INTRODUCTION TO LITTLE VISITS



Our Holy Faith teaches and obliges us to believe that in the Consecrated Host, under the appearance of bread, Jesus Christ is really present. But it is most important for us to realise that He is on our altars as on a Throne of Love and Mercy; there He dwells night and day, hidden for our sake, to distribute His graces and to make known the love he has for us.  


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The Church has instituted the Feast of Corpus Christi, and usually celebrates it with solemn processions and exposition of the Sacred Host. We know well that she has done this for a very special reasonthat men should show their gratitude by reverence, thanksgiving, and love, to honor the loving presence of Jesus Christ and His dwelling amongst us in the Sacrament of the Altar. 

My God! What wrongs and what comtempt this loving Saviour has had to suffer, and still suffers in this Sacrament, and it is from these same men for whose love He abides on earth on the altars. Justly indeed did He complain to His dear servant St. Margaret Mary, as it is related by the author in "Devotion to the Heart of Jesus."  
   


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She was praying one day before the Blessed Sacrament, when Jesus showed her His Sacred Heart. It was surrounded by flames, crowned with thorns, and there was a cross above it. Jesus then said to her: "Look at my Heart. It has loved men with a great love; it has refused no sacrifice for them; it is consumed in its efforts to show its love for them. But in return it receives, for the most part, ingratitude only. They show me little reverence; they are cold, sacrilegious and full of contempt. Yes, such is the return they give me for my love in this Sacrament. But here is what grieves me most: the ones who do these things are sometimes hearts consecrated to me." 

After this, Jesus asked that the First Friday after the Octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi be celebrated as a new feast to honor His adorable Heart. On that day loving souls, by their reverence and by their love, would seek to repay Him for the contempt which in this Sacrament He has received and still receives from men. He promised that the richest graces would abound for those who gave Him this honor.   



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All these things help us to understand the words God once spoke by His prophet: that He found His deepest joys in being with men. Even though they leave Him forsaken and despised, He does not seem to be able to tear Himself away from them. They also help us to see what exceeding great joy they give to the Heart of Jesus who visit Him often, and spend their time in His company in the church where the Blessed Sacrament reposes. He asked St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi to repeat her visits to Him in the the Blessed Sacrament thirty times each day. This beloved Spouse of His obeyed Him so well that on these visits she approached as near as she possibly could to the Tabernacle, as is related in her life.   



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But let those favored ones speak who come frequently to converse with Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament; and they all tell us of the gifts, the lights, the flames of love that they have received there: the heaven they enjoy in the presence of their Sacramental God. 

The great Sicilian missionary, Father Louis La Nuza, whilst he was still a young layman, was filled with such a great love for Jesus Christ, and experienced such deep joy in His presence that he seemed not to know how to leave Him. His director bade him not to stay there more than an hour at a time; but when the hour was over and he had at last to go; as he departed he would stop, and looking back at the altar would repeat his salutations, unwilling to leave the beloved Master in whose sweet presence he found such happiness. 



Similarly St. Aloysius Gonzaga was bidden not to remain too long before the Blessed Sacrament. But when he was passing nearby, feeling himself drawn to remain there by the sweet attractions of his Master, he would force himself to go away and in the tenderness of his love he would exclaim: "Leave me, O Master, leave me." 

St. Francis Xavier there found refreshment and rest from his laborious duties in the Indies. During the day he laboured in helping souls; he spent the night in prayer before the Most Holy Sacrament. 

St. John Francis Regis had the same custom. At times he found the church closed; then he remained on his knees at the door in the rain and the cold. It was thus he paid his homageat least from a distanceto Jesus his consoler, in this Sacrament. St. Francis of Assisi would suddenly leave the work he was engaged in, to go and converse for a while with his Sacramental Lord. 


But particularly touching was the devotion to the Most Holy Sacrament of St. Wenceslaus, the King. This holy King was so fired with the love of his Sacramental Jesus that with his own hands he gathered the wheat and the grapes for the Holy Sacrifice, and then he distributed them to various places to be used in the Mass;  he made journeys on foot, even at night and in the depths of the winter's cold, to visit churches where the Most Holy Sacrament was reserved. From these visits his beautiful soul drew such flames of divine love that the heat of them communicated itself also to his body: the story relates that where his body touched the snow it took from it the rigor of its cold. A servant, who accompanied the holy king one night on these walks, suffered keenly from the cold as he tramped over the snow. The king knowing this took pity on him; he told him to walk behind him, and to place his feet nowhere else but in his own footprints; when the man did this he felt the cold no longer.  


