Translated by Fray Hubert Dunstan Decena, OAR
A. Invoking the Holy Spirit.
We invoke the Holy Spirit using the words of St. Augustine.
Come, Holy Spirit, by whom every devout soul, who believes in Christ is sanctified to become a citizen of the City of God! (en. Ps. 45:8) Come, Holy Spirit, grant that we receive the motions of God, put in us your flame, enlighten us and raise us up to God. (s. 128, 4) Amen.
With hearts well disposed, with serenity, read slowly the following words, savoring them and allowing yourself to be touched by them.
51 “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” 52 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
Let us now meditate with the commentary of St. Augustine on these words of the Gospel according to St. John.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Living precisely because he came down from heaven. The manna also came down from heaven. But the manna was the shadow; this is the reality. Whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.
When could the flesh understand that he called the flesh bread? It is called flesh what the flesh does not understand, and much less does it understand precisely by calling it flesh. Certainly they were horrified by this; they said that this was too much for them, and they supposed that this could not happen. He affirms: It is my flesh for the life of the world. The faithful recognize the Body of Christ if they are not careless to be the body of Christ. Let them be the Body of Christ if they want to live the Spirit of Christ. Of the Spirit of Christ lives no one but the Body of Christ. Understand, my brothers, what I have said. You are man, you have body and you have spirit. I call spirit what is called the soul of which you are composed as man, since you are man, since you are composed of soul and body. You have then an invisible spirit and a visible body. Tell me, what lives in virtue of what: does your spirit live in virtue of your body, or does the body live in virtue of the spirit? All who lives, answer, – but whoever cannot answer this, I don’t know if he lives- ; what does all who lives answer? My body, yes, it lives of my spirit. And you, do you want to live of the Spirit of Christ? Remain in the Body of Christ. Does my body perhaps live of your spirit? My body lives of my spirit, and your body of your spirit. The Body of Christ cannot live but of the Spirit of Christ. That is why the Apostle Paul on explaining to us this bread affirms: Though many, we are only one bread, only one body.
O Sacrament of devotion! O sign of Unity! O bond of Charity! Whoever wants to live has where to live, has of what to live. Come close, believe, unite yourself to be vitalized. Feel no repugnance for the bond of the members, be not a rotten member who deserves to be cut off, be not deformed to blush for it; be beautiful, be proportioned, be healthy, adhere to the body; of God live for God; spend yourself here on earth, afterwards to reign in heaven (Io. eu. tr. 26, 13).
With the text, let us now pray from the depths of our heart. I suggest the following phrases and questions that can awaken in you a dialogue with God, and at the same time can give rise to affections and sentiments in your dialogue with God. Do not move to the next phrase or question if you can still continue dialoguing with God in one of them. It is not a matter of exhausting the list, but of helping you to pray with some points that better fit your personal experience.
a. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever” (Jn. 6:51).
- From your point of view, why is Christ the Living Bread?
- How do you live the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist?
b. “Whoever likes to live, has where to live, has of which to live. Come close, believe, unite yourself to be vitalized” (Io. eu. tr. 26,13).
- How does the Eucharist give you life?
- What relationship do you find between the Eucharist and the Church, the Body of Christ?
c. Pray with the phrase: “Oh sacrament of devotion! Oh sign of unity! Oh bond of charity!” (Io. eu. tr. 26, 13).
I propose to you some points for affective interior contemplation. Once again, you need not follow all of it, rather you can choose what fits your personal experience.
a. Contemplate Jesus presenting himself as the Living Bread that came down from heaven. Contemplate: It is he who gives you life.
b. Enter into your heart and contemplate how your life is sustained by Christ himself, by his Body and Blood. It is he who gives you life. Contemplate how each time you receive the Holy Eucharist this life in confirmed and affirmed in you.
Think of everything that you can share with those around you about the experience you had with God, especially about the importance of the Holy Eucharist in your life. The following points can help you as guide to share with your community the experience of the lectio divina on this text..
- What have I discovered about God and about myself in this moment of prayer?
- How can I apply this text of Scripture at this moment of my life? What light does it give me? What challenges does it put before me?
- What concrete commitment does this text of Scripture ask of me in my spiritual life, in my community life?
- What has been my dominant sentiment during this moment of prayer?
Final Prayer of St. Augustine.
Turning towards the Lord: Lord God, Father Almighty, with pure heart, as far as our littleness permits, allow us to give you our most devoted and sincere thanks, begging with all our strength from your particular goodness, that you deign to hear our petitions according to your good will, that by your power you may drive away the enemy from all our thoughts and actions, that you may increase our faith, govern our mind, and give us spiritual thoughts and bring us to your happiness through your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, who with you lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. (en. Ps. 150:8).
“To believe in him is the same as to eat the living bread. He who believes eats.” (Io. eu. tr. 26, 1).