Monday 10 July 2023

Visits to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary - Saint Alphonsus María de Liguori - TAN Books

Visits to the Blessed Sacrament
and the Blessed Virgin Mary
Saint Alphonsus María de Liguori
ISBN 9780895556677
eISBN 9781618903136

Late in high school in the mid 80’s I went through a phase where I was fascinated by Saint Alphonsus María de Liguori. At the time I purchased and read a few volumes from TAN, I remember them as all having white covers and being very thing paperbacks. I struggled with the volumes but wanted to emulate the saint. Now 30ish years later I returned to his works again from Tan, and this time as part of  Father Mark Goring’s Saint Mark’s School of Reading. It was read in May of 2023. And Each Monday Father Mark released a video teaching. This volume has 31 reflections and May has 31 days and we were encouraged to read one a day for the month. The description of this volume is:

“After she died, St. Teresa of Avila appeared to one of her nuns and said: “There should be no difference, as far as purity and love are concerned, between the blessed in Heaven and the faithful on earth, though we are perfectly happy and you are suffering. What the Divine Essence is to us in Heaven, the Blessed Sacrament should be to you on earth.” “Here, then,” says St. Alphonsus, “is our heaven on earth—the Most Blessed Sacrament.” This book was conceived and written to help us grow in the knowledge and love of God and in appreciation for what He has done for us by giving us the Blessed Sacrament. For each of the 31 days of the month, St. Alphonsus provides for us a “Visit to Our Lord”—which is a brief meditation on and a fervent prayer of love toward Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament. Each Visit to Our Lord is followed by a “Visit to Our Lady.” The latter are short meditations on and prayers of great confidence in her powerful help—even for the most wretched and forsaken of sinners. At each Visit, the reader is to make an “Act of Spiritual Communion,” which will help enflame his heart with greater love of God. Through this little book, St. Alphonsus leads a person to appreciate Our Lord’s great love for us in the Blessed Sacrament, to love Him in return, and to consecrate his life to Him. Visits to the Blessed Sacrament by St. Alphonsus Liguori is a perennial favorite among Catholic prayer books, as well as one of the most famous and best-loved Catholic books ever published”

And another description is:

“This TAN Books edition of “Visits to the Blessed Sacrament” by St. Alphonsus Liguori, features:

- The complete original text, edited and re-typeset by TAN Books
- A supplemental reading section entitled “Novena of Holy Communions” exclusive to this eBook edition
- Eight pieces of classic artwork exclusive to this eBook edition

Visits to the Blessed Sacrament:
"Here, then," says St. Alphonsus, "is our heaven on earth--the Most Blessed Sacrament." This book was conceived and written to help us grow in the knowledge and love of God and in appreciation for what He has done for us. For each of the 31 days of the month, St. Alphonsus provides for us a "Visit to Our Lord"--which is a brief meditation on and a fervent prayer of love toward Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Each Visit to Our Lord is followed by a "Visit to Our Lady."

Novena of Holy Communions:

A famous devotional booklet of nine consecutive Communion exercises. Each consists of a novena prayer, an intimate talk with Our Lord, and a brief self-examination. Rich in doctrine; ideal to make over and over throughout life--to grow in holiness and grace.”

When researching for this review I found numerous other contemporary versions of this title by various publishers, but this TAN edition was excellent and I can easily recommend it. The chapters in this work are:

Dedication to Our Lady 
Instructions on the Visits 
How to Make a Visit 
Prayer Before Each Visit 
Spiritual Communion 
Prayer To Our Lady After Each Visit 
     Visits 1-31 
Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament 
A Collection of Classic Artwork  
A Novena of Holy Communions  
     From Holy Mother Church’s Decree on Frequent Holy Communion 
     Important Note 
Holy Communion Is Your Treasure 
Novena Prayer 
     1st Day—Christlikeness 
     2nd Day—Marylikeness 
     3rd Day—Joyfulness 
     4th Day—Prayerfulness 
     5th Day—Kindness 
     6th Day—Sinlessness 
     7th Day—Lowliness 
     8th Day—Unselfishness 
     9th Day—Eucharist-mindedness 
Prayers for a Short Preparation for Holy Communion 
Prayers after Holy Communion

The passages I highlighted while reading this volume were:

“It is well known that the Holy Church instituted the festival of Corpus Christi with a solemn octave, and that she celebrates it with the many usual processions and such frequent expositions of this Most Holy Sacrament, that men may thereby be moved gratefully to acknowledge and honor this loving presence and dwelling of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar by their devotions, thanksgivings and the tender affections of their souls.”

““Behold that Heart which has loved men so much, and which has spared itself nothing, and has even gone so far as to consume itself, thereby to show them its love; but in return the greater part of men show Me only ingratitude, and this by irreverence, tepidity, sacrileges and contempt which they offer Me in this Sacrament of love; and that which I feel the most acutely is that they are hearts consecrated to Me.””

“But let all those devout souls who often go to spend their time with the Most Blessed Sacrament speak: let them tell us the gifts, the inspirations which they have received, the flames of love which are there enkindled in their souls, the paradise which they enjoy in the presence of this hidden God.”

