An Irish Welcome

Céad Míle Fáilte friend and rover ...
Wherever you come from and whosoever you may be.
That's an Irish greeting and it means

you are welcome
a thousand times over.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Jesus, the Bread of Life

(An akathist for Holy Communion)
Many thanks to my friend Jonathan who prepares an Eikos daily and shares with us. 
The full Akathist will be completed over the next few weeks.

Chosen Bridegroom of our hearts and souls, through Your incarnation and death on the cross You have betrothed all mankind to Yourself forever and have given us as a pledge of eternal life Your most pure Body and Blood. Lo! At Your call, I though unworthy, dare to approach Your divine Table, and struck by its majesty, I cry:

Jesus, God of my heart, 
come and unite me to Yourself forever!

You sent down Your Angel to the Prophet Isaiah with a live coal from the heavenly altar that his lips might be purified thereby, when, beholding You seated upon the throne, he was distressed over his impurity. And how shall I, who am defiled in body and soul, dare to approach to partake of Your divine Mysteries for communion except You Yourself purify me from on high? Wherefore, I cry out to You from the depths of my soul:

Jesus most good, touch also mine impure lips with the fire of Your grace;
Jesus, burn the thorns of my many transgressions;
Jesus, create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me.
Jesus, lead my poor soul out of the prison of the passions;
Jesus, destroy in me impure thoughts and evil lusts;
Jesus, guide my feeble steps to the path of Your commandments.
Jesus, God of my heart, come and unite me to Yourself forever.

Greatly desiring to eat a last Passover with Your disciples before Your Passion, that in the midst thereof You might give them the last and greatest pledge of Your love, You sent two of them to Jerusalem two days before You, that thus they might prepare it. Hence, learning how we, too, ought to prepare ourselves to eat of the divine Passover which is Your Body and Blood, I cry out to You in thanksgiving: Alleluia!


"Loose thy sandles from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground," You did say unto Moses from out of the bush which burned yet was not consumed by Your unseen presence therein. The vessel which contains Your Body and Blood is greater and more holy indeed than the unburnt bush, but I am dust, unclean and sold under sin. Wherefore, with humility and faith I cry out to You: Jesus almighty, strip from me the old man and all his works. Jesus, slay within me the seed of corruption which makes its nest within me!

Jesus, break the bonds of sin whereby the enemy has bound me.
Jesus, grant me a humble heart and a broken spirit;
Jesus, drive far from me temptations and occasions for stumbling.
Jesus, establish me in faith and love for You.
Jesus, God of my heart, come and unite me to Yourself forever.

Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. I am the Bread which cometh down from heaven which, if any man eat thereof, he shall live forever. And the Bread which I will give is My Flesh, which I will give for the life of the world," You said to the Jews that sought to see from You a sign from heaven like unto the manna of Moses, and hearing and beholding the fulfillment of the prophecy, we cry out with fear: Alleluia!


Having risen from the supper, as the holy John relates, and girded Yourself with a towel, You washed the feet of the disciples, thereby teaching us that we ought not to approach Your divine Table in our sins unwashed by tears of repentance. Mindful of my great need for this mystical ablution and of the dearth of tears of my hardened heart, with Peter I cry to You: 

Jesus all-good, wash not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.
Jesus, lay bare before me the abyss of my soul's corruption;
Jesus, open within me the floodgates of heartfelt contrition;
Jesus, bedew me with the drops of Your loving-kindness;
Jesus, wrap me about with the fear of the judgment and the eternal torments;
Jesus, awaken within me my sleeping conscience and strengthen its voice.
Jesus, God of my heart, come and unite me to Yourself forever.

"Is this not Jesus, the Son of Joseph, Whose father and mother we know? How is it, then, that He says: I came down from heaven? How can He give His Flesh to eat?" said the Jews among themselves, on hearing Your glorious promise to give Yourself as food to the faithful, unable in the hardness of their hearts to believe with humility and cry out to You: Alleluia!

"Except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of man, and drink His Blood, ye have no life in you," You told the Jews that were slow to believe, and this saying was shown to be hard to accept even for some of Your disciples that were yet ignorant of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. But we, illumined with light of the Gospel and beholding Your divine glory with face unveiled, cry out to You with faith and love:

Jesus, Who can do everything through the greatness of Your power and dominion;
Jesus, Who creates and perfects more then we can understand and comprehend;
Jesus, Who once rained down manna from heaven as a sign of the present Mystery;
Jesus, Who poured forth water from a rock as a prefiguring thereof.
Jesus, Who sent a cloud of quail as food for the Jews, who were starving in the wilderness;
Jesus, Who before the very eyes of the doubting did satisfy five thousand men with five loaves of bread.
Jesus, God of my heart, come and unite me to Yourself forever.

While eating Your supper with Your disciples, taking bread, and blessing and breaking it, You gave it to them, saying: "Take, eat; this is My Body, which is broken for you for the remission of sins." And thereafter, having given them the Cup, You said: "Drink ye all of it: this is My Blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins." Hearkening to this divine and most sweet voice, with thanksgiving we cry: Alleluia!

