Saturday, December 20, 2008

Strength, Salvation, Eucharist

More on Christina Rossetti. One of her poems is called, "The Three Enemies." This poem is based on the traditional teaching of the three sources of tempation: the flesh, the world, and the Devil. In the poem, Rosetti sets up a call-and-response format where one speaker makes a comment about the main speaker, and the main speaker turns that comment to a spritual end.

Here's the poem in its entirety:



"Sweet, thou art pale."
"More pale to see,
Christ hung upon the cruel tree
And bore His Father's wrath for me."

"Sweet, thou art sad."
"Beneath a rod
More heavy, Christ for my sake trod
The winepress of the wrath of God."

"Sweet, thou art weary."
"Not so Christ:
Whose mighty love of me suffic'd
For Strength, Salvation, Eucharist."

"Sweet, thou art footsore."
"If I bleed,
His feet have bled; yea in my need
His Heart once bled for mine indeed."


"Sweet, thou art young."
"So He was young
Who for my sake in silence hung
Upon the Cross with Passion wrung."

"Look, thou art fair."
"He was more fair
Than men, Who deign'd for me to wear
A visage marr'd beyond compare."

"And thou hast riches."
"Daily bread:
All else is His: Who, living, dead,
For me lack'd where to lay His Head."

"And life is sweet."
"It was not so
To Him, Whose Cup did overflow
With mine unutterable woe."


"Thou drinkest deep."
"When Christ would sup
He drain'd the dregs from out my cup:
So how should I be lifted up?"

"Thou shalt win Glory."
"In the skies,
Lord Jesus, cover up mine eyes
Lest they should look on vanities."

"Thou shalt have Knowledge."
"Helpless dust!
In Thee, O Lord, I put my trust:
Answer Thou for me, Wise and Just."

"And Might."--
"Get thee behind me. Lord,
Who hast redeem'd and not abhorr'd
My soul, oh keep it by Thy Word."

For our purposes here, I want to focus on her section on "The Flesh," where Rosetti writes:

Sweet, thou art weary."
"Not so Christ:
Whose mighty love of me suffic'd
For Strength, Salvation, Eucharist."

The Eucharist is the supreme antidote to the three sources of tempation. Through the transmission of grace, the Eucharist (as do all the sacraments) gives us the strength to fight the tempations of the flesh, the world, and the Devil. Through the Eucharist we travel toward our salvation. "I am the living bread," Jesus says, "which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh" (John 6:51). Jesus transforms the temptations of the flesh and the world here through the Eucharist. In fact, Jesus goes further about the necessity of the Eucharist: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:53-54).

Strength, Salvation, Eucharist. Christ came into the world to give us himself in the flesh to transform the flesh and the world. This is the true gift of Christmas, which cannot be found at a store, but can be found at your local Catholic parish.

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