Bread of Life

We are very happy with our picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which arrived from Mexico today. We have hung it in our window for all the world to see. This picture, which originated miraculously from Our lady, herself, is to my mind one of the most beautiful pictures of Our Blessed Lady that I have ever seen. I really love it. It is a New World picture, and was given by Our Lady to a simple little Mexican peasant. It was made out of the plain, everyday materials of Mexico, and it contains to my eye the true ingredients of love and art, mingled together.

We learn from the Doctors of the Church, the twenty-nine great theologians who were as brilliant as they were holy, that in the Incarnation, the Incomprehensible wanted to make Himself comprehended. This is particularly the message of Saint Leo the Great, in his treatise on the Blessed Virgin’s Maternity.

Let me say it this way: The Eternal put Himself into time, and did not lose His Eternity. The All-Powerful became helpless, and still retained His power. “All power is given to Me in Heaven and on earth,” Our Lord said. (Matt. 28:18.) Watch Me as I walk around! I have hands and feet and eyes, like you. But because I am like you, do not fail to notice My power. However, do not forget how human I am, either, just because you remember My power!

That is the mystery of the Incarnation.

The reason Our Blessed Lady is a virgin — among thousands of other beautiful reasons — is that she had momentarily to enter eternity and conceive Our Lord of the Holy Ghost, and she had, in time, to stay the same little girl that the angel found when he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace.” (Luke 1:28.)

Do you see what a blasphemy against Our Blessed Lady it is to say that after the conception and birth of Our Lord she had other children? She was a virgin ante, inter et post partum — that is, before, during and after the birth of Our Lord. Just as God was God, before, during and after the Incarnation.

In this great meeting between Time and Eternity, in which Our Blessed Lady was Time’s womb, Time’s arms, Time’s eyes, Flesh and Blood’s temple, God had to leave her just as much ours as she was His. He was still the Omnipotent God. He was still the Only Begotten Son of God the Father. And, the Incarnation left Mary still the little Immaculate Virgin.

I like the picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe for that reason. Most artists, when they paint a picture of Our Lady — especially the proud, Renaissance artists, whose main purpose is to make her heavenly by making her pretty — get to the point after a while of making her almost “too good for this earth.” Metaphorically, poetically and courteously, she is awarded the honor of being the Queen of Heaven. But the Queen of Heaven must still be the Queen of the Earth. She must still be our little girl. We do not walk into Heaven scared out of our lives!

The picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe shows Our Lady as the Simplest little girl in the road — And, she is Queen of Heaven without having left the road. Even while walking on the road, she is still in the sky. She has a look of lowliness, unlike the look which proud, conceited artists give her by decorations and embellishments.

When we go into Our Blessed Lady’s presence in prayer, we must always remember that though towards no queen in the world would we ever have more awe and respect, yet towards no queen in the world would we be more simple. We must be able both to see her as a Queen and as a Mother — with all the majesty of a queen and all the tenderness of a mother.

If you cannot see in Our Lady the majesty of Queen of Heaven, more gloriously shining than all the angels of Heaven put together, then your right eye is scandalizing you, and it were better that you pluck it out. If you cannot receive the same majestic Queen into your home as a humble little Mother, ready to take Jesus’ hand in one of her hands and your hand in the other, then your right hand is scandalizing you, and it were better that you cut it off! (Matt. 5:29,30.)

Men in our day take Our Lady and put her in their own proud thoughts, very far away; or else they make her too common for the grandeur of Queen of Heaven. That is what Our Lord is talking about in the Sermon on the Mount, otherwise the whole treatise does not lead to the first thing in His mind and in His heart — His Virginal Mother, conceived without sin, His Father’s perfect Daughter and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit.

Why did Our Lord go up to Galilee to preach the Sermon on the Mount? Because it was the proper setting for the things He had to say. While preaching the Sermon on the Mount, He was looking on the fields and brooks and hills and roads that were most familiar to His Mother’s eyes.

We must be able to greet Mary as Gabriel greeted her: “Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.” We must be able to greet her as Elizabeth greeted her: “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” (Luke 1:42.) And we must unite these extremes of greeting in the common phrase uttered by both Gabriel and Elizabeth, “Blessed art thou among women.” That is what you do when you say your Hail Mary. And in Gabriel’s, Elizabeth’s and in Mary’s name, I thank you very much for the many times you do that!

I am minded tonight to speak of another great person, and he is Saint Joseph. I am coming to believe more and more every day that if you do not have Saint Joseph you will not keep your true value of Our Lady, or your true value of Our Lord. If you do not have Saint Joseph, Jesus is going to be coldly “Christ,” and then, even more coldly, “Christianity,” and then some large frigid movement for world betterment. If you do not have Saint Joseph, the little, pure Virgin is going to be too august.

