Consider first, that the blessed Eucharist is not only a sacrament, in which we receive the body and blood of Christ for the food and nourishment of our souls, but is also a
sacrifice, in which the same body and blood of Christ is offered up to God, in remembrance of his death and passion, for the honour and glory of God, in thanksgiving for all his benefits, to obtain pardon for all our sins, and race in all our necessities.
Sacrifice is a sovereign act of religious worship due to God alone, inasmuch as it testifies by the oblation made to him, that he is the sovereign Lord of all things, the master of life and death, our first beginning and last end. Now, from the beginning of the world, the children of God were accustomed to offer sacrifices to him, and this was the solemn worship in which they met together, to join in paying their homage and adoration to him. In the old law a great variety of these sacrifices was prescribed, of
burnt-offerings, of sin-offerings, of peace-offerings, &c., but all these were but figures and imperfect shadows of the great sacrifice which was reserved for the law of grace, and which we celebrate in the blessed Eucharist; a sacrifice in which the Son of God himself in both priest and victim.
Consider 2ndly, that as the law of Moses was to give way to the law of Christ, of which it was a figure; and the priesthood of the sons of Aaron was to yield to him that is a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech; so all these ancient sacrifices of the old law, which were but figures and shadows, were to make way for the new sacrifice of Christs's institution; which is no other than that of his own body and blood, not as prefigured by the flesh and blood of calves or lambs, but as exhibited in truth, once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross, daily to the end of the world, in an unbloody manner, on our altars, under the forms of bread and wine, agreeable to the priesthood and sacrifice of Melchisdech, which he offered in bread and wine, Gen. xiv. 18. Hence, in the thirty-ninth Psalm, spoken in the person of Christ, the sacrifice of his own body is substituted in the place of all those ancient victims, in these words. 'Sacrifice and oblation thou didst not desire, but thou hast fitted a body to me (for so St. Paul reads it, Heb. x. 5.) Burnt-offering and sin-offering thou didst not require, than said I, Behold, I come.' and this new sacrifice of the Christian church, this clean-offering, which should be 'offered in every place among the Gentiles,' is foretold (Malachi I. 11), and there accepted of by the Lord, at the same time that he declares he will receive no more of the Jewish sacrifices, v. 10.
Consider 3rdly, that this great sacrifice of the Eucharist essentially consists in the consecration of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, and in the offering up of the same body and blood to God; by the ministry of the priest, as a perpetual memorial of the sacrifice of the cross, and a continuation of the same to the end of the world. For, by the separate consecration of the bread into the body of Christ, and of the wine into his blood, performed by the priest, in the name and person of Christ, our great high priest, Christ Jesus, presents himself to his Father upon our altars, as slain for us, and his blood as shed for us, and under this figure of death offers up his own body and blood, to answer all the ends and intentions for which we ought to offer sacrifice to God. Not as if there were any deficiency, or insufficiency in the sacrifice of the cross, by which he completely redeemed us, and opened to us the fountain of all mercy, grace, and salvation, but that we might have in this eucharistic sacrifice a standing memorial of our redemption, a daily means of applying the fruit of it to our souls, a daily communion one with another, by joining together in the solemn worship of sacrifice as the children of God had always done from the beginning, and daily means of uniting ourselves in thee mysteries with our high priest and victim, Christ Jesus, and of coming to God with him and through him.
Conclude to frequent daily this means of salvation, which our Lord has prepared for us in the eucharistic sacrifice; admire and adore the wonders of the power and goodness of God, manifested to us therein, and resolve to correspond with them by faith, hope, and love.
