When Our Lady was asked by the little shepherdess at Lourdes what was her name, she answered, “:I am the Immaculate Conception.” Very probably, if she were asked today what title she would prefer, she would answer, “Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament.” This is the most recent of the titles of Mary, and the Holy See has graciously assigned the 13th of May each year for the celebration of this feast. If we examine this latest title of Mary, we cannot fail to be struck by the depth of its meaning and by its power of raising our thoughts to the most sublime and most devotional of all mysteries. When Our Lord revealed to St. Margaret Mary the desire of His Sacred Heart to receive honor and reparation, He also said that this devotion was intended to inflame the hearts of the faithful with love and was to inaugurate a period of fervor in the Church. This Sacred Heart of Jesus now lives in the Blessed Sacrament, and the increase of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is the chief result of the spread of the devotion to the Sacred heart of Jesus.
We might say in a few words that all graces at present come from the Blessed Sacrament, and all other devotions in the Church are rather aids or helps towards increased devotion to Our Lord in the Sacrament of His love. During the past few centuries we notice also an increase of devotion to Our Blessed Lady, the Mother of Jesus. The Rosary has been again and again recommended by the Vicar of Christ as a devotion suitable to all ages and all times, but more especially as a family prayer in order to create a supernatural bond in the family and to obtain the protection of the holy Mother of God on all Christian families. This devotion to the Mother of God is always accompanied with an increase of devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Devotion to Mary is merely the way or the road to reach Jesus, and the center and source of all graces now is the holy Eucharist. We see at Lourdes, where the Mother of Jesus is honored, that the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament increases in this center of holiness just in Proportion to the increase in devotion to Mary.
We notice during the lifetime of Jesus that Mary was never far from Him. She carried Him as an infant to Egypt. She lived with her Divine Son for thirty years, and during his Public Life she followed him, although she never appeared in the public eye. At Calvary she stands with Jesus amidst all the insults of the rabble and then receives His dead body from the Cross. After Our Lord’s Ascension, Mary received Jesus every day in the Holy Communion, and as the Blessed Sacrament was then reserved in the early churches, which were generally the homes of some of the early Christians, Mary spent most of her days and nights in adoration before the Tabernacle. It is the teaching of the greatest theologians and historians that the Blessed Sacrament was reserved in the early churches of the Christians for the purpose of adoration and for the Viaticum of the sick. It seems indeed strange that this title of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament was not given to Mary until the present age, but perhaps in the designs of God as the devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is to be the special activity of the faithful for the future ages, this title of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament will surpass all other titles, and be the one by which ” her devoted children will love to address her in the periods of fervor and sanctity upon which the Church is just now about to enter. The devotion to the holy Eucharist is really the center of all other devotions in the Church and the source of practically all graces. The Mass is the renewal of Calvary. Mary stood with Jesus on Calvary and united her sufferings with those of her Son for the salvation of souls. Without the Mass we would be devoid of the chief means of bringing the fruits of the Passion of Jesus to our souls. Certainly we receive great graces in prayer, but it is through the Mass that we are able actually to lay hold of all the treasures of graces which Jesus obtained for us by all his sufferings. When Jesus was dying on the first Good Friday, very many around the Cross received the grace of the True Faith, and through the prayers of Jesus and Mary, thousands were saved, either through the graces received on that day or at the subsequent preaching of the Apostles. The Centurion, the Good Thief, and very many of the Jews and the soldiers confessed the divinity of Jesus and received the gifts of faith and redemption by their presence on that day.
The Mass is a renewal of the first Good Friday. In His excessive love, Jesus instituted the Blessed Eucharist in order to bring the fruits of Redemption throughout the whole world, so that those who hear Mass in any part of the whole world may receive the gifts of grace and faith which were bestowed upon those who were around the Cross on the first Good Friday. Wherever the Mass is offered, it brings the blessings gained by Our Lord to the souls of all the faithful and to the suffering souls in Purgatory, just as the sufferings of Jesus benefitted others besides those who were present at his death; but only those around the Cross gained those special graces which were bestowed only on that day. We see this in the case of the Good Thief and the Centurion. Others who were not present and the faithful of all ages obtained the fruits of the sufferings of Jesus principally through the Sacrifice of the Mass. “Do this,” says Jesus, “in commemoration of Me.” The Apostles and their successors carried out this command of Our Lord, and now we have fulfilled the prophecy of Malachy, who made known that the Sacrifice of the New Law would be offered in every place from the rising to the setting of the sun.
