‘I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you.’ (John 14:18)
One day, a certain nun made known to St. Teresa her desire to behold Our Lord. “I wish,” she said, “that I had lived at the time of Jesus Christ, my dear Saviour, for then I could have seen how amiable and lovely He is.”
“What!” responded St. Teresa; “do you not know, then, dear sister, that the same Jesus Christ is still with us on earth, that He lives quite near us, in our churches, on our altars, in the Blessed Sacrament?’” (Fr. Mueller, ‘The Blessed Sacrament’)
What a remarkable thought! Our Saviour “is as really present in the consecrated Host as He is in the glory of Heaven.” (St. Paschal Baylon). The same Divine Person we read of in the Scriptures, “dwells in our midst, in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.” (St. Maximilian Kolbe). There He waits for us, night and day; like the little red light beside the Tabernacle, His Sacred Heart burns with a constant desire to love us and be loved by us; He has given Himself to us without reserve, and hopes that we will do the same in return; despised, forgotten and neglected, He looks for someone who will console Him: ‘Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am overwhelmed: and I looked for sympathy, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.’ (Psalm 69:20).
“I love souls so much,” said Our Lord to St. Veronica Giuliani, “that I want the whole world to see and know it, so as to revive the memory of My Passion, and so that faith, that has grown so feeble among Christians, may be renewed. They are now Christians in name alone.”
If only we would think of Our Lord’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament; if only we would visit Him, we should soon become inflamed with love for Him. “You will find visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament very conducive to increase in you Divine Love.” (St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi). “Once, when she [St. Crescentia] was kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament, immersing her own heart with great fervor in the Sacred Heart of her Divine Redeemer, as she often used to do, it appeared to her as if many brilliantly shining rays came from the Tabernacle and penetrated her heart; at the same time she seemed to hear these words: “These are the marks of My love towards you, with which I will inflame your heart and unite it to Mine.”
When will we open our hearts to Jesus, whose Heart was pierced for love of us? He seeks for nothing so much as to grant us His grace; His greatest sorrow is that we do not seek Him. ‘My son’ He says, ‘give Me thy heart’ (Proverbs 23:26). He extends the same invitation to His beloved daughters, for whom he laboured, suffered and died. “I am your Spouse,” said Jesus to St. Veronica Giuliani – “when will you make up your mind to love Me truly? I am all yours; I come to you to draw you to Myself; I come to you to make you one with Me; I come to you to change you completely into Myself.”
A great devotion to Our Eucharistic Lord is sure to make us saints. By the grace of God, and through the Intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, from whom Jesus took His flesh, may we come to share in the love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, which was, for the saints, a source of light, love, joy and salvation.
“WHY BELIEVE IN THE REAL PRESENCE?”
“This has always been the belief of the Church of God, that immediately after the consecration the true Body and the true Blood of Our Lord, together with His Soul and Divinity exist under the form of bread and wine.” (Council of Trent, Session XIII, 1st Decree, Ch. 3; Oct. 11, 1551).
‘He that hath ears to hear, let him hear’ (Matthew 11:15).
Since the 1st century AD, the doctrine of the “Real Presence” of Jesus in the Eucharist has been unhesitatingly affirmed by the Church, Popes, Church Fathers, Saints, Mystics, and pious faithful everywhere.
“Since then He Himself declared and said of the Bread, ‘This is My Body’ (Luke 22:19), who shall dare to doubt any longer? And since He has Himself affirmed and said, ‘This is My Blood’, who shall ever hesitate, saying, that it is not His blood?” (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical lecture 22)
The Saints had a profound love of the Eucharist. “For one Communion,” said St. Crescentia, “I would gladly suffer all the sicknesses of all mankind.” “Her [St. Crescentia] whole life,” remarked Sr. Gabriel, a fellow Sister in religion, “was spent in constant preparation for Holy Communion, and in thanksgiving for it.” “Her desire for Holy Communion was so intense,” said Sr. Raphael Miller, “that as the appointed time drew near for her to receive, every delay appeared to her intolerable.”
Like so many other Saints, St. Crescentia was inflamed with love for Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, Who “…is the only one not to be thanked for the good He does.” (St. Peter Julian Eymard). She was neither a heretic nor an idolater: she did not worship a mere piece of bread; the Object of her love was God Himself, Who has declared: “I am the living bread which came down from Heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give, is My flesh, for the life of the world” (John 6:51).
As Frank Sheed says: “Every life is nourished by its own kind – the body by material food, the intellect by mental food. But the life we are now concerned with is Christ living in us (John 14:6; John 15:5; Galatians 2:20 etc.); the only possible food for it is Christ.” “Just as the bread and wine that nourish you pass into the substance of your body,” said the Eternal Father to St. Catherine of Siena, “in the same way when you feed upon Him, My Son, in the Blessed Sacrament, My Son, in the Blessed Sacrament, My Son, Who is one thing with Me, penetrates your spiritual substance under the appearances of bread and wine, and you are changed into Me.”
What unfathomable goodness and mercy! “Our Lord certainly deserves our gratitude for coming to us [in the Blessed Sacrament] and bringing us infinite treasures of grace.” (St. Peter Julian Eymard). The least He deserves is that we seek the truth regarding the Real Presence. If we seek Jesus with all our hearts, He will lead us to His Eucharistic Heart. ‘You shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart.’ (Jeremiah 29:13). “Unbelief in the Eucharist is never a result of the evidence of the reasons advanced against this mystery.” (St. Peter Julian Eymard).
Tragically, Satan has successfully deprived a great number of Christians from the Bread of Life. The very Sacrament of union and love has become for many an Object of indifference. What lamentable ingratitude and ignorance! But this need not be the case. If only we open our hearts to the One who is Love and Truth, we will come to see the importance of the Holy Eucharist. That the Eucharist is instrumental in leading us to holiness, cannot be denied:
“A person whom, by a special permission of God, he [Satan] was allowed to harass very much and even drag about on the ground, was exorcised by a priest of our Congregation [the Redemptorists] and the devil was commanded to say whether or not Holy Communion was very useful and profitable to the soul. At the first and second interrogatory he would not answer, but the third time, being commanded in the name of the blessed Trinity, he replied with a howl: ‘Profitable! Know that if this person had not received Holy Communion so many times, we should have had her completely in our power.’ Behold, then, our great weapon against the devil! “Yes,” says the great St. John Chrysostom, “after receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, we become as terrible to the devil as a furious lion is to man.” (Fr. Mueller)
As St. Veronica Giuliani remarks, when we receive Communion with faith, love and purity of heart, “… God enriches her [the soul] with His graces to such an extent that she makes giant strides on the path of perfection.”
Let us draw close to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, who will be for us a friend, a Saviour, and a Spouse. Let us give Him the joy of making our soul His home and His throne. How it would please our heavenly Spouse if we followed the example of Bl. Elizabeth Canori. “One day, after Holy Communion, the adorable Saviour suddenly revealed Himself to her, and appeared to her seated in her heart as in the throne of His Love, and surrounded by a numerous court of angelic spirits; He added these words: ‘Oh, Jane Felicia (Jane Felicia of the Blessed Trinity was her religious name) of My Heart, it is My delight to communicate to you My own life; make it your happiness for Me to live in you.’”
The next article (i.e. part 2) will present us with 101 different “mystical” experiences of the Holy Eucharist in the lives of 101 different mystics.