Consider first, that the excellence and dignity of a sacrifice is to be estimated by the excellence and dignity of the victim that is offered, of the priest that makes the offering, and of the ends for which the oblation is made. Now all those things concur to recommend in the highest degree the sacrifice of the blessed Eucharist; which in substance is the same with that which the Son of God offered upon the cross, because both the victim is the same and the chief priest is the same, and both the one and the other answer the same ends, though in a different manner. See then, my soul, and admire the excellence of this great sacrifice, which is offered on our altars; a sacrifice in which the whole passion and death of Jesus Christ is solemnly acted by himself in person, in such a manner, as to be himself both the priest and the victim; the sacrificer and the sacrifice. Christ Jesus, the Son God, was the great high priest of God and men, who solemnly offered his own body and blood upon the cross, a sacrifice to God for all mankind; his body and blood was the victim by which we were redeemed. And this same great high priest of God and men, officiates also in person, in the sacrifice of the altar; and there offers up the same victim of his body and blood to his heavenly Father in our behalf. O can anything be more divine than such a sacrifice, in which a God is the priest, and a God the victim!
Consider 2ndly, the noble ends and intentions for which this sacrifice is daily offered by the Son of God in person, upon our altars; where he presents himself attended by his heavenly host, as the high priest of heaven and earth; and solemnly offers his body as delivered up, broken and slain, and his blood as poured out. First, as a sacrifice of sovereign adoration and homage, praise and glory to God on high; infinitely more honoured by this worship which he here receives from his own Son mystically dying on our altars, that by all the holocausts and burnt-offerings of the patriarchs and prophets, and all the homage which all the saints put together either have, or ever could, offer to him, although their whole beings were to evaporate to his glory. Secondly, he offers up his body and blood as a sacrifice of a general thanksgiving - of a most sweet odour in the sight of God, for all his graces, blessings, and communications of his goodness to any of his creatures; for our creation, preservation, redemption, &c.; for his own great glory; for the whole church of heaven and earth; and for all that he has done in favour of Christ (the great head of the church of heaven and earth) according to his human nature. Thirdly, he offers his body and blood together with his whole passion and death, as a sacrifice of a general propitiation for the sins of the living and the dead, in favour of whom he represents to his eternal Father the blood of the everlasting covenant. And fourthly, he offers the same body and blood as a sacrifice of a general supplication for his whole family; that is, for his whole church, and for all its pastors and people, that all graces and blessings may be derived to their souls from the fountains of their Saviour. O infinite goodness! what treasures hast thou opened for us in these divine mysteries!
Consider 3rdly, that as often as we go to celebrate or assist at these sacred mysteries, it may be proper to represent to ourselves that we are called upon, as by a royal proclamation from heaven, to be sanctified, and to come alone with our great high priest, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and with his whole church of heaven and earth; and to join in a most solemn sacrifice that is going to be offered to God for all the great ends above mentioned. Yes, Christians; for it is a most certain truth that in this divine sacrifice we present ourselves at the altar of God, before the throne of his mercy, with Jesus Christ his Son as our head, and in the society of his whole family, the whole people of God, wherever they are; (for the sacrifice is offered by Jesus Christ in the name of them all,) and that by the hands of this our high priest, and with the concurrence of his whole church, we here offer up to God the most acceptable victim that can be presented to his divine majesty; the most agreeable adoration and thanksgiving that can be offered; the most powerful atonement for sin; and the most effectual means for obtaining all graces and blessings, by offering up the passion and death of the Son of God.
Conclude to approach always to these most sacred and sublime mysteries with the most profound veneration, lively faith, and ardent devotion; and even to join your intention according to all these four ends, with the principal offerer Jesus Christ, and with his whole church.
Consider first, the indispensable obligation incumbent upon man, as a rational creature made by God and for God, to present his homage of adoration, praise, and glory to his Maker. For this reason the children of God from the beginning offered up sacrifices to the Deity; for this reason they instituted holocausts, or whole burnt-offerings, in which the whole victim was consumed by fire, evaporating on God's altar, in testimony of his being the sovereign Lord of all; for this reason the psalms were composed, by divine inspiration, and appointed to be sung together with musical instruments, to the praise and glory of God, and to accompany the sacrifices offered in the temple of God. Such was the zeal of these ancient servants of God, for paying him the best homage they were able of adoration and praise; and such ought to be, at all times, the sincere disposition of all that believe in God: as to be willing to adore and praise, worship and serve this their first beginning and last end, with all their power, and to consecrate their whole being to his glory. See, my soul, if this be thy disposition.
