Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament
and to the
Blessed Virgin Mary

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Dedication

To Mary, the ever Immaculate Virgin Mother of God

My most holy Queen - On the point of publishing the present little work, in which I treat of the love of thy Son, I know not to whom I can better dedicate it than to thee, my most beloved Mother, who, amongst all creatures, art His most tender lover. I believe by this little offering which I present to thee, and which is composed for the sole purpose of inflaming souls more and more with the love of Jesus Christ - I believe, I say, that by it I shall greatly please thee, who desirest to see Him loved by all as He deserves. To thee, then, I consecrate it, such as it is; do thou graciously accept and protect it; not indeed that I may receive the praise of men, but that all who read it may for the future correspond, by their greater devotion and affection, with the tender and excessive love which our most sweet Savior has been pleased to show us in His Passion, and in the institution of the Most Holy Sacrament.  As such, I place it at thy feet, and beseech thee to accept the gift as wholly thine, as also the giver, who has long since placed all his hopes in thee, and wishes and hopes always to call himself, and to rejoice in being,

Most gracious Lady,

Thy most loving, though most unworthy servant,

Alphonsus de Liguori,
Of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.

 

Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament
and to the
Blessed Virgin Mary
(For each Day of the Month)


by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

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Introduction

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Background on Visits to the Blessed Sacrament
and to the Blessed Virgin

eucharist3.gif (9262 bytes)Our holy faith teaches us, and we are bound to believe, that in the consecrated Host, Jesus Christ is really present under the species of bread. But we must also understand that He is present on our altars, as on a throne of love and mercy, to dispense graces and there to show us the love which He bears us, by being pleased to dwell night and day hidden in the midst of us.

It is a well-known fact that the Holy Church instituted the Feast of Corpus Christi with a solemn octave, and that she celebrates it with the many usual processions, and so frequent expositions of this Most Holy Sacrament, that men may thereby be moved gratefully to acknowledge and honor this loving presence and dwelling of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar, by their devotions, thanksgivings, and the tender affections of their souls. O God! how many insults and outrages has not this amiable Redeemer had, and has He not daily to endure in this sacrament, on the part of those very men for whose love He remains upon their altars on earth!

sacred_heart2.jpg (11955 bytes)Of this He indeed complained to His dear servant Sister Margaret Alacoque, as the author of the Book of Devotion to the Heart of Jesus relates. One day, as she was in prayer before the Most Holy Sacrament, Jesus showed her His heart on a throne of flames, crowned with thorns, and surmounted by a Cross, and thus addressed her: "Behold that Heart which has loved men so much, and which has spared Itself nothing; and has even gone so far as to consume Itself, thereby to show them Its love; but in return, the greater part of men show Me only ingratitude, and this by the irreverences, tepidity, sacrileges, and contempt which they offer Me in this sacrament of love; and that which I feel the most acutely is, that they are hearts consecrated to Me."

Jesus then expressed His wish that the first Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi should be dedicated as a particular festival in honor of His adorable Heart; and that on that day all souls who loved Him should endeavor, by their homage, and by the affections of their souls, to make amends for the insults which men have offered Him in this Sacrament of the Altar; and at the same time He promised abundant graces to all who should thus honor Him.

We can thus understand what Our Lord said of old by His prophet, that His delight is to be with the children of men (Proverbs 8:31); since He is unable to tear Himself from them, even when they abandon and despise Him. This also shows us how agreeable all those souls are to the Heart of Jesus who frequently visit Him, and remain in His company in the churches in which He is, under the sacramental species. He desired Saint Mary Magdalene of Pazzi to visit Him in the Most Blessed Sacrament thirty-three times a day; and this beloved spouse of His faithfully obeyed Him, and in all her visits to the altar approached it as near as she possibly could, as we read in her life.

The servant of God and great missionary Father Louis La Nusa, was, even in his youth and as a layman, so enamored of Jesus Christ, that he seemed unable to tear himself from the presence of his beloved Lord. Such were the joys which he there experienced, that his director commanded him, in virtue of obedience, not to remain there for more than an hour. The time having elapsed, he showed in obeying (says the author of his life), that in tearing himself from the bosom of Jesus Christ he had to do himself just such violence, as a child that has to detach itself from its mother's breast in the very moment in which it is satiating itself with the utmost avidity; and when he had to do this, we are told that he remained standing with his eyes fixed on the altar, making repeated inclinations, as if he knew not how to quit his Lord, Whose presence was so sweet and gracious to him.

