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For the Year of the Priest: a painting of Saint John Mary Vianney with his friend, Saint Peter Julian Eymard

Saint Peter Julian Eymard is one of the principal patrons of the work of the Cenacle here in Tulsa. On the feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1857 Saint Peter Julian Eymard inaugurated the solemn exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament by which the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament came to life. This week's move to a leased house in Tulsa better suited to a life of prayer and hospitality, and the need for funds to build the new Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle, dedicated to Eucharistic adoration for the sanctification of priests, compel me once again to propose the following novena for those who care to make it with me from January 6-14. It would be grand if those making the novena would leave a word in the comment box letting me know it!

Some readers of Vultus Christi may recall that on October 26, 2007 I wrote:

The desire of the Heart of Jesus is that there should be priest adorers and reparators: priests who will adore for those who do not adore, priests who will make reparation for those who do not. Our Lord asks me -- and will ask other priests as well -- to remain in adoration before His Eucharistic Face, offering all the priests of the Church to His Open Heart present in the Sacrament of His Love.

This inspiration was confirmed by the splendid letter of Cardinal Hummes, published on December 7, 2007, inviting to adoration and reparation for priests.

A Daunting Proposition

The Church is blessed with any number of communities of fervent Benedictines, who glorify Our Lord according to the gifts imparted to them, but nowhere does Our Lord find a house of priest-adorers to keep Him company in the Sacrament of His Love, and to offer themselves for their brother priests. The establishment of a new monastery is a daunting proposition. I might be tempted to lose heart, were it not for Our Lord's assurance that the measure of one's weakness is the measure of the deployment of His grace.

The Gospel tells us: God is the highest priority. If anything in our life deserves haste without delay, then, it is God's work alone. The Rule of Saint Benedict contains this teaching: "Place nothing at all before the work of God (i.e. the divine office)". For monks, the Liturgy is the first priority. Everything else comes later. In its essence, though, this saying applies to everyone. (Pope Benedict XVI, Christmas 2009)

Work for Priests

The traditional Benedictine framework and the commitment to the choral liturgy will protect the life of adoration and the work for priests: the interior work of self-oblation in all things, and the exterior works of hospitality, spiritual counsel, and availability to priests in their times of need and inner darkness.

Assent to the Divine Friendship

At the heart of this special vocation is the assent to Our Lord's Divine Friendship, the "yes" to His merciful love uttered on behalf of all priests through a prolonged daily presence in adoration before His Eucharistic Face.

Our Lord desires with an immense desire to purify, and heal, and sanctify His priests. This He does, and will do, by drawing them into the radiance of His Eucharistic Face and the warmth of His Eucharistic Heart. We priests all too easily forget that Our Lord Jesus Christ is present in the Sacrament of His Love to offer us all the good things that come from friendship: companionship, conversation, joy, comfort, hospitality, strength and, above all, love.

Friends of His Heart

Our Lord is hidden in the Blessed Sacrament; His Face is veiled by the sacramental species and His Heart, too, is hidden. He is, nonetheless, really present as True God and True Man, alive, seeing all, knowing all, and burning with desire that all should come to His tabernacles but, first of all, the priests whom He has chosen to be His intimate friends, the friends of His Heart.

A priest who, in adoration, assents to the friendship of Christ, will want for nothing and will make great strides along the path of holiness. Virtue is not difficult for one who abides in the friendship of Christ. The friendship of Jesus for His priests needs to become the subject of conversations, of reflection, of study, and of preaching; more than anything else it needs to become the lived experience of every priest.

Our Lady and Saint John

A priest who abides in the friendship of Christ will accomplish great and wonderful works for souls. This is the secret of a fruitful priesthood. From her place in heaven, Our Blessed Lady is entirely devoted to keeping priests faithful to the Divine Friendship. Saint John, the Beloved Disciple, also intercedes for priests, that they might persevere in the way of friendship with Our Lord and find their joy in the love of His Heart.

The Remedy

Priests who come to adore the Eucharistic Face of Jesus will quickly discover His Heart and, in His Heart they will discover the friendship for which He created them and to which He calls them. The single greatest deficiency of the clergy is that so many priests are ignorant of the tenderness and strength and fidelity of Our Lord's friendship for them. How can this deficiency be remedied? By adoration before the Eucharistic Face of Christ. This is the raison d'être of my work in the Diocese of Tulsa. Pray, then, that the radiance of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus will reach an ever greater number of priests, until, in all the Church, the Priesthood of Christ shines with all the splendour of His own holiness.

Epiphany Novena in Honour of Saint Peter Julian Eymard
January 6 -- 14, 2010

Recited after Lauds:

Antiphon: And when they were come into the house,
they found the Child with Mary His Mother,
and fell down and adored Him.

V. Arise, shine, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come.
R. And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

Let us pray.

O God, who by the leading of a star,
didst manifest Thine Only-Begotten Son to the Gentiles,
mercifully grant that we,
having been led unto Him by the light of faith,
may, with grateful hearts,
ceaselessly adore Him present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar,
Who is our Mighty King, our Great High Priest, and our Immaculate Victim,
and Who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end.
Amen.

Recited after Vespers:

Antiphon: The Priests shall be holy;
for the offerings of the Lord made by fire,
and the bread of their God, they do offer,
therefore they shall be holy.

V. Pray for us, Saint Peter Julian.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O God, Who through the preaching and example of Saint Peter Julian Eymard,
didst renew the priesthood of Thy Church in holiness
and inflame many souls with zeal
for the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar;
we beseech Thee, through his intercession,
to gather priests of one mind and one heart,
from the rising of the sun to the setting thereof,
to keep watch in adoration before the Eucharistic Face
of Thine Only-Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ
and to abide before His Open Heart,
in reparation for those who forsake Him, hidden in the tabernacles of the world,
and in thanksgiving for the mercies that ever stream
from the Sacred Mysteries of His Body and Blood.
Who liveth and reigneth with Thee
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end.
Amen.

Holy Innocents

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Rubens' Virgin and Child surrounded by a wreath of chubby, pink Innocents (c. 1618) is delightful. Notice the almost mischievous smile of Baby Jesus. Does He want to leave His Mother's arms to play with His little friends? Or do His little friends want to climb up into the Virgin Mother's lap?

Snow blanketed Eastern Oklahoma on Christmas Eve, and so, in the warmth of the oratory of the Cenacle, the altar aglow with candles, I celebrated Matins, the Mass in Nocte, and, yes, even Lauds. Christmas Day began with Prime and the Mass of dawn.* After Sext, the Mass of the day, and None, I went to the kitchen to prepare Christmas dinner. By Vespers I realized that I had a serious cold or bronchitis and so, leaving Vespers to the choirs of angels, took to my bed. The following morning I called my good friend Dr. Loper who was kind enough to make a house call and prescribe an antibiotic. It will be several days before I will have enough voice to resume singing the Office . . . but in the meantime life goes on.

Dr. Loper came to the Cenacle for Prime and Chapter this morning. This was his first experience of Chapter. The section of the Holy Rule appointed for 28 December is Chaper 70, "That No One Venture to Punish at Random"! When I comment on the Holy Rule, I always try to identify the phrase or phrases that best capture the essence of the section that has been read. Today's key phrases would be: With all moderation and discretion, and Do not to another what you would not want done to yourself.

Moderation in all things is a characteristically Benedictine virtue The Benedictine -- monk, nun, or oblate -- avoids the excessive and the superfluous, and seeks to maintain in all things the good measure dictated by wisdom and prudence. For Saint Benedict, discretion was an all-encompassing virtue, gracing the way of monastic conversion with order, harmony, and balance. Where there is order, harmony, and balance, there will be beauty.

For most of my life, I have been working at acquiring the virtues of moderation and discretion. Not easy when one has the mercurial temperament of a Southern Italian and Celtic ancestry! Excess is in my blood. While the Irish monks of old were known for their excessive austerities and harsh penances, my ancestors of the Kingdom of Naples and the Two Sicilies were known for . . . well . . . other excesses better left unnamed.

There is a reason why we Benedictines listen to the reading of the Holy Rule day after day, and this over a lifetime. The Rule reveals its wisdom only to those who, being thoroughly familiar with the letter of the text, are disposed to go beyond it, to the grand principles holy living that it embodies.

* Brother Juan Diego, being the only novice at present, asked if he might return to his family in Florida until such time as a novitiate of several men might be constituted. When he began the novitiate, we both thought that he would be able to soldier on, but it became apparent that, within the context of enclosed monastic life, he needed more companionship and exchange than I alone could provide.

A Patron of Parish Priests

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Saint Gaetano Catanoso

Antiphon: Lord, when was it that we saw Thee hungry and fed Thee,
or thirsty and gave Thee drink?
When was it that we saw Thee a stranger,
and brought Thee home,
sick or in prison and came to Thee?
And the King will answer them:
Believe me, when you did it to one of the least of my brethren here,
you did it to me.

V. Pray for us, Saint Gaetano.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

Stir up, O Lord, in our hearts
the spirit of adoration and reparation
that filled Saint Gaetano, Your priest,
that we, having our eyes fixed, like his,
on the Eucharistic Face of Jesus,
may live in ceaseless prayer
and in the humble service of those
most in need of compassion.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

The Priest of the Holy Face of Jesus

Gaetano Catanoso was born on 14 February 1879 in Chorio di San Lorenzo, Reggio Calabria, Italy. His parents, prosperous landowners, were exemplary Christians. Gaetano was ordained a priest in 1902, and from 1904 to 1921 he served in the rural parish of Pentidattilo.

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Adorer of the Eucharistic Face

The Holy Face of Jesus illumined Father Catanoso's life. He venerated the Holy Face as depicted in the image of Veronica's Veil diffused by the Carmel of Tours in France. He began "The Holy Face" Bulletin and established a local chapter of the "Archconfraternity of the Holy Face" in 1920. "The Holy Face," he wrote, "is my life." Saint Gaetano directed anyone seeking the Face of Christ to the Most Holy Eucharist, saying, "If we wish to adore the real Face of Jesus, we can find it in the divine Eucharist where, with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Face of our Lord is hidden under the white veil of the Host."

A Eucharistic Parish Priest

On 2 February 1921, Father Catanoso was transferred to the large parish of Santa Maria de la Candelaria. He served there until 1940. The daily celebration of Holy Mass and Eucharistic adoration were the soul of his priesthood and the sustenance of his apostolate.

As the parish priest of Candelaria, Saint Gaetano drew people to Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar and renewed devotion to the Madonna. The plight of orphans moved him to undertake a number of charitable initiatives. He played an active role in the catechetical instruction of children and young people. Deeply moved by the message of the Blessed Virgin Mary at La Salette, Father Gaetano preached against blasphemy and taught the faithful to sanctify Sundays and the feasts of the Church.

Father Catanoso was compelled to reach out to orphans and to children suffering from neglect and abuse. He sought to provide youth with Christian role models. His charity extended to the forsaken elderly and to priests who found themselves isolated and without support. In all who suffered Father Gaetano saw the Face of Christ. His ardent love for the Most Holy Eucharist found expression in the restoration of churches and abandoned tabernacles.

Servant of Priests

"The Missionary of the Holy Face" spent hours or entire days in prayer before the Tabernacle. In his parish and beyond it he promoted Eucharistic Adoration in the spirit of reparation. He set up "flying-squads" of priests willing to assist other priests by preaching and hearing confessions on special occasions. In 1915 Saint Gaetano published for the first time a "Eucharistic Holy Hour" for priests. Saint Gaetano never let a single day pass without speaking of the Holy Face of Jesus.

Victim Priest

Father Gaetano patiently accepted sickness and, in the last stage of his life, blindness, desiring to unite himself to the saving Passion of Christ. In 1929 he offered himself as a victim priest to the Heart of Jesus.

La Madonna

Saint Gaetano's devotion to the Madonna was tender and childlike. He began praying the rosary daily as a little boy and remained faithful to the practice until his death. The rosary never left his hands, becoming for him a ceaseless prayer of the heart. To all who approached him for spiritual counsel he communicated his love of the Mother of God and his confidence in her intercession.

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Spiritual Father and Founder

From 1921 to 1950 Saint Gaetano served as confessor to various religious communities and in the Reggio Calabria prison. He served as spiritual director of the Archdiocesan Seminary. Everyone called him "Father," a title not normally given parish priests in Italy. He was, in fact, a beloved spiritual father generating holiness of life in countless priests and consecrated women. Father Gaetano's simple and ardent preaching attracted sinners to the contemplation of the Holy Face of Jesus and inspired souls to imitate his life of adoration and reparation.

In 1934, Father Catanoso founded in Riparo, Reggio Calabria, the Congregation of the Sisters Veronicas of the Holy Face of Jesus. The Sisters devote themselves to Eucharistic adoration and reparation to the Holy Face, catechesis, assistance to children, youth, priests and the elderly.

Canonized Three Years Ago

Father Gaetano Catanoso died on the Thursday of Passion Week, April 4, 1963. Pope John Paul II beatified him on May 4, 1997. Pope Benedict XVI canonized him on October 23, 2005. The liturgical memorial of Saint Gaetano Catanoso was fixed on September 20, the date of his ordination to the holy priesthood.

An American Cousin

Saint Gaetano's American cousin, Justin Catanoso, wrote a book recounting his experience of having a saint in the family. Visit Justin's website here.

Your Veiled Gaze Is Our Heaven

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Future Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle

The Most Reverend Edward J. Slattery, bishop of Tulsa, Oklahoma, intends to establish in his diocese a monastery of Benedictine Monks (Adorers of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, O.S.B.) dedicated to adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist, intercession and reparation for priests, and the spiritual support of the clergy through hospitality, days of recollection, and retreats.

In This Year of the Priesthood

The project takes on a compelling relevance in the context of this Year of the Priesthood. It is moreover a direct response to the Letter of Cardinal Hummes, Prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy, dated 7 December 2007. Will we be able to break ground for the new Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle during this Year of the Priesthood? Much depends on the generous donations of the faithful. Until now we have not been able to obtain the financial support necessary to launch this noble and worthy work.

Prayer for Priests

The connection of the project with yesterday's Feast of the Transfiguration and with Saint Thérèse of Lisieux is striking. The saint added to her name in Carmel the title, "of the Holy Face," and said upon entering the cloister, "I have come to pray for priests."