Consider 2ndly, how little is all that man can offer of his own fund, even though his whole being were to evaporate to the glory of God, when compared with the infinite majesty of God, and the homage and adoration which he deserves. If the whole creation could be made one holocaust or burnt-offering for the glory of God - alas! it would be all no more in the eyes of so great a king than as if a grain of chaff were to be burnt in honour of some earthly monarch. Because there is no proportion between that which is finite and that which is infinite; and therefore the whole creation compared to God is less than one grain of chaff compared with an earthly monarch, or even with the whole creation. How mean then is all that man can offer of his own, or of any other creature's; and how unworthy and how insufficient to be made a sacrifice of adoration and praise to the divine majesty? See then, my soul, how greatly we are obliged to the Son of God, who by the institution of the blessed Eucharist, has furnished us with a sacrifice of adoration, homage, praise, and glory worthy of God, as being of infinite value, by reason of the infinite dignity both of the priest and victim.
Consider 3rdly, how our Lord, expiring and dying upon the cross in obedience to his Father's will, offered himself in sacrifice in such a manner, that his death was not only in the nature of a sin-offering, or a sacrifice of propitiation for the sins of the world; but also in the nature of a burnt-offering, (in which the whole victim is given to God without reserve,) or a sacrifice of adoration, homage, praise, and glory. As then in the blessed Eucharist Christ himself in person celebrates his own death, and offers up the same sacrifice in substance with that which he offered expiring upon the cross; so we have here the same adoration, homage, praise, and glory offered by Christ, as God's high priest and our high priest, to his eternal Father; and this sacrifice of adoration, homage, praise, and glory he has made over to us; so that we are enabled, by joining with him in these sacred mysteries, to offer up daily to our God a homage and adoration of infinite value.
Conclude with admiration of the infinite power, wisdom, and goodness of God, manifested to us in the institution of this divine sacrifice, by means of which a victim of infinite value is daily offered, and will be daily offered to the end of the world upon a million of altars, by a priest of infinite dignity, to give infinite honour and glory to his divine majesty, and to be at the same time an inexhaustible source of all good to us. O! let us daily and hourly join our adoration and praise with that which is in every place offered by our high priest in these divine mysteries, and it will not fail of being acceptable through him.
Consider first, that we are also indispensably obliged to return due thanks to God for all his bounties, favours, and mercies to us; and that, as these are boundless and infinite, he has a right to call for a return of all the gratitude and love we are capable of; and that nothing less than an infinite thanksgiving can be equivalent to the debt we owe him. But O! how little is all that our store can afford towards discharging so immense a debt! If we should ever offer him our whole being, and this could be a return for the great benefit of our creation, by which he has given us this being, what should we have left to give him, or what return should we be able to make him for our redemption, for our preservation, for our vocation, and for so man others his benefits, and above all for that eternal free love of his for us, which is the source of all these benefits? See then how good our God has been in furnishing us, by the means of the eucharistic sacrifice, with a standing fund to enable us to discharge this infinite debt, and to render him thanksgiving worthy of him.
Consider 2ndly, that as the thank-offerings of the law of nature and of the law of Moses fell infinitely short of answering in a proper and sufficient manner the obligation incumbent on mankind of returning due thanks to God, the Son of God himself became man to make himself our priest and victim, and in that quality to offer up in our behalf a worthy sacrifice of thanksgiving, no less infinite, by reason of the dignity of his person, than those favours and mercies were for which he makes this return of thanks. This sacrifice of thanksgiving he offered once upon the cross, and offers daily in the Eucharist upon a million of altars throughout the world; and in this offering he expects that his whole family of heaven and earth should join with him; that with him and through him they may make a daily return of worthy thanks for all God's blessings bestowed upon both him and them. See, my soul, thou be never wanting in this duty.