There it was also that Saint Francis Xavier found refreshment in the midst of his many labors in India; for he employed his days in toiling for souls, and his nights in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Saint John Francis Regis did the same thing; and sometimes finding the church closed, he endeavored to satisfy his longings by remaining on his knees outside the door, exposed to the rain and cold, that at least at a distance he might attend upon his Comforter concealed under the sacramental species.

Saint Francis of Assisi used to go to communicate all his labors and undertakings to Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament. But tender indeed was the devotion of Saint Wenceslaus, duke of Bohemia, to the Most Holy Sacrament. This holy king was so enamored of Jesus there present, that he not only gathered the wheat and grapes, and made the hosts and wine with his own hands, and then gave them to be used in the Holy Sacrifice, but he used, even during the winter, to go at night to visit the church in which the Blessed Sacrament was kept. These visits enkindled in his beautiful soul such flames of divine love , that their ardor imparted itself even to his body, and took from the snow on which he walked, its wonted cold: for it is related that the servant who accompanied him in these nightly excursions, having to walk through the snow, suffered much from the cold. The holy king, on perceiving this, was moved to compassion, and commanded him to follow him, and only to step in his foot-marks; he did so, and never afterwards felt the cold.

In the Visits you will read other examples of the tender affection with which souls, inflamed with the love of God , loved to dwell in the presence of the Most Holy Sacrament. But you will find that all the saints were enamored of this most sweet devotion; since, indeed, it is impossible to find on earth a more precious gem, or a treasure more worthy of all our love, than Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament. Certainly amongst all devotions, after that of receiving the sacraments, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament holds the first place, is the most pleasing to God, and the most useful to ourselves. Do not then, O devout soul, refuse to begin this devotion; and forsaking the conversation of men, dwell each day, from this time forward, for at least half or quarter of an hour, in some church, in the presence of Jesus Christ, under the sacramental species. O taste and see, that the Lord is good. Only try this devotion, and by experience you will see the great benefit that you will derive from it. Be assured that the time you will thus spend with devotion before this most divine Sacrament will be the most profitable to you in life, and the source of your greatest consolation in death and in eternity.

You must also be aware, that in a quarter of an hour's prayer, spent in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, you will perhaps gain more than in all the other spiritual exercises of the day. It is true, that in every place God graciously hears the petitions of those who pray to Him, having promised to do so: Ask, and you shall receive (John 16:24); yet the disciple tells us that Jesus dispenses His graces in greater abundance to those who visit Him in the Most Holy Sacrament.

Blessed Henry Suso also used to say that Jesus Christ hears the prayers of the faithful more graciously in the Sacrament of the Altar than elsewhere. And where, indeed, did holy souls make their most beautiful resolutions, but prostrate before the Most Holy Sacrament? Who knows but that you also may one day, in the presence of the tabernacle, make the resolution to give yourself entirely to God? In this little book I feel myself bound, at least out of gratitude to my Jesus in the Holy Sacrament, to declare, that through the means of this devotion of visiting the Most Blessed Sacrament, which I practiced, though with so much tepidity and in so imperfect a manner, I abandoned the world, in which, unfortunately, I lived until I was six-and-twenty years of age. Fortunate indeed will you be if you can detach yourself from it at an earlier period, and give yourself without reserve to that Lord Who has given Himself without reserve to you.

I repeat it, that indeed you will be blessed, not only in eternity, but even in this life.

Believe me, all is folly: feasts, theatres, parties of pleasure, amusements - these are the goods of the world, but goods which are filled with the bitterness of gall and with sharp thorns. Believe me, who have experienced this and now weep over it. Be also assured that Jesus Christ finds means to console a soul that remains with a recollected spirit before the Most Blessed Sacrament, far beyond what the world can do with all its feasts and pastimes.