Gazing on the Holy Face

It was August 5th, 1897, the eve of the feast of the Transfiguration: the 24 year old Carmelite stricken with tuberculosis had a very special desire. She wanted an image of the Holy Face of Christ placed close to her bed. The image was brought from the choir and attached to her bed curtains. On the following September 30th,Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face died. Saint Thérèse, a Doctor of the Church, fixed her gaze on the Face of Christ disfigured by suffering, and found the transfiguration of her own suffering in its radiance.

Preparation for the Mystery of the Cross

The Holy Face of Christ was a mystery familiar to Thérèse. As a result of the good works of the Venerable Léon Dupont, the "Holy Man of Tours," devotion to the Holy Face had spread throughout France. The Carmel of Lisieux honoured the Holy Face every August 6th, forty days before the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14th. Every August 6th, the Carmelites exposed the image of the Holy Face in their choir and prayed before it.

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Hidden in the Secret of His Face

A year before her death on August 6, 1896, Thérèse and two novices entrusted to her consecrated themselves to the Holy Face of Jesus. They understood the mystery of the Transfiguration just as the liturgy presents it to us: as a preparation for the Mystery of the Cross.

The three young Carmelites asked Our Lord to hide them "in the secret of His Face." They were drawn by the Holy Spirit into the abjection of Christ, the Suffering Servant described in chapters 52 and 53 of the prophet Isaiah. They desired to be Veronicas, consoling Jesus in His Passion, and offering Him souls. Their prayer concluded: "O beloved Face of Jesus! As we await the everlasting day when we will contemplate your infinite Glory, our one desire is to charm your Divine Eyes by hiding our faces too so that here on earth no one can recognize us. O Jesus! Your Veiled Gaze is our Heaven!"

Lectio Divina and Eucharistic Adoration

The Transfiguration is the Human Face of God shining more brightly than the sun. Tradition gives us two privileged ways of seeking, of finding, and of contemplating the transfigured and transfiguring Face of Christ: the first is lectio divina. One who seeks the Face of Christ in the Scriptures -- the Face of the Beloved peering through the lattice of the text -- will be changed by the experience. The second way is Eucharistic adoration. One who remains silent and adoring before the Divine Host will be transfigured and healed in its radiance.

To Seek God

The Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle in the Diocese of Tulsa will be a place wherein priests and deacons may go apart for one thing only: to seek God. And where is God to be found except in Christ? "The knowledge of the glory of God," says Saint Paul, "is given to us in the Face of His Christ" (2 Cor 4:6).

Yesterday's Introit is the liturgical expression of this spirituality of the Holy Face. "Thou hast said, 'Seek ye my Face.' My heart says to thee, 'Thy Face, Lord, do I seek.' Hide not thy Face from me" (Ps 27:8-9a). The Holy Spirit works in lectio divina and Eucharistic adoration to reproduce in us the traits of the Holy Face of Christ. Pope Benedict XVI has recommended that both forms of seeking the Holy Face -- lectio divina and Eucharistic adoration -- be part of one's daily rhythm of prayer.

Infinite Beauty

The Face of Christ is "the splendor before which every other light pales, and the infinite beauty which alone can fully satisfy the human heart" (Vita Consecrata, art. 16). How fitting that, in the Greek text of today's gospel, Saint Peter's cry can, in fact, be translated, "Lord, it is beautiful for us to be here" (Mk 9:5)! In the transfigured Face of Christ we discover, in the words of Saint Clare of Assisi, "Him who gave Himself totally for our love, whose beauty the sun and moon admire, whose rewards and their preciousness and greatness are without end” (Letter III to Agnes of Prague).

Become What You Contemplate

Like Moses, to whom "the Lord used to speak face to face, as a man speaks to his friend" (Ex 33:11), and whose "face shone because he had been talking with God" (Ex 34:29), a soul faithful to lectio divina and to Eucharistic adoration will be transformed into the image that she contemplates. We become what we contemplate. One who contemplates disfigured things becomes inwardly disfigured. One who contemplates transfigured things becomes inwardly transfigured.

The Prophet Daniel

Yesterday's lesson from the prophet Daniel showed him awestruck in the presence of the Son of Man. Like Peter, James, and John on the holy mountain, Daniel is dazzled by the raiment of the Son of Man, white as snow (Dan 7:9). Again, like Peter, James, and John who were "heavy with sleep" (Lk 9:32), Daniel falls on his face, "in a deep sleep with his face to the ground" (Dan 10:9). This is no ordinary sleep; it is rather a mysterious sleep induced by the awesome proximity of the Divine, not unlike the sleep of Adam described in Genesis. "So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man” (Gen 2:21).

Fear Not, Daniel

Daniel describes what happened then. "And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees" (Dan 10:10). The touch of the hand of the Son of Man raises Daniel from his complete prostration. "And he said to me, 'O Daniel, man greatly beloved, give heed to the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.' While he was speaking this word to me, says Daniel, I stood up trembling. Then he said to me, 'Fear not, Daniel'" (Dan 10:11-12).

The experience of Daniel ends with him being told to stand upright. It is a kind of resurrection. This too, the call to stand upright, to take our place with the risen Son, facing the Father, in the Holy Spirit, is part of our own transfiguration into the Victimal Priesthood of Christ. The soul transfigured stands before the Father, joyful and free, certain of being greatly beloved, and invested with the noble beauty of Christ's royal priesthood.

Holy Mass

At Holy Mass, priest, deacon, and people together ascend the mountain with Christ. In the reading of the Scriptures, Our Lord reveals His Face; and in the hearing of the Word we go, as the Vulgate puts it, "from clarity to clarity." Today, Moses and Elijah attest to Christ, the fulfillment of the Law and of the Prophets, and point to the mystery of His Exodus by way of the Cross and tomb, from the regions of darkness and of death into the very light and life of the Father.

Passing in every Mass from the Liturgy of the Word to the Liturgy of the Holy Sacrifice, we, like Peter, James, and John, see his glory, not with eyes of flesh, but with the eyes of faith and by the light of the Holy Spirit. We know Him really present in the bread become His Body and in the wine become His Blood and, like Peter, cry out, "Master, it is beautiful to be here" (Lk 9:33).

The altar of the Holy Sacrifice is our Mount Tabor. Over the altar resounds the voice of the Father, "This is my Son, the Chosen One; listen to him" (Lk 10:35). Invisibly yet truly; mystically yet really, the altar -- and all of us who from it partake of the Body and Blood of Christ -- are enveloped in the cloud of the Holy Spirit and assumed into the grand priestly prayer of Christ to the Father.

Eucharistic Transfiguration

The grace of yesterday's festival was our own Eucharistic transfiguration. Our Lord would take each of us and all of us into His hands, to become with Him, in the Holy Spirit, one single oblation to the Father. Without fear, give yourselves over, then, as victims into the wounded hands of our glorious Priest. He will consecrate you with Himself in the Holy Sacrifice. Then the Father, looking down from heaven, will recognize in each of us the Holy Face of His Son, the Beloved, for by the mystery of the Eucharist we are "being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another" (2 Cor 3:18).

If you would like to make a contribution toward building the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle, please send it to:

Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle
1132 East 21st Street
Tulsa, OK 74114

Kindly indicate that your contribution is for the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle. Thank you for your generosity. May Our Lord Jesus Christ through the intercession of Saint Thérèse, make the light of His Eucharistic Face shine upon you.

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Here are the prayers that I use to open and close Eucharistic adoration in the Cenacle of the Diocese of Tulsa:

At the beginning of the hour of adoration:

Lord Jesus Christ, Priest and Victim,
behold, I kneel before Thy Eucharistic Face
on behalf of all Thy priests:
(Fathers N. and N.)
and especially those priests of Thine,
who at this moment are most in need
of Thy grace.
For them and in their place,
allow me to remain,
adoring and full of confidence,
close to Thy Open Heart
hidden in this, the Sacrament of Thy Love.

Through the Sorrowful and Immaculate
Heart of Mary,
our Advocate and the Mediatrix of All Graces,
pour forth upon all the priests of Thy Church
that torrent of mercy that ever flows
from Thy pierced side:
to purify and heal them,
to refresh and sanctify them,
and, at the hour of their death,
to make them worthy of joining Thee
before the Father in the heavenly sanctuary
beyond the veil (Hb 6:19)
where Thou art always living
to make intercession
for us (Hb 7:25). Amen.

At the end of adoration, three times:

Eucharistic Face of Jesus, sanctify Thy priests!

A Note on the Expression "Eucharistic Face of Jesus"


In his Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Pope John Paul II drew the eyes of the Church to the Face of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist. He coined a new phrase, one not encountered before in his writings or in the teachings of his predecessors, "the Eucharistic Face of Christ." Thus did Pope John Paul II share with the Church his own experience of seeking, finding, and adoring the Face of Christ in the Eucharist.

To contemplate the face of Christ, and to contemplate it with Mary, is the "programme" which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third millennium, summoning her to put out into the deep on the sea of history with the enthusiasm of the new evangelization. To contemplate Christ involves being able to recognize him wherever he manifests himself, in his many forms of presence, but above all in the living sacrament of his Body and Blood. The Church draws her life from Christ in the Eucharist; by Him she is fed and by Him she is enlightened. The Eucharist is both a mystery of faith and a "mystery of light." Whenever the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the faithful can in some way relive the experience of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: "their eyes were opened and they recognized him" (Lk 24:31). . . . I cannot let this Holy Thursday 2003 pass without halting before the "Eucharistic face" of Christ and pointing out with new force to the Church the centrality of the Eucharist.

The experience of the disciples on the road to Emmaus culminated in their eyes being opened to see the Eucharistic Face of Christ. "When He was at table with them, He took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and he vanished out of their sight" (Lk 24:30-31). Christ vanished from the sight of the disciples, leaving in their hearts a mysterious burning (cf. Lk 24:32), and the broken Bread that at once conceals and reveals His Eucharistic Face. In the Eucharist the Face of Christ is turned toward us. The Eucharistic Face of Christ waits to meet the gaze of our faith, waits to be sought and recognized, adored and implored. "We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known" (1 Cor 13:12). Sanctissima Facies Iesu, sub sacramento abscondita, respice in nos et miserere nostri.

The Face of Christ shines through the veil of the Sacred Species to illumine those who seek it there. The radiance of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus heals and repairs the disfiguration of sin; it restores beauty to the face of the soul and likeness to the image of God obscured by sin. It is in the Most Holy Eucharist that the prayer of the psalmist is wonderfully fulfilled: "The light of Thy face, O Lord, is signed upon us: Thou hast given gladness in my heart" (Ps 4:7). Again, it is the psalmist who says, "Look to Him and be radiant, and your faces shall not be put to shame" (Ps 33:6). The adorer who seeks the Eucharistic Face will experience that in its light there is the healing of brokenness and the beginning of transfiguration. "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Cor 3:18).

The Eucharistic Face of Jesus is veiled beneath the humble species of bread lest we be blinded by its glory. "His face," says Saint John, "was like the sun shining in full strength" (Rev 1:16). The rays of that Sun reach us nonetheless through the appearance of bread that conceals it; its healing effects are not in any way diminished, nor is the splendour of its glory. "We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen" (2 Cor 4:18). "For it is the God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the Eucharistic face of Christ" (cf. 2 Cor 4:6).

The sentiments of every human heart find expression on the face even before they are communicated in words. So too are the secrets of the Sacred Heart revealed on the Face of the Word made Flesh and communicated to those who seek that Face in the mystery of the Eucharist. One who seeks the Face of Christ will be led surely, inexorably, to the inexhaustible riches of His Heart.

The Face of Christ is "the brightness of the Father's glory and the figure of his substance" (cf. Heb 1:3). To Philip wanting to see the Father, Jesus replied, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me?" (Jn 14:9-10). The Face of Christ, "full of grace and truth" (Jn 1:14), reveals the Father. Those who seek the Eucharistic Face of Jesus can in truth say with Saint John, "We have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father" (Jn 1:14), and again, "No one has ever seen God; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known" (Jn 1:18).

He who is from all eternity "in the bosom of the Father" (Jn 1:18) is also, "in these last days" (Heb 1:2), sacramentally present in the heart of the Church, abiding there as "the living Bread which came down from heaven" (Jn 6:51). It is in adoring Him there that we become "the generation of those who seek Him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob" (Ps 23:6).

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 27, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the letter Cláudio Cardinal Hummes, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, wrote in preparation for The Year of the Priest, which will begin on June 19th.

Dear Priests,

That Priests May Be Happy and Holy

The Year for Priests, announced by our beloved Pope Benedict XVI to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the death of the saintly Curé of Ars, St. John Mary Vianney, is drawing near. It will be inaugurated by the Holy Father on the 19th June, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. The announcement of the Year for Priests has been very warmly received, especially amongst priests themselves. Everyone wants to commit themselves with determination, sincerity and fervor so that it may be a year amply celebrated in the whole world -- in the Dioceses, parishes and in every local community -- with the warm participation of our Catholic people who undoubtedly love their priests and want to see them happy, holy and joyous in their daily apostolic labors.

The Church Is Proud of Her Priests

It must be a year that is both positive and forward looking in which the Church says to her priests above all, but also to all the Faithful and to wider society by means of the mass media, that she is proud of her priests, loves them, honors them, admires them and that she recognizes with gratitude their pastoral work and the witness of the their life. Truthfully priests are important not only for what they do but also for who they are. Sadly, it is true that at the present time some priest have been shown to have been involved in gravely problematic and unfortunate situations. It is necessary to investigate these matters, pursue judicial processes and impose penalties accordingly. However, it is also important to keep in mind that these pertain to a very small portion of the clergy. The overwhelming majority of priests are people of great personal integrity, dedicated to the sacred ministry; men of prayer and of pastoral charity, who invest their entire existence in the fulfillment of their vocation and mission, often through great personal sacrifice, but always with an authentic love towards Jesus Christ, the Church and the people, in solidarity with the poor and the suffering. It is for this reason that the Church is proud of her priests wherever they may be found.

Days of Recollection and Spiritual Exercises

May this year be an occasion for a period of intense appreciation of the priestly identity, of the theology of the Catholic priesthood, and of the extraordinary meaning of the vocation and mission of priests within the Church and in society. This will require opportunities for study, days of recollection, spiritual exercises reflecting on the Priesthood, conferences and theological seminars in our ecclesiastical faculties, scientific research and respective publications.

