OUR LADY AND THE EUCHARIST
In 1911, St. Pius X pointed out that Mary, the Mother of God, draws people from all over the world to Lourdes. Why? “For the adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.” Lourdes, says the Pope, “is at once the center of devotion to Mary and the throne of the Eucharistic Mystery.”
Many thousands of people receive Holy Communion every day at the grotto. And all the cures of the sick and the spiritually troubled take place in the afternoon during the procession of the Blessed Sacrament when the priest, walking among the sick blesses them with the Blessed Sacrament. Mary brings her children to her Son in the Eucharist, and it is He who works the miracles, just as He did at Cana in Galilee.
The little girl, Bernadette, to whom Mary appeared 18 times in 1858, made her first Holy Communion a few months after Mary appeared to her for the first time. A friend asked Bernadette, “Tell me, which of the two brought greatest joy to you—receiving your God in Holy Communion, or speaking with the Blessed Virgin Mary?”
Bernadette replied, “I do not know. The two things go together and cannot be compared. All I know is that I was intensely happy in them both.”
Mary and Jesus in the Eucharist are inseparable. “The two things go together,” says Bernadette. Genuine devotion to Mary leads inevitably to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
No one has more eloquently testified to the inseparability of Mary and Jesus in the Eucharist than has St. Thomas Aquinas in the Pange Lingua, a hymn to Mary as well as to the Blessed Sacrament: “Sing, my tongue, of the mystery of the Glorious Body and Precious Blood, the fruit of a generous womb, which the King of Nations poured forth for the ransom of the world.”
The body and Blood of Jesus given to us in the Eucharist are the fruit of Mary’s noble womb. These words of Aquinas make us think at once of Mary’s generous words at Nazareth, “I am the handmaid of the Lord: Be it done to me according to your word!”
Hers is moreover, a noble womb because it is forever virginal, consecrated to God, accepted by Him, and made fruitful by the Holy Spirit.
Her generosity which began at the Annunciation reached its perfection on Calvary when she nobly consented that the Body and Blood which she had formed in her womb be sacrificed for our salvation.
Since in the mind of Thomas Aquinas, Mary is just as inseparable from Jesus on Calvary and in the Eucharist as she is inseparable from Him at Bethlehem and Nazareth, in the same breath in which he speaks of Calvary and the Eucharist, Thomas praises Mary and her generous womb.
Just as she stood at the cross and generously offered the sacrifice of her Son with Him, so too, she is present with Jesus when He says to each one of us personally in the Eucharist, “Take this and eat it, this is my Body given for you; take this and drink it, this is my Blood poured out for you.” She who gave Him His Body and Blood, and joined Him in offering them on the cross, generously gives Him to each of us in the Eucharist. Authentic devotion to Mary always leads to the Eucharist. Otherwise she gave birth to Him in vain, otherwise He died in vain, for it is in the Eucharist that He gives Himself for us and to us.