But when you have Saint Joseph looking at his beautiful bride and saying, “This is my wife,” and Saint Joseph looking at Jesus and saying, “This is my Child,” the girl is safe to be the Spouse of the Holy Ghost, and Jesus is safe to be the Son of the Eternal Father. Saint Joseph is the guardian of the Holy Family. He is the guardian of Jesus and Mary — and he is the guardian of Jesus and Mary in our thoughts. If you do not go to Joseph, you will never, never, never find Jesus and Mary.

When the Angel Gabriel came to Our Lady, he did not call her “Mary.” He said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” But, to Joseph, the angel said, “Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus.” (Matt. 1:20,21.) What an assignment!

Just as soon as the Child Jesus was born, Saint Joseph fled with Him and His Mother into Egypt. We are Egypt. We are the Gentiles. Saint Joseph took to us — and we take to Saint Joseph! Imagine this singular, beautiful man, who perfectly satisfies God the Father to be His image paternally and who perfectly satisfies God the Holy Ghost to be His image spousally! Imagine in one man that being so! Imagine the dignity of that beautiful boy!

We are often given a picture of Saint Joseph as one who, because Our Lady and her Child needed a husband and father, was given to them, and who had no other dignity beyond what a servant might enjoy. The secondary reasons for his membership in the Holy Family are alone emphasized: to protect Our Lady from the stones of the Jews, or to provide food for the Child. You never could tell what might happen! Then, when the Child was lost in the Temple for three days, and Our Lady said, referring to Saint Joseph, “Thy father and I have sought Thee, sorrowing,” we are made to feel: “Why does Our Lady speak this way? She should not have said, ‘Thy father’!” (Luke 2:48.)

If Our Lady made a mistake in saying “Thy father,” why, I ask you, did God inspire that it should be put down that way? If Saint Joseph was not the true husband of Our Lady, why do we call him “Spouse of Our Lady”? We say in the Divine Praises, “Blessed be Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse.” Well, you say, it is chaste spouse. What is the matter with being a chaste spouse?

We can move in without any false notion and yet be beautifully strong in calling Saint Joseph the father to the Child and the spouse to Our Lady, in the right way. We know that Jesus was born virginally. And we know that Our Lady was Mary, ever Virgin. We know that Jesus is the Son of God the Father and the Child of Mary, the Virgin. We know that Mary is the Spouse of the Holy Ghost, by Whose power she conceived Jesus.

We know also, therefore, that Saint Joseph was doing father-work for one Person of the Blessed Trinity, and husband-work for another. For the Paternity of God, he was taking care of a Child; for the Love of God, he was taking care of a Bride.

If God the Father would dare to let His Only Begotten Son come into the world, with our eyes and hands and heart, and not have Him incarnately taken care of, He would leave Him unguarded in the greatest need a child has. And if God the Holy Ghost is going to espouse the Blessed Virgin Mary, and then leave her unprotected and uncared for — as a husband will protect a wife — He has left her unguarded and uncared for in the greatest need a girl has.

God did not do that. He gave them Saint Joseph. And in that giving, Saint Joseph got everything in the world. Jesus came for love of Mary, that I know; but both Jesus and Mary were given to Saint Joseph!

My dear children, what you have to do is this: You have to leave your ethics class, and moral theology class, and sociology class, and psychology class, and marriage-adjustment class, and go back and study the little Holy Family, innocently and simply, as children. If you do not do that, you will never get the mystery of eternal life.

Pray to Saint Joseph, the guardian of the Holy Family. Pope Pius IX, who proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, also proclaimed Saint Joseph the patron of the Universal Church. And by the way, I have, once, heard a Jew speak of Our Lady, regretfully. I have heard Protestants speak of Our Lady, belittlingly, for they do not love her. But I have never heard a Jew or a Protestant even mention Saint Joseph!

It will never be defined that Saint Joseph was immaculately conceived, for he was not. He was conceived and born in original sin. He is a little son — our beautiful little fallen-race boy — who was great and beautiful enough to be the father of Jesus when He needed a father’s care, and the spouse of Our Lady when she needed the protection of a husband. He gave this protection with marvelous tenderness and purity. He is pictured, as you know, with a lily in his hand. We can move over and stand with Saint Joseph, we who were born in original sin, in a way we could not with our august Lord and our august Lady.

There are only two relics of Saint Joseph which have been left to us. The marriage ring he gave to the Blessed Virgin is at Perugia, in Italy. His cincture is in Joinville, in France.

