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this life attain to their end; but to man is proposed a far more exalted end—his perfection and felicity through God. And whereas the brute creation dream away their existence without one reflection on the Author of all life and existence; in us this knowledge is essentially grounded in the very depth of our spiritual consciousness, from which, if duly cherished, the sacred duty of gratitude will spontaneously spring. “What,” exclaims the Psalmist, “ shall I render the Lord for all that He has given to me? I will take the chalice of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.”
It is recorded of Albert duke of Belgium, that he sent daily to an aged nobleman, who had become impoverished by war, dishes of the most costly viands from his own table. The person employed in conveying these presents did not belong to the ducal court, and was moreover strictly cautioned not to give the least intimation of the bountiful benefactor. The first time the messenger arrived, the poor man appeared wholly astonished; but when, during the ensuing days, and months, and years that he yet lived, the same kindness was continued regularly and without intermission, his eagerness to know his beneficent friend daily increased ; and in his anxiety he would often say, 'My only fear is, that death will arrive before I shall be able to testify my gratitude.' What manifold gifts do we not receive from our invisible Benefactor each day, each hour, each moment of our lives! What gifts, both spiritual and temporal ; what necessaries, without which our existence would instantly cease ; what other countless benefits which gladden our minds and our senses ! And wherefore, instead of receiving them with indifference, as though they came of necessity, are we not daily awakened to fresh gratitude towards the continuous goodness of our Benefactor? For to whom is the Giver unknown? And what should we more apprehend than to depart this life without having expressed our thankfulness to Him? “Nothing,' says St. Augustine, is more shortly expressed, more joyful to hear, more sweet to understand, or more useful to perform, than what is expressed in these three words : Thank the Lord. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and never forget all that He has done for thee. Bless the Lord, all His works, in all the places of His dominion ; my soul, bless thou the Lord.” (Ps. cii.)
T would be difficult to find a text of Scripture more variously expressed and translated, than this of the fourth petition, "Give us this day our daily bread.” In the Syriac version it is rendered, "Give us this day the bread
of our necessity;' in the works of St. Euthemius it is called, our sufficient bread.' In some Greek Bibles we read, our future bread ;' in others, our excellent and chosen bread.' By St. Luke, and after him by St. Cyprian and other ancient Fathers, it is termed our daily bread;' whilst in St. Matthew, and in the translation by St. Jerome, it is styled our 'supersubstantial bread.'
Amidst so many versions and interpretations, it will be asked, Which is correct? Without doubt they are all correct; for essentially they are all of one signification. For whether we petition for the bread of our necessity, or for our future and excellent bread, or for our sufficient and daily bread, we equally signify all those objects of which we ever stand in need, so long as the hallowing of God's name, the obtaining of His kingdom, and the fulfilment of His will, are duties incumbent upon us in this mortal body, and during our earthly pilgrimage.
That, however, independent of our other necessities, the food which sustains our life ought more particularly to be termed our bread, our excellent, our substantial, our supersubstantial bread, and how it is entitled to all these appellations, will be the more easily manifest, the nearer we approach to Him who stands
in no need of this bread. “ With Thee,” says the * Psalmist, “is the fountain of life; and in Thy light we
shall behold the light.” For it is the Uncreated alone who lives in Himself and by Himself; for in His being He contains the fountain and perfection of life; but, on the contrary, all creatures that exist and have being, exist through God; as far, at least, as existence proceeds from Him; that is, through His all-powerful will, which has brought into actual existence His thoughts, His eternal ideas of creatures. And thus, in the name of rational, as well as irrational creation, did the Psalmist sing, “To Thee do all creatures look, that
in due season Thou wouldst give them food. Thou - pourest out, and they collect; Thou openest Thy hand,
and with Thy bounty all things are filled. Thou turnest aside Thy countenance, and they perish. Thou withdrawest Thy spirit, and they wither and return to dust."
All created life is comprised in three classes : the spiritual, as in the pure spirits; the natural, as in stones, and plants, and beasts; and the human, or spiritual and natural life, as in mankind. The pure spirits, who have not fallen from their first and noble end, find the happiness of their life in and from God; and in this sense it was that Raphael spoke to the two Tobiases of the bread unseen wherewith he was nourished. Plants and beasts, the representation of the entire natural existence, are, in their being, increase, and decay, in one perpetual communication with the powers and elements of universal nature, on which they are ever dependent. In man, however, these relations and connexions extend to an order wholly different. For though the human body, by its construction and its vital functions, be included in the highest order of animal organisation, and represent the perfection of natural existence, yet is it, as we before observed, elevated far above the bounds of nature. It is, indeed, in man that nature attains to that personality and consciousness, which, in her own captive state, she never could acquire; but she attains it by her connexion and intimate union with the spiritual life, in whose dominion she herself is lost. Thus, by its personal union with the spirit, is the body exalted; and is, or originally was, subject to the spirit ; and thus, by the life of the immortal spirit, it is raised above the mutability of nature ; and, in the human person, secure of that which is the property of the spirit-eternal existence.
An import somewhat different must in consequence be given to our petition, when we pray to our eternal Father, “ Give us this day our daily bread.” Earthly though we be, by our mortal bodies, and thus of earthly nourishment in constant need, yet, as we have a heavenly Father, our food must all be considered