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You will read in these Visits of the effect the Real Presence of Jesus had on other loving souls. All the saints had a great love for this, which is the sweetest of all devotions: because on this earth it is impossible to find a deeper joy or a lovelier treasure than Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Certainly after the use of the Sacraments, this devotion of adoring Jesus in the Eucharist is the first of all. It is the dearest to God and the most profitable to ourselves.   

Devout souls, you will never regret it, if from this day forward you leave the conversation of men for a while and begin to spend some time each day in a church with Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament; it may be for half an hour or a quarter of an hour"Taste and see how sweet is the Lord." Make the experiment and you will find what great profit you will take from it. Be sure of thisthe time you spend in conversing with devotion before this Most Divine Sacrament will be the most fruitful time of your life, and the most consoling at the time of death and in eternity; and understand this, too, that you will perchance gain more in a quarter of an hour of prayer in the presence of this Holy Sacrament than in all the other spiritual exercises of the day. It is true that God graciously hears the prayers of those who pray in any place, because He has promised: "Ask and you shall receive"; but "The Disciple" teaches that Jesus in this Sacrament distributes His graces in greater abundance to those who visit Him.  

Blessed Henry Suso tells us likewise that Jesus Christ hears the prayers of the faithful more readily when He is in the Sacrament on the altar than He does elsewhere. When have saintly souls formed more beautiful resolutions than at the foot of the altar? Who knows but that you, too, will one day make the resolution to give yourself wholly to God, while you are kneeling before the tabernacle? 

Now, in this booklet it is my duty to make known this truth, at least out of gratitude to my Sacramental Jesus: it is through this devotion of visiting the Most Holy Sacramentthough practiced by me with so much coldness and imperfectionthat I now find myself out of the world in which I lived, for my misfortune, until the age of twenty-six years. Happy will you be if at an earlier age you can separate yourself from the world and give yourself completely to the Lord who has given Himself completely to you. I repeat it: Happy will you be not only in eternity, but even in this life. Believe me, all these are folly: feasting, comedies, parties, entertainments. These are the goods that society offers, but they are goods that are full of bitterness and thorns; believe one who has had the experience and who now grieves over it.     



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But be certain of this: Jesus Christ will give deeper consolation to the soul that recollects itself a little before Him in the Most Holy Sacrament than the world with all its festivities and entertainments. O what a beautiful thing is the deep joy of lingering before the altar with faith and tender love, and speaking freely with Jesus Christ who dwells there only to hear us and to grant what we ask: to beg His pardon for our faults; to tell Him of our needs as a friend does with a friend in whom he has complete confidence; to ask Him for His love, for grace, for heaven. Above all, what a paradise it is for us to employ ourselves in making acts of love to that God who is on the altar praying to His Eternal Father for us; and is burning with love for us as He abides there; for us He is content to remain there hidden and unknown and even despised by the ungratefulbut why is there any need to say more? "Taste and see."   



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The Visit To Our Blessed Lady


With regard to the Visit to Most Holy Mary, the opinion of St. Bernard is well known and commonly followedthat God gives no grace except through the hands of Mary:    


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"God wishes us to have nothing except what passes through the hands of Mary." Therefore, Suarez affirms that today the sentiment of the Universal Church is that the intercession of Mary is not only useful, but even necessary, to obtain grace: "The Church feels that the intercession of the Blessed Virgin is not only useful, but necessary." We have a very solid foundation indeed for this opinion when we see that the Church applies to Mary the words of Holy Scripture, making her say: "In me is all hope of life and of virtue. Come to me all of you." (Eccl. 24). Let all come to me, she says, because for you I am the hope of every good. Hence she adds: "That man is blessed indeed who keeps a diligent watch every day at the door of my powerful intercession, because there he will meet me and in me will he find life and eternal salvation: "Whoever finds me finds life and will drink salvation from the Lord."  