Saint Joseph died before Our Lord did. I am prepared to believe, and so may you, though the Church has not yet infallibly so defined, that Saint Joseph’s body rose with Christ and that he is in Heaven body and soul, crowned with glory and honor — because, next to Our Lord and Our Lady, he is the highest of all the saints.

How do we know, in loving Christian faith, that Saint Joseph’s body is in Heaven? Well, because he and Jesus and Mary make up the Holy Family. Just imagine the Holy Family in Heaven, with one body missing! When we pray for a happy death, we pray to Jesus, Mary and Joseph to be with us in our last agony. Just imagine you and I having bodies in our last agony, and Mary and Jesus having bodies and being able to be with us, and Saint Joseph alone left in the order of sheer soul!

Saint Bernardine of Siena and Saint Francis de Sales both proclaimed their belief in the resurrection of the body of Saint Joseph from the dead, and his ascension into Heaven along with Our Lord, Jesus Christ. No Holy Father ever scolded them for so speaking, and our Holy Mother the Church canonized them, despite this utterance.

Saint Joseph is the patron of the Universal Church, as I have said. May I now say, in all simplicity, that the visible Church must have a visible head on earth, and a visible patron in Heaven!

Saint Joseph was of royal blood. Now, you know that with the Jews, paternity was the way honor was derived. So much was this so, that when a man died, his brother could marry his widow, in order to raise up children to the man. All honor and glory, even nationality in the strongest sense, traveled in the father; not in the mother.

This is a strong thing: If Joseph had not been the husband of Mary, Jesus would not have been a king! The blood of David the King, traveled into Jesus through Mary, but the title to royalty traveled to Jesus through Joseph! If you want to get straight the title, King of the Jews, you had better get it the way Saint Matthew gives it:

Matt. 1:6. And Jesse begot David the king. And David the king begot Solomon…

16. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

That genealogy is not by accident. That genealogy is to let you know Who is the King of the Jews.

Who is of the blood of David? Jesus! From His little Virginal Mother. But Who is the King of the Jews? Jesus! The Son of a father who has royal inheritance; Jesus, the Son of Joseph.

On the hills of Bethlehem, the angels spoke to the shepherds and told them to run down and see Mary’s Child. Over in the East, the star led the three Kings to see Him Who was born King of the Jews; that is, Joseph’s royal little Son. The Kings came to see what Jesus took from Joseph. The shepherds came to see what Jesus took from Mary — His flesh and blood!

We, my dear children, are supposed to be royal, because we come of royal blood. We are incorporated into the blood of David, the King. We are incorporated, through the Blessed Eucharist, into the Blood of Christ, the King, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.

Jesus made it very plain, when He went before Pilate, Who He was, and what He wanted to be called. Pontius Pilate was as sensitive on the subject of kingship as he possibly could be.

“Art Thou a King?” asked Pilate of Jesus. (John 18:37.)

Now, watch the triumph of Our dear Lord! If you want triumph, this is it. Jesus of Nazareth is going to die, and He is going to send His Vicar over to Rome, to establish a dynasty that will never die — that will make Caesar’s dynasty look like ten cents! Pontifex Maximus! Supreme Pontiff!

Watch our great and beautiful King! We are His subjects. Tonight, here in Saint Benedict Center, we have His little throne room, and in it the Infant Jesus of Prague, with His royal crown on. Imagine this for triumph, as Jesus answers Pilate! We were in His mind, as He speaks!

“Art Thou a King” asked Pilate.

“Yes. For this I came into the world …. Nineteen hundred and eighteen years from now, in Saint Benedict Center, where a light shines before My Queen and Mother, I will have a throne room all to Myself — hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years from now! Jewels will be on My crown, and girls and boys will come and kiss the robes of just anything that looks like Me!

“My Body and Blood will be their delight, and My Sacrifice will be for them their adoration in the Mass. They will call My Mother the Queen of the Angels . . . .”

Do not, my dear children, I beg you, miss the triumph of Jesus in the world! This is the kind of triumph to have when all the Caesars have long been dead and forgotten.

So, “Art Thou a King?” asked Pilate.

“Yes,” answered Jesus. “For this was I born, and for this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth. Everyone that is of the truth, heareth My voice.” (John 18:37.)

Now, a man with a crown is a king, albeit the crown is of thorns! Jesus preferred a crown of thorns, rather than no crown at all. “And the soldiers platting a crown of thorns, put it upon His head.” (John 19:2.)

“Behold your King!” Pilate said to the Jews.

