Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament
Throughout the history of the Church we find holy personages who joined the worship of the Holy Eucharist with devotion to Mary, upholding the one with the other. M. Jean-Jacques Olier, the holy founder of St. Sulpice, and reformer of the clergy in the eighteenth century, had three Masses celebrated every day, the intention of each Mass being placed in the Blessed Virgin’s hands, that she might, in offering it to her Son for the Church, obtain infinite treasures of grace. But for the specific origin of this devotion, we must look to the nineteenth century and to another holy French priest.
Blessed Peter Julian Eymard
Blessed Peter Julian Eymard was chosen by Divine Providence to be the Founder of two religious Orders in the Church: one for priests, and the other for nuns, both entirely consecrated to the adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament exposed. But it was through Mary that God made His will known to His servant; so is it declared in the Brief of Beatification: “On the Feast of Corpus Christi of the year 1845, moved by an inspiration which we may look upon as divine, he clearly understood the nature of the work that he was soon to undertake to promote the worship of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Nevertheless, it was not until the Most Blessed Virgin (whose help and light he had previously implored in the sanctuary of Fourvière) gave him two forewarnings, that, humbly submitting to the will of God, he began to lay the foundation of his new Order.”
The first of these warnings took place on January 21, 1851. Bd. Eymard, while in Mary’s sanctuary, was strongly impressed by the thought of the small amount of devotion that existed towards the Blessed Sacrament, and of the sacrileges committed against the Divine Eucharist. A few days later, the 2nd of February, this idea became more distinct. The Father was to preside at the meeting of the Third Order of Mary; he was going to Fourvière by the “ascent of angels.” “I remember,” he used to relate, “that I did not want to go into the sanctuary, from a feeling of humility, and I took my place beyond the pulpit. There I asked Mary what I could do to make the Most Blessed Sacrament loved. I said to her: ‘Each Order honors some mystery; the Eucharist, the greatest of all, is the only one that has none!’ Then Mary told me she wanted me to devote myself to having her Divine Son honored in the Eucharist. It was there that Mary was so good to me. I saw clearly what she asked of me.”
Bd. Peter Julian EymardYes, it was through Mary that Blessed Peter Julian Eymard was led to Jesus. He wrote on this subject in his notes during a retreat in 1865. “It was the Blessed Virgin who led me to Our Lord: to Sunday Communion (at Notre Dame du Laus) at the age of twelve; from the Society of Mary to that of the Most Blessed Sacrament.”
Blessed Peter Julian Eymard first gave the title of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament to Mary in May 1868, while speaking to his novices. A few years later he described what her statue should look like: “The Blessed Virgin holds the Infant in her arms; and He holds a chalice in one hand and a Host in the other.” He exhorted his religious to invoke Mary in this way: “Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, pray for us who have recourse to thee!”
Later, Pope Pius IX enriched this invocation with indulgences. Pope St. Pius X did the same twice. On December 30, 1905, he granted a 300 days indulgence to the faithful who pray: “Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament, pray for us.”
“This title, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, is perhaps the most meaningful of all,” said St. Pius X.
In 1921 the Sacred Congregation of Rites authorized the Blessed Sacrament Congregations to celebrate each year, on the 13th of May, a “solemn commemoration of the Blessed Virgin,” with the intention of honoring Mary under the title of “Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament.”
The following is taken from notes Blessed Peter Julian Eymard used while giving retreat conferences to the Religious of the Orders he founded:
Blessed Peter Julian Eymard’s Reflections on
Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament
The Month of Mary is the month of blessing and of grace, for, as St. Bernard, in company with all the Saints, assures us, all grace comes to us through Mary. The Month of Mary is a continuous festival in honor of the Mother of God.
Because our vocation calls us to give special honor to the Holy Eucharist, we must not for that reason give any the less devotion to the Blessed Virgin. Far from it! He would be guilty of blasphemy who would say, “The Most Blessed Sacrament suffices for me; I have no need of Mary.” Where, then, shall we find Jesus on earth if not in Mary’s arms? Was it not she who gave us the Eucharist? It was her consent to the Incarnation of the Word in her womb that inaugurated the great mystery of reparation to God and union with us which Jesus accomplished during His mortal life, and that He continues in the Eucharist.
Without Mary, we shall never find Jesus, for she possesses Him in her Heart. There He takes His delight, and those who wish to know His inmost virtues, to experience the privilege of His intimate love, must seek these in Mary. They who love that good Mother find Jesus in her Pure Heart.
