Sunday, December 7, 2008

Amare Cælestia

I have deliberately intituled this post with the above phrase, rather than the (in)famous words  terrena despicere, because the whole point of the Postcommunion of this, the second Sunday of Advent, which will be repeated all week, even at Mass of the Immaculate Conception, is that we must "love what is heavenly".  Now, if to do so we must "despise terrene things", well, fine!  As that golden book, the Imitatio Christi, reminds us, For transient and earthly things, men will labour without rest, yet for eternal and celestial reward, we scarce lift a foot from the ground.  O woe to such blindness, of which I am a chief example!

To-day's noble Postcommunion reminds us that Communion is not an end in Itself.  So often at (ordinary) Mass, it seems as if those present only bother to remain till they can get "It", and then chafe to be away - there seems perhaps a lack of recollection about What they have just encountered, and what it ought effect: as I once saw, when a dear old lady in hospital, being brought Holy Communion, turned off her bedside radio, received the Host very rapidly administered, and just as quickly popped the radio back on!

No, being not merely a most intimate entertainment of our Sovereign Guest, Communion has a purpose - to transform us into Christ, for in no other way will we ever leave this earth fitted for heaven.  

After all, let us reverse the sentiment of this prayer: who would wish us to love earthly concerns, and despise heavenly matters?  Satan, of course: that he may have us for his prisoners both on earth and eternally in hell, in torment without end.  No thank you!

It seems fair to say that the Crucified despised earthly things, having not where to lay His head, and ending up on the infamous gibbet; and most certainly He loved heavenly things, and not for Himself alone, but yearned that we too, poor sinners, might have the taste of them.  So as to wean us from the ultimately fruitless pleasures of earth, which would else drag us down to the Pit, He gave us the chiefest delight of heaven: Himself, in form of bread.  Awesome Mystery!  Sacrament unbelievable, were it not for the warrant of His Word!  Just as bread is the staff of life, so His Flesh is in truth what we pray it may subjectively appear to us - as the sum of all delights, the foretaste on earth of the ineffable ecstasy of the Vision of the Trinity above.

Therefore we pray the Postcommunion:

Repleti cibo spiritualis alimoniæ, supplices te, Domine, deprecamur: ut hujus participatione mysterii, doceas nos terrena despicere et amare cælestia.  Per...

(Replenished by the food of spiritual nourishment, bending low Thee, Lord, we entreat: that by sharing in this Mystery, Thou mayst teach us to despise the earthly and to love the heavenly.  Through...)

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