So much did Jesus make a regal impression on Pilate, that when He was on the Cross the one tribute the cowardly Pilate made to Him was the title which he wrote and put upon the Cross: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. When the Jews read this title, they cried out to Pilate: “Write not, The King of the Jews; but that He said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.'”

But Pilate answered: “What I have written, I have written.” (John 19:21,22.)

So Jesus had a crown of thorns. And His throne was the Cross. And His royal robes were His own Blood. And He had a sceptre of nails in His hands.

If you like democracy in your local political life, all right. But in your religious life you have to be royal and regal. Every day when you go to Holy Communion you are charged with the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, Who is the King of the world in all His majesty and power.

If you do not go over to the royalties that go with belief — unless there is a majesty in your prayers, a beautiful royal behavior in everything you do — you will never be a true Catholic. Unless your thoughts and your actions, your ability to suffer, your fidelity to your word, your lovely manners in solitude, when you are alone with your thoughts; — unless you are constantly fastidious about the world, keeping out of your love and affections things which cannot be brought before the face of Christ the King — you will never be qualified to dwell with Him and His Queen forever. And you must stop saying in the Our Father, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

You ask me, “Is there a fastidiousness in God? Do you mean to say, Father, that when you want to be royal you have to have all the delicacies and graces that go with a royal person — with a person in a kingdom?”

My answer is, Yes!

“God is fastidious in these things?”

Yes. Very, very fastidious!

I was showing the boys the other day, in Holy Scripture, how fastidious God was on the subject of the priesthood — and would be still, if the priest were not receiving His own Body and Blood. Today, the beautiful, exquisite, flawless Body of Jesus is consumed by the one who offers it, and so what is in the priest is beautiful. Somehow Jesus can transform a poor priest. It is only because something more exquisite than he, is at the altar, mystically and in communion and in union, that the priest is allowed to go on and please the fastidiousness of God on the altar.

Let me read to you what rules were required for the priest in the Old Testament. Now, remember, these are God’s own words:

Lev. 21:16. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:

17. Say to Aaron: Whosoever of thy seed throughout their families, hath a blemish, he shall not offer bread to his God.

18. Neither shall he approach to minister to him: If he be blind, if he be lame, if he have a little, or a great, or a crooked nose,

19. If his foot, or if his hand be broken,

20. If he be crookbacked, or blear eyed, or have a pearl in his eye, or a continual scab, or a dry scurf in his body, or a rupture:

21. Whosoever of the seed of Aaron the priest hath a blemish, he shall not approach to offer sacrifices to the Lord, nor bread to his God.

22. He shall eat nevertheless of the loaves, that are offered in the sanctuary.

23. Yet so that he enter not within the veil, nor approach to the altar, because he hath a blemish, and he must not defile my sanctuary. I am the Lord who sanctify them.

That is terrific, is it not? The priest must be beautiful. We are a royal priesthood. We must be thronal in our manners and in our ways. We must be a delight to be with. I do not mean, by that, a hail-fellow-well-met, but a royal fellow, deeply loved, true to his word, beautiful and noble, faithful in his thoughts and loves and clarities and courages,— a little halo and crown of glory shining on his head, everywhere he goes! This is true Christianity, or else it means nothing!

We were speaking in class today of the priesthood of Saint John, the Evangelist. The Beloved Disciple, Saint John, was the priest given to Mary by Jesus, for the rest of her stay on earth after He had departed into Heaven. Saint John was not only Our Lady’s son — he was also her priest. She received from his hands, in the Mass, the Flesh and Blood which her own body had spun for God, in the Incarnation!

It must have been quite a thing to see — that daily Mass! It must have been quite an altar rail! The hand of the Beloved Disciple must have trembled in the holding of the Host which he put into the mouth of the tabernacle of tabernacles, the Immaculate Mother of God!

That must have been a moment! Do you wonder that God wanted it prolonged for a great many years? Have you not satisfactorily explained to yourself why she lived until the age of seventy-two, before she died, of love? Mary was as close to Jesus, by reason of John’s giving Him to her, as He was close in her womb when she was forging Him out of her flesh and blood.

A beautiful point was raised in class this morning. It was this: “Does one receive the Immaculate Heart of Mary with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Holy Communion?”

Now, as you know, the priest in the Mass does not put the Immaculate Heart of Mary under the species of bread and wine. If he said, “This is Mary’s heart,” at Consecration time, that would be wrong. The priest puts Jesus’ heart there.

Does Mary’s heart go where Jesus’ heart has been put? Understand now, that due to transubstantiation, the Body and the Blood of Jesus are present on our altars. Knowing that, does Mary’s heart go where Jesus’ heart goes?