The Eucharist: Heart of Priestly Spirituality

The Holy Father, in announcing the Year in his allocution on the 16th March last to the Congregation for the Clergy during its Plenary Assembly, said that with this special year it is intended "to encourage priests in this striving for spiritual perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends". For this reason it must be, in a very special way, a year of prayer by priests, with priests and for priests, a year for the renewal of the spirituality of the presbyterate and of each priest. The Eucharist is, in this perspective, at the heart of priestly spirituality. Thus Eucharistic adoration for the sanctification of priests and the spiritual motherhood of religious women, consecrated and lay women towards priests, as previously proposed some time ago by the Congregation for the Clergy, could be further developed and would certainly bear the fruit of sanctification.

Priests in Poverty and Hardship

May it also be a year in which the concrete circumstances and the material sustenance of the clergy will be considered, since they live, at times, in situations of great poverty and hardship in many parts of the world.

Priestly Communion and Friendship

May it be a year as well of religious and of public celebration which will bring the people -- the local Catholic community -- to pray, to reflect, to celebrate, and justly to give honor to their priests. In the ecclesial community a celebration is a very cordial event which expresses and nourishes Christian joy, a joy which springs from the certainty that God loves us and celebrates with us. May it therefore be an opportunity to develop the communion and friendship between priests and the communities entrusted to their care.

Local Churches

Many other aspects and initiatives could be mentioned that could enrich the Year for Priests, but here the faithful ingenuity of the local churches is called for. Thus, it would be good for every Dioceses and each parish and local community to establish, at the earliest opportunity, an effective program for this special year. Clearly it would be important to begin the Year with some notable event. The local Churches are invited on the 19th June next, the same day on which the Holy Father will inaugurate the Year for Priests in Rome, to participate in the opening of the Year, ideally by some particular liturgical act and festivity. Let those who are able most surely come to Rome for the inauguration, to manifest their own participation in this happy initiative of the Pope.

God will undoubtedly bless with great love this undertaking; and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Clergy, will pray for each of you, dear priests.

Cardinal Cláudio Hummes
Archbishop Emeritus of São Paulo
Prefect, Congregation for the Clergy

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Saint Catherine of Siena holds a place of singular honour among the heavenly friends and models of the Spiritual Mothers of Priests. In this passage from The Dialogue, after describing in rather vivid detail the three pillars of vice found among priests -- impurity, bloated pride, and greed -- the Eternal Father calls Saint Catherine and, with her, other souls to offer Him sorrowful and loving desires for their purification and sanctification.

I Would Conquer Them by the Strength of My Mercy
O sweetest daughter! What keeps the ground from swallowing up such ministers? What keeps My power from turning them into solid immobile statues before all the people to confound them? My mercy. I restrain Myself, that is I restrain My divine justice with mercy in an effort to conquer them by the strength of mercy. But they, obstinate demons that they are, neither see nor recognize My mercy. . . .
Serve Christ By Praying for His Priests
I have told you all this to give you more reason for bitter weeping over their blindness, over seeing them damned, and to give you a deeper knowledge of My mercy. In this mercy you can find trust and great security, offering to Me these ministers of holy Church and the whole world, and begging Me to be merciful to them. The more you offer Me sorrowful and loving desires for them, the more you will prove your love for Me. For the service neither you nor my other servants can do for Me you ought to do for them instead. Then I will let myself be constrained by the longing and tears and prayers of my servants, and will be merciful to My Bride by reforming her with good and holy shepherds.

A Sunday Adoration

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I adore Thee who art present here before me.
I adore Thee with all the love of my heart.
I adore Thee humbly.
I adore Thee in faith.
I adore Thee because Thou art God ever worthy of all adoration,
and because Thou hast called me to adore Thee
in this the Sacrament of Thy Redeeming Love.

Here is Thy Blessed Passion,
here Thy immolated Flesh,
here Thy Precious Blood,
here Thy holy and glorious wounds,
here Thy pierced side,
here Thy Sacred Heart all-burning with love,
here Thy merciful priesthood exercised eternally on behalf of poor sinners,
here Thy adorable Face, so humiliated and disfigured in Thy bitter sufferings,
and now so ineffably radiant and divinely beautiful.
All of this I adore
so often as I bow low before the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

I adore Thee to thank Thee, insofar as I am able,
for all the benefits that flow from this Most Holy Sacrament
and, in particular, for those graces of purity, healing, and holiness
that Thou reservest here for Thy priests.

All that Thou givest Thy priests, beloved Lord Jesus,
redounds to Thy glory, because through them, as through "other selves" of Thine,
Thou dost sanctify and speak to souls.
Through Thy priests Thou prolongest Thy saving sacrifice in the world
from the rising of the sun to the setting thereof.
Through thy priests Thou givest pardon to the sinner,
healing to the sick,
hope to the despondent,
and peace to those whose hearts are troubled.
I adore Thee, too, to make reparation
for those who do not adore Thee present in this the Sacrament of Thy Love.
I adore Thee in reparation for those priests of Thine who,
though charged with the Sacred Mysteries of Thy Body and Blood,
have lost all sense of wonder, and rarely remain, freely and willingly,
before Thy Eucharistic Face, close to Thy Eucharistic Heart.

I adore Thee, O Silent Word, in reparation for the noise and lack of reverence
that so often fills Thy sanctuaries,
and for the indifference and neglect that has befallen Thee
in so many tabernacles where Thou art present, but forsaken.

I adore Thee, O Lamb of God, in reparation for my own innumerable sins
and for the sins of my brother priests,
trusting utterly in Thy boundless mercy
and in Thy readiness to restore by Thy grace whatever we have lost by sin.

I adore Thee, Radiant Splendour of the Father, because in approaching Thee,
I approach Thy Father,
and because in adoring Thee
I glorify Thy Father Who so loved the world
that He sent Thee into it,
that by Thy Sacrifice all creation might be cleansed
and all things made new.

I adore Thee, Victim and Priest,
begging Thee to unite me to Thy own oblation.
Draw me to Thy Open Heart by the action of Thy Holy Spirit,
that through Thee, and with Thee, and in Thee,
I may pass already from before this altar
where I contemplate Thee hidden beneath the sacramental veils
into the glory of Thy Kingdom
where the praise of Thy Father in the Holy Spirit is perfect and unending. Amen.

Hoc Est Hodie

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Pope Benedict XVI is a master of mystagogical catechesis. This homily for the Mass of the Lord's Supper probes the words of institution and consecration of the Roman Canon, and introduces us into the richness of their mystical content. The Holy Father teaches that these words of the Sacred Liturgy shape and reshape the Church, beginning with the priest who, at the altar, utters them. Again, thank you, Most Holy Father.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today

"Qui, pridie quam pro nostra omniumque salute pateretur, hoc est hodie, accepit panem": these words we shall pray today in the Canon of the Mass. "Hoc est hodie" -- the Liturgy of Holy Thursday places the word "today" into the text of the prayer, thereby emphasizing the particular dignity of this day. It was "today" that He did this: he gave himself to us for ever in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. This "today" is first and foremost the memorial of that first Paschal event. Yet it is something more. With the Canon, we enter into this "today". Our today comes into contact with his today. He does this now. With the word "today", the Church's Liturgy wants us to give great inner attention to the mystery of this day, to the words in which it is expressed. We therefore seek to listen in a new way to the institution narrative, in the form in which the Church has formulated it, on the basis of Scripture and in contemplation of the Lord himself.

The first thing to strike us is that the institution narrative is not an independent phrase, but it starts with a relative pronoun: qui pridie. This "qui" connects the entire narrative to the preceding section of the prayer, "let it become for us the body and blood of Jesus Christ, your only Son, our Lord." In this way, the institution narrative is linked to the preceding prayer, to the entire Canon, and it too becomes a prayer. By no means is it merely an interpolated narrative, nor is it a case of an authoritative self-standing text that actually interrupts the prayer. It is a prayer. And only in the course of the prayer is the priestly act of consecration accomplished, which becomes transformation, transubstantiation of our gifts of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.

Eucharistia

As she prays at this central moment, the Church is fully in tune with the event that took place in the Upper Room, when Jesus' action is described in the words: "gratias agens benedixit -- he gave you thanks and praise". In this expression, the Roman liturgy has made two words out of the one Hebrew word berakha, which is rendered in Greek with the two terms eucharistía and eulogía. The Lord gives thanks. When we thank, we acknowledge that a certain thing is a gift that has come from another. The Lord gives thanks, and in so doing gives back to God the bread, "fruit of the earth and work of human hands", so as to receive it anew from him. Thanksgiving becomes blessing. The offering that we have placed in God's hands returns from him blessed and transformed. The Roman liturgy rightly interprets our praying at this sacred moment by means of the words: "through him, we ask you to accept and bless these gifts we offer you in sacrifice". All this lies hidden within the word "eucharistia".

The Hands and Eyes of the Lord and of His Priests

There is another aspect of the institution narrative cited in the Roman Canon on which we should reflect this evening. The praying Church gazes upon the hands and eyes of the Lord. It is as if she wants to observe him, to perceive the form of his praying and acting in that remarkable hour, she wants to encounter the figure of Jesus even, as it were, through the senses. "He took bread in his sacred hands " Let us look at those hands with which he healed men and women; the hands with which he blessed babies; the hands that he laid upon men; the hands that were nailed to the Cross and that forever bear the stigmata as signs of his readiness to die for love. Now we are commissioned to do what he did: to take bread in our hands so that through the Eucharistic Prayer it will be transformed. At our priestly ordination, our hands were anointed, so that they could become hands of blessing. Let us pray to the Lord that our hands will serve more and more to bring salvation, to bring blessing, to make his goodness present!

With Eyes and Hearts Raised Towards God

From the introduction to the Priestly Prayer of Jesus (cf. Jn 17:1), the Canon takes these words: "Looking up to heaven, to you his almighty Father " The Lord teaches us to raise our eyes, and especially our hearts. He teaches us to fix our gaze upwards, detaching it from the things of this world, to direct ourselves in prayer towards God and thus to raise ourselves. In a hymn from the Liturgy of the Hours, we ask the Lord to guard our eyes, so that they do not take in or cause to enter within us "vanitates" -- vanities, nothings, that which is merely appearance. Let us pray that no evil will enter through our eyes, falsifying and tainting our very being. But we want to pray above all for eyes that see whatever is true, radiant and good; so that they become capable of seeing God's presence in the world. Let us pray that we will look upon the world with eyes of love, with the eyes of Jesus, recognizing our brothers and sisters who need our help, who are awaiting our word and our action.

The Lord Distributes Himself

Having given thanks and praise, the Lord then breaks the bread and gives it to the disciples. Breaking the bread is the act of the father of the family who looks after his children and gives them what they need for life. But it is also the act of hospitality with which the stranger, the guest, is received within the family and is given a share in its life. Dividing (dividere), sharing (condividere) brings about unity. Through sharing, communion is created. In the broken bread, the Lord distributes himself. The gesture of breaking also alludes mysteriously to his death, to the love that extends even to death. He distributes himself, the true "bread for the life of the world" (cf. Jn 6:51). The nourishment that man needs in his deepest self is communion with God himself. Giving thanks and praise, Jesus transforms the bread, he no longer gives earthly bread, but communion with himself. This transformation, though, seeks to be the start of the transformation of the world -- into a world of resurrection, a world of God. Yes, it is about transformation -- of the new man and the new world that find their origin in the bread that is consecrated, transformed, transubstantiated.

Agape in Daily Life

We said that breaking the bread is an act of communion, an act of uniting through sharing. Thus, in the act itself, the intimate nature of the Eucharist is already indicated: it is agape, it is love made corporeal. In the word "agape", the meanings of Eucharist and love intertwine. In Jesus' act of breaking the bread, the love that is shared has attained its most radical form: Jesus allows himself to be broken as living bread. In the bread that is distributed, we recognize the mystery of the grain of wheat that dies, and so bears fruit. We recognize the new multiplication of the loaves, which derives from the dying of the grain of wheat and will continue until the end of the world. At the same time, we see that the Eucharist can never be just a liturgical action. It is complete only if the liturgical agape then becomes love in daily life. In Christian worship, the two things become one -- experiencing the Lord's love in the act of worship and fostering love for one's neighbour. At this hour, we ask the Lord for the grace to learn to live the mystery of the Eucharist ever more deeply, in such a way that the transformation of the world can begin to take place.

The Chalice and the Mystery of Nuptial Love

After the bread, Jesus takes the chalice of wine. The Roman Canon describes the chalice which the Lord gives to his disciples as "praeclarus calix" (the glorious cup), thereby alluding to Psalm 23 [22], the Psalm which speaks of God as the Good Shepherd, the strong Shepherd. There we read these words: "You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes My cup is overflowing" -- calix praeclarus. The Roman Canon interprets this passage from the Psalm as a prophecy that is fulfilled in the Eucharist: yes, the Lord does indeed prepare a banquet for us in the midst of the threats of this world, and he gives us the glorious chalice -- the chalice of great joy, of the true feast, for which we all long -- the chalice filled with the wine of his love. The chalice signifies the wedding-feast: now the "hour" has come to which the wedding-feast of Cana had mysteriously alluded. Yes indeed, the Eucharist is more than a meal, it is a wedding-feast. And this wedding is rooted in God's gift of himself even to death. In the words of Jesus at the Last Supper and in the Church's Canon, the solemn mystery of the wedding is concealed under the expression "novum Testamentum". This chalice is the new Testament -- "the new Covenant in my blood", as Saint Paul presents the words of Jesus over the chalice in today's second reading (1 Cor 11:25). The Roman Canon adds: "of the new and everlasting covenant", in order to express the indissolubility of God's nuptial bond with humanity. The reason why older translations of the Bible do not say Covenant, but Testament, lies in the fact that this is no mere contract between two parties on the same level, but it brings into play the infinite distance between God and man. What we call the new and the ancient Covenant is not an agreement between two equal parties, but simply the gift of God who bequeaths to us his love -- himself. Certainly, through this gift of his love, he transcends all distance and makes us truly his "partners" -- the nuptial mystery of love is accomplished.