Consider 3rdly, what this thanksgiving is, that we are to offer up daily to God in the sacrifice of the blessed Eucharist, a sacrifice which takes its very name from thanksgiving. 1. We are to return thanks to God for his own great glory, manifested in all his works. 2. We are to thank him in particular for the great work of our redemption. 3. We are to offer up to him this sacrifice in thanksgiving for the incarnation and birth of his Son, and for all the blessings bestowed upon him, according to his human nature: for his doctrine and miracles, for his passion and death, for his resurrection and ascension, and for all that power which is given him in heaven and earth. 4. We are likewise to offer up sacrifice in thanksgiving for ourselves, and for the whole church, triumphant, militant, and patient, and for all that mercy, grace, and salvation which has at any time been derived by man form the sovereign source of all good, through Jesus Christ. See, Christians, how much we all, in general, have to thank God for besides the special favours for which each one in particular stands indebted to the divine bounty. But infinite thanks be to his infinite goodness who has provide for us this sacrifice of infinite value, in which we may daily present ourselves before him, in the company of Jesus Christ his Son, and make him a suitable and acceptable offering, through him, for his favours!
Conclude to unite daily thy intentions with those, with which Jesus Christ daily offers this sacrifice upon all the altars throughout his church; the thanksgiving offered by him, and nothing less, will be equal to thy debt.
Consider first, that the sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ is also a sin-offering, or a sacrifice of propitiation, for obtaining mercy and pardon for our sins. The debt man contracted to divine justice by sin was infinite, and nothing that any one pure man, or even all mankind put together, could do or suffer for the expiation of sin, could bear any kind of proportion with that debt, or go any part of the way towards the cancelling of it; much less could the blood of oxen or goats, used in the ancient sin-offerings of the law, have any virtue in them to wash away sin. Therefore did the Son of God take a body and blood for us, to substitute this new victim in the place of those old ones, Psal. xxxix. This body and blood he offered in sacrifice upon the cross for the sins of all mankind; with this he paid our ransom and completely redeemed us; this same he has bequeathed to us in the sacrament and in the sacrifice of the blessed Eucharist, in which, as our priest and victim, he daily appears before his Father in our behalf, and presents his passion and death to him, to obtain the forgiveness of our sins. Thus the sacrifice of the Eucharist is truly
propitiatory, in virtue of that blood of the New Testament, the fruit of which it applies to our souls.
Consider 2ndly, what an advantage it is to our souls to have here daily celebrated amongst us, this propitiatory sacrifice, in which the Lamb that taketh away the sins of the world presents to his eternal Father, upon our altars, under the mystical veils that represent his death, his body as broken and slain for us, and his blood as shed for our sins, and with this body and blood intercedes to obtain mercy and pardon for us. What sinner can despair of the forgiveness of his sins, (if, like the prodigal child, he desires to return home to his true Father,) when he sees here before him, bleeding as it were upon the altar, the victim by whose blood all our sins were cancelled; when he sees the great high priest of God and man offering a sacrifice for the remission of his sins? 'O let us go, therefore, with confidence to this throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace in seasonable aid.' Heb. iv. 16.
Consider 3rdly, my soul, how much occasion thou hast for this sacrifice of propitiation. Alas, how great is the debt thou owest to divine justice for thy numberless sins! Recount to thyself, O sinner, in the presence of thy God, 'all thy years in the bitterness of thy soul,' Isaia. xxxviii. 15. See how very early thou didst incur the dreadful guilt of mortal sin, by turning away from God to follow vanity, and thereby breaking through thy baptismal engagements, profaning God's temple within thee, affronting the Spirit of God, and treading under foot he blood of the Son of God! Reflect how much thy sins have been multiplied, after so bad a beginning, every day from that time to this very hour. Ah! 'What shalt thou offer to the Lord, that is worthy? Wherewith shalt thou kneel before the high God?' Mich vi. 6. Neither holocausts nor thousands of rams, nor yet thy own blood, can expiate thy guilt. The blood of Christ alone can do it, and with this thou kneelest before the Most High, when thou assistest at the sacrifice of the altar, where this blood is applied to thy soul. Neither is it applicable to thy soul alone, but the inexhaustible treasures of mercy,, which are laid open in these sacred mysteries, give us a confidence to join all here in a body, with our great advocate and high priest at our head, and to plead for mercy, through this same blood, or our brethren also, both living and dead, that we may obtain for them all the remission of their sins, and a discharge of all the debts of punishments due to their sins.