“St. John Francis Regis did the same thing: and sometimes finding the church closed, he endeavored to satisfy his longings by remaining on his knees outside the door, exposed to the rain or cold, that at least at a distance he might attend upon his Comforter concealed under the sacramental species.”

“Certainly, among all devotions after that of receiving the Sacraments, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament holds first place, is the most pleasing to God and the most useful to ourselves.”

“Be assured that the time you will thus spend with devotion before this most divine Sacrament will be the most profitable to you in life and the source of your greatest consolation in death and in eternity.”

“You must also be aware that in a quarter of an hour‘s prayer spent in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, you will perhaps gain more than in all the other spiritual exercises of the day.”

“Oh, how sweet a joy it is to remain with faith and tender devotion before an altar and converse familiarly with Jesus Christ, who is there for the express purpose of listening to and graciously hearing those who pray to Him; to ask His pardon for the displeasure which we have caused Him; to represent our wants to Him, as a friend does to a friend in whom he places all his confidence; to ask Him for His graces, for His love and for His kingdom; but above all—oh, what a heaven it is to remain there making acts of love toward that Lord who is on the very altar praying to the Eternal Father for us and is there burning with love for us!”

“A Spiritual Communion, according to St. Thomas, consists in an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament and in lovingly embracing Him as if we had actually received Him.”

“All those who desire to advance in the love of Jesus Christ are exhorted to make a Spiritual Communion at least once in every visit that they pay to the Most Blessed Sacrament, and at every Mass that they hear; and it would even be better on these occasions to repeat the Communions three times, that is to say, at the beginning, in the middle and at the end.”

These all come from before the first visit. A Sample visit is:

Thirteenth Visit 
PRAYER: “My lord Jesus Christ …” 

My eyes and my heart shall be there always. (3 Kgs. 9:3).

JESUS has fulfilled this beautiful promise in the Sacrament of the Altar, where He lives with us night and day. My Lord, would it not have been enough for You to remain in the Blessed Sacrament during the day only, when You could have someone to adore You and keep You company? Why remain the whole night as well, when all the churches are closed and men retire to their homes, leaving You quite alone? But I understand You. It is love that has made You our prisoner. It is the very great love You have for us that has kept You on earth, unable to leave us either night or day.
Ah, my loving Saviour, this very great love of Yours should, of itself, make all men ever stay near You in the sacred ciboria unless they be driven away by force! And when they do go, they should leave at the foot of the altar their hearts filled with love for God Incarnate who remains alone and hidden in a Tabernacle—for a God who is ever alert to see our needs and to provide for them, who is all heart to love us and who longs for the coming day that He may be visited again by those He loves.

Yes, my Jesus, I wish to please You. I consecrate my will and all my love entirely to You. O Infinite Majesty of God, You have left Yourself in this Sacrament not only to be near us and with us, but especially to give Yourself to souls, souls that You love so much. But, Lord, who will presume to approach You to eat Your flesh? But who, on the other hand, can keep at a distance from You? It is precisely that You might be able to enter into us and take possession of our hearts that You hide Yourself in the consecrated Host. You long that we should receive You and are delighted to be united to our hearts. Come, then, my Jesus, come! I desire to receive You within me, that You may be the God of my heart and of my will. All that is in me I yield, my dear Redeemer, to Your love. Satisfaction, pleasure, self-will—all I give to You. O God of Love, conquer me entirely and rule over me. Destroy in me everything that is merely mine and does not belong to You. Do not permit, O my Love, that my soul, which is filled with the majesty of God when it receives You in Holy Communion, should attach itself again to creatures. I love You, my God, I love You, and I will love You only, and that always.

Aspiration: Draw me by the chains of Your love.
Visit To Our Lady 

St. Bernard thus exhorts us: “Let us seek for grace, and let us seek it through Mary.” She is the treasury of divine graces. It is in her power to enrich us, and she wishes to do so. And so she invites us and calls to us: Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me. (Prov. 9:4). Most loving Lady, most gracious and exalted Lady, look on a poor sinner who recommends himself to you and who places all his confidence in you.
Aspiration: We fly to your patronage, O holy Mother of God.

PRAYER: “Most Holy Virgin …”

When I was involved with Campus Ministry in the late 80’s and early 90’s we had a challenge to read the book of proverbs, 1 chapter a day each month and to read the book 12 times in a year. A number of times while reading this volume I thought about the fruit of that experience, personally and from what I heard from others. I think that would be an excellent exercise for Catholic today, To take this book and read the 31 Visits each month for a year and see how your life is transformed.

I am very thankful this was one of the volumes we did as a group for Saint Mark’s School of Reading. I am already reading it a second time. I believe this is a book that would transform the life, and the prayers of any Catholic who reads it. It is an amazing little volume and I can easily recommend this title and specifically this TAN Edition.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews 2023 Catholic Reading Plan!

Review of other books by Saint Alphonsus María de Liguori:
What Will Hell Be Like?

1 comment:

Marinos said...

Great review… many thanks
Blessings from Scotland