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Therefore, it is with very good reason that the Holy Church desires that all of us should call her our universal hope and greet her with the words, "Spes nostra salve," "Hail our hope." It is St. Bernard who goes so far as to call Mary "The entire cause of his hope," "Tota Ratio spei mei." He says to us: "Let us go in search of grace and let us seek it through Mary." St. Antoninus assures us that on the other hand if we look for grace without her intercession, it is like trying to fly without wings and we will get nothing: "Unless she leads us when we ask we might as well be trying to fly without wings." 

In Father Auriemma's "Mutual Affections" we read of graces beyond counting that the Mother of God has bestowed on those who practise the most rewarding devotion of visiting her shrines or images. By such visits Blessed Albert the Great, the Abbot Robert, and Father Suarez, won for themselves that special divine gift of Understanding that made them notable for their wisdom throughout the Church. 

St. John Berchmans, of the Society of Jesus, had the custom of visiting Mary every day in one of the chapels of the Roman college. He proclaimed that he renounced every earthly love in order to love, after God, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary only. He wrote under the image of his loved Lady: "Never will I rest until I have obtained a tender love for my Mother." 

Great indeed were the graces she gave to St. Bernard of Sienna. During his youth he went to visit her every day without fail, in a chapel that was close to the gates of the city; "His Lady," he said, "had charmed his heart"; he called her his beloved and proclaimed that the very least he could do was to visit her frequently; through her he obtained the grace to leave the world and to become the great saint and Apostle of Italy that he is today. 


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So make sure that to your Visit to the Blessed Sacrament you add a Visit to Mary either in the church or to some image of her in your own home; if you do this with love and confidence you may well hope to receive great things from this most generous Lady. St. Andrew of Crete tells you that it is her custom to bestow rich gifts on every person who pays her some tributeeven though it be something very small: "She is accustomed to repay the smallest thing with something very great."
          Mary most sweet! Mary my hope!
          How can I ever forget you?
          My Queen, look down with love on me.


About Spiritual Communion


A spiritual communion forms part of every visit to the Most Holy Sacrament, so it is well to explain what it is and how fruitful it is. 

St. Thomas tells us that a spiritual communion is an intense longing to receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and a loving embrace as if He had been received. 

In the life of the servant of God, Sister Paula Maresca, Foundress of the monastery of St. Catherine of Sienna in Naples, we are told that Our Lord showed her two precious vessels, one of gold and one of silver. He told her that in the vessel of gold He kept her sacramental communions and in that of silver her spiritual communions. From this we learn how pleasing spiritual communions are to Him and the graces which He gives us by means of them.  

Jesus told St. John of the Cross that every time he made a spiritual communion he received a grace like that of a real communion. 

Most important of all, the Council of Trent praises spiritual communion highly and exhorts the faithful to practise it. So all devout persons make it a custom to practise spiritual communion frequently. Blessed Agatha of the Cross did so twenty times a day. St. Peter Faber, the first companion of St. Ignatius, tells us that spiritual communon is extremely useful in helping us to prepare better for our sacramental communion.  

Therefore, we strongly advise everyone who wants to advance in the love of Jesus Christ, to make a spiritual communion in every visit to the Most Holy Sacrament and in every Mass that he hearsbetter still if it is repeated three times on these occasions: at the beginning, in the middle and at the end. This devotion is much more profitable than many realise, and at the same time it is a very easy one; as St. John of the Cross, whom we have just quoted, points out: a spiritual communion can be made without attracting any notice, without fasting, and without the leave of a director; we can make it at any time we please; a simple act of love does all.


An Act of Spiritual Communion


My Jesus, I believe that you are in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love you above everything and I want to receive you into my soul.  As I can not receive you sacramentally, now come into my heart at least spiritually; I embrace you as being there already and I unite myself completely to you; do not let me be parted from you ever.  

A Shorter Act


Jesus, I believe you are in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love you; I want you to come to me. Come into my heart; I embrace you; O never depart from me. 

Let the power of your burning love which is sweet as honey, Lord Jesus Christ, penetrate my soul through and through; so that I may die for the love of your love who for the love of my love did suffer and die (St. Francis). 

O love not loved, O love not known (St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi). 

O my beloved, when will you take me to yourself (St. Peter of Alcantara).

          Jesus, my God, sweet Love Divine,
          Strike and inflame this heart of mine;
          Let it burn, all and forever, with thine.

          O love of Jesus, be our life, our all.
          O Mary, be our hope that never fails.
                                                         Amen.



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