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Wherein are shewn some of the great benefits, of of which a faithful man is deprived, by being prohibited the Communion, when he is sufficiently disposed for it.
That the Minister may see and take good notice of the hurt which he does, by depriving the faithful of the Communion, that desire and ask it without the guilt of Mortal Sin, it will be necessary to lay before him some of those infinite benefits of which he defrauds ‘em, only in one Communion, that he may undeceive himself that deprives ‘em of infinite good for mortification sake.
First he deprives such a one of the increase of grace and glory which he receives in the Communion, whose effect is infallible, ex opere operato, though he should have venial sins about him. He also deprives him of the mortification of all his five senses and powers, which he therein performs, whilst his Eyes, his Smelling, his Tast, his Touch, his Imagination, his Understanding and all his knowledge and capacity do tell him that that Host is Bread: by all this he is humbled, mortified, and subdued, whilst he belies that it is not that which he feels and tasts, but that his God and Lord is in it. He deprives him also, by taking the Communion from him, of the cleansing of his sins and evil habits, and being preserved from ‘em for the time to come; of many helps which are therein administered to him for the performance of every good thing, and avoiding every evil one? and it may happen that the Eternal Salvation of Damnation of a Soul may depend upon one of these helps. He deprives him of the lessening the pains of Purgatory, which is participated in every Communion. He deprives him of the highest acts of Faith, Hope and Charity, which he exercises, by believing that he receives that God, who he sees not, nor feels, and hoping in him, whom he had not seen and being united with him by love.
God is goodness it self, and he is willing to be communicated through love to Souls, by means of the Divine and Sacramental Bread: Is there a greater happiness in the world? can there be a greater felicity? and shall there be any Minister to deprive the Soul of this benefit? In this wonderful Sacrament Christ is united to the Soul, and becomes one and the same thing with it. In me manet & ego in illo (St. John 5.) which fineness of love is the most profound, admirable and worthy of consideration and gratitude, because there is not more to give nor to receive: and what Minister shall deprive the soul of this boundless grace?
All Blessings do here meet together in this precious Food, here all desires of God are fulfilled, here is the loving and sacramental Union, here’s the Peace, the Conformity, the Transformation of God, with the Soul, and the Soul with God. By receiving Jesus in this Sacrament, the Eternal Father and the Divine Spirit is also received; here are all the Vertues, Charity, Hope, Purity, Patience, and Humility: because Christ our Lord begets all Vertue in the Soul, by means of this heavenly Food: and what a Heart must the Ministers have to forbid the Soul so great a Happiness.
If one only degree of Grace is a gift of inestimable Value and so precious, that ’tis not to be bought for a thousand Worlds being a particle of God himself, and a formal participation of the Divine Nature, which makes us his Children and Friends, Heirs of Heaven, and the Habitation of the most Holy Trinity: and if never so little Grace be worth more than all the Vertues, Alms, and Penances, and the removing Mountains (as St. Paul says) and giving all away to the Poor, is a meer Nothing without Grace: How then can it be well to deprive the Faithful of the increase of Grace, which he might find only in one Communion? How can the Minister deprive him of that and of many others that follow it, without giving ‘em other things equivalent to those they lose?
What can be of equal value with habitual Grace, which a faithful Man might receive? neither can the Humility which he may exercise, nor the Reverence, nor the Mortification, upon the account of which he leaves off the Communion, be worth so much; nor are they equivalent to that Grace only, which he loses, and which he might have had by receiving that Communion.
And now lets make up this Account. If Restitution ought to be (as all the Doctors say) conformable to the Good, which was taken from one’s Neighbour, what can he restore, which deprives a faithful Man of God himself?
Would it not be great want of Charity to take from a Man a Mount of Gold, only to gather up a little Grain? Only for one Grain of Mortification, (if yet there is any in it) the Ministers do deprive a Christian of a whole Mount of Blessings, which are heaped up together in the Communion: If there were no other way to mortifie and try the Soul, but this, it ought not to be used; because by this Mortification they deprive him of a greater good: but there are infinite ways of proving and mortifying the Soul besides, without doing it so great a Spiritual Prejudice.
The Blessings of this Sacrament don’t end here; because, besides, the increase of Grace, it sustains and gives new strength to the Soul, to resist Temptations; it satisfies the desires, takes away the hunger of temporal things, unites with Christ and his Members, who are the Just and Righteous, breaks the power of Satan, gives strength to suffer Martyrdom, pardons the Venial Sins, to which he that Communicates doth not stand affected; and keeps from Mortal Sins, by vertue of the aid which it doth contribute.
The Body of Christ (says St. Bernard, an Serm. Dom.) is Medicine to the Sick, Provision for the Pilgrim, fresh Strength to the Weary, it delights the Strong, it heals the wounded, it preserves the Health of Soul and Body. And whoever is a worthy Communicant, is made more strong to receive Contempt, more patient to suffer Reproof, more fit to indure Troubles, more ready for Obedience, and to return the Lord Thanks.
