Reflections of the Saints on the Eucharist

Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat – Foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart 

Our Lord knew well that we were too weak to walk courageously along the road of life that is often very difficult. So His prophet who saw from afar all the treasures hidden in the Church of Jesus Christ said: “Thou hast prepared a table before me, against them that afflict me.” The food of this table is Jesus Christ Himself; His Divine Flesh, His Precious Blood. It is He who prepares the feast and invites us to it. How is it that after so many Communions we still have so few victories over ourselves? We receive the God of Strength and we are without courage! It is because we have not enough faith. With a little faith, trust, and fidelity to duty, we should obtain from Our Lord all that we ask of Him. What greater gift could He give us than Himself? A soul who is simple, faithful, who sees only Our Lord, does with Him, so to speak, what she wills; He lends Himself to her least desires; she has all power over His Divine Heart.

St. Francis of Assisi 

Kissing your feet, I implore you all my brothers, and with the utmost affection I beseech you to show the greatest possible reverence and honor to the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . Consider your dignity O Brothers who are priests, and be holy because He is holy . . . It is a great misfortune and a miserable fault to have Him thus near you, and to be thinking of anything else. Let the whole man be seized with dread; let the whole world tremble; let the heavens exult when Christ, the Son of the living God, is on the altar in the hands of the priest. O amazing splendor and astounding condescension! O sublime humility! O humble sublimity! The Master of the universe, God Himself and Son of God humbles Himself so far as to hide Himself for our salvation under the feeble appearance of bread! See brothers the humility of God . . . keep nothing of yourselves for yourselves, so that He may possess you entirely, who has given Himself wholly for you.

St. Coletta 

When Your Reverence was raising the Sacred Host, I saw Our Lord Jesus Christ as if hanging on the cross, shedding His blood, and praying to His heavenly Father in most lamentable accents: ‘Behold, O My Father, in what condition I was once hanging on the cross and suffering for the redemption of the world. Behold My wounds, My sufferings, My death; I have suffered all this in order that poor sinners might not be lost.
But now Thou wilt send them to Hell for their sins. What good, then, will result from my sufferings and cruel death? Those damned souls, when in Hell, instead of thanking Me for My passion, will only curse Me for all eternity. I beseech Thee, My Father, to spare poor sinners and to forgive them for My sake; and for the sake of My passion, preserve them from being damned forever.’

Saint Faustina Kowalska 

I often see the Child Jesus during Holy Mass. He is extremely beautiful. He appears to be about one year old. Once, when I saw the same Child during Mass in our chapel, I was seized with a violent desire and an irresistible longing to approach the altar and take the Child Jesus. At that moment, the Christ Child was standing by me on the side of my kneeler, and He leaned with His two little hands against my shoulder, gracious and joyful, His look deep and penetrating. But when the priest broke the Host, Jesus was once again on the altar, and was broken and consumed by the priest.

After Holy Communion, I saw Jesus in the same way in my heart and felt Him physically in my heart throughout the day. Unconsciously, a most profound recollection took possession of me, and I did not exchange a word with anyone.

February 2, 1937. Today, from early morning, Divine absorption penetrates my soul. During Mass, I thought I would see the little Jesus, as I often do; however, today during Holy Mass I saw the Crucified Jesus. Jesus was nailed to the cross and was in great agony. His suffering pierced me, soul and body, in a manner which was invisible, but nevertheless most painful. (Diary 913)

Oh what awesome mysteries take place during Mass! A great mystery is accomplished in the Holy Mass. With what great devotion should we listen to and take part in this death of Jesus. One day we will know what God is doing for us in each Mass, and what sort of gift He is preparing in it for us. Only His divine love could permit that such a gift be provided for us. O Jesus, my Jesus, with what great pain is my soul pierced when I see this fountain of life gushing forth with such sweetness and power for each soul, while at the same time I see souls withering away and drying up through their own fault. O Jesus, grant that the power of mercy embraces these souls. (Diary 914)

St. Catherine of Sienna 

I have said that this body of his is a sun. Therefore you could not be given the body without being given the blood as well nor either the body or the blood without the soul of this Word; nor the soul or body without the divinity of me, God eternal. For the one cannot be separated from the other – just as the divine nature can nevermore be separated from the human nature, not by death or by any other being that you receive in that most gracious sacrament under that whiteness of bread.

