A new commandment I give you, that you love one another.This commandment that he is giving them is a new one, the Lord Jesus tells his disciples. Yet was it not contained in the Old Law, where it is written: You shall love your neighbor as yourself? Why does the Lord call it new when it is clearly so old? Or is the commandment new because it divests us of our former selves and clothes us with the new man? Love does indeed renew the man who hears, or rather obeys its command; but only that love which Jesus distinguished from a natural love by the qualification: As I have loved you.
This is the kind of love that renews us. When we love as he loved us we become new men, heirs of the new covenant and singers of the new song. My brothers, this was the love that even in bygone days renewed the holy men, the patriarchs and prophets of old. In later times it renewed the blessed apostles, and now it is the turn of the Gentiles. From the entire human race throughout the world this love gathers together into one body a new people, to be the bride of God’s only Son. She is the bride of whom it is asked in the Song of Songs: Who is this who comes clothed in white?White indeed are her garments, for she has been made new; and the source of her renewal is none other than this new commandment.
And so all her members make each other’s welfare their common care. When one member suffers, all the members suffer with him, and if one member is glorified all the rest rejoice. They hear and obey the Lord’s words: A new commandment I give you, that you love one another; not as men love one another for their own selfish ends, nor merely on account of their common humanity, but because they are all gods and sons of the Most High. They love one another as God loves them so that they may be brothers of his only Son. He will lead them to the goal that alone will satisfy them, where all their desires will be fulfilled. For when God is all in all, there will be nothing left to desire.
This love is the gift of the Lord who said: As I have loved you, you also must love one another. His object in loving us, then, was to enable us to love each other. By loving us himself, our mighty head has linked us all together as members of his own body, bound to one another by the tender bond of love.
Come, my Lord, to this poor dwelling,
You are Lord of all, and heaven is at hand
As You approach.
Come in Spirit to my humble abode,
At your coming, the angels make ready.
They spread their wings over Your Mercy Seat,
Come. Be enthroned, here in my heart.
Allow the splendor of heaven to scatter flowers along
As You incline, Your Heart
To one in misery for want of You.
I rejoice for You are here
And in my embrace.
You are Now.
You are mine,
O my Beloved.
Heaven finds a home in my soul,
As You reign in my heart.
A river of Life pours forth,
As You water this garden,
And provide rich food and fruit,
For all who will partake.
INTENTION TO BE FORMED IN THE MORNING COVENANT WITH GOD
ASPIRATION TO JESUS
Jesus said to St. Mechtilde: Whoever shall breathe a sigh towards Me from the bottom of his heart when he awakes in the morning, and shall ask Me to work all his works in him throughout the day, he will draw Me to him; so that his soul shall have life from Me even as his body has life from his soul, and he shall do all things through Me and by Me. For never does a man breathe a sigh of longing aspiration towards Me without drawing Me nearer to him than I was before.
O MOST loving Jesus, I breathe towards Thee this sigh, drawn from the depth of my heart, beseeching Thee with all my might that Thou wouldst deign Thyself to work in me all my works, whether of body or of soul, to cleanse them all in thy sweetest Heart, and to offer them, in union with Thine Own most perfect works, to God the Father as an eternal thanksgiving. Amen.
COVENANT WITH GOD
O ALMIGHTY God, I sanctify, dedicate, and consecrate to Thee every beating of my heart, and every pulsation of my blood; and I desire to make this compact with Thee, that their every beating shall say to Thee: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth; and I beseech Thee to impute this meaning to them, so that they may be before Thy Divine Majesty as the unceasing echo of that heavenly canticle, which seraphims sing without ceasing unto Thee. Amen. Amen.
Salute to the Heart of Jesus
I ADORE, praise, and salute Thee, O most sweet Heart of Jesus Christ, fresh and gladdening as the breath of spring, from which, as from a fountain of graces, sweeter than the honeycomb, floweth ever more all good and all delight. I thank Thee with all the powers of my heart for having preserved me throughout this night, and for having rendered to God the Father praises and thanksgivings in my behalf. And now, O my sweet Love, I offer Thee my wretched and worthless heart as a morning sacrifice; I place it in Thy most tender Heart, and entrust it to Thy keeping; beseeching Thee that Thou wouldst deign to pour into it Thy Divine inspirations, and to enkindle it with Thy holy love. Amen.
