Today is the traditional octave of Corpus Christi and I would like to share some thoughts on the Blessed Sacrament and its importance for the preservation and increase of virtue. Perhaps what sparked these reflections is an invocation in the Litany of the Precious Blood which reads: "Most Precious Blood of Jesus, wine springing for virgins, save us". The wine springing for virgins is a reference to the prophet Zechariah 9:17: "For what is the good thing of him, and what is his beautiful thing, but the corn of the elect, and wine springing forth virgins?". This messianic prophecy with its mysterious reference to wheat and wine (always think of the Eucharist when the two are found together) found its way into the Litany of the Precious Blood because of the transformation of the wine into the Blood of Christ at Holy Mass. How could wine "spring forth virgins" if it were only an ordinary wine? Wine usually leads in the opposite direction, as its abuse leads to debauchery.
This text inspires us to reflect a bit upon the power of the Holy Sacrament to give and preserve the virtue of Holy Purity. There is no need to expound upon the extreme difficulty of remaining pure in a world given over to impure vice. It is seen everywhere, and work with souls reveals all too often defeats which are set along the the battle line of this virtue. The Enemy knows all too well our weakness when it comes to chastity, and his satellites literally have a heyday with their lasciviously suggestive or even overtly dissolute seductions. And souls are led astray, because they are weak. They are like the flies that are attracted to the flame of a candle in a dark room: they get too close, and are consumed by the fire and find themselves spiritually dead.
In that context, it is such a consolation to be reminded that the Lord has give us the remedy against lust in the Most Blessed Sacrament. If you love the Holy Eucharist, if you stay close to it, if you receive it worthily and frequently, then you can remain chaste. How many souls could testify to this truth: it is when they begin to communicate frequently, even daily, that the allurements of lust start to subside. They never disappear entirely in this life for anyone. There is no such thing as a person who does not have to battle with this. But the soul which is devoted to the Sacrament of the Altar, and receives it with pure intentions and in the state of grace (after confession in the case of a fall), is strengthened from within. How could one receive the Eucharist with devotion, being assumed into intimate communion with God Himself, with the "wine springing forth virgins", and then turn around and return to the mire of unchastity?
So let us get closer and closer to the Blessed Sacrament. You may remember the famous dream of St John Bosco who saw the Church in the form of a ship going through a terrible tempest which threatened to submerge it, and the Pope led the Church to two pillars: one symbolising the Holy Eucharist, the other symbolising Our Lady. When he had anchored the vessel to these pillars, the storm ceased. And so it is, when we stay close to the Eucharist and to Our Lady, we remain chaste. There may be storms, there may be times when we feel drawn back into the filth, but if we stay put and hold tight to Jesus Eucharist and Mary the Virgin, then we remain pure, for we drink the sweet long draught of the "wine springing forth virgins".