Let me answer this question slowly. I think the Sacred Heart wanted to let us know, through His apparitions to Saint Margaret Mary, that which we should have been seeing right along, and that is, that His great gift to us is of His heart. And I think that the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is to let us know that Our lady’s great gift to us is of her heart.

We know that Mary has a glorified body, and that that glorified body can go through glass or wood or stone. It can travel with the speed of light. It can penetrate without destroying that through which it passes. Would it not be odd and strange, having now been given the power to indwell in any place, if she did not want her heart to indwell in the heart of Jesus?

Would it not be odd, if the Sacred Heart of Jesus is saying to us: “Son, give Me thy heart,” if He does not make the same request of the Blessed Virgin Mary? And would it not be most odd if Our Lady did not want to give her heart to Jesus, or wanted to, and was unable to do so?

If, all through the years, love everywhere and always has been saying, “I give you my heart. Let us be one heart,” would it not be odd that the hearts of Jesus and Mary were the two hearts that could not quite do that?

Would it not be odd if you could say to another, “Yours in the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” and you could go to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and find one another, but you could not find Mary there?

Our Lord’s great condemnation of people who would not follow Him was always that they had hardness of heart, toughness and meanness of heart, hearts that resisted. Do you think He constantly would be saying that, if He had not found a heart so beautiful and clear and light, so full of penetration and assimilation, as the heart of Mary? Where is the light one, the bright one, the clear one, that makes Jesus so critical about other hearts?

I could go on, adding and adding, and adding!

I told you before, here in the Center, that the one thing in Jesus and Mary that made them most united, when Jesus was a Baby in Mary’s womb, was their hearts — because Mary’s heartbeat was the bloodflow into the veins of Jesus.

The blood which coursed through Jesus came back into Mary’s heart, when He was a Baby in her womb. Was there no Divinity flooding back with it?

When Jesus hung bleeding on the Cross, the drops of His Precious Blood which fell upon the ground remained Divine, and the angels had to guard them. It would be strange, would it not, if the blood which flowed back into Mary’s heart from the body of her Divine Baby, while He was in her womb, were less Divine than His blood on the ground beneath His Cross?

Do I speak a mystery? I do. Do I dare not go too far? I do dare not. But I say, and must say, that once this blood has gone into Jesus’ veins, it is Jesus’ Precious Blood, even though it returns again to the heart of His Mother.

My dearest children, I tell you this without fear of heresy: Jesus and Mary are one heart! If you find Jesus’ heart, you will find Mary’s heart. And if you find Mary’s heart, you will find Jesus’ heart.

You go to the Eucharist to find Jesus’ heart, and there you will find Mary’s heart, too. If you go to Mary and put your head in her lap, the heart she will give you is the heart of Jesus. And if you receive Jesus’ heart into your being, He will give you Mary’s heart.

When Jesus’ head was crowned with thorns, the soul of Jesus was still in His body, and He could feel the crowning. When His hands were pierced with nails, He felt that pain. When His back was beaten with lashes, He felt that cruel scourging. But when the centurion pierced His heart, Jesus was dead. There was no soul of Jesus there to enable Him to feel that piercing.

But Jesus and Mary are one heart. And when that sword pierced the heart of Jesus, the only heart that could feel it was the heart of Mary. Only the alive heart felt — and the lance pierced it. Mary stood by the side of Jesus, and the lance went through her heart. “Thy own soul a sword shall pierce,” Simeon had said to Mary. (Luke 2:35.) He was really saying, “His soul will be gone when the sword goes through your hearts!”

Out of the heart of Jesus, when it was pierced on the Cross, blood and water flowed — that out of the hearts of many, thoughts might be revealed. (Luke 2:35.) What do you think — by way of salvation — of that blood and water coming from the heart of Jesus? Do you like it? That is the test. What do you think of that blood, and what do you think of that water? The blood signifies the Eucharist, and the water, Baptism!

You may say to me, “I give you one final problem. I can understand how the hearts of Jesus and Mary can be one heart when their bodies are glorified, but how about before their bodies were glorified? Does not Jesus’ body have to be in one place, and Mary’s in another? Does not Jesus’ heart have to be here, and Mary’s have to be there?”

There were times, even before Jesus died and rose from the dead and was glorified, when His enemies came to seize Jesus, — and He just vanished! They did not know where He was. He once made a journey of six miles in a boat — in one minute! He walked on water. He was transfigured in the sky. Even many of the saints are famous for bilocation. I do not know how it is done. But, it is strange that two hearts that wanted to be one could be kept from being one by the law of physical resistance, when One of them was God!