RECOMMENDATION TO JESUS
It was revealed to St. Gertrude that if anyone commends himself to God, praying to be kept from all sin, God will never forsake him; and even though he be permitted to fall into some grievous fault, the grace of God will sustain him like a staff, and enable him to return more easily to repentance.
O JESUS, full of compassion, I commend to thee my spirit and my soul, in union with that love wherewith thou didst commend Thine Own to the Father on the Cross; and I place them in the most sacred wound of Thy tender Heart, that they may be therein protected from all the snares of the enemy. Thou knowest, O good Jesus, and I know by my own sad experience, how weak and frail I am, so that I could not of myself persevere in good, or resist temptation even for one single hour. Wherefore I pray Thee, by the reverence due to that union wherein Thy manhood is united to the adorable Trinity for our glorification, that Thou wouldst deign to unite my will to Thine, and so to strengthen and secure it, that it may be unable to rebel against Thee. In union with Thy most sinless limbs, I commend to Thee all the members of my body, with all their movements, that they may throughout this day love for Thy glory alone, for Thy praise and Thy love. Amen.
INTENTION TO BE FORMED IN THE MORNING
Our Lord revealed to St. Gertrude, that He records with letters of gold in the book of life all those actions which are done purely for the love of God, in union with the Passion of Christ, and for the salvation of all mankind, without thought of our own merit. And although all good works receive from God an abundant reward, those which are done simply and purely for His glory are of far higher merit, and obtain for us a far greater increase of glory.
O LORD, my God, for Thy sake I resolve to perform all my actions, whether outward or inward, purely for Thy glory, and for the salvation of the whole world; with such intention and in such manner as Thou dost desire and enjoin; and in union with that love whereby Thy Son came down from Heaven, and wrought out the whole work of our salvation, especially during His Passion. Wherefore I entirely disclaim all merit, all reward and grace which I might otherwise hope to obtain by these actions, that I may offer to Thee, my God, a pure sacrifice of praise, and give Thee a proof of my love.
MORE EXTENDED COVENANT TO BE RENEWED EVERY WEEK
The great efficacy of this covenant may be shown thus: Were a person to resolve that by every movement he made he wished to be understood to ratify and approve all the sins that are committed all over the earth, and to be held a partaker of them, it is easy to see what guilt he would thus contract. And if such an intention would have so great influence for evil, why should it not have immense force and merit for good?
O LORD God, my Creator, all my desire is before Thee, and my groaning is not hidden from Thee; but inasmuch as the necessities of this life prevent the constant application of my mind to Thy praise, I make with Thee this covenant, earnestly desiring that it may remain in force throughout this week.
Whenever I look up towards Heaven, I desire and intend to rejoice with Thee in Thine infinite perfections; that Thou art what Thou art, supremely strong and wise and loving and just.
As often as I open or close my eyes, I desire and intend to approve and concur in all the holy actions which Thine Only-begotten Son, and all the Saints in Heaven and just on earth, have ever done, or shall ever hereafter do, to Thy glory, and desire to be held a partaker in them all.
As often as I draw my breath, I offer to Thee the Life and Passion and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the merits and sufferings of all the Saints, to Thine eternal glory, for the welfare and peace of all the whole world, and in satisfaction for the sins of all men.
Whenever I sigh, I intend to detest and abhor every sin, as well my own sins as those which have ever been committed from the beginning of the world against the honour of Thy Name. Would that the slight and worthless offering of my blood might be accepted in satisfaction for them!
Lastly, as often as I move my hand or my foot, so often do I cast myself with entire resignation upon Thy most holy will, desiring that Thou wouldst dispose of me in time and in eternity, according to Thine adorable Will.
From the first apology in defense of the Christians by Saint Justin, martyr
No one may share the eucharist with us unless he believes that what we teach is true, unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.
We do not consume the eucharistic bread and wine as if it were ordinary food and drink, for we have been taught that as Jesus Christ our Savior became a man of flesh and blood by the power of the Word of God, so also the food that our flesh and blood assimilates for its nourishment becomes the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus by the power of his own words contained in the prayer of thanksgiving.
