St Peter's Grotto, Antioch, Turkey.  Cave church where St Peter offered Holy Mass.

637. Peter Celebrates the Eucharist in a Meeting of the First Christians.

Conclusion of the Work, that is: From Pentecost to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 1st episode (3-6-1944). Peter, no longer a coarse fisherman, in his new capacity of Pontiff.

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3rd June 1944.

It is one of the very first meetings of Christians, in the days immediately after Pentecost.

The twelve apostles are once again twelve, because Matthias, already elected in the place of the traitor, is among them. And the fact that all twelve are there proves that they had not yet parted to go and evangelize, according to the order of the Master. So it must have been Pentecost only a short time ago, and the persecutions of the Sanhedrin against the servants of Jesus Christ have not yet begun. Because if they had begun, they would not celebrate with so much calm, and without taking any precautions, in a house even too well known to those of the Temple, that is in the house of the Supper room, and exactly in the room where the Last Supper was consumed, the Eucharist was instituted, and the true and total betrayal as well as the Redemption began.

The large room, however, has undergone a modification, necessary for its new function as a church, and required by the number of the believers. The large table is no longer near the wall of the little staircase, but it is near, or rather against the wall facing it, so that even those who cannot go into the Supper room, already crowded with people - in the Supper room, the first church of the Christian world - can see what is happening there, thronging the entrance corridor, near the little door, completely open, that admits to the room.

In the room there are men and women of all ages. In a group of women, near the large table, but in a corner, there is Mary, the Mother, surrounded by Martha and Mary of Lazarus, by Nike, Eliza, Mary of Alphaeus, Salome, Johanna of Chuza, in short, by many of the women disciples, both Jewish and not Jewish, whom Jesus had cured, comforted, evangelized, and who had become sheep of His fold. Among the men there are Nicodemus, Lazarus, Joseph of Arimathea, a large number of disciples, among whom there are Stephen, Hermas, the shepherds, Elisha the son of the leader of the synagogue of Engedi, and many more. There is also Longinus, not in his military uniform, but as if he were an ordinary citizen, with a long plain greyish tunic. Then many more, who have certainly entered the flock of Christ after Pentecost and the first evangelization of the Twelve.

Peter speaks also now, evangelizing and teaching the people present. He speaks once again of the Last Supper. Again, because from his words it is clear that he has already spoken of it.

He says:  I tell you once again  and he stresses these words very much  of this Supper in which, before being sacrificed by men, Jesus the Nazarene, as He was called, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our Saviour, as He is to be called and believed with all our hearts and minds, because our salvation is in this faith, sacrificed Himself of His own free will, and out of excess of love, giving Himself in Food and Drink to men and saying to us, His servants and continuators: "Do this in memory of Me". And that is what we do. But, o men, as we, His witnesses, believe that in the Bread and in the Wine, offered and blessed, as He did, in His memory and out of obedience to His divine order, there is His Most Holy Body and His Most Holy Blood, that Body and that Blood that are of a God, of the Son of the Most High God, and that they have been crucified and shed for the sake and the lives of men, so you also, all of you, who have come to be part of the true, new, immortal Church, predicted by the Prophets and founded by the Christ, must believe it. Believe and bless the Lord Who to us - His crucifiers, if not materially, certainly morally and spiritually, because of our weakness in serving Him, because of our dullness in understanding Him, because of our cowardice in abandoning Him running away in His supreme hour, in our, no, in my personal betrayal of a man fearful and cowardly to the extent of disowning and denying Him and denying that I was His disciple, and more than that, the first among His servants (and large tears stream down Peter's face) shortly before the first hour, there, in the Court of the Temple - believe and bless, I was saying, the Lord, Who leaves this eternal sign of forgiveness to us. Believe and bless the Lord, Who allows those, who did not know Him when He was the Nazarene, to know Him now that He is the Word Incarnate reunited to His Father. Come and take it. He said: "He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood will have eternal Life". And we did not understand then (and Peter weeps again). We did not understand because we were slow in understanding. But now the Holy Spirit has brightened our intelligence, has fortified our faith, has infused charity into us, and we understand. And in the name of the Most High God, of the God of Abraham, of Jacob, of Moses, in the most high name of the God Who spoke to Isaiah, to Jeremiah, to Ezekiel, to Daniel and to the other Prophets, we swear to you that this is the truth and we beseech you to believe, so that you may have eternal Life. 

