Bread of Life

We are told in the beginning of the Holy Gospel according to Saint John that, “the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.”

That is a magical phrase, “the Word was made flesh.” “Word” has a great deal of meaning for us. Our memories are all tucked away in the shape of words. Our utterances to those we love are impossible without words, and even when we are thinking by our selves and not speaking, we are somehow wording our thoughts for the hidden ear — which is the bliss of solitude.

Of all man’s achievements, perhaps the most astounding is his wording of a thing. When a little child cannot speak — when he has no words yet — one of the first things we do for him is to coax him into word land.

And so, when we are challenged with the idea, “the Word of God,” and are let know that one Word serves God for all utterance in eternity and is the perfect expression of all He is, we are very greatly impressed.

If you were to sit down and think for many years as to how you could best say that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became Incarnate — took our nature and dwelt in our midst, breathed our air and walked our roads, looked at our skies and listened to our sounds — I do not think you could possibly get a more chaste, clear, simple, inexhaustible-in-meaning expression of it than to say: “The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.”

“Word” leaves nothing out. And when you say “flesh,” you get in every single atom of our poor human frailty. If you said, “the Word became man,” or, “the Word moved into our scene,” or, “the Word became one of our children,” there would probably be left out of the realization — for the sake of more lofty, noble and impressive values — a great deal of what seems to be common place in us, of what is lowly and helpless, and yet of what God did assume.

But when you say, “the Word was made flesh,” the whole man is flooded in that utterance. There can be no doubt about what has happened. Nothing is left out. Our ears, our nose, our eyes, our hair, our hands — everything is conveyed to our realization of what the Word became.

It is a marvelous wedding, the Word of God and the flesh of man. They are one. Thought now has little elbows. Divine Thought has fingers. The Word of God has a human mind, a human soul, a human will, a human heart. God’s eternal Thought pauses, as it is uttered. It is filtered to suit our light. It is dimmed down to our pace. It has our ways.

Saint John’s phrase, “the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us,” is a beautiful challenge, and you cannot get away from it. You either have to accept its value the way it is expressed, or else you have to put it aside and go and study “Christianity” or “religion”— getting vaguer and vaguer in terms of some less challenging phrase, until finally your Faith has slipped away from you.

And here is the next point I am going to make: If “the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us,” that must mean that all God’s utterances to the world, from the time of the Incarnation on, were meant somehow to be associated and connected with the flesh. God has nothing further to say to man, except what a voice can speak, a head nod, a hand plead, a pen write, or a man topple over on the ground for, in martyrdom. God has nothing any more to say that is not to be said in terms of flesh and blood. All non-Incarnational communication with man by way of Revelation, has ceased.

We know that with the death of Saint John, the last Apostle, Revelation ended. John’s last heartbeat, which was a very flesh and blood performance, closed God’s utterance to the world. God put (this is figurative) a finger to His lips and said, “John is dead. I have nothing further to say.”

There can be private revelations, but those are another thing — miniature things — and they do not disturb the central truths that touch our Faith and are necessary for salvation. Private revelations are only secondary versions of a finished story, already told.

When you want to know what Christianity means, therefore, and what God has to say to you through “the Word made flesh and dwelt amongst us,” the knowledge has to come to you through some flesh and blood utterance,— an Apostle, were you fortunate enough to live in the days of the Apostles, or from somebody whom the Apostles eventually made an apostle, in case you were born after the Apostles had died. For example, Saint Paul appointed Timothy, and Timothy, in his turn, appointed other bishops, and those bishops made other bishops, and so on and on. There has to be flesh and blood succession for the rest of time, because the Catholic Church is not only One and Holy, it is also Apostolic.

The bishop routes are the main highways of Incarnational communication between the Apostles and ourselves. The priests are the side-streets which lead from these main highways. If Peter was the foundation stone on which the Church was founded, to protect the Incarnate utterances of God in security and truth, when Peter dies there has got to be somebody in Peter’s place, of the same mold, stamp, vintage, and with the same prerogatives and style of expression that Peter had, or else God’s message to man has been broken off and it has no conclusion. Anything that comes to you in terms of a Christian idea that cannot be traced back through flesh and blood routes, through the Apostles to Jesus, is not salvational truth!