The apostles, in their recollections, which are called gospels, handed down to us what Jesus commanded them to do. They tell us that he took bread, gave thanks and said: Do this in memory of me. This is my body. In the same way he took the cup, he gave thanks and said: This is my blood. The Lord gave this command to them alone. Ever since then we have constantly reminded one another of these things. The rich among us help the poor and we are always united. For all that we receive we praise the Creator of the universe through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.
On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members, whether they live in the city or the outlying districts. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray.
On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give assent by saying, “Amen.” The eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take it to those who are absent.
The wealthy, if they wish, may make a contribution, and they themselves decide the amount. The collection is placed in the custody of the president, who uses it to help the orphans and widows and all who for any reason are in distress, whether because they are sick, in prison, or away from home. In a word, he takes care of all who are in need.
We hold our common assembly on Sunday because it is the first day of the week, the day on which God put darkness and chaos to flight and created the world, and because on that same day our savior Jesus Christ rose from the dead. For he was crucified on Friday and on Sunday he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them the things that we have passed on for your consideratio
AN EFFICACIOUS METHOD OF OFFERING OUR ACTIONS TO GOD
While St. Gertrude was offering a certain action to God, saying:
O Lord, I offer Thee this work through Thine Only Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to the praise of Thine eternal Majesty; it was revealed to her that whatever action was thus offered would acquire a worth and acceptableness to God beyond all human comprehension. For as all things appear to be green when seen through a green glass, so whatever is offered to God through His Only-begotten Son cannot be otherwise than most precious and pleasing in His sight.
That you may understand how useful it is to offer all your works to God, listen to what our Lord said on one occasion to St. Gertrude: All thy works are most perfectly pleasing to Me. And as she could not believe this, He added: If you held in your hand some object which you had the means and the skill to render perfectly pleasing to everyone, and if you tenderly loved that object, would you neglect to adorn it? Even thus, because you are accustomed to offer all your works to Me, I hold them in My hand; and as I have both the power and the skill, My love rejoiceth to cleanse and perfect them all, that they may be most perfectly pleasing in My sight.
From a sermon by Saint Gaudentius of Brescia, bishop
The heavenly sacrifice, instituted by Christ, is the most gracious legacy of his new covenant. On the night he was delivered up to be crucified he left us this gift as a pledge of his abiding presence.
This sacrifice is our sustenance on life’s journey; by it we are nourished and supported along the road of life until we depart from this world and make our way to the Lord. For this reason he addressed these words to us: Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will not have life in you.
It was the Lord’s will that his gifts should remain with us, and that we who have been redeemed by his precious blood should constantly be sanctified according to the pattern of his own passion. And so he commanded those faithful disciples of his whom he made the first priests of his Church to enact these mysteries of eternal life continuously. All priests throughout the churches of the world must celebrate these mysteries until Christ comes again from heaven. Therefore let us all, priests and people alike, be faithful to this everlasting memorial of our redemption. Daily it is before our eyes as a representation of the passion of Christ. We hold it in our hands, we receive it in our mouths, and we accept it in our hearts.
It is appropriate that we should receive the body of Christ in the form of bread, because, as there are many grains of wheat in the flour from which bread is made by mixing it with water and baking it with fire, so also we know that many members make up the one body of Christ which is brought to maturity by the fire of the Holy Spirit. Christ was born of the Holy Spirit, and since it was fitting that he should fulfill all justice, he entered into the waters of baptism to sanctify them. When he left the Jordan he was filled with the Holy Spirit who had descended upon him in the form of a dove. As the evangelist tells us: Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan.
Similarly, the wine of Christ’s blood, drawn from the many grapes of the vineyard that he had planted, is extracted in the winepress of the cross. When men receive it with believing hearts, like capacious wineskins, it ferments within them by its own power.
And so, now that you have escaped from the power of Egypt and of Pharaoh, who is the devil, join with us, all of you, in receiving this sacrifice of the saving passover with the eagerness of dedicated hearts. Then in our inmost being we shall be wholly sanctified by the very Lord Jesus Christ whom we believe to be present in his sacraments, and whose boundless power abides for ever.