Conclude to embrace this great means of obtaining mercy and grace, by assisting daily, if it lies in thy power, at this propitiatory sacrifice, with a contrite and humble heart, and making on this occasion a confession of all thy sins, at the feet of Jesus Christ, who is here both priest and victim; if thou art diligent in this practice, the blood of Christ will infallibly obtain for thee the remission of thy sins.
Consider first, that the blessed Eucharist, inasmuch as it is a sacrifice, does not only in a most perfect manner answer the designs and intentions of the burnt-offerings, thank-offerings, and
sin-offerings of the law, by being offered up for the adoration and praise of the Deity, in thanksgiving for all his benefits, and for the remission of all our sins; but also with infinite advantage answers the ends of the
peace-offerings of the ancients, by being offered up for obtaining all graces and blessings from God, through the blood of Jesus Christ. 'No one can come to the Father, but by him,' John xiv. 6. Here we approach to God both by him, and with him too, both as our priest and as our victim. 'If you ask the Father any thing in my name,' saith he, (John xvi. 23,) 'he will give it you.' O how wholesome then must this sacrifice of
supplication be to all Christian people, in which we not only ask in the name of Jesus Christ, but come with his sacred blood before the throne of grace, and in which he himself in person pleads for us!
Consider 2ndly, how many and great our necessities are, both in general and in particular, and how great the miseries we are liable to; that you may set a greater value upon this never-failing source of all blessings, which the divine bounty has opened to us, in the sacrifice of the Eucharist. Alas! of ourselves we can do nothing, we can neither believe, hope, love, nor repent, nor make so much as one step towards our justification or salvation, without the help of heaven; we are encompassed on all sides with dreadful dangers, that threaten us with the worst of evils, both for time and eternity. Ah! how true it is, that we are indeed 'wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked!' Apoc. iii.17. But in this sacrifice our Lord has provided us with an inexhaustible fund of grace, supplied without ever decaying, 'out of the fountains of our Saviour,' Isaia. xii. 3, in order to answer all our necessities, to heal all our infirmities, to guard us against all dangers, and to redress all our miseries. O blessed be his infinite goodness! O my soul, whatsoever thy wants are, here they are to be supplied; run here to Jesus Christ, thy priest and sacrifice and with him, and through him, to his Father, and he will give thee all good, with himself, the supreme good.
Consider 3rdly, that in this sacrifice of supplication and prayer, we are not limited, or confined in our addresses, as if we were to ask and to receive for ourselves alone, but as we have here upon the altar the victim slain for the general redemption of the whole world, and as the high priest of God and man here appears before his heavenly Father, in behalf of all mankind, we are authorized to put up our petitions with him and through him, for the general necessities of the whole church of God, and of all mankind; that the holy name of God may be sanctified by all; that his kingdom of grace may be propagated through all nations and through all hearts; that his will may be done by all, and in all things; that his church may be exalted by the sanctity of her prelates and pastors, and propagated throughout the world; that all infidels, heretics, and sinners may be converted; that all errors and abuses may be corrected; that we may be preserved from wars, plagues, famines, earthquakes, and all other evils; and that 'being delivered from the hands of our enemies, we may serve God without fear in holiness and justice before him all our days.' Luke i. 74, 75. all this, with all other graces and blessings, we are encouraged to ask with confidence for the whole world in this sacrifice, where Christ is both priest and victim.
Conclude to manage always to the best advantage that favourable time when thou art assisting at the sacrifice of the altar, for it is then thou art near the fountain head from whence all our good must flow.
Contents of Challoner's Meditations
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