The rays of the light of Jesus’ eyes have got to be still shining in the world, as light begets light. Jesus fired His Apostles, His Apostles fired other men, who fired other men, and on and on that fire went, as torchlights through the centuries.

Faith comes from hearing. Fides ex auditu. (Rom. 10:17.)

Where did you get the Faith?

I heard it from someone else. I did not speculate largely, and this is the result. Someone taught it to me. I heard someone say it.

Where did you get it?

Somebody told me.

And so we have been listening down the centuries, from mouth to ear, from ear to mouth.

Christ said to His disciples, “Go forth and teach.” His last message to His Apostles was equivalently this: “Get going! I know that there are only twelve of you! I know that is not many to whom to delegate the world. But that is the way I am going to do it. You have got to touch the whole world! You have got to be the focus point of the world!”

Tradition has it that the Apostles cast lots for the world. Matthew was to go here, Andrew to go there — Thomas to one distant place, Philip to another. That is a wonderful point, is it not? Each was equally capable of going any place! Had Matthew, for example, been sent somewhere else than where he had, good results would have occurred, because flesh and blood would be there. The form and style of Matthew’s utterance always would be his, but the words always would be the words of Jesus. That is what Saint Paul tells us is happening. “I preach Christ, and Christ crucified,” he wrote. “Be ye followers of me, as I am of Christ Jesus.”

I have spoken about the Word, and I have spoken about the flesh. There is another great value reached out to us for contemplation in the preamble to Saint John’s Gospel, and it is contained in the word “light.” Let me speak about that light to which God does not hesitate to compare Himself — that beautiful light which was God’s first thought on the first day of creation and which is included in Saint John’s apostrophe: “All things were made by Him and without Him was made nothing that was made.” Of all the things that God made, those which we see most clearly are not, of course, the things under the earth or under the waters. Those things we must delve for, or fish for, one at a time. Nor do we see most clearly all the things on the earth, for the earth is far too large for each of us to travel. It is full of far too many things for each of us ever to encounter them all. No one has caught all the fish in the sea, nor shot all the animals in the woods. No one has tasted all the potatoes or turnips in the field, and, “you cannot see the trees for the forest!”

Of all the things which God has made, the most visible and appreciable are the lights above us in the heavens. Everyone has seen, or could see, practically all the stars. When God was making the disparate display of lights in the sky, He was thinking of the Great Light of which they are merely shadows. All things were made by this Great Light, and without Him was made nothing that was made.

If a sparrow does not fall, apart from Our Father’s knowledge, much less does one star shoot from the sky without Our Father’s remembering the glory of the Light which is His own Word — which patterned the heavens and induced Him to fill it with the brightness of the stars! Though the little Baby of Bethlehem was born in the dark, He was a great Light. The stars admitted it when one of them was sent to misbehave as a star in order to find, for the Wise Men, the crib where Baby Jesus was.

Light paid eminent tribute to the Baby of Bethlehem. The angels opened the heavens, and blinding light shone through the skies. The light and the stars seemed to say to the shepherds, “It may look dark to you in that cave, but in there is Light infinitely greater than we are.”

Let us consider again the beginning of Saint John’s Gospel:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it ….

The little Baby of Bethlehem was a Light shining in the darkness! Light is a word that climbs pretty far. In order that we would understand when Saint John said, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness…” all the stars in the sky, and the moon, and the sun, were put there. They were put there to be the symbol, the reference point, the metaphor, the language, the type, the figure, that God needed when He wanted to let us know what the little cave-hidden Child of Bethlehem was when He came — to let us know that Jesus of Nazareth was the Light of the World.

Now, there is not a light in the sky that has not been shining since before the birth of Christ. The stars have been there since long before the coming of Jesus. The sun which shone on Our Lord is the same sun as you now see. We behold the same moon which He beheld. And so, the notion of a light shining through the centuries is not unknown to us.

If we get one thing from this realization, it is that God would never permit a created light to outshine the eternal, uncreated light of His own Divine Son. We know that the light of Jesus Christ could not be quenched in a few years, or in a few centuries. We have, still in the world, the sound of His voice, the light of His eyes, the brightness of His beauty.

