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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

John Keble: Adoring Christ in the Eucharist


Now the gift in the Holy Eucharist is Christ Himself--all good gifts in one; and that in an immense, inconceivable degree. And how can we conceive even Power Almighty to bring it more closely and more directly home to each one of us, than when His Word commands and His Spirit enables us to receive Him as it were spiritual meat and drink? entering into and penetrating thoroughly the whole being of the renewed man, somewhat in the same way as the virtue of wholesome meat and drink diffuses itself through a healthful body: only, as we all know, with this great difference, (among others,)--that earthly meat and drink is taken up and changed into parts of our earthly frame, whereas the work of this heavenly nourishment is to transform our being into itself; to change us after His image, "from glory to glory," from the fainter to the more perfect brightness; until "our sinful bodies be made clean by His Body, and our souls washed through His most precious Blood; and we dwell evermore in Him, and He in us:" "we in Him," as members of "His mystical Body, which is the blessed company of all faithful people;" "He in us," by a real and unspeakable union with His divine Person, vouchsafed to us through a real and entirely spiritual participation of that Flesh and Blood which He took of our Father Adam through the Blessed Virgin Mary; wherewith He suffered on the Cross, wherewith also He now appears day and night before His Father in heaven for us. So that a holy man of our own Church was not afraid thus to write of this Sacrament:--

"By the way of nourishment and strength
Thou creep'st into my breast,
Making Thy way my rest,
And Thy small quantities my length,
Which spread their forces into every part,
Meeting sin's force and art.

"Thy grace, which with these elements comes,
Knoweth the ready way,
And hath the privy key,
Opening the soul's most subtle rooms." (G. Herbert's Remains, p. 99, ed. 1826.)

ยง 10. The sum is this. Renewed nature prompts the Christian, and Holy Scripture from beginning to end encourages him, to use special adoration to Almighty God at the receiving of any special gift;--adoration the more earnest and intense as the gift is greater, and the appropriation of it to the worshipper himself more entire and direct. So it is with all lesser, all partial gifts; how then should it not be so when we come to the very crown and fountain of all, that which comprehends all the rest in their highest possible excellency, and which is bestowed on each receiver by way of most unspeakable participation and union,--that gift which is God Himself, as well as having God for its Giver? "Christ in us," not only Christ offered for us; a "divine nature" set before us, of which we are to be made "partakers." Must we cease adoring when He comes not only as the Giver, but as the Gift; not only as the Priest, but as the Victim; not only as "the Master of the Feast," but as "the Feast itself?" (Bp. Taylor, Holy Living: Works, iv. 310, Heber's edition.) Nay, but rather this very circumstance is a reason beyond all reasons for more direct and intense devotion.

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    O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity (+), be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
    --Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

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