OF THE INSTITUTION OF THE MOST BLESSED SACRAMENT
GIOTTO di Bondone
No. 29 Scenes from the Life of Christ: 13. Last Supper
And whilst they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said: Take ye, and eat. This is my body. And taking the chalice, he gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this. For this is my blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins. Mt.26.
But Melchisedech the king of Salem, bringing forth bread and wine, for he was the priest of the most high God Gen.14
And it shall be a lamb without blemish, And they shall eat the flesh that night roasted at the fire, and unleavened bread with wild lettuce. Exo.12.
And the Lord said to Moses: Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you. Exo.16
Man ate the bread of angels: he sent them provisions in abundance. Psal. 77.
Thou hast prepared a table before me against them that afflict me.Psal.22.
He hath made a remembrance of his wonderful works, being a merciful and gracious Lord: He hath given food to them that fear him. He will be mindful for ever of his covenant: Psal.110
And the Lord of hosts shall make unto all people in this mountain, a feast of fat things, a feast of wine, of fat things full of marrow, of wine purified from the lees.Isa.25.
For what is the good thing of him, and what is his beautiful thing, but the corn of the elect, and wine springing forth virgins? Zac.9
Come, eat my bread, and drink the wine which I have mingled for you. Prov.9.
1. It is a custom of faithful friends which tenderly love one another, at such time as they are to be severed from each other to be desirous to remain together one day in consolation. Even so our Savior being to depart from this world,had desire, as before he said to make this last Pasche with his dear Disciples to comfort himself with them, and to leave them some pledge of his love,and an eternal memory of himself
2. Consider, with how great love, Christ our Lord now drawing near unto death, standeth like a good householder making his last will & testament and dividing amongst his dear sons that precious heritage of his most sacred Body and Blood: see how unto all he give equal portions, yea unto every one he give all, seeing that by giving his Body, he there withal giveth all the divine treasures which are contained therein and whilest in manner of a good Pastor with unspeakable charity he feedeth his flock,not now with Manna of the desert,neither yet with water of the rock as did Moses, but with the true bread of his vivisicating flesh,and with the true drink of his most precious blood:He himself on the other side is feed with their souls, which by means of the mysterious meat he unties & converted into himself that they may be one self same hart,& one self same souls with him.
3. See what fervent desire and ardent love this potent King of glory, and this Lord of Majesty bare towards us his most base creatures: us which are nothing but dust and ashes: for seeing that his fatherly and most pitiful hart, could not imagine things more high, and better to declare unto us his exceeding goodness, and most burning love: after that he had made us a deed of gift of all created things,and employed his Angels in our custody, in fine, he also gave himself unto us. O my Lord, to give yourself, is truly a great and liberal gift, but to give yourself in such sort as you have given, exceeded all liberality: because you have not been contented to give yourself unto us for our Lord and for our God: which thing the holy Prophet reputed great felicity, when as he said: Beatus populus cuius Dominus Deus eius. Blessed is the people whose God is our Lord: But you would give yourself for a Father, for a Brother, for a Companion, for a Spouse, for an Advocate, and finally that which understanding could never have comprehended, nor human hart have desired, you have also given yourself for meat and for ransom of man,to the end that afterward you may give your self also unto him for a reward, that he being filled with the abundance of your eternal sweetness, should then have nothing else to desire.
4.Consider likewise in respect of the time, the great love which our Savior showed us, in instituting of this divine Sacrament,seeing that whilest his enemies were a preparing for him the greatest griefs and torments of the world, he forgetting himself,and only careful of our good, is preparing for us this most pleasant and delightful food: and when as they addresses for him Absinth and Gall, he provided for us this most sweet honey, and most delicate Manna. O sweet Jesus with how great reason is it written,that love is as strong as death, seeing that all the waters and torrents of your most bitter Passion & death, could not extinguish or any whit cool or diminish, the burning flames of your love? well might the apprehension of death bring you in to an agony, and force you to sweat blood: but it could not possess your hart in such sort , as to withdraw you from bestowing on us this so great and marvelous gift. 5. Truly my Lord, full well said the Prophet, that with great piety and mercy you made this divine Sacrament as a memorial and abridgment of all your marvelous works: for that in all things which you have made:in some of them is particularly set forth your power,in others your wisdom, and in some else your goodness, but in this, you have declare together infinite power, marvelous wisdom, & incomprehensible goodness: Power, seeing that you could under the form of bread, give interiorly unto all men for meat, your Sacred Body united with your most holy Soul, and with your most sovereign divinity. Wisdom, for that you knew how to find out this means, so sweet and so proportional unto us for to give yourself unto man and to unite him unto you, with a link of love. Goodness: in bestowing upon us benefit so singular,and a gift of so great charity. O meat most wholesome which maketh the sons of men, to become the sons of God, O sacred and reverend Bread, which restoreth the minds of men, confirm the hart, and exhilarated the spirit. O lively and super substantial Bread, Bread truly Angelical,who will grant me,that worthily I may feed of thee & once satiate the hungry desire of my hart. Lead me sweet Lord into your wine cellar, order in me charity: because my soul fainteth if you succor it not with this reviving and wholesome drink.
