It is not uncommon that on the face of those whom we love and who have just left us [in death] there is seen a smile of exquisite sweetness. One does not smile when one has entered into death, but when one lives still in the moment that one is going to enter into it. This divine smile is the mark here on earth, on that which men call a dead man, or a dead woman, of a beatitude and of a life which has begun when earthly existence was about to end and which will never end.
Jacques Maritain (1882–1973)
No precept could be more lovable. For this sacrament of the altar begets love and unity. Is it not the greatest proof of divine love that Christ gives himself as food? It is as though he were saying, “I love them so much, and them me, that I want to be within them, and they want to receive me so as to be one body with me.”
Saint Albert the Great
So now, since you want to belong entirely to God, why should you be afraid of your weakness – on which, in any case, you shouldn’t be relying.
Saint Francis de Sales
A humanity united in Christ and through Christ is the temple in which the Triune God has his abode… And as the head of humankind, which combines in itself the higher [spiritual] and the lower [corporeal] reaches of being, Christ is the head of creation in its totality.
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross
Today in the Mass readings for the Latin Rite, we hear Jesus tell his disciples: “I have said this to you, so that in me you have have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage: I have conquered the world!” (Jn 16:33).
The Paschal context of this statement of Jesus’ lends itself to much depth and, consequently, many complementary (and not contradictory) understandings.
Christ was going to his death: He knows these persecutions, darknesses, and hardships.
Christ mentioned “the world”: He knows this ambivalent reality, with its good and its bad; and in all of it, he has conquered.
Christ mentioned that the Father was always with him: He is always in communion with his Father and their Spirit, and the Holy Three are always waiting to be in communion with us.
Christ was instituting the Eucharist: He is present in the sacrament of the altar, and he wills to make us (all of us) his Body.
In all this, Christ’s itinerary was Paschal: He begins with the world’s sadnesses and converts them, by some divine alchemy, into something good, something joyful, something full of more hope than we ever imagined before the trouble, danger, and unbearable darkness came. Courage and confidence in God are not ill placed. They are placed exactly where they can never fail.