The radiance of God’s Son has not been dimmed. It will shine until the end of time, not as in the utterance of God before Christ’s coming, not as in Moses’ burning bush, not as in Josue’s sun standing still — but in the light and sound that came from Mary’s Baby Who is God’s own Self shining in this world. Any Christianity that you cannot trace back to that Child, is not the light of Faith. It just is not. The true Faith must henceforth come to us in terms of flesh and blood, now that Bethlehem has occurred.

You say, “Does not the Church sometimes give us dogmas phrased in such a way that they seem to be non-incarnational? Do they not sometimes insist on the abstract, essential value of an idea, theologically phrased and safeguarded more by academic utterance than by human appeal?” And I answer you that that is not so. The foundations and facts of the Faith are always entrusted to flesh and blood protection. Our Lord said, “Thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church.” (Matt. 16:18.) He did not say, “This is dogma, and on this idea I hope to prevail.”

Even dogmas, without men, cannot get on. We only know their value as dogmas when we have Christ’s Vicar guarding and safeguarding them. Unless a doctrine can be traced to the visible head of the Catholic Church, unless you can see a Pope — and usually a council of bishops behind him — and know where the Pope and council met and sat and wrote and discussed and argued and prayed and finally adjourned, your dogma does not amount to ten cents, no matter how brilliant the theology of it may seem.

Now, some of the light-rays that come from Jesus — some of the dynamic forces that come in terms of flesh and blood — are more intense than others. There are seven great beams of light coming from Him in His Divine power, which have been shining through all the days and nights of the Christian centuries. Seven great floodlights of power, of majesty, and Divine word. They might be called seven great forces by which the actions of Jesus are perpetuated forever.

I speak of seven things Jesus did, in which He made what He did perpetual, unceasing actions, destined to endure through the ages. Even when the Instituter has gone off to Heaven, the deed goes on — the action goes on. These seven things, as you know, are the Seven Sacraments.

Pouring water on the head of a child, in itself, does not amount to too much. As I told you last week, even John the Baptist, the great precursor, who was getting very good results from the way he poured water on heads, or dipped people in a river, admitted that his baptism did not mean too much. He said, “I indeed baptize you in water unto penance, but He that shall come after me, is mightier than I, Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and fire.” (Matt. 3:11.)

So, I do not think you would get too much value out of just seeing water being poured on the head of a child. Pouring water is so easy to do non-baptismally! Mothers do it so often when they are not baptizing, and children do it so often at the beach that you cannot say the action startles you when you see it. Water has been splashing in all the playgrounds and nurseries of the world from the beginning of time. The first thing you think of when a baby is born is to wash him. Water and baby almost indispensably go together. No one would think any of these actions of themselves have any divine power.

You know I do not want to belittle water! I wrote an article once on “Water at Work,” but it was only after I had seen water at work in Jesus’ hands that I saw the mystery of it. It had escaped me up to that time.

Of the Baptism He instituted, Jesus said: “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5.) That action, that Baptism, of Our Divine Lord’s, is the beginning of salvation! Nothing else can take the place of it. You may magnify the large thoughts you have in your head about God. You may enlarge upon man’s thirsty desire for God, his great hunger for the divine, his mighty aspirations. You can have floods and torrents and falls of ideas flowing, in longing and outlook, in your meditations. And yet without that little trickle which is literally falling from the fountain of Jesus, you are lost.

The rite of Baptism, because it is so simple, because there is in it so little by way of impressing you or startling you, is all the more a subject matter for sublime faith if you will attach eternal value to it — because Jesus did it.

That which I would not have thought to be too valuable by itself,— when this Agent does it — when Jesus does it, when His hands do it and His voice utters it,— I will call the most beautiful human initial performance that could possibly occur in this world by way of a divine bestowal of love and grace and benefit. And even after Jesus has ascended into Heaven, His actions and His words will continue undulating and vibrating through all the centuries. Water will pour the way Jesus poured it — voices will repeat the words the way Jesus said them. Just imagine a ceremonial rite that is scattered through the world with the dignity of a sacrament, for which a man is prepared to die, and without which he cannot get into the Kingdom of Heaven! Then and only then do you understand the preciousness of water united to the power of the Holy Ghost.

By holding on to the Baptism of Water, we are testifying that “the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.” We are taking God on His own terms. We are saying that in this sacrament we see the definite signature of the Incarnation. If it is impossible to get a priest, anyone with the intention of doing what Jesus did, can baptize. He needs only to take the matter Jesus took (water), and say the words Jesus phrased — and salvation is at hand.

