The Wedding at Cana and the Eucharist

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“The Wedding Feast at Cana” by Paolo Varonese

January 19, 1947

Jesus says:

“I could have spoken before to give you this gem, O my little John. But such is the dignity of the Holy Sacrifice, too little known for what it is by too many Catholic Christians, that I have given precedence to the explanation of it. And this is the first lesson that I give to many, speaking only exceptionally on feast days and on Gospel passages which I have already with according to the usual teaching. When a priest or a voice speaks in the name of God and by God’s order, when a precept is obeyed, I who am the Lord, remain silent, for great is the dignity of a teacher who speaks in my name and by my order, and great is the dignity of the rite-very great that of the Holy Mass, the rite of rites, just as the Eucharist is the Sacrament of Sacraments.

“Now then, listen, O my little John. I told you a long time ago-you were in the place of exile and suffered as only I know-that every Gospel passage and episode is a mine of teaching. Do you remember? I had shown you the second multiplication of loaves of bread and told you that, as with a few fish and pieces of bread and told you that, as with a few fish and pieces of bread I was able to satisfy the hunger of the throngs, in the same way your spirits can be sated limitlessly by the few passages which are included in the four Gospels. Indeed, for twenty centuries an incalculable number of men have been fed by them. And now, through my little John, I have increased the episodes and words because starvation is truly about to consume spirits, and I have mercy on them. But even from those few episodes in the four Gospels bread and fish have been coming to men for twenty centuries so that they will be fed to the full and there will still be food left over.

“All of this is done by the Holy Spirit, who is the Master teaching from the chair of Gospel instruction. ‘When the Paraclete comes, He will instruct you concerning all truth and teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said,’ teaching the true spirit of every word, of every letter in the episode. For it is the spirit of the word, and the word in itself, which gives life to the spirit. The uncomprehended word is a vain sound. It is uncomprehended when it is just a term, a noise, not ‘life, a seed of life, a spark, a source’ sinking its roots in, inflaming, washing, and nourishing.

“The wedding in Cana. For twenty centuries it has been a point of departure for spiritual masters to preach the holiness of marriage effected with the grace of God and to preach the power of Mary’s prayers, her teaching of obedience-‘Do whatever He asks you to’-my power in changing water into wine, and so on. None of these fruits picked from the Gospel passage are mistaken. But these are not the only fruits contained in the episode which you can grasp.

“My little one in love, a lover of Me, hungry for Me as Eucharist, this is the one of the episodes in my public life in which the final miracle of the God-Man, the Eucharist, is germinally present. The Resurrection is indeed a miracle of the God-Man, the first of all the miracles appearing from the moment when the glorified God-Man Jesus, the Victorious One, emerged from the Victim destroyed by Sacrifice. Before the God was still concealed in the Man. His Nature shone forth by way of flashes in his words and miracles, like the bursts of flame crowning a mountain peak from time to time and bringing people to say, “Fire is concealed here, and this mount, apparently like many others, is a volcano whose soul is the element of fire instead of just layers and layers of earth and rock.

“But the Humanity of the Christ who had to suffer and die was in all respects like that of every man, undergoing flesh subject to the law of matter, with a need for food, sleep, drink, and clothing, the discomfort of cold and heat, and weariness from a lot of work or a long trip and the density of flesh, and-indigence for the Omnipresent One-being constricted to a single place. Everything except sin and its appetites. Indeed, everything, and, above all, what is martyrdom for the just: having to live among sinners, seeing the offenses committed against the Eternal by them, and the descent of man into the slime of the brutes. The Man-I am telling you so, Maria-in his intellect and his heart suffered more from this than from everything else. The stench of vice and sin! The worm-like mass of all forms of concupiscence! I tell you: I began to expiate them from the moment I got close to them-so great was the torment they brought to my soul and intellect. The angels enumerated the blows of the immaterial scourges of human vices upon my Humanity as numerous and more painful than those of the Roman flagrum.

“After the Sacrifice, my true Body, though remaining a true Body, took on the free beauty and power of glorified bodies, which will be yours, too, where matter will resemble the spirit with which it lived and struggled to become a queen as the spirit is king. And the Body was glorious, like the Spirit, which was divine in it, no longer subject to all that had previously mortified, and space was no longer an obstacle, nor was a wall an obstacle or distance or my being here in Heaven and your being there on earth in order for Me to be true God and true Man in Heaven and on earth, with my Divinity, with my Soul, and with my Body and Blood, infinite, as befitted my Divine Nature, contained in a fragment of Bread, as my Love willed-real, omnipresent, loving, true God, true Man, true Food for man, until the consummation of the ages, and true joy of the elect for what is no longer an age, but eternity.

“The Eucharist was the final miracle of the God-Man, the Resurrection, the first miracle of the Man-God, who by Himself changed his Corpse into the Eternally Alive. The Eucharist, a transformation of the species of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, stands at the limit between the two periods like a star, the morning star, between the two times called night and day. And when the morning star shines, pilgrims say to themselves, ‘It’s day now,’ even if it is not day yet, because they know that this light, at the borders of the sky, is the harbinger of dawn: The Eucharist is the Morning Star of the new time. Its light as a miracle of love is a harbinger of dawn, of the dawn of the time of Grace. For this reason, radiant in its flames, it remained suspended between the time that is coming to a close and the one that is opening up, at the end of my preaching, at the beginning of the Redemption.