Peter is full of stateliness while speaking. There is no longer anything in him of the rather coarse fisherman of not long ago. He has climbed on a stool to speak and to be seen and heard better, because, small as he is, if he had remained standing on the floor of the room, he could not have been seen by those farther away, whereas he wants to dominate the crowd. He speaks moderately, in an appropriate voice, with the gestures of a true orator. His eyes, always expressive, are now more eloquent than ever. Love, faith, authority, contrition, everything shines through his eyes anticipating and reinforcing his words.

He has finished speaking now. He comes down from the stool and passes behind the large table, in the space between the table and the wall, and waits.

James and Judas, that is the two sons of Alphaeus and cousins of the Christ, now lay a white table-cloth on the table. To do so they lift the large low chest, which is on the centre of the table, and they spread a very fine linen cloth also on its lid.

The apostle John goes now to Mary and asks Her something. Mary slips off from Her neck a kind of a small key and gives it to John. John takes it, goes back to the chest, opens it, letting down the front panel, which is laid on the table and covered with a third linen cloth.

Inside the chest there is a horizontal partition that divides it into two sections. In the lower section there is a chalice and a metal plate. In the upper section, in the centre, the chalice used by Jesus at the Last Supper and for the first Eucharist, the remains of the bread broken by Him, laid on a small plate as precious as the chalice. On the sides of the chalice and of the small plate laid on it, on one side there is the crown of thorns, the nails and the sponge. On the other side one of the shrouds, rolled up, the veil with which Nike wiped Jesus' Face, and the one that Mary gave Her Son to gird up His loins. At the bottom there are other things, but as they remain rather concealed and no one speaks of them or shows them, it is not known what they are. The other ones, instead, and which are visible, are shown to the people present by John and Judas of Alphaeus, and the crowd kneels in front of them. But neither the chalice nor the small plate of the bread are touched or shown, nor is the Shroud unfolded, but only the rolled cloth is shown, saying what it is.


Perhaps John and Judas do not unfold it in order not to awake in Mary the sorrowful memory of the cruel tortures suffered by Her Son.

When this part of the ceremony is over, the apostles in chorus intone some prayers, I should say some psalms, because they are sung as the Hebrews used to do in their synagogues or in their pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the solemnities prescribed by the Law. The chorus of the apostles is joined by the crowd and so it becomes more and more impressive.

At the end they bring some bread that is laid on the small metal plate, which was in the lower section of the chest, and also some small amphorae, which are also of metal.

John, who is kneeling on the other side of the table - whereas Peter is always between the table and the wall, but facing the crowd - hands the tray with the bread to Peter, who raises it and offers it. He then blesses it and lays it on the chest.

Judas of Alphaeus, who is also kneeling beside John, in his turn, hands Peter the chalice of the lower section and the two amphorae that were previously near the small plate of the bread, and Peter pours their contents into the chalice, which he then raises and offers, as he had done with the bread. He blesses also the chalice and lays it on the chest beside the bread.

They say more prayers. Peter breaks the bread into many morsels, while the people prostrate themselves even more, and he says:  This is My Body. Do this is memory of Me .

He comes out from behind the table, taking the tray full of the morsels of bread, and as first thing he goes to Mary and gives Her a morsel. Then he goes to the front of the table and hands out the consecrated Bread to all those who approach him to have it. A few morsels are left over, and still on their tray, they are laid on the chest.

He now takes the chalice and offers it, always beginning from Mary, to those who are present. John and Judas follow him with the small amphorae and they add the liquids when the chalice is empty, while Peter repeats the elevation, the offering and the blessing to consecrate the liquid.

When all those who asked to be nourished with the Eucharist are satisfied, the apostles consume the bread and wine left over. Then they sing another psalm or hymn and after it Peter blesses the crowd who, after his blessing, go away little by little.

Mary, the Mother, Who has always remained on Her knees during the whole ceremony of the consecration and the distribution of the species of the Bread and Wine, stands up and goes to the chest. She bends across the large table and with Her forehead She touches the upper section of the chest, where the chalice and the small plate used by Jesus at the Last Supper are laid, and She kisses the edges of them. A kiss that is also for all the relics gathered there. Then John closes the chest and hands the key back to Mary, Who puts it again round Her neck.

 

Written by Maria Valtorta.  From  POEM OF THE MAN-GOD, Volume 5, Chapter 637.

Copyright 1990 by Centro Editoriale Valtortiano, srl, Isola del Liri, Italy.  All rights reserved in all countries.

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