Consanguinity With Jesus

In order to understand profoundly what is taking place here, we must pay even greater attention to the words of the Bible and their original meaning. Scholars tell us that in those ancient times of which the histories of Israel's forefathers speak, to "ratify a Covenant" means "to enter with others into a bond based on blood or to welcome the other into one's own covenant fellowship and thus to enter into a communion of mutual rights and obligations". In this way, a real, if non-material form of consanguinity is established. The partners become in some way "brothers of the same flesh and the same bones". The covenant brings about a fellowship that means peace (cf. ThWNT II, 105-137). Can we now form at least an idea of what happened at the hour of the Last Supper, and what has been renewed ever since, whenever we celebrate the Eucharist? God, the living God, establishes a communion of peace with us, or to put it more strongly, he creates "consanguinity" between himself and us. Through the incarnation of Jesus, through the outpouring of his blood, we have been drawn into an utterly real consanguinity with Jesus and thus with God himself. The blood of Jesus is his love, in which divine life and human life have become one. Let us pray to the Lord, that we may come to understand ever more deeply the greatness of this mystery. Let us pray that in our innermost selves its transforming power will increase, so that we truly acquire consanguinity with Jesus, so that we are filled with his peace and grow in communion with one another.

Death and Resurrection

Now, however, a further question arises. In the Upper Room, Christ gives his Body and Blood to the disciples, that is, he gives himself in the totality of his person. But can he do so? He is still physically present in their midst, he is standing in front of them! The answer is: at that hour, Jesus fulfils what he had previously proclaimed in the Good Shepherd discourse: "No one takes my life from me: I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it again " (Jn 10:18). No one can take his life from him: he lays it down by his own free decision. At that hour, he anticipates the crucifixion and resurrection. What is later to be fulfilled, as it were, physically in him, he already accomplishes in anticipation, in the freedom of his love. He gives his life and he takes it again in the resurrection, so as to be able to share it for ever.

Make Us Live in Your Today

Lord, today you give us your life, you give us yourself. Enter deeply within us with your love. Make us live in your "today". Make us instruments of your peace! Amen.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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I am in awe of the Holy Father's homilies at the Chrism Mass and at the Mass of the Lord's Supper. These are inspired words. Already he speaks to the heart of every priest. The grace of the Year of the Priest has begun to flow out of his heart. Thank you, Holy Father, thank you.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Sanctify Them in the Truth

In the Upper Room, on the eve of his Passion, the Lord prayed for his disciples gathered about him. At the same time he looked ahead to the community of disciples of all centuries, "those who believe in me through their word" (Jn 17:20). In his prayer for the disciples of all time, he saw us too, and he prayed for us. Let us listen to what he asks for the Twelve and for us gathered here: "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, so that they also may be consecrated in truth" (17:17ff.).

I Consecrate Myself

The Lord asks for our sanctification, sanctification in truth. And he sends us forth to carry on his own mission. But in this prayer there is one word which draws our attention, and appears difficult to understand. Jesus says: "For their sake I consecrate myself". What does this mean? Is Jesus not himself "the Holy One of God", as Peter acknowledged at that decisive moment in Capharnaum (cf. Jn 6:69)? How can he now consecrate -- sanctify -- himself?

Taken From the World and Given to God

To understand this, we need first to clarify what the Bible means by the words "holy" and "consecrate -- sanctify". "Holy" -- this word describes above all God's own nature, his completely unique, divine, way of being, one which is his alone. He alone is the true and authentic Holy One, in the original sense of the word. All other holiness derives from him, is a participation in his way of being. He is purest Light, Truth and untainted Good. To consecrate something or someone means, therefore, to give that thing or person to God as his property, to take it out of the context of what is ours and to insert it in his milieu, so that it no longer belongs to our affairs, but is totally of God. Consecration is thus a taking away from the world and a giving over to the living God. The thing or person no longer belongs to us, or even to itself, but is immersed in God. Such a giving up of something in order to give it over to God, we also call a sacrifice: this thing will no longer be my property, but his property.

I Sacrifice Myself: Priest and Victim

In the Old Testament, the giving over of a person to God, his "sanctification", is identified with priestly ordination, and this also defines the essence of the priesthood: it is a transfer of ownership, a being taken out of the world and given to God. We can now see the two directions which belong to the process of sanctification-consecration. It is a departure from the milieux of worldly life -- a "being set apart" for God. But for this very reason it is not a segregation. Rather, being given over to God means being charged to represent others. The priest is removed from worldly bonds and given over to God, and precisely in this way, starting with God, he is available for others, for everyone. When Jesus says: "I consecrate myself", he makes himself both priest and victim. Bultmann was right to translate the phrase: "I consecrate myself" by "I sacrifice myself". Do we now see what happens when Jesus says: "I consecrate myself for them"? This is the priestly act by which Jesus -- the Man Jesus, who is one with the Son of God -- gives himself over to the Father for us. It is the expression of the fact that he is both priest and victim. I consecrate myself -- I sacrifice myself: this unfathomable word, which gives us a glimpse deep into the heart of Jesus Christ, should be the object of constantly renewed reflection. It contains the whole mystery of our redemption. It also contains the origins of the priesthood in the Church.

Into the Holiness of God

Only now can we fully understand the prayer which the Lord offered the Father for his disciples -- for us. "Sanctify them in the truth": this is the inclusion of the Apostles in the priesthood of Jesus Christ, the institution of his new priesthood for the community of the faithful of all times. "Sanctify them in truth": this is the true prayer of consecration for the Apostles. The Lord prays that God himself draw them towards him, into his holiness. He prays that God take them away from themselves to make them his own property, so that, starting from him, they can carry out the priestly ministry for the world. This prayer of Jesus appears twice in slightly different forms. Both times we need to listen very carefully, in order to understand, even dimly the sublime reality that is about to be accomplished. "Sanctify them in the truth". Jesus adds: "Your word is truth". The disciples are thus drawn deep within God by being immersed in the word of God. The word of God is, so to speak, the bath which purifies them, the creative power which transforms them into God's own being.

Pervaded by the Word of God

So then, how do things stand in our own lives? Are we truly pervaded by the word of God? Is that word truly the nourishment we live by, even more than bread and the things of this world? Do we really know that word? Do we love it? Are we deeply engaged with this word to the point that it really leaves a mark on our lives and shapes our thinking? Or is it rather the case that our thinking is constantly being shaped by all the things that others say and do? Aren't prevailing opinions the criterion by which we all too often measure ourselves? Do we not perhaps remain, when all is said and done, mired in the superficiality in which people today are generally caught up? Do we allow ourselves truly to be deeply purified by the word of God? Friedrich Nietzsche scoffed at humility and obedience as the virtues of slaves, a source of repression. He replaced them with pride and man's absolute freedom. Of course there exist caricatures of a misguided humility and a mistaken submissiveness, which we do not want to imitate. But there also exists a destructive pride and a presumption which tear every community apart and result in violence. Can we learn from Christ the correct humility which corresponds to the truth of our being, and the obedience which submits to truth, to the will of God? "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth": this word of inclusion in the priesthood lights up our lives and calls us to become ever anew disciples of that truth which is revealed in the word of God.

One With Christ the Priest

I believe that we can advance another step in the interpretation of these words. Did not Christ say of himself: "I am the truth" (cf. Jn 14:6)? Is he not himself the living Word of God, to which every other word refers? Sanctify them in the truth -- this means, then, in the deepest sense: make them one with me, Christ. Bind them to me. Draw them into me. Indeed, when all is said and done, there is only one priest of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ himself. Consequently, the priesthood of the disciples can only be a participation in the priesthood of Jesus.

The Seal Imprinted Upon Our Being

Our being priests is simply a new way of being united to Christ. In its substance, it has been bestowed on us for ever in the sacrament. But this new seal imprinted upon our being can become for us a condemnation, if our lives do not develop by entering into the truth of the Sacrament. The promises we renew today state in this regard that our will must be directed along this path: "Domino Iesu arctius coniungi et conformari, vobismetipsis abrenuntiantes". Being united to Christ calls for renunciation. It means not wanting to impose our own way and our own will, not desiring to become someone else, but abandoning ourselves to him, however and wherever he wants to use us. As Saint Paul said: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2:20).

In the words "I do", spoken at our priestly ordination, we made this fundamental renunciation of our desire to be independent, "self-made". But day by day this great "yes" has to be lived out in the many little "yeses" and small sacrifices. This "yes" made up of tiny steps which together make up the great "yes", can be lived out without bitterness and self-pity only if Christ is truly the center of our lives. If we enter into true closeness to him. Then indeed we experience, amid sacrifices which can at first be painful, the growing joy of friendship with him, and all the small and sometimes great signs of his love, which he is constantly showing us. "The one who loses himself, finds himself". When we dare to lose ourselves for the Lord, we come to experience the truth of these words.

Enter Into the Words Set Before Us by the Church

To be immersed in the Truth, in Christ -- part of this process is prayer, in which we exercise our friendship with him and we come to know him: his way of being, of thinking, of acting. Praying is a journey in personal communion with Christ, setting before him our daily life, our successes and failures, our struggles and our joys -- in a word, it is to stand in front of him. But if this is not to become a form of self-contemplation, it is important that we constantly learn to pray by praying with the Church. Celebrating the Eucharist means praying. We celebrate the Eucharist rightly if with our thoughts and our being we enter into the words which the Church sets before us. There we find the prayer of all generations, which accompany us along the way towards the Lord. As priests, in the Eucharistic celebration we are those who by their prayer blaze a trail for the prayer of today's Christians. If we are inwardly united to the words of prayer, if we let ourselves be guided and transformed by them, then the faithful will also enter into those words. And then all of us will become truly "one body, one spirit" in Christ.

True Love Is Costly

To be immersed in God's truth and thus in his holiness -- for us this also means to acknowledge that the truth makes demands, to stand up, in matters great and small, to the lie which in so many different ways is present in the world; accepting the struggles associated with the truth, because its inmost joy is present within us. Nor, when we talk about being sanctified in the truth, should we forget that in Jesus Christ truth and love are one. Being immersed in him means being immersed in his goodness, in true love. True love does not come cheap, it can also prove quite costly. It resists evil in order to bring men true good. If we become one with Christ, we learn to recognize him precisely in the suffering, in the poor, in the little ones of this world; then we become people who serve, who recognize our brothers and sisters in him, and in them, we encounter him.

Property of the God of Holiness

"Sanctify them in truth" -- this is the first part of what Jesus says. But then he adds: "I consecrate myself, so that they also may be consecrated in truth" -- that is, truly consecrated (Jn 17:19). I think that this second part has a special meaning of its own. In the world's religions there are many different ritual means of "sanctification", of the consecration of a human person. Yet all these rites can remain something merely formal. Christ asks for his disciples the true sanctification which transforms their being, their very selves; he asks that it not remain a ritual formality, but that it make them truly the "property" of the God of holiness. We could even say that Christ prayed on behalf of us for that sacrament which touches us in the depths of our being. But he also prayed that this interior transformation might be translated day by day in our lives; that in our everyday routine and our concrete daily lives we might be truly pervaded by the light of God.

Sanctify Them in the Truth

On the eve of my priestly ordination, fifty-eight years ago, I opened the Sacred Scripture, because I wanted to receive once more a word from the Lord for that day and for my future journey as a priest. My gaze fell on this passage: "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth". Then I realized: the Lord is speaking about me, and he is speaking to me. This very same thing will be accomplished tomorrow in me. When all is said and done, we are not consecrated by rites, even though rites are necessary. The bath in which the Lord immerses us is himself -- the Truth in person. Priestly ordination means: being immersed in him, immersed in the Truth. I belong in a new way to him and thus to others, "that his Kingdom may come". Dear friends, in this hour of the renewal of promises, we want to pray to the Lord to make us men of truth, men of love, men of God. Let us implore him to draw us ever anew into himself, so that we may become truly priests of the New Covenant. Amen.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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On this Thursday, the 4th anniversary of the death of the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, I beg your prayers, dear readers of Vultus Christi, for a very important intention.

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VATICAN CITY, 16 MAR 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received members of the Congregation for the Clergy, who are currently celebrating their plenary assembly on the theme: "The missionary identity of priests in the Church as an intrinsic dimension of the exercise of the 'tre munera'".
 
  "The missionary dimension of a priest arises from his sacramental configuration to Christ the Head", said the Pope. This involves "total adherence to what ecclesial tradition has identified as 'apostolica vivendi forma', which consists in participation ... in that 'new way of life' which was inaugurated by the Lord Jesus and which the Apostles made their own".
 
  Benedict XVI highlighted the "indispensable struggle for moral perfection which must dwell in every truly priestly heart. In order to favour this tendency of priests towards spiritual perfection, upon which the effectiveness of their ministry principally depends, I have", he said, "decided to call a special 'Year for Priests' which will run from 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010". This year marks "the 150th anniversary of the death of the saintly 'Cure of Ars', Jean Marie Vianney, a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ's flock".
 
  "The ecclesial, communional, hierarchical and doctrinal dimension is absolutely indispensable for any authentic mission, and this alone guarantees its spiritual effectiveness", he said.
 
  "The mission is 'ecclesial'", said the Pope, "because no-one announces or brings themselves, ... but brings Another, God Himself, to the world. God is the only wealth that, definitively, mankind wishes to find in a priest.
 
  "The mission is 'communional' because it takes place in a unity and communion which only at a secondary level possess important aspects of social visibility. ... The 'hierarchical' and 'doctrinal' dimensions emphasise the importance of ecclesiastical discipline (a term related to that of 'disciple') and of doctrinal (not just theological, initial and permanent) formation".
 
  Benedict XVI stressed the need to "have care for the formation of candidates to the priesthood", a formation that must maintain "communion with unbroken ecclesial Tradition, without pausing or being tempted by discontinuity. In this context, it is important to encourage priests, especially the young generations, to a correct reading of the texts of Vatican Council II, interpreted in the light of all the Church's doctrinal inheritance".
 
  Priests must be "present, identifiable and recognisable - for their judgement of faith, personal virtues and attire - in the fields of culture and of charity which have always been at the heart of the Church's mission".
 