St. Leo Pope (de præc. ser. 14. de pass. Domini) says, that when a man is Communicated, Christ comes to honour him with his Presence, to anoint him with his Grace, to cure him with his Mercy, to heal him with his Blood, to raise him by his Death, to illuminate him with his Light, to inflame him with his Love, to comfort him with his infinite Sweetness, to be united and espoused with his Soul, to make him partaker of his Divine Spirit, and of all the Blessings which he purchas’d us by his Cross.
Dost thou seek (says St. Bonaventure, de præc.) where God is? thou must expect to find him in this Divine Sacrament, which being worthily received, does pardon Sins, mittigate Passions, gives light to the Understanding, satiates the Soul, revives Faith, encourages Hope, inkindles Charity, increases Devotion, fills with Grace, and is the rich Pledge of Glory.
This Sacrament (says St. Thomas Opusc, 58. de Sacr. cap. 21, 22, 23) drives away evil Spirits, defends us from Concupiscence, washes off the Stains of the Heart, appeases Gods Anger, illuminates the Understanding, to know him inflames the Will, to love him, delights the memory with Sweetness, confirms the whole man in Goodness, frees him from Punishment Everlasting, multiplies the merits of good Life, and brings him to his Eternal Country. The Body of the Lord (as he pursues it, cap. 24.) produces Three principal Effects. First, it destroys Sin. Secondly, it increases Spiritual Blessings. Thirdly, it comforts men’s Souls; and in Chap. 25 he says, it satiates the Spirit to follow what is good; it comforts and strengthens the Soul, to shun what is evil, it preserves the Life always to praise the Lord. As it is a Sacrifice, it remits the Sins of those who are a live, and lightens the punishment of those who are in Purgatory, and augments the accidental Glory of those who are in Heaven. Lastly, the Body of Christ is called the Sacrament of Charity; because it makes us partakers of the Spirit Divine, of the sweet Abode of Christ himself, and the rich Transformation of God.
‘Twould be an endless thing to relate the Blessings, which, according to the saying of Saints, they do receive from this Sacrament, who come to partake of it without Mortal Sin: and of all these doth the Minister deprive a Christian, when he only forbids him one Communion.
But more than this, depriving ‘em of the Communion, he deprieves all the Saints of Heaven, all the Angels, the most holy Virgin, and Christ himself of that accidental glory which accrues to them by every Communion received in grace. If the Saints in Heaven have a special accidental glory, by every good work, though never so small, that is done here below, as many pious Authors are of opinion, with how much more reason will they have it by a work so sublime as the Communion is, wherein there is included an immensity of all the wonderful works of God? Memoriam fecit mirabilium suorum, Psal. 110.
And if from one only Communion there are so many blessings, as are specified before, to be obtained, what will there be of the sacrifice of the Mass, the gravest, the highest work that is in Heaven or Earth? And shall there then be, Ministers, who under pretence of Penance, Mortification, or the old way, must hinder Priests so great, so holy, and so fruitful a sacrifice?
Saint Jerom said, (in Missis defunct. Pavi. c. 14.) that at the least the Soul suffers not in Purgatory, whilst Mass is said for it [’twas well the Author did not point to us where this blind passage is, in Saint Jeromes Works.] Saint Austin assures us, (Ballester in the Book of the Crucifix of S. Saviour, f. 207.) that the Divine Sacrifice is never Celebrated, but one of these two things follow upon it, either the Conversion of a sinner, or the leting loose of some Soul out of Purgatory, [this is a much Saint Austins saying, as t’other is Saint Jeromes.] William Altisiodorensis was not contented with one Soul; but affirmed, that by every Mass there were the Lord knows how many Souls that got away from thence. Severius in St. Martin’s Life gives an account that he set as many souls at liberty with his Masses, as persons assisted at the hearing of ‘em.
Venerable Bede says, that the Priest, who, being not lawfully hindred, doth neglect to say Mass, deprives the most holy Trinity of glory and praise, the Angels of joy, Sinners of pardon, the Righteous of grace and help, the souls in Purgatory of cooling and refreshment, the Church of the heavenly benefit of Jesus Christ our Lord, and the Priest himself of Medicine and help.
If every Mass therefore has all this of its own, what Minister under the colour of zeal shall be so bold as to hinder and defraud the Trinity, the Angels, the Virgin, the Church, the Righteous, Sinners, the Souls in Purgatory, and the Priests themselves that desire to celebrate, so much glory and so much good? without doubt though this be done with zeal, yet ‘tis want of consideration, and it will be well, to premeditate and consider it better, before any goes about to hinder it.
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