We must never separate Jesus from Mary; we can go to Him only through her.
I maintain, moreover, that the more we love the Eucharist, the more we must love Mary. We love all that our friend loves; now, was ever a creature better loved by God, a mother more tenderly cherished by her Son, than was Mary by Jesus?
O yes, Our Lord would be much pained if we, the servants of the Eucharist, did not greatly honor Mary, because she is His Mother! Our Lord owes everything to her in the order of His Incarnation, His human nature. It is by the flesh she gave Him that He has so glorified His Father, that He has redeemed us, and that He continues to nourish and save the world by the Blessed Sacrament.
Our Lord wishes us to honor her so much the more now, for that during His mortal life He seemed to neglect to do so Himself. Our Lord certainly gave all honor to His Mother in His private life; but in public, He left her in the background, since He had ever and before all else to assert and maintain His dignity as God. But now Our Lord wishes us, in a manner, to make up to the Most Blessed Virgin all that He did not do for her exteriorly; and we are bound (our eternal salvation is at stake) to honor her as the Mother of God and our Mother.
But since as adorers we are most especially consecrated to the service of the Eucharist, it is by virtue of this vocation that we owe a particular devotion to Mary. We are, by reason of our profession, adorers of the Eucharist. This is our beautiful title, blessed by Pope Pius IX. Adorers – what does this mean? It means that we are attached to the Adorable Person of Our Lord living in the Eucharist. But if we belong to the Son, we are obliged, in order to continue in the grace of our vocation and participate fully in it, to give very special honor to the Blessed Virgin under the title of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament.
This devotion is not, as yet, much known, nor explicitly defined in the Church. But since devotion to Mary follows the worship of Jesus, it will also follow its various phases and developments.
I have not found this devotion treated of in any work; nor have I ever heard it spoken of, except in the Revelations of Mother Mary of Jesus (Agreda), where I read something about Mary’s Communions; and, again, in the Acts of the Apostles, where we find Our Lady in the Cenacle.
What did the Blessed Virgin do in the Cenacle? She adored. She was the Mother and the Queen of adorers. She was, in a word, Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Our occupation, during this month, will be to honor her under this beautiful title, to meditate on what she did, and to see how Our Lord received her adoration. We shall discover the perfect union of these two Hearts – that of Jesus with that of Mary – so merged as to seem one Heart, one life. It is by our piety that we shall be enabled to penetrate that mysterious veil which surrounds the life of adoration of Our Blessed Mother.
It is surprising that the Acts of the Apostles say nothing about this, but are satisfied with barely stating the fact that Mary dwelt in the Cenacle. Ah! it is because her whole life there was one continuous act of love and adoration.
But how describe this love and adoration? How express that reign of God in the soul and that life of the soul in God? It cannot be portrayed. Language has no words wherewith to express the delights of Heaven, and the same is true concerning the life of Mary in the Cenacle. Saint Luke tells us simply that she lived and prayed there.
Let us study her interior life at prayer, at adoration. We may picture to ourselves all that is most intense in love, all that is holiest and best in virtue, and then attribute all to Mary. And because Mary lived in the Cenacle in union with the Most Blessed Sacrament for some twenty years, all her virtues bore the Eucharistic stamp. They were nourished by her Communions, by her adoration, and by her continual union with Jesus Eucharistic. Mary’s virtues during her sojourn in the Cenacle reached their highest perfection – a perfection almost limitless – and were surpassed only by those of her Divine Son.
Let us ask Our Lord to reveal to us what passed between Him and His Blessed Mother during those years in the Cenacle. He will make known to us some of those wonders – not all, for we could not bear to know all, but a few – and this knowledge will fill us with joy and admiration.
Oh! how happy I should be if I could but write some meditations on Mary Adoratrix! Much study would be necessary for that, much prayer, also. One must understand, furthermore, the thanksgiving of Mary’s love. I greatly desire this, but for such a work a longer preparation would be required.
All the mysteries of Mary’s life are re-enacted in the Cenacle. If we meditate on the birth of her Son in Bethlehem let us continue the Gospel narrative, and soon we behold the Eucharistic birth of that same Son on the altar. Or if we take the Flight into Egypt: do we not see that Our Lord is even now in the midst of strangers and barbarians, in those cities and countries in which the churches are closed and no one goes to visit Him? And then – His hidden life at Nazareth: do we not find Him even more hidden here? In this way consider all the other mysteries in the light of the Eucharist, and reflect on the part that Mary took therein.