  "The centrality of Christ leads to a correct valuation of priestly ministry, without which there would be no Eucharist, no mission, not even the Church. It is necessary then, to ensure that 'new structures' or pastoral organisations are not planned for a time in which it will be possible to 'do without' ordained ministry, on the basis of an erroneous interpretation of the promotion of the laity, because this would lay the foundations for a further dilution in priestly ministry, and any supposed 'solutions' would, in fact, dramatically coincide with the real causes of the problems currently affecting the ministry"

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For this Thursday of Adoration and Reparation for Priests, here is a particularly poignant passage from The Dialogue of Saint Catherine of Siena. The image is Giovanni da Paola's Saint Catherine of Siena Receiving Holy Communion from the Hand of Christ. Saint Catherine receives Holy Communion with her arms crossed over her breast, just as Eastern Christians do today. In the classic iconography of the Annunciation, this is the gesture of the Virgin Mary giving her assent to the Archangel Gabriel and receiving the Word in her womb. In the panel on the right a priest stands at the altar offering Holy Mass. Note the little Friar Preacher kneeling on the altar step.

Ministers of the Sun
I have shown you, dearest daughter, a sample of the excellence of good priests (for what I have shown you is only a sample of what that excellence really is), and I have told you of the dignity in which I have placed them, having elected them for My ministers, on account of which dignity and authority I do not wish them to be punished by the hand of seculars on account of any personal defect, for those who punish them offend Me miserably. But I wish seculars to hold them in due reverence, not for their own sakes, as I have said, but for Mine, by reason of the authority which I have given them. Wherefore this reverence should never diminish in the case of priests whose virtue grows weak, any more than in the case of those virtuous ones of whose goodness I have spoken to you; for all alike have been appointed ministers of the Sun--that is of the Body and Blood of My Son, and of the other Sacraments.
Priests in A Condition of Light
This dignity belongs to good and bad alike--all have the Sun to administer, as has been said, and perfect priests are themselves in a condition of light, that is to say, they illuminate and warm their neighbors through their love. And with this heat they cause virtues to spring up and bear fruit in the souls of their subjects. I have appointed them to be in very truth your guardian angels to protect you; to inspire your hearts with good thoughts by their holy prayers, and to teach you My doctrine reflected in the mirror of their life, and to serve you by administering to you the holy Sacraments, thus serving you, watching over you, and inspiring you with good and holy thoughts as does an angel.
They Are My Christs
See, then, that besides the dignity to which I have appointed them, how worthy they are of being loved; when they also possess the adornment of virtue, as did those of whom I spoke to you, which are all bound and obliged to possess, and in what great reverence you should hold them, for they are My beloved children and shine each as a sun in the mystical body of the holy Church by their virtues, for every virtuous man is worthy of love, and these all the more by reason of the ministry which I have placed in their hands. You should love them therefore by reason of the virtue and dignity of the Sacrament, and by reason of that very virtue and dignity you should hate the defects of those who live miserably in sin, but not on that account appoint yourselves their judges, which I forbid, because they are My Christs, and you ought to love and reverence the authority which I have given them.
Badly Ordered Priests
You know well that if a filthy and badly dressed person brought you a great treasure from which you obtained life, you would not hate the bearer, however ragged and filthy he might be, through love of the treasure and of the lord who sent it to you. His state would indeed displease you, and you would be anxious through love of his master that he should be cleansed from his foulness and properly clothed. This, then, is your duty according to the demands of charity, and thus I wish you to act with regard to such badly ordered priests, who themselves filthy and clothed in garments ragged with vice through their separation from My love, bring you great Treasures--that is to say, the Sacraments of the holy Church--from which you obtain the life of grace, receiving Them worthily (in spite of the great defects there may be in them) through love of Me, the Eternal God, who send them to you, and through love of that life of grace which you receive from the great treasure, by which they administer to you the whole of God and the whole of Man, that is to say, the Body and Blood of My Son united to My Divine nature.
Pray for Them and Not Judge Them
Their sins indeed should displease you, and you should hate them, and strive with love and holy prayer to re-clothe them, washing away their foulness with your tears--that is to say, that you should offer them before Me with tears and great desire, that I may re-clothe them in My goodness, with the garment of charity. Know well that I wish to do them grace, if only they will dispose themselves to receive it, and you to pray for it; for it is not according to My will that they should administer to you the Sun being themselves in darkness, not that they should be stripped of the garment of virtue, foully living in dishonor; on the contrary I have given them to you, and appointed them to be earthly angels and suns, as I have said. It not being My will that they should be in this state, you should pray for them, and not judge them, leaving their judgment to Me.
If They Do Not Accept the Breadth of My Mercy
And I, moved by your prayers, will do them mercy if they will only receive it, but if they do not correct their life, their dignity will be the cause of their ruin. For if they do not accept the breadth of My mercy, I, the Supreme Judge, shall terribly condemn them at their last extremity, and they will be sent to the eternal fire.


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A priest said yesterday that since he began reciting daily this prayer to the Servant of God Pope John Paul II, he has received everything for which it asks. I thought it worth sharing with you, dear readers.

Holy Father John Paul,
be a father to my soul.
Pray for me, protect me, instruct me,
and guide me in the way of holiness.
Obtain for me the gift of perfect chastity,
burning love for the Eucharist,
total dedication to Christ and to the Church,
and the grace to conduct myself always and everywhere
in a manner worthy of the Priesthood of Jesus Christ.

So, what do you do all day?

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Daffodils Blooming Under the Chapel Window


Some folks do wonder what I do all day. This week I am especially blessed to have two priests staying with me here in the Cenacle to make a retreat. It is a very much a participatory retreat for them: one of the priests, Father M., has been doing the cooking, a task made simpler by the homemade meals that some women of the diocese have been kind enough to prepare. Both priests follow the whole monastic day and, if I am called away to hear a confession or meet with someone, they carry on valiantly.

Here is the horarium as it stands:

5:00 a.m. Rise, Coffee.

Why coffee before Vigils, you ask? I use the distribution of the Psalter (150 psalms in one week) as given in the Rule of Saint Benedict. Vigils, with fourteen psalms, plus the hymn, readings and responsories on an ordinary day, last for an hour. Usually I am alone for Vigils. A hot cup of coffee improves my actuosa participatio!

5:45 Exposition, Vigils, Angelus

First there is a little antiphon to Our Lady, a reminder of the Office of the Blessed Virgin that at Cluny and Cîteaux used to precede the great Night Office. And yes, the day begins, while it is still dark, in the radiance of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus. After exposing the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance, I recite a short prayer of adoration and reparation on behalf of all my brother priests throughout the world, especially for those who are most in need of our Lord's presence, and of the healing and purity that flow from His wounded side in the Blood and in the Water. Then the Office begins: Domine, labia mea aperies.

Breakfast

Very, very simple. The monastic term is frustulum.

{ Lectio Divina

Readers of Vultus Christi know the explanation of lectio divina that I often give. It is the Word heard (lectio), the Word repeated (meditatio), the Word prayed (oratio), and the Word indwelling the heart (contemplatio).

7:30 Lauds

A glorious Hour as Saint Benedict laid it out: Psalm 66, Psalm 50 (the Miserere: compunction, spiritual resurrection, and praise), two morning psalms, a canticle from the Old Testament, the three Laudate Psalms (148, 149, 150) under one doxology. Then follows a short reading, responsory, hymn, and versicle that lead into the Benedictus, the Canticle of Zechariah with its own special antiphon. The Hour ends with a little Kyrie, eleison litany, the Our Father, the oration of the day, a commemoration of Our Lady, and the concluding verses. After the Office: an antiphon and prayer for priests, invoking the intercession of Saint Peter Julian Eymard, the model of priest-adorers.

{ Lectio Divina

9:00 Tierce and Holy Mass

Tierce recalls the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Thus, Holy Mass is offered under the fire of the Paraclete who descends in response to the prayer of the Church, with His seven gifts.

After Holy Mass -- celebrated in Latin apart from the readings -- there is work to be done. This is when I generally schedule appointments for the clergy who come for spiritual support.

12:30 p.m. Sext, Rosary, Angelus

This is the simple prayer that closes the first half the day. Refreshment and peace close to Our Blessed Lady, the Advocate of Priests, and Mediatrix of All Graces.

1:00 Dinner

For the retreat this week we are taking turns reading at table. The book is Partnership With Christ: A Cistercian Retreat by Dom Eugene Boylan, author of This Tremendous Lover. Both books are marvelous.

{ Rest

A very civilized thing to do. And I am 50% Italian.

3:00 None

The ninth hour recalls the death of Our Lord on the cross, and the openng of His Sacred Side by the soldier's lance. All the Hours, by the way, are sung from the Monastic Antiphonal, principally using Latin and only Gregorian Chant.

Then there is time for work again.

5:00 Exposition, Ave Maris Stella and Vespers

Eucharistic adoration again: "Stay with us, Lord, for it is evening." The Ave, Maris Stella is prayed for the spiritual needs of all priests. Vespers is structured like Lauds, except that there are four psalms and, in place of the Benedictus, there is is Our Lady's Canticle, the Magnificat. Adoration is prolonged for a full hour after Vespers.

6:30 Collation

A light supper, then clean-up.

8:45 Compline, Angelus

The end of the day . . . and to bed. There are always variations on this structure. It is flexible. It has to be. To use a certain language -- "souls" often come to the door or ring. They have to be received as Christ Himself. Then, there are a few outside commitments, all of them related in one way or another to the spiritual support of priests and to the sanctification of the clergy.

Novena of the Holy Face of Jesus

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A Day Rich in Graces

-- Today, February 15th, is Sexagesima Sunday. In Rome the stational church is the Basilica of Saint Paul-Outside-the-Walls. This is reflected in the traditional Collect for today's Mass and Office: "O God, Who seest that that we put not our trust in anything we do of ourselves; mercifully grant that by the protection of the Doctor of the Gentiles we may be defended against all adversity."

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-- It is the feast of Saint Claude La Colombière, the spiritual father of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque and the Apostle of the Sacred Heart. Our Lord said this about him to Saint Margaret Mary: "Turn to my servant and tell him from Me to do all he can to establish this devotion and to give this pleasure to my Divine Heart. Tell him not to be discouraged by the difficulties he will meet with, for they will not be lacking. But he must learn that he is all-powerful who completely distrusts himself to place his trust in Me alone."

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-- It is also the feast of Blessed Michael Sopocko, the spiritual father of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska and the Apostle of Divine Mercy. Concerning Blessed Michael Sopocko, Our Lord said to Saint Faustina: "He is a priest after My own Heart. . . . As a result of his efforts, a new light will shine in the Church of God for the consolation of souls."

-- And today marks the beginning of the Annual Novena in honour of the Most Holy Face of Jesus. The feast of the Holy Face is celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. I invite the readers of Vultus Christi to join me in praying daily this Litany of the Holy Face.

Praying the Litany

Litanies are among the oldest forms of Christian prayer. They invite us, not to a mechanical and vain repetition of words, but to a prolonged contemplation of one or another of the mysteries of our faith, shot through with an insistent appeal for mercy. Pray the Litany of the Holy Face quietly and slowly. Allow each invocation to open the eyes of your soul to the adorable countenance of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Human Face of God.

The Litany of the Holy Face of Jesus


Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of heaven,
R. Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world.
R. Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost,
R. Have mercy on us.

Most Holy Face of Jesus, radiant splendour of the Father,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.

Most Holy Face of Jesus, spotless mirror of the majesty of God and image of His goodness,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.

Most Holy Face of Jesus, where radiates the consuming fire of the Holy Spirit,
R. Look upon us, and have mercy.

Spiritual Motherhood for Priests

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In a document from the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome, addressed to all the bishops of the Church on 7 December, 2007, we read:

The vocation to be a spiritual mother for priests is largely unknown, scarcely understood and, consequently, rarely lived, notwithstanding its fundamental importance. It is a vocation that is frequently hidden, invisible to the naked eye, but meant to transmit spiritual life.

A Little Catechism on Spiritual Motherhood for Priests

1. Who can become a spiritual mother to priests?

Any mature Catholic woman, already fully engaged in the sacramental life of the Church, can discern a call to the spiritual motherhood of priests. This spiritual motherhood can be lived in any state of life; it is open to single women, married women, mothers of families, widows, grandmothers, and religious in both the active and enclosed forms of consecrated life. None of its obligations bind under pain of sin. The vocation to the spiritual motherhood of priests is also compatible with the spirituality and obligations of Benedictine Oblates and of those who belong to one or another of the Third Orders: Franciscan, Dominican, Carmelite, Servite, etc.

2. What is spiritual maternity?

Spiritual maternity is a particular grace of the Holy Spirit by which a woman surrenders herself, body and soul, to the fruitful love of Christ, for the sake of His Bride the Church and for the glory of the Father, so that, through her offering, the particular priest entrusted to her, and all priests, may be purified, healed, and sanctified.

3. How does a woman express the grace of spiritual maternity.

A woman expresses the grace of spiritual maternity by imitating the hidden life of the Blessed Virgin Mary who, in the mystery of the Annunciation, consented to the enfleshment of the Word in her womb, and was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, so that through her, Christ, Priest and Victim, might enter the world, save it by His Sacrifice, and offer it back to the Father.

4. How does a woman live out this imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary?

A woman lives out this imitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary by embracing the Will of God in joy and in sorrow, health and infirmity, prosperity and want, companionship and solitude, light and obscurity. In a word, she sees in every event of life an opportunity to enter, with the Blessed Virgin Mary, into the sacrifice of Christ the Priest.

In this way, a woman can participate in the spiritual fecundity of the Mother of the Redeemer who, by her constant intercession, cares for the gift of life that ever flows from the open Heart of her Son, and cooperates with a mother's love in the birth and upbringing of Christ's faithful, her children.

5. How is spiritual maternity related to the Priesthood?

Spiritual maternity in favor of priests derives from the special relationship of the Blessed Virgin Mary with Saint John, that Jesus Himself established when, from the altar of the Cross, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold, thy son!" (Jn 19:26). "Then He said to the disciple, 'Behold, thy mother!'" (Jn 19:27).

While John -- representing all priests past, present, and to come -- had the power to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ in the unbloody renewal of His Sacrifice, Our Lady was charged with supporting all her priest-sons down through the ages by standing at their side, even as she stood by the Cross of her Son on Calvary. There, with her Immaculate Heart pierced by a sword of sorrow, she co-offered in silence the Sacrifice of her Son, Priest and Victim, and through Him, with Him, and in Him, offered herself to the Father.