And just as the sun cannot be divided, so neither can my wholeness as God and as human in this white host. Even if the host is divided, even if you could break it into thousands and thousands of tiny bits, in each one I would be there, wholly God and wholly human. It is just as when a mirror is broken, and yet the image one sees reflected in it remains unbroken. So when this host is divided, I am not divided but remain completely in each piece, wholly God, wholly human.

Nor is the sacrament itself diminished by being divided, any more than fire, to take an example. If you had a burning lamp and all the world came to you for light, the light of your lamp would not be diminished by the sharing, yet each person who shared it would have the whole light. True, each one’s light would be more or less intense depending on what sort of material each brought to receive the fire. I give you this example so that you may better understand me. Imagine that many people brought candles, and one person’s candle weighed one ounce, another’s more than that, and they all came to your lamp to light their candles. Each candle, the smallest as well as the largest, would have the whole light with all its heat and color and brightness. Still, you would think that the person who carried the one-ounce candle would have less than the one whose candle weighed a pound. Well, this is how it goes with those who receive this sacrament. Each one of you brings your own candle, that is, the holy desire with which you receive and eat this sacrament. Your candle by itself is unlit, and it is lighted when you receive this sacrament. I say it is unlit because by yourselves you are nothing at all. It is I who have given you the candle with which you can receive this light and nourish it within you. And your candle is love, because it is for love that I created you, so without love you cannot have life.

It is with this love that you come to receive my gracious light, the light I have given you as food, to be administered to you by my ministers. But even though all of you receive the light, each of you receives it in proportion to the love and burning desire you bring with you. Each of you carries the light whole and undivided, for it cannot be divided by any imperfection in you who receive it or in those who administer it. You share as much of the light (that is, the grace you receive in this sacrament) as your holy desire disposes you to receive.

– Words of God the Father

St. Pio of Pietrelcina 

What great care she took to accompany me to the altar this morning. It seemed to me that she had nothing else to think about except myself as she filled my whole heart with sentiments of holy love.

Asked if the Madonna had been present at Mass, he answered: “Yes, she placed herself to the side, but I could see her, what joy! What paradise…” Has she attended only once, or is she always present? “How can the mother of Jesus, present on Calvary at the foot of the cross, who offered her Son as victim for the salvation of souls, be absent at the mystical Calvary of the altar?” Is our Lady present at all of the Masses that are being celebrated in the world? “Yes.” Do the angels also attend? “The whole celestial court is present.”

I cannot get tired, because when I celebrate Holy Mass I am not standing, but hanging on the cross together with Jesus, and I suffer inadequately all that Jesus suffered on the cross, as much as is possible for a human creature. The Lord has deigned to associate me with the great work of human redemption, and this despite my every demerit, and only because of His supreme goodness.

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque 

One day, having a little more leisure . . . I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament, when I felt myself wholly penetrated with that Divine Presence, but to such a degree that I lost all thought of myself and of the place where I was, and abandoned myself to this Divine Spirit, yielding up my heart to the power of His love. He made me repose for a long time upon His Sacred Breast, where He disclosed to me the marvels of His love and the inexplicable secrets of His Sacred Heart in a manner so real and sensible as to be beyond all doubt, by reason of the effects which this favor produced in me, fearful, as I always am, of deceiving myself in anything that I say of what passes in me. It seems to me that this is what took place: “My Divine Heart,” He said, “is so inflamed with love of men, and for thee in particular that, being unable any longer to contain within Itself the flames of Its burning Charity, It must needs spread them abroad by thy means, and manifest Itself to them (mankind) in order to enrich them with the precious treasures which I discover to thee . . .”

Blessed Mary of Agreda 

O my daughter! Would that the believers in the holy catholic faith opened their hardened and stony hearts in order to attain to a true understanding of the sacred and mysterious blessing of the holy Eucharist! If they would only detach themselves, root out and reject their earthly inclinations, and, restraining their passions, apply themselves with living faith to study by the divine light their great happiness in thus possessing their eternal God in the holy Sacrament and in being able, by its reception and constant intercourse, to participate in the full effects of this heavenly manna! If they would only worthily esteem this precious gift, begin to taste its sweetness, and share in the hidden power of their omnipotent God! Then nothing would ever be wanting to them in their exile. In this, the happy age of the law of grace, mortals have no reason to complain of their weakness and their passions; since in this bread of heaven they have at hand strength and health. It matters not that they are tempted and persecuted by the demon; for by receiving this sacrament frequently they are able to overcome him gloriously. The faithful are themselves to blame for all their poverty and labors, since they pay no attention to this divine mystery, nor avail themselves of the divine powers, thus placed at their disposal by my most holy Son . . . Lucifer and his demons have such a fear of the most holy Eucharist, that to approach it, causes them more torments than to remain in hell itself. Although they do enter churches in order to tempt souls, they enter them with aversion, forcing themselves to endure cruel pains in the hope of destroying a soul and drawing it into sin, especially in the holy places and in the presence of the holy Eucharist.