The Sacrifice of the Mass not only renews the Sacrifice of Calvary, but we are now even more privileged than those who were present at the death of Jesus. In addition to all the merits of the Passion of Jesus, we can now receive the Sacred Body of Jesus in holy Communion. When we receive Our Lord in holy Communion, we gain all the fruits of the sufferings of Jesus that our souls are capable of receiving. In the early Church, after the Descent of the Holy Ghost, the faithful were accustomed to receive holy Communion as often as they were present at the holy Sacrifice, and it was then recognized that without holy Communion the graces of the Mass would not be complete for the individual soul. This custom of receiving Jesus daily in Holy Communion must have been taught by Our Lord Himself, because the Apostles and Evangelists speak frequently of the “breaking of bread,” and this, according to commentators, refers to Holy Communion.
It is not known with certainty how long Our Lady lived in this world after the Ascension. Suarez and the majority of the early Fathers are of the opinion that Mary lived twenty-four years after the Ascension of Jesus. During these years she was occupied in consoling and instructing the Apostles and making known the great events that took place at Nazareth during the thirty years of the Hidden Life. She aided the faithful by her counsels and brought to them grace by her very presence, and when she spoke, it seemed that the sweetness and calmness of her soul diffused themselves all around. But during these years Mary was growing in grace, and this time was given to her that she might increase in love and in beauty of soul by every action and by every desire of her heart. Already she was so filled with grace that the least action performed by her raised her up in sanctity much more than ever her actions during the mortal life of Jesus. The reason for this is simple. Mary was growing in holiness every moment of her life, and as she grew older, her holiness surpassed that of all the faithful on earth and all the saints in Heaven put together. This meant that the least action of Mary, on account of the high state of grace in her soul, was valuable beyond the actions of others because the grace of the hatter was so small in comparison with that of Mary. During all these years Mary grew in grace and in love principally by her devotion to the Blessed Eucharist. Her daily Communions united her to Jesus much more closely than she was united to him during tile thirty years at Nazareth. Jesus wished His Holy Mother to be as near to Himself for eternity as it is possible for a soul to be, and in the filial love of His Sacred Heart He left Mary in the world for many years after His Ascension. As Mary was nourished every day by the Heavenly Food of the Sacred Body of Jesus, her soul was more and more adorned with all gifts and was raised higher and higher in love and sanctity, so that at last the vehemence of her love burst asunder the cords that tied her to earth, and she took her flight to the bosom of God. Mary might have gone to Heaven with Jesus at the Ascension, but then her sanctity would not have been complete. We do not mean to say that Mary lead lost any grace up to that time, because she fully cooperated and made full use of every grace during the whole period of her earthly existence, but the years after the Ascension were intended to raise her up to heights of holiness unheard of before. She was to acquire this extraordinary and surpassing glory through the Holy Eucharist. The daily Communion of Mary was, towards the end of her life, practically her only food, and with each Communion her love for Jesus increased with a rapidity that cannot be measured in human language.
Mary spent the years after the Ascension of Jesus in divine contemplation before tile Tabernacle. This was her chief occupation, although she was often interrupted in her adoration, owing to the members who sought her aid. St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote to her asking her to assist him in the struggles that he had to undergo for the Faith. She replied that she would soon visit him at Antioch with St. John. We see again the tender heart of Mary and how sweet she is to all who approach her or seek her aid.
The Blessed Sacrament is now the food of our souls, just as natural food preserves the life of the body. Our Lady’s chief occupation now is to help Jesus in the salvation of souls, and we notice that she entices her children towards the Heavenly Food of [holy Communion, and she brings them to Jesus when they are in trouble or sorrow. Mary’s children are sometimes anxious to show their love for her, and they will manifest their affection for this tender mother by many external marks of homage. What Mary regards most is the interior purity of heart. This sweet mother was the purest of all God’s creatures. To the pure of heart alone will Jesus and Mary communicate their secrets. Purity of heart and purity of intention are best secured by being nourished by the heavenly food of tile holy Eucharist. Mary spent all her spare time, after Our Lord’s Ascension, before the Tabernacle in loving converse with Jesus. During these years she gained grace after grace by her prayers and by her devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. If we wish to please Mary, we have only to imitate her in her love for Jesus. Mary loves pure souls. Purity is preserved through the Blessed Eucharist. Mary wishes her children to sanctify themselves every day as she did by daily Communion and by adoration and prayer before Jesus in the Tabernacle. May the title of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament be properly understood by all the faithful, and then we will soon find the Church producing a harvest of saints greater than in any previous age of her existence.