6. What does this imply for a woman called to spiritual maternity
in favor of priests?


For a woman called to spiritual maternity in favor of priests, this implies a readiness to stand by all priests and, in particular, for the priest entrusted to her, in a ceaseless offering of adoration, thanksgiving, reparation, and supplication. The Diocese of Tulsa is preparing a prayer book to help the spiritual mothers of priests fulfill this role.

7. What characterizes the adoration of a spiritual mother of priests?

In her adoration, a spiritual mother of priests looks to the Blessed Virgin Mary who, on August 21, 1879 at Knock in County Mayo, Ireland, manifested herself in reference to the immolated Lamb, the altar, and the Cross. The spiritual mother of priests draws near to Christ, the Eternal Priest and to the altar of His Cross so often as she participates in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. She adores the Lamb of God present on the altar during the Holy Sacrifice; she adores Him hidden in the tabernacle and exposed to her gaze in the monstrance. She offers herself in adoration for the sanctification of all priests, desiring with Our Lady, to see them become, in their liturgical service and in all of life, "true adorers, who shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth" (Jn 4:23).

8. What characterizes the thanksgiving of a spiritual mother of priests?

The thanksgiving of a spiritual mother of priests is, first of all, for the Priesthood of Jesus Christ prolonged in space and in time, from the rising of the sun to its setting, by means of the gift and mystery bestowed on the apostles in the Cenacle, and perpetuated in the Church so often as a bishop, a successor of the Apostles, lays hands on a man and pronounces over him the solemn prayer of sacerdotal consecration.

The thanksgiving of a spiritual mother of priests is, also, for the sacramental ministrations and fruits of the priesthood: first of all, for the Most Holy Eucharist, the source and summit of all Christian life; then for the preaching of the Word of God, the forgiveness of sins, the healing of the sick, deliverance from evil, comfort in affliction, and shepherding along the path that leads to holiness.

9. What characterizes the reparation of a spiritual mother of priests?

The reparation of a spiritual mother of priests seeks to console the Heart of Jesus who grieves over the coldness, offenses, and betrayals of His priests, and waits for them to return to Him, for He is merciful.

The spiritual mother prays for priests who fail to pray; adores the Most Blessed Sacrament for those who do not adore; listens to the Word of God for priests who neglect it; and seeks the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for those who have forgotten that she is their Mother and Advocate. She offers herself for the spiritual restoration and resurrection of priests who have fallen into patterns of sin; for the deliverance of priests oppressed by the powers of darkness; and for the healing of souls scandalized, alienated, or wounded by the sins of priests.

10. What characterizes the supplication of a spiritual mother of priests?

The supplication (or intercession) of a spiritual mother of priests draws its inspiration, first of all, from the Priestly Prayer that Our Lord Jesus Christ offered in the Cenacle on the night before He suffered: "Father . . . keep them clear of what is evil. They do not belong to the world, as I too, do not belong to the world; keep them holy, then, through the truth; it is Thy word that is truth" (Jn 17: 16-17). In their intercession for priests, spiritual mothers will also take to heart the words of the Apostle Paul: "Nothing must make you anxious; in every need make your requests known to God, praying and beseeching Him, and giving Him thanks as well" (Phil 4:5); and in another place, "And now, brothers and sisters, let us have your prayers, that the word of the Lord may run its course triumphantly with us . . . and that we may preserved from malicious interference" (2 Thess 3:1-2).

11. Are there any obstacles to spiritual motherhood for priests?

The obstacles to spiritual maternity are the same ones that would impede any growth in holiness: willful attachment to sin, the refusal to forgive another, hardness of heart, pride, and the other "root" or capital sins. The most effective means of overcoming the obstacles to holiness are frequent confession and Holy Communion; full, conscious and zealous participation in the liturgy of the Church; devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary (especially the Rosary); meditation of the Word of God; adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament; acts of penitence and mortification; and obedience to a spiritual father.

12. How does a woman go about becoming a spiritual mother to priests?

A woman who desires to become a spiritual mother to priests should ask her parish priest for the name of the priest charged by the bishop with promoting spiritual motherhood at the diocesan level. She should communicate with him and, after a suitable time of discernment and preparation, can make an act of dedication to spiritual mother on behalf of priests. The Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma, has developed a program to foster the formation and perseverance of women in the grace of spiritual maternity to priests.

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This morning at the Third Nocturn of Vigils, Saint Augustine offered a splendid commentary on today's Gospel. I will hold it in my heart all day. This is what He said:

Arise to Come to Him Continually

Modo ergo quod illum sequuntur isti duo, non quasi non recessuri sequuntur; sed videre voluerunt ubi habitaret, et facere quod scriptum est: Limen ostiorum eius exterat pes tuus; surge ad illum venire assidue et erudire praeceptis eius. Ostendit eis ille ubi maneret; venerunt et fuerunt cum illo.

On the present occasion these two followed Him, not as those who were not again to leave Him, but to see where He dwelt, and to fulfill the Scripture: Let your foot wear out the threshold of His doors; arise to come to Him continually, and be instructed in His precepts. (Sirach 6:36-37) He showed them where He dwelt: they came and remained with Him.

Blessed Day and Blessed Night

Quam beatum diem duxerunt, quam beatam noctem! Quis est qui nobis dicat quae audierint illi a Domino? Aedificemus et nosmetipsi in corde nostro, et faciamus domum quo veniat ille, et doceat nos; colloquatur nobis.

What a blessed day they spent, what a blessed night! Who can make known to us those things which they heard from the Lord? Let us also build in our heart, and make a house into which He may come and teach us, and have converse with us. (Tractate on Saint John's Gospel 7, 9)

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That He May Have Converse With His Priests

This is an extraordinarily evocative text for one called to a life of Eucharistic adoration. I should like to see the passage from Sirach carved in stone over the door of the chapel of perpetual adoration that I hope to see built here: "Let your foot wear out the threshold of His doors; arise to come to Him continually." Does this word not speak to your heart? This is what the Cenacle of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus is meant to be: "a house into which Our Lord may come and teach His priests and deacons, and have converse with them."

An Appeal

Unfortunately, we still lack adequate financial support for the project. There have been a few generous donations, but nowhere near enough to begin construction. Who knows? Someone may read this text of Saint Augustine today and be moved to make a substantial gift toward the building of the Cenacle. I can be contacted at: cenacle at sbcglobal dot net.

Christus apparuit nobis

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The Epiphany of the Lord

Today is the festival of adoration par excellence. The venite, adoremus of the Invitatory antiphon, sung again to the same 4th mode melody used on Christmas, had a penetrating resonance. The verb to adore occurred again and again in this morning's long Office of Vigils, and will recur throughout the day.

Saint Peter Julian Eymard

Saint Peter Julian Eymard chose to begin his great life work of Eucharistic adoration with solemn exposition on January 6, 1857. "At last," he wrote, "our Divine King shall ascend His throne, and we shall form His royal court; we shall then be His bodyguard." Immediately after Mass, Father Eymard, in surplice and stole, made the first hour of public adoration as a member of his new Congregation.

Destined to Adore

For her part, Mère Mectilde du Saint-Sacrement (1614-1698), foundress of the Bénédictines du Saint-Sacrement, writes:

This feast becomes us more particularly than any other, according to the spirit of our holy vocation, which destines us to adore, as they [the Magi] did, the same Jesus Christ in the august sacrament of the altar, which contains all the other mysteries of His life. This is why you can adore Him there with the holy kings as a little child in the crèche.

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The mystery of the Face of Christ is a constant motif in the writings and teachings of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. Again, at the Angelus on the Second Sunday of Advent, he spoke of the Face of Jesus and of Mary Immaculate, Pure Reflection of the beauty that shines from the Face of her Son.

Beloved, in Mary Immaculate we contemplate the reflection of the Beauty that saves the world: the beauty of God that shines on the Face of Christ. In Mary, this beauty is totally pure, humble, free of all pride and presumption. The Virgin showed herself in this way to St. Bernadette 150 years ago in Lourdes, and in this way she is venerated in so many shrines.

Maria, Rosa Mystica

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Prayer, Reparation, Penance for Priests

Sixty-one years ago, in the spring of 1947 the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Pierina Gilli, a nurse, in the chapel of the hospital of Montichiari, Italy. The Mother of God asked for prayer for the sanctification of priests and consecrated souls. She showed her Immaculate Heart pierced by three swords: 1) the unworthy celebration of Holy Mass and reception of Holy Communion; 2) apostasy from the priestly state and the consecrated life; and 3) betrayal of the Faith. Our Lady appealed for three practices: prayer, reparation, and penance. Given my own "vocation within a vocation" and my work for the sanctification of priests, I find the message of the Madonna of Montichiari, the Rosa Mystica, particularly compelling.

An Hour of Grace

The Mother of God appeared eleven times to Pierina. On December 8, 1947 she requested that an Hour of Grace be observed every December 8th from noon until one o'clock. "This Hour of Grace," she said, "will produce great and numerous conversions. Hardened and cold hearts resembling this marble will be touched by divine Grace, and they will become faithful to Our Lord in loyal love." Our Lady further recommended that at the beginning of this Hour of Grace we pray Psalm 50 (51), the Miserere, three times, with arms extended. In the discernment of so-called private revelations, one of the key criteria is whether or not they harmonize with the sacred liturgy of the Church, her lex credendi or rule of belief. The recitation of the Miserere, requested by Our Lady corresponds perfectly to the petition that we make in today's liturgical Collect:

O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of Thy Virgin
prepared a worthy dwelling for Thy Son
and, foreseeing His death on the Cross,
preserved her from all stain;
grant that we too, by her intercession,
may come into Thy presence with pure hearts.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

In the Miserere, we pray:

Have mercy on me, O God, as thou art ever rich in mercy;
in the abundance of thy compassion, blot out the record of my misdeeds.
Wash me clean, cleaner yet, from my guilt,
purge me of my sin,
the guilt which I freely acknowledge,
the sin which is never lost to my sight.

And then:

Sprinkle me with a wand of hyssop, and I shall be clean;
washed, I shall be whiter than snow;
tidings send me of good news and rejoicing,
and the body that lies in the dust shall thrill with pride.
Turn thy eyes away from my sins,
blot out the record of my guilt;
my God, bring a clean heart to birth within me;
breathe new life, true life, into my being.

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Finally, Our Lady chose to reveal herself at Montichiari under the ancient title of Mystical Rose, Rosa Mystica. Listen to what the Venerable Servant of God John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote concerning this title:

MARY is the most beautiful flower that ever was seen in the spiritual world. It is by the power of God's grace that from this barren and desolate earth there have ever sprung up at all flowers of holiness and glory. And Mary is the Queen of them. She is the Queen of spiritual flowers; and therefore she is called the Rose, for the rose is fitly called of all flowers the most beautiful.
But moreover, she is the Mystical, or hidden Rose; for mystical means hidden. How is she now "hidden" from us more than are other saints? What means this singular appellation, which we apply to her specially? The answer to this question introduces us to a third reason for believing in the reunion of her sacred body to her soul, and its assumption into heaven soon after her death, instead of its lingering in the grave until the General Resurrection at the last day.
It is this:--if her body was not taken into heaven, where is it? how comes it that it is hidden from us? why do we not hear of her tomb as being here or there? why are not pilgrimages made to it? why are not relics producible of her, as of the saints in general? Is it not even a natural instinct which makes us reverent towards the places where our dead are buried? We bury our great men honourably.
St. Peter speaks of the sepulchre of David as known in his day, though he had died many hundred years before. When our Lord's body was taken down from the Cross, He was placed in an honourable tomb. Such too had been the honour already paid to St. John Baptist, his tomb being spoken of by St. Mark as generally known. Christians from the earliest times went from other countries to Jerusalem to see the holy places. And, when the time of persecution was over, they paid still more attention to the bodies of the Saints, as of St. Stephen, St. Mark, St. Barnabas, St. Peter, St. Paul, and other Apostles and Martyrs. These were transported to great cities, and portions of them sent to this place or that. Thus, from the first to this day it has been a great feature and characteristic of the Church to be most tender and reverent towards the bodies of the Saints.
Now, if there was anyone who more than all would be preciously taken care of, it would be Our Lady. Why then do we hear nothing of the Blessed Virgin's body and its separate relics? Why is she thus the hidden Rose? Is it conceivable that they who had been so reverent and careful of the bodies of the Saints and Martyrs should neglect her--her who was the Queen of Martyrs and the Queen of Saints, who was the very Mother of our Lord? It is impossible. Why then is she thus the hidden Rose? Plainly because that sacred body is in heaven, not on earth.

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Maria Sieler

Almost a year ago I wrote an entry entitled, Maria Sieler: A Life Offered for Priests. Recently I finished reading a presentation of Maria Siedler's life and mission: Un nouveau printemps pour l'Eglise, Maria Sieler: vie et mission (Éditions du Parvis, Hauteville, Suisse, 1995), by the Reverend Father Josef Fiedler, S.J. I intend, little by little, to translate excerpts from the book and make them available here. Given that tomorrow morning I will be addressing a group of Catholic women on the mission of spiritual maternity in favour of priests, I decided to translate this passage tonight:

Spiritual Mother to the Clergy

The Redeemer made me a precious but strange promise today: he put me at the disposal of His Church as "spiritual mother" to the clergy. All my sacrifices and all my sorrows, all that I have acquired in hard struggle and borne for good, all moral perfection, my extraordinary spiritual mission in conformity with my union with Jesus, all of that -- He made me understand -- constitutes a spiritual treasury for the priesthood. All my inner conquests show themselves to be, in some way, fruitful for the consecrated ones. [Maria Sieler often refers to priests as "the consecrated ones."]
All the graces of my interior life are, so to speak, the property of the clergy. Priests can draw from them: each one will obtain from the Lord that for which he implores Him; for this treasure is offered through me, in Christ, who won it in advance. . . . Just as a mother transmits her dispositions to her descendants, in the same way, my interior life and all the inherent graces -- in particular the communion established with Christ -- will be passed on, like a heritage, and will act efficaciously in the Church. . . . To back up His promise, the Saviour said to me: "I give you my Word in pledge of that." (14 July 1944)

All for Priests

A woman called to spiritual maternity in favour of priests keeps nothing for herself. All that she has received from Christ -- all that she has acquired by His grace in the way of victories over sin, virtues, and merits; all her prayers, her penances; and, above all, her confident surrender to Divine Providence in the little things of daily life -- all of these things belong no longer to her, but rather to the souls of priests.