Did you ever see power to equal that? Did you ever see frailty tying up Might in a little bundle and delivering it as a birthday present to a child? Did you ever see Omnipotence so much in bonds?

You probably can think of nothing hushed more quickly than a human voice saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” You probably can think of scarcely anything finishing more quickly than a trickle of water on a child’s head. But because Jesus once spoke those words, and because Jesus once performed that action — and gave His Apostles power to perpetuate it — the whole Catholic Church is continually living, being, building, structuring itself. On that tiny frailty at a font, or a faucet, a pool, or a river, our eternal happiness depends. I say again, how do you like that for Omnipotence, if you have eyes to see and ears to hear.

In the minds of Liberal Catholics in the United States, as you very well know, the reason why Baptism of Water today is not insisted upon, is because it seems to them to be so trivial. The very reason for which God chose it, is the reason for which they reject it. And they are willing to allow that the man who disdains it is “sincere and eager and full of earnest God-bound desires.” Is that not so? And this false reasoning is built up from an interpretation of a couple of sentences of Pope Pius IX, when he was not defining!

Just imagine, my dear listeners, the whole secret of salvation being missed in the Gospels, in the teachings of the Apostles, in the protestations of the Saints, in the defined teachings of the Popes, in all the prayers and the liturgies of the Church — and imagine it suddenly coming clear in one or two carelessly worded sentences in an encyclical of Pope Pius IX, on which the Liberals base their teaching that there is salvation outside the Catholic Church!

Imagine the visible Church preserving its most central truth — that of its foundational necessity — in a casual phrase in a letter written nineteen hundred years after the Church’s founding! Imagine an incidental sentence in a letter of Pope Pius IX being the foundation stone of a Catholic dogma! Imagine the visible body of believers for hundreds and hundreds of years having been left uninformed on the truth of the dogma concerning the essential whereabouts of salvation! Martyrs have shed their blood for the preservation of this doctrine in its strictest sense. Three Popes — two of them in Council — have solemnly and irrevocably defined that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church. In the face of that, imagine a Pope in the nineteenth century, Pope Pius IX, in a lengthy letter which was devoid of the chastity of papal infallible pronouncement (it may even have been written by someone else, the Pope merely having signed his name to it), being set up as the substitute for the rock-bottom truth on which the Catholic Church is built; namely, its indispensability to salvation!

Do you think it would be possible for Pope Pius IX ever to make a definition of Catholic truth which would clearly contradict infallible pronouncements of his predecessors on the subject of “outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation”? Imagine the Church having any longer the power to be the teacher of all nations if such an unmistakable phrase could be turned to its very opposite meaning by modern Liberal academic theologians anxious not to endanger their prestiges with heretics.

Faith is the beginning of Christian Hope. Saint Paul says that “Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for.” (Heb. 11:1.) We dare not even start to hope until the Faith, the true Faith, and its revealed content, are secured in our minds. Only in terms of Faith do we dare to hope.

Were any of us allowed to hope on our own terms, apart from the chastity and the justice and the security of Faith, we would turn our hopes into every vague and unholy thing that could occur to our minds to decide. One might even start hoping that Hell would be abolished, because of some former friend or associate one felt sure was there!

We must keep to the Covenant, the innocent and clear Covenant, as it was given to us by Jesus. And we must keep to it from the first challenging and innocent overture: “Unless a man be born of water and the Holy Ghost he cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

If you are a priest, with Baptism in your power to administer, and if you do not feel that this little flow of water is necessary for each and every head in the whole world, then you have not got the Baptism of Jesus Christ. When Christ commands His Apostles and His priests, and even in emergency a delegate of any kind, to administer His Baptism, He puts His own power on one side of it, the whole world on the other, and the minister of the sacrament in between. With water in your hands and the names of the Blessed Trinity on your lips, you may go with the power of Jesus to the whole world, to every creature in it.

If you start to measure Baptism by your own limitations and say, “How can I ever reach the whole world, or how can anyone!'” you have not got a God-established Baptism. You have something man-established, for a finite need. You are then worrying about Baptism and the effects it would have were you to have instituted it, or were salvation to be your private business. In a word, you have no Faith; otherwise you would believe that Baptism is for everybody, as Jesus said it was.