– Words of Our Lady

St. Alphonsus Liguori 

One thing is certain, that next to Holy Communion no act of worship is so pleasing to God, and none is so useful, as the daily visit to our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament dwelling upon our altars. Know that in one-quarter of an hour which you spend before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament you attain more than in all the good works of the rest of the day.

Blessed Dina Belanger 

If souls but understood the Treasure they possess in the Divine Eucharist, it would be necessary to encircle the tabernacles with the strongest ramparts for, in the delirium of a devouring and holy hunger, they would press forward themselves to feed on the Bread of Angels. The Churches would overflow with adorers consumed with love for the Divine prisoner no less by night than by day.

St. Thomas Aquinas 

Let no one, therefore, approach this wondrous Table without having reverent devotion and fervent love, without true penitence or without remembering his redemption. For it is the pure Lamb that is eaten in the unleavened bread . . . Approach the Lord’s Supper, the table of wholeness and holiness, child of faith, in such a way that at the end you may enter into the wedding feast of the Lamb . . There we shall be filled with the abundance of God’s house; then we shall behold the Kind of Glory and the Lord of Hosts in His beauty, and shall taste the bread of our Father’s kingdom; our host shall be our Lord Jesus Christ, whose power and reign are without end. Amen.

St. John Vianney 

Divine Savior, while I meditate on the proofs of Your Presence under the Eucharistic veils, enlighten my mind, enkindle my heart, and inspire me with that keen and living faith which is already a vision of Your Eternal Beauty.

Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist with His Body, His Blood, His Soul, and His Divinity. Do you want clear and convincing proof of it?

Let us cite only one example: A priest was saying Mass in a church of the town of Bolsena and, after pronouncing the words of consecration, doubted the reality of the Body of Jesus Christ in the Sacred Host. At that same instant the Sacred Host was all covered with blood. It seemed as though Jesus Christ would reproach his minister for his infidelity, and make him sorry for it and, at the same time, show us by this great miracle how firmly convinced we ought to be of His Holy Presence in the Eucharist. The Sacred Host shed blood with such abundance that the corporal, the cloth, and the altar, itself, were covered with it.

The Pope, who was informed of this miracle, ordered that this corporal, all blood-stained, should be brought to him; and, being sent to the town of Orvieto it was received there with great pomp and exposed in the church. Every year this precious relic is still carried in procession on the Feast of Corpus Christi. Ought not that to confirm our faith? But, my God, what need of proofs have we after the very words of Jesus Christ?

St. Cyril of Alexandria 

If the poison of pride is swelling up in you, turn to the Eucharist; and that Bread, which is your God humbling and disguising Himself, will teach you humility. If the fever of selfish greed rages in you, feed on this Bread; and you will learn generosity. If the cold wind of coveting withers you, hasten to the Bread of Angels; and charity will come to blossom in your heart. If you feel the itch of intemperance, nourish yourself with the Flesh and Blood of Christ, Who practiced self-control during His earthly life; and you will become temperate. If you are lazy and sluggish about spiritual things, strengthen yourself with this heavenly Food; and you will grow fervent. Lastly, if you feel scorched by the fever of impurity, go to the banquet of the Angels; and the spotless Flesh of Christ will make you pure and chaste.

St. Matilda 

At the moment of Consecration, I come down first in such deep humility that there is no one at Mass, no matter how despicable and vile he may be, towards whom I do not humbly incline and approach, if he desires Me to do so and prays for it; secondly, I come down with such great patience that I suffer even My greatest enemies to be present and grant them full pardon of all their sins, if they wish to be reconciled with Me; thirdly, I come with such immense love that not one of those present can be so hardened that I do not soften his heart and enkindle it with My love, if he wishes Me to do so; fourthly, I come with such inconceivable liberality that none of those present can be so poor that I would not enrich him abundantly; fifthly, I come with such sweet food that no one ever so hungry should not be refreshed and fully satiated by Me. Sixthly, I come with such great light and splendor that no heart, how blinded soever it may be, will not be enlightened and purified by My presence. Seventhly, I come with such great sanctity and treasures of grace that no one, however inert and indevout he may be, should not be roused from this state.