A Kind of Dispensary

The spiritual mother of priests becomes a kind of dispensary wherein Christ places whatever remedies His priests may need in their spiritual infirmities and weaknesses. She offers her heart, in imitation of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces, to Our Lord, saying, "Use me, O Lord, as Thou wilt for the healing and sanctification of Thy priests. Unite the offering of myself to Thine own Offering on the Altar of the Cross and, then, let the all the fruits of our union be dispensed to Thy priests, especially to the weakest and most wounded among them."

Look to Him and Be Radiant

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O my beloved Jesus,
Son of the Father and His Eternal High Priest,
offering Thyself to Him perpetually in the sanctuary of heaven
and here in the Sacrament of Thy Redeeming Love,
I adore Thee.

I praise Thee that here I find Thy Eucharistic Heart,
open, ever-beating with love,
and covering with a flood of Blood and of Water
those who draw near to Thee in this Sacrament.

I praise Thee that here I behold Thy Eucharistic Face,
filling the shadows of this world with Thy deifying light,
and shining into the hearts of those who approach Thee
in faith, in hope, and in love.

I pray to Thee for Thy priests,
without whom this valley of tears would be
devoid of the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar,
without the adorable mysteries of the Thy life-giving Body and Blood,
and without Thy abiding real presence in the tabernacles of the world.

Sanctify thy priests, O Jesus!
Wash them in the Blood and Water gushing at every moment
from Thy Sacred Side
Heal them in the light of Thy Eucharistic Face and,
to do this, draw them all into Thy sacramental presence.

Let thy tabernacles magnetize their souls,
and the desire to abide before Thy Eucharistic Face
hold sway over their hearts.
Let Thy Sacred Body exposed in the monstrance
exercise over them the most compelling of all attractions.

Look today upon those priests who, for whatever reason,
have forgotten the way to Thy tabernacles
and rarely, if ever, stop all else
to rest their tired bodies and still their minds
before Thy Eucharistic Face,
and to adore Thee simply because . . . Thou art there.

Save thy priests in danger of falling into sin,
and lift those who have fallen,
so that, having confessed their faults and received absolution,
they may return to Thine altar and to the joy of their youth.

Let not one of Thy priests remain outside the radiance of Thy Eucharistic Face.
Draw them all out of this world's darkness
into Thy wonderful light,
that with the psalmist they might say not once,
but again and again:
"Look to Him and be radiant
and on your faces there will be no trace of shame."
Amen.

Adoration

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Eucharistic Meditation by Pope Benedict XVI
Lourdes, 14 September 2008

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Theological and Tender

The Holy Father's Eucharistic piety is at once tender and profoundly theological. He begins by relating the Real Presence to the promise of Our Lord at the moment of His Ascension.

Three times Pope Benedict XVI speaks of "the Sacred Host" as an epiphany of Love Crucified. Contemplation of the Sacred Host, the Victim, invites one to adores to make the oblation of himself. "Accept to offer Him your very lives," says the Holy Father.

Everything Came Through Mary, Even Christ

The Holy Father then elucidates the role of the Virgin Mary in the mystery of the Eucharist: "Everything," he says, "came from Christ, even Mary; everything came through Mary, even Christ." Rarely have I encountered a more compelling statement of Our Lady's universal mediation. Turning to Mary, who assists at every Eucharistic action of the Church, who stands at the side of every priest at the altar, and unites her Immaculate Heart even to the most solitary adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Pope invokes her directly.

In the Presence of His Wounds

Pope Benedict XVI points to the Sacred Wounds of Our Lord; wounds that He chose to keep in His glorious Body, wounds that remain, therefore, in the Most Holy Eucharist where they become the efficacious signs and instruments of His healing love. One hears in this section a touching echo of the Anima Christi: "In Thy Wounds hide me."

Eucharistic Saints of France

The Holy Father draws our attention to three French Eucharistic saints: the first is Saint Peter Julian Eymard, familiar to readers of Vultus Christi. I invoke him daily for the work of the Cenacle of Adoration here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and consider him a patron. Then he evokes Saint Bernadette, the child of the Immaculate, nourished by the Body and Blood of the Lamb. Finally, he presents Blessed Charles of Jesus, a spoiled aristocrat converted from a life of dissolution to a life of Eucharistic adoration crowned by martyrdom.

Witness Out of Silence

The Holy Father concludes by affirming the link between silent adoration and public witness. The two cannot be separated. He is perhaps returning to the idea of Dom Chautard's "soul of the apostolate," a work to which he already alluded in his homily at Mass on September 15th. And now, here is the Holy Father's text:

In His Presence

Lord Jesus, You are here!
And you, my brothers, my sisters, my friends,
 you are here, with me, in His presence!

Lord, two thousand years ago, You willingly mounted the infamous Cross in order then to rise again and to remain for ever with us, your brothers and sisters.

And you, my brothers, my sisters, my friends, you willingly allow Him to embrace you. We contemplate Him. We adore Him. 
We love Him. We seek to grow in love for Him. We contemplate Him who, in the course of His Passover meal, gave His Body and Blood to His disciples, so as to be with them "always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28:20).

Look Upon Him

We adore Him who is the origin and goal of our faith, Him without whom we would not be here this evening, without whom we would not be at all, without whom there would be nothing, absolutely nothing! Him through whom "all things were made" (Jn 1:3), Him in whom we were created, for all eternity, Him who gave us His own Body and Blood - He is here, this evening, in our midst, for us to contemplate. We love, and we seek to grow in love for Him who is here, in our presence, for us to look upon, for us perhaps to question, for us to love.

The Sacred Host Exposed to Our Sight

Whether we are walking or nailed to a bed of suffering; whether we are walking in joy or languishing in the wilderness of the soul (cf. Num 21:4): Lord, take us all into your Love; the infinite Love which is eternally the Love of the Father for the Son and the Son for the Father, the Love of the Father and the Son for the Spirit, and the Love of the Spirit for the Father and the Son. The Sacred Host exposed to our sight speaks of this infinite power of Love manifested on the glorious Cross. The Sacred Host speaks to us of the incredible abasement of the One who made himself poor so as to make us rich in Him, the One who accepted the loss of everything so as to win us for His Father. The Sacred Host is the living, efficacious and real Sacrament of the eternal presence of the Saviour of mankind to His Church.

Offer Him Your Lives

My brothers, my sisters, my friends, let us accept; may you accept to offer yourselves to Him who has given us everything, who came not to judge the world, but to save it (cf. Jn 3:17), accept to recognize in your lives the presence of Him who is present here, exposed to our sight. Accept to offer Him your very lives!

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Mary, the holy Virgin, Mary, the Immaculate Conception, accepted, two thousand years ago, to give everything, to offer her body so as to receive the Body of the Creator. Everything came from Christ, even Mary; everything came through Mary, even Christ.

The Holy Virgin Is With Us

Mary, the Holy Virgin, is with us this evening, in the presence of the Body of her Son, one hundred and fifty years after revealing herself to little Bernadette.

Holy Virgin, help us to contemplate, help us to adore, help us to love, to grow in love for Him who loved us so much, so as to live eternally with Him.
An immense crowd of witnesses is invisibly present beside us, very close to this blessed grotto and in front of this church that the Virgin Mary wanted to be built; the crowd of all those men and women who have contemplated, venerated, adored the Real Presence of Him who gave himself to us even to the last drop of Blood; the crowd of all those men and women who have spent hours in adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar.

Do Not Refuse His Love

This evening, we do not see them, but we hear them saying to us, to every man and to every woman among us: "Come, let the Master call you! He is here! He is calling you (cf. Jn 11:28)! He wants to take your life and join it to His. Let yourself be embraced by Him! Gaze no longer upon your own wounds, gaze upon His. Do not look upon what still separates you from Him and from others; look upon the infinite distance that he has abolished by taking your flesh, by mounting the Cross which men had prepared for Him, and by letting himself be put to death so as to show you His love. In His wounds, He takes hold of you; in His wounds, He hides you. Do not refuse His Love!"

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Contemplate the Wounds of Christ

The immense crowd of witnesses who have allowed themselves to be embraced by His Love, is the crowd of saints in heaven who never cease to intercede for us. They were sinners and they knew it, but they willingly ceased to gaze upon their own wounds and to gaze only upon the wounds of their Lord, so as to discover there the glory of the Cross, to discover there the victory of Life over death. Saint Pierre-Julien Eymard tells us everything when he cries out: "The holy Eucharist is Jesus Christ, past, present and future" (Sermons and Parochial Instructions After 1856, 4-2.1, "On Meditation").

Jesus Christ Past

Jesus Christ, past, in the historical truth of the evening in the Upper Room, to which every celebration of holy Mass leads us back.

Jesus Christ Present

Jesus Christ, present, because He said to us: "Take and eat of this, all of you, this is my Body, this is my Blood." "This is", in the present, here and now, as in every here and now throughout human history. The Real Presence, the Presence which surpasses our poor lips, our poor hearts, our poor thoughts. The Presence offered for us to contemplate as we do here, this evening, close to the grotto where Mary revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception.

Jesus Christ Coming

The Eucharist is also Jesus Christ, future, Jesus Christ to come. When we contemplate the Sacred Host, His glorious transfigured and risen Body, we contemplate what we shall contemplate in eternity, where we shall discover that the whole world has been carried by its Creator during every second of its history. Each time we consume Him, but also each time we contemplate Him, we proclaim Him until he comes again, "donec veniat". That is why we receive Him with infinite respect.

Spiritual Communion

Some of us cannot - or cannot yet - receive Him in the Sacrament, but we can contemplate Him with faith and love and express our desire finally to be united with Him. This desire has great value in God's presence: such people await His return more ardently; they await Jesus Christ who must come again.

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When, on the day after her First Communion, a friend of Bernadette asked her: "What made you happier: your First Communion or the apparitions?", Bernadette replied, "they are two things that go together, but cannot be compared. I was happy in both" (Emmanuélite Estrade, 4 June 1958). Her Parish Priest made this testimony to the Bishop of Tarbes in regard to her First Communion: "Bernadette behaved with immense concentration, with an attention that left nothing to be desired ... she appeared profoundly aware of the holy action that was taking place. Everything developed in her in an astonishing way."

Saints of the Eucharist

With Pierre-Julien Eymard and Bernadette, we invoke the witness of countless men and women saints who had the greatest love for the holy Eucharist. Nicolas Cabasilas cries out to us this evening: "If Christ dwells within us, what do we need? What do we lack? If we dwell in Christ, what more could we desire? He is our host and our dwelling-place. Happy are we to be His home! What joy to be ourselves the dwelling-place of such an inhabitant!"

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Blessed Charles of Jesus

Blessed Charles de Foucauld was born in 1858, the very year of the apparitions at Lourdes. Not far from his body, stiffened by death, there lay, like the grain of wheat cast upon the earth, the lunette containing the Blessed Sacrament which Brother Charles adored every day for many a long hour. Father de Foucauld has given us a prayer from the depths of his heart, a prayer addressed to our Father, but one which, with Jesus, we can in all truth make our own in the presence of the Sacred Host:

Prayer of Abandonment

"'Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit.'
This was the last prayer of our Master, our Beloved.
May it also be our own prayer,
and not only at our last moment, but at every moment in our lives:
Father, I commit myself into Your hands;
Father, I trust in You;
Father, I abandon myself to You;
Father, do with me what You will;
whatever You may do, I thank You;
I thank You for everything; I am ready for all, I accept all;
I thank you for all.
Let only Your will be done in me, Lord,
let only Your will be done in all your creatures, in all Your children,
in all those whom your heart loves,
I wish no more than this,
O Lord. Into Your hands I commend my soul;
I offer it to You, Lord, with all the love of my heart,
for I love You, and so need to give myself in love,
to surrender myself into Your hands,
without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for You are my Father."


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Remain Silent, Then Speak

Beloved brothers and sisters, day pilgrims and inhabitants of these valleys, brother Bishops, priests, deacons, men and women religious, all of you who see before you the infinite abasement of the Son of God and the infinite glory of the Resurrection, remain in silent adoration of your Lord, our Master and Lord Jesus Christ. Remain silent, then speak and tell the world: we cannot be silent about what we know. Go and tell the whole world the marvels of God, present at every moment of our lives, in every place on earth. May God bless us and keep us, may He lead us on the path of eternal life, He who is Life, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Are you willing to commit yourself to one hour of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament every Thursday in intercession and reparation for priests? The hour may be made before the tabernacle or before the Blessed Sacrament exposed. Should it be impossible to make it before the Blessed Sacrament, one can, from any place, offer it in spirit before the tabernacle in the world where Our Lord is most forsaken, neglected, and forgotten.

O my beloved Jesus,
I give and consecrate to Thee this Thursday and all the Thursdays of my life,
in praise of the adorable Mystery of Thy Body and Blood,
and in thanksgiving for that of the Priesthood.

Moved by Thy Holy Spirit,
and full of confidence in the help of Thy Most Holy Mother, the Virgin Mary,
Mother of Priests,
I resolve to live each Thursday for the rest of my days here below
in adoration and in reparation for priests
and, especially, for those who do not adore Thee,
for those who are most wounded in their souls,
and for those who are exposed to the attacks of the powers of darkness.
I want to remain before Thy Eucharistic Face for them and in their place;
I want to draw near, in their name, to Thy open Heart,
ever-flowing with the Blood and the Water that purify,
heal, and sanctify all souls,
but, first of all, those of Thy priests.

Let each Thursday find me close to the Sacrament of Thy Body and Blood,
in adoration and reparation for the sake of all Thy priests.
Make me an entirely Eucharistic soul,
according to the desires of Thy Sacred Heart
and the designs of Thy merciful goodness upon my life.
I desire nothing else.
I want to love Thee more each day;
I want to be the faithful adorer of Thy Eucharistic Face
and the consoling friend of Thy Sacred Heart
hidden in the tabernacles of the world,
where it beats, wounded by love, forgotten, forsaken,
and waiting for the adoration and for the love of even one priest.
Amen.