The triviality or the non-triviality of an act can be measured in two ways: (1) by what the action is in itself, indifferently to the person performing it, and (2) by who the agent is who instituted it. If you will admit that a ceremonial can take eternal significance, eternal value, indispensable requirement, simply because of the dignity of the One Who instituted it, you believe, indeed, that “the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.” You believe this ten thousand times more than you would from studying a long treatise on the Incarnation, or a long discourse on how valuable it is to know how well Christ’s teachings have pervaded the world.

Christ’s teachings, as they have gone indiscriminately through the world and have been indiscriminately uttered here and there, uttered by this one and that one, have got so confused that you do not know where the teaching that calls itself Christian comes from. Even the Church could not guard all the indiscriminate teaching that goes on through the world in the name of Christ, with two hundred and sixty-four acknowledged varieties of it in the United States! But the little trickle of water, the few consecrated words of Baptism, the Church can guard. And because the Seven Sacraments are the actions of Jesus, the request of Jesus, the Church has guarded them through the centuries.

So beautiful is our trust in Our Lord in terms of the value of any action He does, that when we take over to administer a sacrament in His name, we do not mind that we are speaking in our own name, and say, “I baptize you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

You say to me, “And who are you, to say, ‘I baptize’?”

Who am I? I am Jesus’ voice, still going on. And this is Jesus’ hand, still stretched out. And Jesus’ grace, still giving eternal benefits through what I say and do in Jesus’ name.

So much is this so, that Saint Paul was inspired to call us Catholics, “the fullness of Christ.” We are the Mystical Body of Christ. “Mystical” means the marvelous same Christ in endurance, even when He has gone away. He is the Vine, and we are the branches. He is the Head, and we are the members. We become in echo almost as divine as He was in utterance.

The action in a Christian sacrament is so significant that the agent — the one now performing it — says “I.” As the sacrament was originally instituted, it was the Agent Who was sublime, and the action trivial. But the Agent made the action divine. As the sacrament is administered now, it is the agent who is trivial. But the action makes the agent divine. How do you like that for hide-and-seek between God and man?

So much is this true, that it would be wrong when you are baptizing to say, “Jesus baptizes you.” You must say, “I baptize you.” So valuable is anything that Christ institutes and wants to abide, and so valuable is any ray of light that He wants to shine through the centuries — no matter how many seasons or storms or clouds beset it — that you are entitled to speak in Christ’s name as “I” even if the only thing you have in your mind is the intention of doing what He wants done.

The reward for our complete abdication in faith to the dignity of the Seven Sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ is a reward of such intimacy — I might almost call it such audacity — that you never cease to wonder at it. Imagine a priest saying, as he invariably does at Holy Mass, “This is My Body” and “This is the Chalice of My Blood!”

What Christ instituted, because of the Instituter, becomes more important when it is uttered than him who utters it. It lends a dignity to the utterer that he would never have in any other utterance.

Making the Sign of the Cross with my hand is not very much in the order of movement. It is not even a sacrament. But making the Sign of the Cross for Jesus’ sake, as a gift to Jesus, takes all its value from the One to Whom it is given. The term makes it divine. We move over and we learn from “the Word made flesh and dwelt amongst us” that there is not one single atom of our poor flesh that cannot be dedicated and consecrated to God. And things that could easily be called trivial movements or idle gestures — a bow of our head or a closing of our eyes — are all beating against the portals of God’s love. Flesh is calling to flesh!

Our Lord and Our Lady are both in Heaven, in flesh and blood. Because there is in the King and Queen of Heaven the same stuff, may I say, as in ourselves, all our poor stuff can call to God. Our breathing can reach Him as we sleep, our eyes as they close at night can move His heart, our head in any of its movements in adoration can be a priceless treasure to God.

God comes to our altar in the Holy Eucharist. He now can reach our kind in time. Had the Word never become flesh and dwelt amongst us, we would have had to go back in spiritual territory and have tried to reach Him only there. We would have had to try to love God through what we would have known of Him abstractly, in His attributes. But what good is a human heart beating in terms of its abstract love of God’s attributes? What good are eyes trying to look into God’s lack of them? What good are two arms if no other arms can ever enfold them? Voices do not call where there are no ears to listen!

