The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ: A Love Which Goes 'To the End'
until the last of his strength waned.
Pope St. Damasus inscribed this epitaph upon the tomb of the martyred youth: "He preferred to yield his soul in death than to betray the heavenly members [of Christ] to raving dogs."
Let us also consider the words of Saint Ignatius, third bishop of Antioch, who is accounted an Apostolic Father by virtue of having been a hearer of the apostle John: "I have no taste for corruptible food nor for the pleasures of this life. I desire the Bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire his blood, which is love incorruptible."
In about the year 110 A.D., St. Ignatius became the target of the Emperor Trajan, and, as a result, he faced a most brutal death in the Amphitheater. Yet so strong was his love for Christ, surely a result of his fervent adoration of the body and blood of our Lord truly present in Eucharist, that he pleaded with those of his flock who might try to interfere with his approaching martyrdom, urging them to allow him to die for Christ: "I am writing to all the churches to let it be known that I will gladly die for God if only you do not stand in my way. . . . Let me be food for the wild beasts, for they are my way to God. I am God's wheat and shall be ground by their teeth so that I may become Christ's pure bread. Pray to Christ for me that the animals will be the means of making me a sacrificial victim for God." Shortly after he wrote those words, St. Ignatius was forced to enter the arena where, before many spectators, beasts tore the flesh from his bones.
In Eucharist Jesus Shows Us His Love Which Goes "To The End"
The Venerable Pope John Paul II wrote, "When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the memorial of her Lord's death and resurrection, this central event of salvation becomes really present and 'the work of our redemption is carried out'.This sacrifice is so decisive for the salvation of the human race that Jesus Christ offered it and returned to the Father only after he had left us a means of sharing in it as if we had been present there. Each member of the faithful can thus take part in it and inexhaustibly gain its fruits. This is the faith from which generations of Christians down the ages have lived. The Church's Magisterium has constantly reaffirmed this faith with joyful gratitude for its inestimable gift. I wish once more to recall this truth and to join you, my dear brothers and sisters, in adoration before this mystery: a great mystery, a mystery of mercy. What more could Jesus have done for us? Truly, in the Eucharist, he shows us a love which goes 'to the end' (cf. Jn 13:1), a love which knows no measure" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 11).
Yes. This is the Faith for which little Tarcisius and countless others died. This is the Faith for which Catholics in love with their Savior thirst. It is the Faith born of our Lord and King, Jesus Christ, who so selflessly gives himself in Eucharist, nourishing the faithful around the world. How much do we love this inestimable gift of Eucharist? Saint Philip asks us, "Can you feel the fragrance of Paradise which diffuses Itself from the Tabernacle?" And can we begin to fathom the implications of the heavenly Love contained in the Eucharist? Can we see the profoundness, the immenseness of our God who, although transcending all of created reality, truly gives us himself?
Enraptured by the wondrous mystery of Eucharist, our hearts are set afire: it is the infinitely powerful God of the universe who, in an incomprehensible display of love and tenderness, pours himself into millions of faithful around the world! He enters us, transforms us, and washes away our sins that, one day, he may bear us off in his divine arms, set us ablaze in the fiery breath of the Holy Spirit, and gently place us upon an eternal meadow of Love, forever melting away in the Divine Fire the many disturbances and sorrows which presently plague us.
"O unfathomable depth! O Deity eternal! O deep ocean! What more could You give me than to give me Yourself? You are an ever-burning Fire; You consume and are not consumed. By Your fire, You consume every trace of self-love in the soul. You are a Fire which drives away all coldness and illumines minds with its light, and with this light You have made known Your truth. Truly this light is a sea which feeds the soul until it is all immersed in You, O peaceful Sea, eternal Trinity!" -- St. Catherine of Siena
F. K. Bartels knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest treasures a man could ever have. He is managing editor of catholicpathways.com, and a contributing writer for Catholic Online.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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