He who eateth My Flesh, and drinketh My Blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him. He hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day, which is at the resurrection of life and blessedness. Wherefore, seeking to be vouchsafed this longed-for resurrection unto life, from the depths of my soul I cry to You:

Jesus, draw nigh unto one that seeks union with You:
Jesus, enter into my inmost parts, into all my members and bones.
Jesus, be a light unto my darkened mind;
Jesus, fill the abyss of my heart which the whole world cannot satisfy, with Yourself alone;
Jesus, speak through the voice of my conscience; Jesus, stir and guide my will.
Jesus, God of my heart, come and unite me to Yourself forever.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you that one of you shall betray Me," You said in anguish of spirit to the disciples at supper. And though they were innocent of any intention to betray You, each of them asked: "Lord is it I?" showing thereby the depth of their humility. But what can I say when I fall and betray You seven times a day? Yet keep me Yourself, that I may not fall away utterly, but cry to You thankfully: Alleluia! 

"As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit." Thus, working wonders You taught Your beloved disciples on the way to Gethsemane. Therefore, attending to this instruction, and knowing the weakness of my nature without Your grace, I earnestly cry:

Jesus, most heavenly Husbandman, plant me in Your life-bearing garden.
Jesus, true vine, graft me to Yourself like a wild branch;
Jesus, unwithering root, fill me with the sap of eternal life;
Jesus, Vanquisher of all mortality, clear away that which has been dried up within me by the heat of the passions.
Jesus, beautiful goodness, adorn me with the flowers of good thoughts and feelings;
Jesus, rich in mercy, enrich me with the fruits of true repentance and righteousness.
Jesus, God of my heart, come and unite me to Yourself forever.

"To the disciple who at the supper leaned upon Your breast and asked: "Who is it that betrayeth Thee?" You answered: "He it is to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it." And, having dipped the bread, You gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to move him to repentance. But, being hardened by the spirit of malice, he had no desire to understand his Lord and Master's voice of love. May I be delivered by Your grace from such hard-heartedness, by crying to You: Alleluia!

Taking pity on the weakness of our nature, which turns away from eating human flesh, You was well-pleased to bestow upon us Your all-pure Body and Blood not manifestly, but under the appearance of Bread and Wine, most wisely ordering the whole matter of our salvation in Your love for mankind, O Jesus, and accommodating Your most saving Mysteries to the weakness of our comprehension and senses. Marvelling at this condescension of Your wisdom to the weakness of our nature, I thankfully glorify You thus:

Jesus, Who in Thy wisdom and love for mankind arranges all things for our salvation;
Jesus, Who adapts Your most saving Mysteries to the weakness of our understanding and senses.
Jesus, Who for the assurance of the doubting has many times manifested Your very Body and Blood at the holy Table, instead of bread and wine.
Jesus, Who has shown to worthy ministers of the altar the Holy Spirit descending for the consecration of the Gifts;
Jesus, Who instead of unworthy ministers of the altar sends invisibly Your holy Angels for the celebration of the Divine Mysteries.
Jesus, Who through the manifestation of miracles at the holy Table, has converted to faith many of the impious.
Jesus, God of my heart, come and unite me to Yourself forever.

And after the sop - that is, after the traitor had eaten the bread You gave him - as the holy John relates, Satan entered into him. Oh, what a dreadful punishment for unbelief! Oh, how unhappy the lot of the traitor! What should have been for his salvation is turned into death and damnation for him. Bowing reverently before this judgment of Your righteousness, with fear and trembling I cry to You: Alleluia! 


"Do this in remembrance of Me," You said to Your disciples at the supper, giving them Your Body under the appearance of Bread, and Your Blood under the appearance of wine. For as often as we eat this bread, and drink this cup, we show forth Your death, according to the word of the holy Paul. And now, remembering Your Passion, with compunction I cry to You:

Jesus, Who for the salvation of the world gave Yourself over voluntarily into the hands of Your enemies;
Jesus, Who did not allow legions of angels to appear in Your defense;
Jesus, Who with a glance and with the crowing of a cock converted to repentance an unfaithful disciple;
Jesus, Who made no reply to Caiaphas and Pilate who questioned You foolishly.
Jesus, Who from the Cross asked the Father to forgive the sins of them that crucified You;
Jesus, Who in Your surpassing loving-kindness gave Your beloved disciple to Your Mother as a son.
Jesus, God of my heart, come and unite me to Yourself forever.

"Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?" You sadly cried out to Your unfaithful disciple, when he came with a detachment of troops into the Garden of Gethsemane seeking to betray You with a kiss. But even these poignant words did not strike his soul, hardened in evil, with repentance. And, knowing the inconstancy of mine own will, I fear lest at any time I too give You the kiss of Judas, ungrateful as I am. But strengthen me by Your grace, that with the good thief I may ever cry out: Alleluia!
"I pray that they all may be one, as Thou. Father, art in Me and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us; that the world may believe." Thus You exclaimed in Your last great prayer to the Father. Following this, Your voice most sweet, and trusting in the power of Your prayer, with faith I cry to You:

Jesus, Who gathers all together as one, unite us all inseparably with You and Your Father;
Jesus, grant that we all abide in oneness of mind, in faith and in love for You.
Jesus, Who cannot abide enmity and division, destroy impious heresies and schisms;
Jesus, Who loves and has mercy upon all, gather all the lost sheep into one flock.
Jesus, Who gives peace to all, allay the envy and gainsaying among them that call upon Your name;
Jesus, Who gives me the Communion of Your very Body and Blood, may I be truly flesh of Your Flesh and bone of Your Bones.
Jesus, God of my heart, come and unite me to Yourself forever.

By turning water into wine at the wedding supper in Cana of Galilee, You manifested the first sign of Your divine power. Then, when about to depart to the Cross as the Bridegroom of souls, You manifested to them that believe the last miracle of Your love, by changing bread into Your Body; and wine into Your Blood, and nurtured thereby unto life eternal, I, too, thankfully cry out to You: Alleluia! 
On the day of Your resurrection, accompanying in the guise of a traveller two of Your disciples on the way to Emmaus, You instructed them in the mystery of Your Passion; but their eyes were restrained that they should not recognize You, though their hearts burned within them at the sweetness of Your words. But when, bowing to their request, You went to tarry with them, and having blessed the Bread, gave It to them, straightway their eyes were opened and they recognized You. Like those disciples, I, too, humbly make bold to raise my voice to You and shout:

Jesus long-suffering, forsake me not on the path of life because of the insufficiency of my faith.
Jesus, teach me, like them, to understand the prophecies concerning You and the mystery of union with You by grace;
Jesus, warm and inflame my cold heart, as You did those of Your disciples.
Jesus all-good, abide also with me, for the day of my life is far spent and it is towards evening.
Jesus, grant me to know You truly in the present breaking of the mystical Bread and in drinking from the Chalice;
Jesus, grant that even I, perceiving the power of Your love, may become a proclaimer thereof to my brethren.
Jesus, God of my heart, come and unite me to Yourself forever.

You have promised to give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God, to him that is victorious, and of the hidden manna. May I be prepared on earth for this heavenly fare by the Communion of Your Body and Blood, which as I now unworthily approach, I cry: Alleluia!

He that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Body and Blood of the Lord: so did the heaven-rapt Paul admonish them that approach for Communion. Wherefore, I, too, fear and tremble at mine unworthiness; yet lest, by separating myself for long from Your Communion, I fall prey to the spiritual wolves, I draw nigh to You with such a cry: 

Jesus, receive me, as You received the publican, the harlot and the thief
Jesus, disdain not to enter under the roof of my soul, though it is all empty and fallen;
Jesus, open the eyes of my soul, as You opened the eyes of the man that was blind from birth;
Jesus, say to me too, as to the paralytic: Arise and walk;
Jesus, staunch the flow of the impure desires of my soul as You staunched the flow of the woman with an issue of blood;
Jesus, heal the leprosy of my soul and conscience.
Jesus, God of my heart, come and unite me to Yourself forever.

Through the envy of the devil who spoke through the mouth of the serpent, and through the eating of the forbidden fruit, the whole human race lost paradise and was given over to death. But by receiving Your most pure Body and Blood all men are again vouchsafed eternal life and rise up to their former state. For the Communion of Your life-creating Mysteries are an antidote against the venom of the serpent and is the seed of immortality. Wherefore, I thankfully cry out to You: Alleluia!

Lo! I stand before the vessel which holds Your divine Mysteries, yet I put not away mine evil thoughts. Your almighty grace alone heartens me and draws me on. Then, casting myself into the abyss of Your loving-kindness, I cry out: 

Jesus, Who calls all that labour and are heavy laden to rest in You, receive me, who labour under the vanity of this world.
Jesus, Who came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance, absolve me of my sins and passions;
Jesus, Who heals every infirmity and disease, heal the wounds and festering of my soul.
Jesus, Who satisfied the hungry, feed me with Your Body and Blood; 
Jesus, Who raised the dead, quicken me who have been slain by my sins.
Jesus, Conqueror of hell, rescue me from the jaws of the spirit of malice. 
Jesus, God of my heart, come and unite me to Yourself forever.

O Jesus most sweet and all-compassionate, Who forever descends like manna from heaven to nourish our souls and hearts in the mystery of Thy most pure Body and Blood: vouchsafe me to partake without condemnation Your Divine Mysteries, that, being redeemed, healed, nurtured, and sanctified by You forever, I may thankfully cry: 

Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

M aster and Lord, Jesus Christ our God, You alone have authority to forgive my sins, whether committed knowingly or in ignorance, and make me worthy to receive without condemnation Your divine, glorious, pure and life-giving Mysteries, not for my punishment, but for my purification and sanctification, now and in Your future Kingdom. For You, Christ our God are compassionate and love mankind and to You we give glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit now and forever and ever.