6.All you which have thirst of justice, thirst of salvation,and thirst of the love of your God:come unto this wholesome and sweet water:And what other waters are these,save you yourself O sweet Jesu the fountain of water of life, of which water you said by the mouth of the Prophet, Sicut aqua effusus sum. For then like unto water you powered forth your self, when as you exinanited yourself by taking upon you the form of a servant: when as the fullness of your divinity melting for our love was diffused and communicated unto man in this miraculous Sacrament:you are that heavenly dew that desired rain which the Prophet so greatly wished should come down from Heaven,when as he said: Rorate Coeli desuper, et nubbes pluat iustum. you are that voluntary rain, that sweet Manna , which God sent from Heaven upon his inheritance:upon us which fainting for hunger and famine, went wandering through the desert of this world: This finally is that same water, which washed and purged our soul from the filth & odor of sin, which quenches the thirst of our desires, & which alayth the heat of our concupiscence. Come therefore all & as the Prophet invites us. Hauriamus aquas cugadio de fontibus Saluatoris. Let us cheerfully draw water of Divine Grace , which maketh the soul to ascend unto eternal life, and from whence all the fountains of virtue and heavenly gifts have their first beginning: and albeit you have no silver money,that is firmness and perfection to resist the fire of temptations, come yet nevertheless and buy, for that liberally and without and price shall be given you wine & milk. This is that wine and that milk where unto the Spouse invite you with these words. Bibi uinum meum cum lacte meo, comedite amici,et bibite,et inebriamini carissimi.I have drunk my wine and my milk, eat,O my friends, drink, and make yourselves drunk,O my dearest.O how delightful is this milk,sweet Jesu, O how great is the multitude of consolations and the spiritual delights which thou hast hidden under this celestial food, and how sweetly and soberly are men made drunk with the wine of your charity, wherewith they feel themselves inflamed, whosoever devoutly approaching unto your Altar do set their mouth at this most amorous chalice. A wine which verily maketh men drunk, seeing that it maketh merry the hart, and causeth in the soul an eternal forgetfulness of all worldly things.O my Lord if it might please your Majesty to give unto my soul for to taste one only little drop of this wine and heavenly milk, how presently would she despise all the vain consolations and most bitter delights of this world,and my hart being enlarged with sweetness,would run with great swiftness and velocity in the way of your commandments,until arriving unto the place where you manifest your glory,which now lie hidden under the veil of this Sacrament, her thirst should be fully quenched.
7. Arise now my soul and go forth of the dust of thy vile condition,and from the base consideration of thyself,and contemplate how by the benefit of this mysterious Sacrament thou art made partaker of the divine sweetness, & spouse of the only begotten Son of God:Here miserable man sitteth at the self same table with the Angels, putteth his hand in the self same dish with Almighty God, and feedeth and liveth of the same God.Here most high and most base things are joined together, and all the earthy things with the celestial. Here the creator of the world with an amorous link is united unto his creature,and mortal man is transformed into God.
Thou shalt render infinite thanks unto our Lord for this inestimable benefit, which would vouchsafe to remain in this blessed Sacrament, for meat, for medicine, and for comfort of thy soul: and likewise thou shalt ask grace to approach and to receive this celestial meat,with all kind of purity and devotion, that being made partaker of those marvelous effects which it is wont to work in the souls of them which receive it worthy,thou mayest every day increase more & more in his love, and by the force and virtue of this meat,walk with more fervor and perfection in the way of his service.
1. Christ taking bread,first of all gave thanks unto his Father: even so,before we received this blessed Sacrament,we must prepare ourselves with prayer and thanksgiving unto our Heavenly Benefactor for this so great gift.
2. We ought according to the imitation of Christ at the beginning of every good work to give thanks and glorify our Lord.
3. We ought to annihilate ourselves, by mortification of our passions, and by abnegation of our own wills,and to make ourselves meat for Christ even as he exinanited himself and became meat for our soul.
4. We ought in the tribulations & adversities of this life, to give thanks and to bless our Lord, even as Christ taking the Chalice wherein was prefigured his Passion, gave thanks and blessed it.
5. Christ afterward that he had given his Apostles drink of his chalice, promise them, that they should drink new wine with him in his Kingdom: Even so we, if in this life we drink of the chalice of tribulation, and of the Passion of Christ,we shall with him in the life to come be made partakers of his Divine consolations.
6. If Christ in this blessed Sacrament,as the scripture witnesses,is called the bread of Angels,If we will worthily received him, we must become Angels,that is,we must imitate their cleanness and purity.
7. Christ would leave us his body and his blood under the forms of bread and wine,that as bread is made of many little corns of wheat,and wine of many grains of grapes: Even so all faithful people which worthily participate of this Sacrament,ought to be united together in charity,in like manner as were those ancient Christians, of whom the Scripture saith. That they were all one self same hart, and one soul.