But now, because there is Divinity in the order in which we are — since God became man and Divine ears are now listening to our voices — our “I love You” becomes divine just as soon as it reaches the ears of God!

Jesus instituted a way in which, though He could not be touched or seen or felt by us, yet He could come in physical substance and corporeal union — to be not only the ears listening to our voice and the eyes looking into our eyes, but the very beat of our heart, the marrow in our bones, the texture of our lips, even the roots that grow our hair.

There are two ways you can be united with Jesus. You can see Him, feel Him, listen to Him — were you to have been living nineteen hundred and fifty years ago (and that was beautiful, and some times we envy those who could do that). Or, you can now, in the same body and blood of what you are, be concorporeal with Him. Now, instead of your having to look into Jesus’ eyes, other people can look into your eyes and see Jesus!

Your love is Jesus’ love! You are in the Sacred Heart! You are flesh of His Flesh, blood of His Blood, heart of His Heart! Just as he devised the little trickle of water for regeneration, in the Sacrament of Baptism, He has devised the little frail wafer of bread in the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist, to make the union of Himself with us a union more complete and intimate than any other in the world.

Wars come and wars go, countries rise and fall. Sin is here and sin is there, apostasies and heresies appear and disappear. And on and on this little Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist traces its beautiful light — from the Last Supper until the final sunset of the world. I put it once in a verse:

Eternal Wonder left the skies
And dwindled into two soft eyes,
Child limbs that could not reach,
Child lips that knew no speech
Spoken, — save the murmurings heard
From breathing beast, wind and bird.
The unbeginning God began
To live the long slow hours of man.
His Mother, bending her fair head,
Straw-gathering — she laid His bed.
A whirling star-world came and halted
Above a blown-roofed, low, thatch-vaulted
Cave — Ah! are we not agreed
’Twas piteous royalty indeed!
And yet beyond an Infant’s sleep
Found He a hiddenness more deep;
Finds it each morning when I stand,
He, in the curved holding of my hand.
Starlight is light but ill,
Star-shadow — darker still:
The lone firefly that wields
His fine blue lantern in the fields
Is far more luminous than Thou
Who hideth Thine endless splendor — how!
The rose more glory has to rate her
Lovelier than the Rose-Creator.
The violet is mantled finer
Than the world’s own Flower-Designer,
Hill-Builder and Meadow-Weaver,
Earth-Waker, Cloud-Conceiver.
The blind beggar, kneeling while I pass
Through the sweet words old, told in the Mass,
Sunnier visions light his dreams
Than Thine, dark-locked — in death, it seems.
Covered indeed — and covered how!
Veil-shielded lest perchance I know
Not when the long day is sped:
Ah! is this Jesus or is it bread ?
I, Christ, who brought Thee down,
Must label Thee, to know mine own,
Must light a swinging lamp on high,
Lest all men, turning, pass Thee by.
Thou knowest my voice upon the wine;
Faith knoweth Thee — but no eyes of mine . . .

There is one other thing Jesus had that He shared with us. It was the last thing He thought to give away. It was perhaps the hardest thing of all to give away. Regeneration and union with Him in His Divine nature seemed not too difficult for Him to bequeath us — Baptism seemed easy to give us, and it did not seem to be too much of an effort for Jesus to give us His Flesh and Blood, for He said: “With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you . . . .” (Luke 22:15.) Except for the traitor, there was great love around Him. His Apostles loved Him with all their hearts.

But there was one thing He might have kept for Himself — and that was to be the Child loved by the perfect Mother,— the Child loved as a Divine Child, by a Mother who knew that it was both hers, and it was God! It was both her Child and her God!

Every lullaby of Our Lady was a mixture of tenderness and adoration. Her “Good night” to her Baby was said to God, Who is beyond all the darkness of the world! Imagine saying “Good night” to Eternal Light! Do you see now why the stars were put up there, and why the moon has its work to do? That is easy to see now, is it not?

The last bequeathal, then, which Jesus made to us was of the substance His Mother gave Him — His Body and His Blood. He put it into our mouths at Holy Communion, as Food, so that we could become His own Self. And then He gave His Mother away — to us — so that Our Blessed Lady could say “Good night” each night both to what is human and to what is divine in us; almost to forget, sometimes, which baby she is rocking to sleep, Jesus of Nazareth, or some little girl or boy in Saint Benedict Center!