The Blessed Sacrament: The Centre of Immutable Truth By: Henry Cardinal Manning
For where the Blessed Sacrament is not, all dies. As when the sun departs all things sicken and decay, and when life is gone the body returns to its dust; so with any province or member of the Church. There was a time when the truth and grace which went out from York, spread throughout the whole of Northern England, and bound it together in a perfect unity of faith and communion, of Christian intelligence and Christian charity. There was but one jurisdiction reigning over all the children of S. Wilfrid, guiding them by a Divine voice of changeless faith, and sanctifying them by the Seven Sacraments of grace. But then this grand old minster was the majestic tabernacle of the Word made Flesh. Jesus dwelt there in the Divine Mystery of the Holy Eucharist. His presence radiated on every side, quickening, sustaining, upholding the perpetual unity of His mystical Body. Then came a change, slight, indeed, to sense, but in the sight of God, fraught with inexhaustible consequences of supernatural loss. Does any one know the name of the man who removed the Blessed Sacrament from York Minster? Is it written in history? Or is it blotted out from the knowledge of men, and known only to God and His holy angels? Who did it, and when it was done, I cannot say. Was it in the morning, or in the evening? Can we hope that some holy Priest, in sorrow, yielding to the violence of the storm then falling upon the Church, out of love to his Divine Master, removed His Eucharistical presence to save it from profanation; or was it some sacrilegious hand that dragged Him from His throne, as of old He was dragged from Gethsemane to Calvary? We cannot know. It was a terrible deed; and that name, if it be recorded, has a terrible brand upon it. But a change which held both on earth and in Heaven had been accomplished. The city of York went on the day after as the day before. But the Light of Life has gone out of it. Men were busy as not knowing or not believing what was done, and what would follow from the deed. There was no holy sacrifice offered in the Minster. The Scriptures were read there, but there was no Divine Teacher to interpret them. The Magnificat was chanted still, but it rolled along the empty roof, for Jesus was no longer on the altar. So it is to this day. There is no light, no tabernacle, no altar, nor can be till Jesus shall return thither. It stands like the open sepulchre, and we may believe that angels are there, ever saying, ‘He is not here. Come and see the place where the Lord was laid’.  But this is not all. The change, so imperceptible to sense, in the supernatural order is potent and irresistible. The center of the order of grace was taken away, and the whole had lost its unity and its coherence. Separation from the visible Body of Christ is separation from the presence and assistance of the Holy Ghost who inhabits it. There is no influx of His Divine and infallible light into the intelligence of a body which breaks from the unity of the Church. There is no Divine voice speaking through it as His organ of immutable truth. Straightway it began to dissolve and go to pieces. The sinews relaxed and lost their tenacity, the joints and bands of the mystical Body parted asunder. For three hundred years it has been returning into its dust. In the day when the Blessed Sacrament was carried out of York Minster, the whole population of England was contained within the unity of the one Body. Now hardly one half remains to the Church which taught the fatal lesson of separation. From generation to generation, by a succession of crumbling secessions, divisions, and subdivisions, the flock it could not retain when the Blessed Sacrament is no longer upon the altar, has wandered from it and dispersed. And what has happened visibly in its external divisions of communion, has wrought invisibly in the internal aberrations of its doctrines: the order of Divine facts being broken through, and the substance shattered, the shadow betrayed its ruin. What reflection does the Anglican Church leave upon the intelligence of the people? If dogma be the intellectual conception of Divine realities, what dogma is to be found where the Divine realities of the Sacramental Body and mystical Body of Jesus, His Presence, His Sacrifice, His Seven Sacraments, His infallible and perpetual Voice, are denied? But into this I will not enter. I have no will, on such a day as this, to speak controversially. One word is all I will say. The reformers of the Church of England took for the basis of their religion, not the perpetual and infallible teaching of the Spirit of Jesus in His Church, but the Bible. A written Book was erected in the place of the living Teacher, so as to exclude His supreme living voice. Anglican Christianity was to be based upon the Bible. But it is precisely this basis that Anglicans have ruined under their own feet so sure is it that the Incarnate Word in the Tabernacle and the Written Word in the Scriptures cannot be put asunder. They come and they go together. But it is more than time to make an end. Let it be, then, your chief work to propagate the knowledge and love of the Blessed Sacrament, not only for the sanctification of the faithful, but for the conversion of those who have been robbed of the presence of Jesus. The people, that is the poor, of England, were innocent of the great offence. They did not remove Jesus from the altar. They were disinherited of their true birthright in His presence. They did not pull down His throne. They rose in arms, and especially in Northern England, for the faith of the Blessed Sacrament.  I believe there is no surer instrument of their return to the unity of grace and truth than the manifestation of the love of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. It is a way of controversy altogether uncontroversial. It has no sharp accents, or contentious tones, or wrangling arguments. It bears witness by its own light, and preaches by its Divine silence.
 S. Matt, xxviii. 6.
 In the Pilgrimage of Grace the people from the borders of Scotland to the Humber bound themselves by oath to maintain their religion. Their standards were Christ Crucified and the Chalice with the Host. Lingard’s History of England, vol. vi. pp. 254-, 255.Buy From Amazon