Oh, how sweet a joy it is to remain with faith and tender devotion before an altar, and converse familiarly with Jesus Christ, Who is there for the express purpose of listening to and graciously hearing those who pray to Him; to ask His pardon for the displeasures which we have caused Him: to represent our wants to Him, as a friend does to a friend in whom he places all his confidence; to ask Him for His graces, for His love, and for His kingdom; but above all, Oh, what a heaven is it there to remain making acts of love towards that Lord Who is on the very altar praying to the Eternal Father for us, and is there burning with love for us. Indeed, that love it is which detains Him there, thus hidden and unknown, and when He is even despised by ungrateful souls! But why should we say more? "Taste and see."

 

mediatrix9.jpg (16837 bytes)The Visit to the Blessed Virgin

And now, as to the visits to the Most Blessed Virgin, the opinion of Saint Bernard is well known, and generally believed: it is, that God dispenses no graces otherwise than through the hands of Mary: "God wills that we should receive nothing that does not pass through Mary's hands". Hence Father Suarez declares that it is now the sentiment of the universal Church, that "the intercession of Mary is not only useful, but even necessary to obtain graces". And we may remark that the Church gives us strong grounds for this belief, by applying the words of Sacred Scripture to Mary, and making her say: "In me is all hope of life and of virtue. Come over to me, all ye that desire of me". Let all come to me; for I am the hope of all that you can desire. Hence she then adds: Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my doors. (Proverbs 8:34). Blessed is he who is diligent in coming every day to the door of my powerful intercession; for by finding me he will find life and eternal salvation: He that shall find me shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord (Proverbs 8:35). Hence it is not without reason that the Holy Church wills that we should all call her our common hope, by saluting her, saying, "Hail, our hope!"

"Let us then," says Saint Bernard, who went so far as to call Mary 'the whole ground of his hope', "seek for graces, and seek them through Mary".

Be careful, then, always to join to your daily visit to the Most Blessed Sacrament a visit to the most holy Virgin Mary in some church, or at least before a devout image of her in your own house. If you do this with tender affection and confidence, you may hope to receive great things from this most gracious Lady, who, as Saint Andrew of Crete says, always bestows great gifts on those who offer her even the least act of homage.

 

Spiritual Communion

eucharist3.gif (9262 bytes)As in all the following visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament, a spiritual communion is recommended, it will be well to explain what it is, and the great advantages which result from its practice. A spiritual communion, according to Saint Thomas, consists in an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament, and in lovingly embracing Him, as if we had actually received Him.

How pleasing these spiritual communions are to God, and the many graces which He bestows through their means, was manifested by Our Lord Himself to Sister Paula Maresca, the foundress of the convent of Saint Catherine of Sienna in Naples, when (as it is related in her life) He showed her two precious vessels, the one of gold, the other of silver. He then told her that in the gold vessel He preserved her sacramental communions, and in the silver one her spiritual communions. He also told Blessed Jane of the Cross that each time that she communicated spiritually, she received a grace of the same kind as the one that she received when she really communicated. Above all, it will suffice for us to know that the holy Council of Trent (Sess. 13, C. 8) greatly praises spiritual communions, and encourages the faithful to practice them.

All those who desire to advance in the love of Jesus Christ are exhorted to make a spiritual communion at least once in every visit that they pay to the Most Blessed Sacrament, and at every Mass that they hear; and it would even be better on these occasions to repeat the communions three times, that is to say, at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end. This devotion is far more profitable than some suppose, and at the same time nothing can be easier to practice. The above-named Blessed Jane of the Cross used to say, that a spiritual communion can be made without anyone remarking it, without fasting, without the permission of our director, and that we can make it at any time we please; an act of love does all.

 

Instructions on Visits to the Blessed Sacrament
and to the Blessed Virgin

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)For each of the 31 days of the month, Saint Alphonsus provides for us a "Visit to Our Lord", which is a brief meditation on and a fervent prayer of love toward Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Each "Visit to Our Lord" is followed by a "Visit to Our Lady". The latter are short meditations on and prayers of great confidence in her powerful help, even for the most wretched and forsaken of sinners.
littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)At each Visit, is made an "Act of Spiritual Communion," which will help enflame the heart with greater love of God.