“If the star of the Epiphany shone to tell kings that the Universal King had been given to the world, the star of my Eucharist shone at the Paschal Supper to tell the world that the true Lamb was about to be immolated, was already being immolated, offering Himself spontaneously as perpetual food for men so that his Blood would moisten not only door jambs and lintels, but circulate in utter unity with them to make them saints and the Immaculate Flesh would fortify their weakness while the Soul of Christ and the Divinity of the Word dwelt in them, bringing the inseparable Presence of the Father and of the Eternal Spirit. And between the announcement of the star of the Epiphany and between the announcement of the star of the Eucharist the light of the miracle in Cana thus shone with its misunderstood symbols to tell the world what Incarnate Wisdom and Power would do in the stony hearts of men and with the poor water of the thought.

“‘Three days later there was a banquet.’ Three days: three periods before the feast of joy. The first, from the creation of the world until the punishment of the world; the second, from the flood until the death of Moses. The third, from Joshua, a figure of Me, until my coming. And three more periods, or three days: the three years of my preaching before the Paschal feast. And as happens with a nuptial banquet-where, the closer the moment for the feast comes, the more preparations for it intensify-so it was with my banquet of love. The voices of the prophetic concert and the lights of those awaiting the true Bridegroom coming to wed Himself to Humanity to make it a queen thus became clearer and clearer.

“‘And the Mother of Jesus was there.’ The Mother! Can the Mother be lacking if the new man is to be born? Can Eve not be there if from now on she must be ‘Life’ where there was Death? And can the Woman be lacking as the hour approaches when the Serpent will have oppressed the head and limited his freedom of action? She cannot. And the Mother of the living, sinless Eve, the Woman of the ‘Hail Mary’ and the Fiat, the Woman with the powerful heel, the Co-Redeemer, was present at the banquet with which Humanity’s betrothal to Grace began.

“But ‘when the wine ran out,’ the guests would not have delighted in the presence of Jesus. Oh, when I came for my banquet of Grace, I truly found the wine soon ran out. There was too little, and it was quickly consumed, and men fell into sadness because I disappointed their hopes of becoming inebriated with the human juices of power and revenge.

“What had I found on starting my mission? ‘Stone vessels prepared for the purifications of the Jews’-that is, for material purifications. Just that. Hearts, after centuries and centuries of impure assimilation of Wisdom, had turned into stone vessels. And not, indeed, to purify themselves, but to be used for purification. Rigorism, the exteriority of rites. That rigorism which caused hardness without serving to cleanse even themselves. The usual sin of pride in believing oneself to be perfect and believing others are impure. The opaque hardness of stone opposed to the light and the supplement of Wisdom, which enlightens to bring understanding and helps to love. Closed hearts. Even the water filling them does not make them soft. It serves to freeze them. And nothing more. When the water is cast aside, they are arid, hard, and without fragrance. This is the exteriority of rites which fill up without penetrating, without transforming, without bringing sweetness and fragrance. The vessels-the hearts-were empty. They did not contain even that minimum of the useful element which is water to purify others. They were empty. They had not even thought of filling themselves with the minimum. Empty, surly, harsh, useless, dark within like a cavern, and gray on the outside from dust and old age.

“‘Fill the vessels with water.’ Oh, how much living water I poured into the Jews’ hearts of stone so that they would at least have a minimum so as to be useful for something! But they did not change, and almost a majority of them rejected the water, remaining empty, hard, dark, and surly.

“‘And now draw it out.’ That’s it. In the hearts where the water was received it turned into select wine, to the point where the steward said, ‘Everyone serves the best wine at the beginning and then the worst, whereas you have reserved the best for the end.’ I indeed reserved the best for the end-I, the Bridegroom at the great banquet. At the Last Supper, my final act as the Master, I, the Bridegroom, did not turn water into wine, but wine into my Blood for a new transformation which would help you, O men, to be happy with my happiness, which is holy and eternal. For three years I had filled the empty vessels with the Water coming from Heaven. But now water was no longer enough. The time was coming for struggle and rejoicing, and wine is useful for those struggling and unfailing for guests. And I gave you the Eucharist, my Blood, so that you would drink my own strength and be strong and my cheerful desire to serve God and become heroes, like your Master, and my joy would be in you.

“And that miracle of transformation of one species into another has never ended. The vessels at the Cana banquet were quickly emptied, leaving those invited to the wedding inebriated, My Eucharist has been filling the chalices and ciboriums of the whole earth for centuries. And until the end of the ages the hungry, the exhausted, the thirsty, the weary, the afflicted, the dying and those barely beginning to exercise reason, the pure and the penitent, the sick and the healthy, priests and lay people, and men of every race and condition, on the mountaintops and on the plains, among the polar snows and at the equator, and on water and on land will come to drink, eat, be nourished, be saved, and live on my Blood and my Flesh, this Wine given at the end of the Banquet, on the threshold of the Redemption, so that it would be the perpetual Banquet of the Bridegroom for those loving Him and ongoing Redemption of your weakness and falls.

“The wedding at Cana. The transformation of water into wine. The Paschal Supper: the transsubstantiation of bread and wine into my Body and my Blood. The former, to mark the beginning of my mission of transforming the Jews in that ancient time into disciples of Christ; the latter, to mark the beginning of the transubstantiation of men into children of God through grace returning to life in them. The last miracle of the God-Man. The first and perpetual miracle of Love made man. This, my little John, is one of the applications-and it is the highest one-of the miracle at the wedding in Cana.

And in you-and forever-may my Body and my Blood be the precious, incorruptible Things through which, as Simon Peter says, you have been redeemed, so that you will exalt the virtues of Him who called you from the darkness into his glorious light. My peace be with you, little bride, longing for Love. Peace be with you. Peace be with you. Peace be with you.

Maria Valtorta The Notebooks 1945-1950

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