The essential thing is to try to practice some given virtue of the Blessed Virgin’s. Begin at once with the lowest, the smallest of these. When you have made them your own, you will go on, little by little, till you come to her interior virtues, even to that of her love.
Then let us daily offer up some sacrifice. Let us foresee something that will cost us. There are some sacrifices that we can plan in advance: to be kind to such a person, to perform such an act. Offer this sacrifice: the Blessed Virgin will be much pleased with it. It will be an added flower to the crown she wishes to offer to her Son, in our name, on His feastday – the beautiful Feast of Corpus Christi.
If we foresee no particular sacrifice, let us maintain ourselves in the generous disposition to accept all that God will send us. Let us be vigilant in order that no occasion of denying ourselves may pass by us unnoticed. These are messengers from Heaven, each bearing a grace and a crown of thorns. We must welcome both. A sacrifice anticipated makes us reason, and reasoning diminishes its merit; but those we accept generously without premeditation or deliberation are of more value. God wants to surprise us. He says to us: “Hold thyself in readiness!” and the faithful soul is ready to accept all that God wills. Love delights in surprises. Let us never lose these opportunities for sacrifice; all that is necessary is to be generous. A generous soul! What a beautiful thing in God’s sight! God is glorified by such a one, and He says of her as He said of Job – with joy and admiration – “Hast thou seen My servant Job?” The soul that loves allows none of these daily sacrifices to pass. She is ever on the alert, her eyes Heavenward. She feels that a cross is coming and she prepares to receive it.
Let us, then, honor the Blessed Virgin by a daily sacrifice. Let us go to Our Lord through her; shelter ourselves behind her, take refuge beneath her protecting mantle; clothe ourselves in her virtues. Let us be, in short, but Mary’s shadow. Let us offer all her actions, all her merits, all her virtues to Our Lord. We have only to have recourse to Mary and to say to Jesus: “I offer thee the riches that my good Mother has acquired for me” – and Our Lord will be very much pleased with us.
Let us follow our Mother to the Cenacle and listen to the lessons that she there teaches us, lessons that she has received from her Divine Son, with whom she conversed day and night. She is the faithful echo of His Heart and of His love. Let us love Mary tenderly; let us labor under her maternal eye, and pray by her side. Let us be her truly devoted children, for by so doing, we shall honor Jesus, who has given her to us for our Mother, that she may teach us how to love Him by the example of her own life.
Place yourself, then, under Mary’s direction; think her thoughts, speak her words of love, imitate her manners, perform her actions, share her sufferings, and all in her will speak to you of Jesus, of His highest service, of God’s greatest glory.
Honor in Mary, at the foot of the Tabernacle, all the mysteries of her life, for all these were stations, as it were, leading to the Cenacle. In Mary’s life there you will find the model and the consolation of your own life. In the Cenacle, this august Queen kneels as adoratrix and servant of the Most Blessed Sacrament; kneel at your Mother’s side and pray with her, and in so doing, you will continue her Eucharistic life on earth.
When you receive Holy Communion, clothe yourself with the virtues and merits of Mary, your Mother, and you will thus communicate with her faith and with her devotion. O how happy Jesus will be to find in you the image of His lovable and holy Mother!
When you labor to promote the Eucharistic reign of Our Lord, unite yourself with Mary’s intention and with her joy when she worked for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and you will be happy!
Oh, how Mary will love you if you serve her Jesus well! How she will protect you if you labor only for the glory of Jesus! How she will enrich you if you live only for the love of Jesus! You will render her still more a Mother, since you enable her to discharge more perfectly her mission as Mother of the adorers of her Son Jesus.
But you must be modest as she was. Remember her modesty in the Angel’s presence, and reflect on the modesty with which she served her Son in the Blessed Sacrament.
Be pure as Mary. Remember that in order to preserve the flower of her virginity she was ready to sacrifice even the glory of the Divine Maternity.
Be humble as Mary – entirely lost in her own nothingness, entirely abandoned to God’s grace.
Be sweet and amiable as Mary. She was the embodiment of the sweetness of the Heart of Jesus.
Be devoted as Mary. Mary loved to the extent of Calvary – she loved even unto death. It was on Calvary that she became the Mother of love. There only will you become a true adorer, worthy of the Cenacle, worthy of Jesus and Mary.
(Blessed Peter Julian Eymard is honored by the Church on August 3rd.)