After her death, St. Teresa of Avila appeared to one of her nuns bearing an important message: “There should be no difference as far as purity and love are concerned, between the blessed in Heaven and the faithful on Earth, though we are perfectly happy and you are suffering. What the Divine Essence is to us in Heaven, the Blessed Sacrament should be to you on Earth.”
For the past few weeks, I have been following the prayers in the book Visits to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary, by St. Alphonsus Liguori. My spiritual director asked me to pray the 31 visits and write about them. Although I feel exceedingly unworthy and incapable of conveying the power and richness of this prayer book, here, with much assistance from St. Alphonsus Liguori and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is my reflection.
To paraphrase St. Alphonsus Liguori, the visits are intended to (1) offer thanksgiving for the great gift of the Holy Eucharist; (2) make amends for all the outrages committed against Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; and (3) adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Each day’s prayer consists of (1) a Prayer Before Each Visit; (2) a short meditation and prayer to Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, corresponding with the day; (3) a prayer of Spiritual Communion; (4) a brief meditation on Our Lady, corresponding to the day; and (5) the Prayer To Our Lady. Completing each day’s set of prayers takes approximately 15 minutes.
I underlined many passages in the daily meditations. Sitting in the quiet of the Adoration Chapel, many phrases spoke to my heart and I prayed on them, asking Jesus to draw me closer to Him as He made Himself humble and available to me in the Blessed Sacrament.
Here are some of the beautiful passages I prayed while adoring our Saviour in the Holy Eucharist:
I am ashamed to come before You, O my Jesus, because of my complete want of virtue.
So the Blessed Sacrament is not merely a sign indicating love, but is Love itself, because It is God Himself.
I know that numberless graces are not granted simply because people do not go to Jesus in the Tabernacle. His desire to distribute graces from this throne of Love is very great.
And of the Blessed Mother:
For St. Bernard says that she is the heavenly ark that will save our souls from eternal destruction if only we take refuge in it in time.
St. Bernard speaks of Mary as being the safe road which will lead us to the Saviour and to our salvation.
This is not a book that is read sporadically. St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote the prayers with the intention of drawing souls into frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament. For “His delight is to be with the children of men” (Prov 8:31). The Heart of Jesus is “agreeable…[to] all those souls who frequently visit Him and remain in His company in the churches in which He is under the sacramental species” (pg. xi).
Many of us are not fortunate enough to be able to make daily visits to the Blessed Sacrament. However, these prayers remind us that we ought to prioritize our days and weeks so that regular visits to a church where the Tabernacle is available or to a Eucharistic Adoration chapel becomes a habit.
Now that I have completed the visits, I am going to re-read the prayers. I know that I have only skimmed the surface of the beautiful meditations and there is so much more that Jesus wants to give me through the prayers. I am certain that if I were to keep reading and reflecting from this little book throughout my life, Jesus would reveal Himself to me in many more ways. What a gift!
Here is a final thought on Jesus’ True Presence in the Most Holy Eucharist:
“For His real purpose in remaining hidden under the appearance of bread on the altar is to increase our trust and confidence in Him and to make His love for us more evident. If this King of Heaven dwelt on the altar in all His majesty and glory, would we ever have the courage to approach Him with confidence or open our hearts to Him? … Every altar is a well of grace where He waits for souls and invites them to stay with Him, at least for a while, that He may win them over to loving Him perfectly.”
Liguori, S. A. (2012). Visits to The Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Charlotte: TAN Books.