when Adam would have been assumed into Heaven, and Our Lord need have no Passion. But for men’s evil, He had more suffering than any man, and bought the fallen world with His Blood more Precious than all it, and we recalled it in great solemnity, bringing it to our minds to comfort Our Lord Who endured it, and praying for the merit to imitate it.

So much happened in my mind’s eye, and there were prayers, and rising and falling, before I anticipated that moment which broke my heart. That was after the Body had come, been held up, lowered, we lowered ourselves, and we prayed, “My King, my God,” with Saint Thomas. After all that, some time after, the priest held the Body in his hands, and all was silence. Then we heard the soft snapping as It broke.

Oh, what are we, Lord, that You are mindful of us? What are we that You have done this for us? What great fires of love caused such a thing, that Your Body should be given to us?

“Domine non sum dignus.” He struck his heart a first time. “Domine non sum dignus.” He struck his heart a second time. “Domine non sum dignus.” He struck his heart a third time.

Then he received that blessed Bread which enacts what all other food has enacted upon it. For we eat of worldly pleasures, and transform them to our bodies, but we eat of heavenly pleasures, and are transformed by them into His Body.

One time, when I was preparing for Communion, I had meditated upon the Infant Christ’s Nativity for a short while following the mysteries until Our Lady picked Him up from the ground where He lay after the miraculous Birth. Then I suddenly found the Blessed Mother offering Him to me to hold, and I was very struck with my unworthiness and unfitness.

Today, I saw Our Blessed Lord upon His Cross from the first moment that I had heard the nails struck by the hammer and sunk into His Flesh, which was the breaking of the Consecrated Host, done bit by bit, carefully, diligently, with no waste. Now, I saw His Body, that night, removed from the Cross by blessed men, lowered in cloths, and laid in the Blessed Mother’s arms.

She held Him, and then presented Him to me, and to the whole world, those declaring themselves unworthy, in order that they may receive salvation, even if it should pierce her own heart.

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