First Published: 1906
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The works of Saint Peter Julian Eymard are recognized in the French world as classics of Eucharistic piety. In the hope they may become so in the English Catholic world, we are offering the public a new translation of them. Possibly no one has so insistently and perseveringly written or spoken of the Eucharist as Saint Eymard has. The Eucharist worked on the faculties of his soul like a magnet. His mind and heart, as if polarized, invariably swerved back towards their star, the Eucharist. He was never at a loss to discover some hidden link between the Eucharist and the subject under study. Like the ‘householder who bringeth forth out of his treasure new things and old,’ he drew all things out of the Eucharist for every purpose. In fact he looked at the world only through the ‘Divine prism of the mystery of the Eucharist.’
This Eucharistic approach to the problems of the soul is distinctive of his spirituality. Duty never came alone in its cold and austere stiffness but with something of our Eucharistic Lord in it that transformed it into a labor of love. The road that wound in and out of the shadow of the Cross was never a lonely one, for the Eucharistic Christ stood ever near with His strengthening and consoling companionship. The virtues were made lovable by being presented not in their native asperity but as actions of Jesus in the Eucharist. The result was a spirituality based on and motivated by love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He made universal use of the Eucharist in his own life and advised others to do as much. In short, he laid down in theory and in practice that the Eucharist is the chief means of progress in spiritual life, the light which shows the way and supplies the needed strength to follow it.
Unfortunately Saint Peter Julian never wrote nor even planned a complete treatise on the spiritual life, although his long experience with souls, his deep insight into their needs, his sure sense of the supernatural, and the stem logic of his mind eminently qualified him for such a task. However, in his sermons and letters of direction he touched practically every point of ascetical theology, so that there is in them sufficient matter for a comparatively complete study on the spiritual life.
The present volume, The Real Presence, is a collection of sermons that deal almost exclusively with the wonders operated by our Lord’s love in the Eucharist. From every page, Saint Peter Julian, the ‘Priest of the Eucharist,’ sends a ringing plea to all men to love our Eucharistic Lord as He deserves and to take Him as both the model and the means of their holiness.
Pondering over these chapters cannot but make us know better and love more the Eucharistic Christ. And with a more practical understanding of this supereminent means of grace, the problem of salvation should be easier to solve. May His Eucharistic Kingdom come! That was Saint Peter Julian’s most ardent wish.