St. Peter Julian Eymard 

Jesus Christ, Who wishes to lead a soul to the Eucharist as to her sovereign grace, prepares her by a certain grace of sentiment which at first may be little appreciated. On First-Communion Day the feeling of happiness caused by the presence of Jesus is the first call; without the soul’s knowing it, this initial grace grows imperceptibly, very much like the germination of a seed in the earth. Well cared for, it later develops into a need, a disposition, a habit of thought, an instinct. Everything then points to the Eucharist; if the Eucharist is missing, everything is missing with it. A soul under the influence of this grace directs her piety, her virtues to the Blessed Sacrament. She experiences the need of Holy Mass and Communion. She feels drawn to enter churches to see the tabernacle. Something continually impels her in that direction. What is that power? The sovereign grace which, after having educated her, has become the mother of all her other graces, the moving principle of all her actions. She says: “I feel drawn to the Blessed Sacrament. It is not a sacrifice for me to be in Its presence. In fact, I am happy only there.” It could not be otherwise, for she is living according to her special grace. . .

The sap of a tree lies in the heart of it; it is protected by the wood and the bark. Everything in the tree tends to preserve it during the winter frosts, because it is the life of the tree.
Well, your sovereign grace is the sap of your spiritual life. It will make all the branches of your life fruitful. Preserve it and defend it as the heart, the soul of your supernatural life.

St. Teresa of Avila 

On one occasion, when I was reciting the {Liturgy of the} Hours with the community, my soul suddenly became recollected and seemed to me to become bright all over like a mirror; no part of it – back, side, top or bottom – but was completely bright, and in the center of it was a picture of Christ Our Lord as I generally see Him. I seemed to see Him in every part of my soul as clearly as in a mirror, and this mirror – I cannot explain how – was wholly sculptured in the same Lord by a most loving communication which I shall never be able to describe. This, I know, was a vision which, whenever I recall it, and especially after Communion, is always of great profit to me. It was explained to me that, when a soul is in mortal sin, this mirror is covered with a thick mist and remains darkened so that the Lord cannot be pictured or seen in it, though He is always present with us and gives us our being. Seeing this is very different than describing it, for it cannot be properly explained. But it has helped me a great deal and has also caused me deep regrets at the many occasions when, through my faults, my soul has become darkened and so I have been unable to see the Lord.

St. John Eudes 

You should adore our Lord Jesus Christ, who makes Himself present to us on the altar, so that we might offer him the homage and adoration we owe. Pray that just as He changes the lower earthly nature of bread and wine into His Body and Blood he might change and transform also the sluggishness, coldness and dryness of our earthly and arid heat into the fire, tenderness and agility of the holy divine affections and dispositions of His divine and heavenly heart. Then you should remember that Christians are one with Jesus Christ, as members with their head . . . .They should also be there as hosts and victims who are but one host just as they are one priest with Jesus Christ. They need to be immolated and sacrificed with the same Jesus Christ for the glory of God.

St. Gemma Galgani 

Every morning, I go to Holy Communion. The greatest and only comfort I have, although I am in no wise provided with what is needed to worthily approach Jesus. The loving treatment that Jesus bestows on me every morning in the Holy Communion excites within me an unutterable sweetness and draws to itself all the weak affections of my miserable heart. Behold O Lord, my heart and my soul; come Lord, I open my breast to Thee. Send in Thy Divine Fire. Burn me, consume me, come and delay no longer. I would fain be the dwelling of all thy fires.

St. John Chrysostom 

If you wish to honor the Eucharistic Victim, offer your own soul for which the Victim was immolated. Make your soul all of gold. If your soul remains viler than lead or clay, what good does it do to have a golden chalice. . .?

Do you wish to honor the Body of Christ? Then do not disdain Him when you see Him in rags. After having honored Him in Church with silken vestments do not leave Him to die of cold outside for lack of clothing. For it is the same Jesus Who says “This is my Body” and Who says “You saw me hungry and did not give me to eat – What you have refused to the least of these my little ones, you have refused it to me.” The Body of Christ in the Eucharist demands pure souls, not costly garments . . . Peter thought he was honoring his Master by not letting the Lord wash his feet; and yet it was just the opposite. Give Him then the honor which He Himself has asked for, by giving your money to the poor. Once again, what God wants is not golden chalices but golden souls.