Adoro Te

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A Sunday Adoration


I adore Thee who art present here before me.
I adore Thee with all the love of my heart.
I adore Thee humbly.
I adore Thee in faith.
I adore Thee because Thou art God ever worthy of all adoration,
and because Thou hast called me to adore Thee
in this the Sacrament of Thy Redeeming Love.

Here is Thy Blessed Passion,
here Thy immolated Flesh,
here Thy Precious Blood,
here Thy holy and glorious wounds,
here Thy pierced side,
here Thy Sacred Heart all-burning with love,
here Thy merciful priesthood exercised eternally on behalf of poor sinners,
here Thy adorable Face, so humiliated and disfigured in Thy bitter sufferings,
and now so ineffably radiant and divinely beautiful.
All of this I adore
so often as I bow low before the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

I adore Thee to thank Thee, insofar as I am able,
for all the benefits that flow from this Most Holy Sacrament
and, in particular, for those graces of purity, healing, and holiness
that Thou reservest here for Thy priests.

All that Thou givest Thy priests, beloved Lord Jesus,
redounds to Thy glory, because through them, as through "other selves" of Thine,
Thou dost sanctify and speak to souls.
Through Thy priests Thou prolongest Thy saving sacrifice in the world
from the rising of the sun to the setting thereof.
Through thy priests Thou givest pardon to the sinner,
healing to the sick,
hope to the despondent,
and peace to those whose hearts are troubled.

I adore Thee, too, to make reparation
for those who do not adore Thee present in this the Sacrament of Thy Love.
I adore Thee in reparation for those priests of Thine who,
though charged with the Sacred Mysteries of Thy Body and Blood,
have lost all sense of wonder, and rarely remain, freely and willingly,
before Thy Eucharistic Face, close to Thy Eucharistic Heart.

I adore Thee, O Silent Word, in reparation for the noise and lack of reverence
that so often fills Thy sanctuaries,
and for the indifference and neglect that has befallen Thee
in so many tabernacles where Thou art present, but forsaken.

I adore Thee, O Lamb of God, in reparation for my own innumerable sins
and for the sins of my brother priests,
trusting utterly in Thy boundless mercy
and in Thy readiness to restore by Thy grace whatever we have lost by sin.

I adore Thee, Radiant Splendour of the Father, because in approaching Thee,
I approach Thy Father,
and because in adoring Thee
I glorify Thy Father Who so loved the world
that He sent Thee into it,
that by Thy Sacrifice all creation might be cleansed
and all things made new.

I adore Thee, Victim and Priest,
begging Thee to unite me to Thy own oblation.
Draw me to Thy Open Heart by the action of Thy Holy Spirit,
that through Thee, and with Thee, and in Thee,
I may pass already from before this altar
where I contemplate Thee hidden beneath the sacramental veils
into the glory of Thy Kingdom
where the praise of Thy Father in the Holy Spirit is perfect and unending.
Amen.

Hidden, And So Often Left Alone

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This magnificent tabernacle door depicting the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus and His Five Holy Wounds is found in Saint Stephen's Catholic Church in Skipton, North Yorkshire, England.

Lord Jesus,
I come before Thy Eucharistic Face today
by placing myself in spirit close to that tabernacle in the world
where Thou art most forsaken, most ignored, and most forgotten.

And because Thou hast asked me for my heart,
I offer it to Thee
to keep company with Thy Sacred Heart, Thy priestly and Eucharistic Heart.
I adore Thee in a spirit of reparation for all the priests of the Church,
but especially for those who never, or rarely,
pause to be still in Thy presence,
there to rest their hearts,
there to put down their burdens,
there to receive from Thee new strengths,
new lights, and new capacities to love, to pardon, and to bless.

I do not want to depart from before this tabernacle today,
wherever it may be.
I want, at every instant, to remain there prostrate in the adoration
Thou waitest to receive from Thy priests.

I unite myself to the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces
and first Adorer of Thy Eucharistic Face.
By her most pure Heart, may the prayers that rise in mine
ascend even to Thine own open Heart,
hidden, and so often left alone,
alone in the Sacrament of Thy Love. Amen.

Give Us Priests Who Are On Fire

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Our friends at WorldPriest offer the following reflection on this prayer dear to Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face:

Saint Thérèse's devotion to the Priesthood is to be found in all its fullness in a prayer which she used to say daily and which she learnt off by heart; this is all the more remarkable in view of her known distaste for lengthy set forms of prayer.

O Holy Father,
may the torrents of love
flowing from the sacred wounds of Thy Divine Son
bring forth priests like unto the beloved disciple John
who stood at the foot of the Cross;
priests: who as a pledge of Thine own most tender love
will lovingly give Thy Divine Son to the souls of men.

May Thy priests be faithful guardians of Thy Church,
as John was of Mary, whom he received into his house.
Taught by this loving Mother who suffered so much on Calvary,
may they display a mother's care and thoughtfulness
towards Thy children.
May they teach souls to enter into close union with Thee
through Mary who, as the Gate of Heaven,
is specially the guardian of the treasures of Thy Divine Heart.

Give us priests who are on fire, and who are true children of Mary,
priests who will give Jesus to souls
with the same tenderness and care
with which Mary carried the Little Child of Bethlehem.

Mother of sorrows and of love,
out of compassion for Thy beloved Son,
open in our hearts deep wells of love,
so that we may console Him
and give Him a generation of priests formed in thy school
and having all the tender thoughtfulness of thine own spotless love.
Amen.

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July 24th to August 1st 2008


Antiphon: The Priests shall be holy;
for the offerings of the Lord made by fire,
and the bread of their God, they do offer,
therefore they shall be holy. (Leviticus 21:6)

V. Pray for us, Saint Peter Julian.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

O God, Who through the preaching and example of Saint Peter Julian Eymard,
didst renew the priesthood of Thy Church in holiness
and inflame many souls with zeal
for the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar;
we beseech Thee, through his intercession,
to gather priests of one mind and one heart,
from the rising of the sun to the setting thereof,
to keep watch in adoration before the Eucharistic Face
of Thine Only-Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ
and to abide before His Open Heart,
in reparation for those who forsake Him, hidden in the tabernacles of the world,
and in thanksgiving for the mercies that ever stream
from the Sacred Mysteries of His Body and Blood.
Who liveth and reigneth with Thee
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end.
Amen.

The Friendship of the Saints

I invite the readers of Vultus Christi to join me in making this Novena to Saint Peter Julian Eymard, the Apostle of the Eucharist. I have chosen Saint Peter Julian as one of the patron saints of the Cenacle of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus in the Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma. It would be more accurate to say that in some mysterious way, Saint Peter Julian Eymard has chosen to help me.

Years ago, while reading the biography of Père Jean-Baptiste Muard, the founder of the Benedictine abbey of La-Pierre-Qui-Vire, I came upon a line that so struck me that I have never forgotten it. Père Muard said something like this: "It is not we who choose this or that saint to be our friend; it is, rather, the saints who choose those whom they wish to befriend. The saints choose us, and this, in the light of God's wisdom and providence."

The Priest, an Adorer

Saint Peter Julian is sympathetic, I am sure, to my new Eucharistic mission in the Diocese of Tulsa. His own Eucharistic vocation unfolded amidst sufferings of the heart and painful detachments. God called him out of the religious family he loved -- the Marist Fathers -- to begin a new work, a Cenacle entirely devoted to the Blessed Sacrament. From the beginning Saint Peter Julian Eymard's Eucharistic work comprised priests, consecrated women adorers, and laity. He challenged his little family of adorers to set souls ablaze with Eucharistic fire.

O Taste and See

Bishop Slattery has asked me to help his clergy rediscover that "the secret of their sanctification lies precisely in the Eucharist . . . The priest must be first and foremost an adorer who contemplates the Eucharist." (Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Address, 18 September 2005). My essential work in Tulsa will be to abide before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus in adoration, reparation, thanksgiving, and intercession, and to share with my brothers in the priesthood and diaconate the fruits of my own contemplation by saying, "O taste and see!" (Psalm 33:9).

The Gift Accompanied by the Gift of All Else

A number of very concrete questions arise. For example: Will sufficient funds be donated for the construction of the Cenacle? Will the necessary support be forthcoming? To all of my questions, Our Lord has but one answer, the only one necessary: "Trust me." Does He not say in the Sermon on the Mount, "Make it your first care to find the Kingdom of God, and His approval, and all these things shall be yours without the asking. Do not fret, then, over to-morrow; leave to-morrow to fret over its own needs; for to-day, to-day's troubles are enough"? (Matthew 6, 33-34). My intention is to make this Novena with confidence, in thanksgiving and in peace. To adapt the words of Saint Paul in Romans 8, 32: "The Father gives us His own Son in the Sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist; must not that gift be accompanied by the gift of all else?"

Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament

Like Saint Peter Julian, I cannot conceive of this Cenacle of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus without the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the first Adorer of the Eucharistic Face, the Mother of Priests, and the Mediatrix of All Graces. Saint Peter Julian called her Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament. "Eucharistic souls," he wrote, "who wish to live only for the Blessed Sacrament, who have made the Eucharist your centre and His service your only work, Mary is your model, her life your grace. Only persevere with her in the breaking of the bread (Acts 2, 42)."

Looking Round for Pity

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Heart-broken with that shame, I pine away, looking round for pity where pity is none, for comfort where there is no comfort to be found.
They gave me gall to eat, and when I was thirsty they gave me vinegar to drink.
(Psalm 68, 21, Offertory of the Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus)

The Sufferings of a Love Wounded and Spurned

Our Lord, when He instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, foresaw outrages and sufferings: the sufferings of a Love wounded and spurned. He still waits for a little compassion from priests, from His priests. Today more than ever, Jesus is looking for priest consolers, that is to say, priest adorers who will make reparation. To one priest He said:

I Want Priest Adorers and Reparators

I want priests who will adore for priests who do not adore, [I want] priests who will make reparation for priests who do not make reparation, not for themselves, nor for others. I want priest adorers and reparators.

All Heaven Weeps

My Father, too, is grieved by the coldness and indifference with which I who am His Beloved Son, His Eternal Priest, His Immaculate Victim ceaselessly offered in the sanctuary of heaven, am treated on earth. This comes not from strangers, but from my very own, from those whom I chose, out of love, to share in my priesthood, to abide in my presence, to nourish my people with the mysteries of my Body and Blood. All heaven weeps over the sins of my priests. For every sin there is mercy in the Blood and Water that flow from my wounded Side, but the sins of my priests call for reparation. Make reparation for your brother priests by adoring me, by remaining before my Eucharistic Face, by offering the love of your heart purified by my great mercy.

I Love My Priests

My Sacred Heart is divinely sensitive to the coldness and indifference of my priests. I ask you to make reparation to me for them. Allow me to love you as I would love each of them. Allow me to heal you, to comfort you, to sanctify you, just as I would heal, comfort, and sanctify any one of my priests. I love my priests -- but few of them believe in my love for them. You, believe in my love for you. I am your Friend. I have chosen you to be in life and in death the privileged friend of my Sacred Heart.

Console Me

I ask you to console me by remaining before my Face. I ask you to console me by staying close to my Heart, pierced for love of you and for all sinners. Be my priest adorer. Console me and make reparation for those who spurn my love, for those who mock my wounds, my Blood, my sacrifice.

Time Before My Eucharistic Face

I want you to learn to remain before my Eucharistic Face, silent, adoring, listening to me, and loving me for those who do not adore me, those who do not listen to me, those who never express their love for me in this way. If only my priests would spend time before my Eucharistic Face, I should heal them, purify them, sanctify them, and change them into apostles set all ablaze with the Living Flame that consumes my Heart in the Blessed Sacrament. But they stay away. They prefer so many other things, vain pursuits and things that leave them empty, bitter, and weary. They forget my words, "Come to me . . . and I will refresh you." My priests will be renewed in holiness and in purity when they begin to seek me out in the Sacrament of my Love.

The Desires of My Heart

How it grieves my Heart when the unique love I offer a soul is spurned, or ignored, or regarded with indifference. I tell you this so that you may make reparation to my Heart by accepting the love I have for you and by living in my friendship. Receive my gifts, my kindnesses, my attention, my mercies for the sake of those who effuse what I so desire to give them. Do this especially for my priests, your brothers. I would fill each one of my priests with my merciful love, I would take each one into the shelter of my wounded Side, I would give to each one the delights of my Divine Friendship, but so few of my priests accept what I desire to give them. They flee from before my Face. They remain at a distance from my open Heart. They keep themselves apart from me. Their lives are compartmentalized. They treat with me only when duty obliges them to do so. There is no gratuitous love, no desire to be with me for my own sake, simply because I am there in the Sacrament of my Love, waiting for the companionship and friendship of those whom I have chosen and called from among millions of souls to be my priests and to be the special friends of my Sacred Heart. Would that priests understood that they are called not only to minister to souls in my Name, but even more to cling to me, to abide in me, to live in me and for me, and by me and no other. I want you to tell priests of the desires of my Heart.

A Company of Priest-Adorers Making Reparation

Oh, how my Heart longs to raise up a company of priest-adorers who will make reparation for their brother priests by abiding before my Eucharistic Face. I will pour out the treasures of my Eucharistic Heart upon them. I want to renew the priesthood in my Church, and I will do it beginning with a few priests touched to the quick by my friendship, and drawn into the radiance of my Eucharistic Face.

I am indebted to my friend, Father Scott Bailey, C.SS.R. for this poignant image of the Eucharistic Face and Heart of Jesus.

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Good news from Page One of the June 22, 2008 edition of Eastern Oklahoma Catholic! The Diocese of Tulsa is a thriving missionary Church in a state where Catholics are a minority. I appeal to the readers of Vultus Christi and to their friends to offer financial support for the construction of the Cenacle.

Eucharistic Cenacle

"Cistercian Father Mark Kirby has been invited into the Diocese of Tulsa to serve as a spiritual director for the priests and deacons as well as to implement plans announced by Bishop Edward J. Slattery June 8 to establish a Eucharistic Cenacle of prayer and adoration for priests.

Secret of Sanctification

Through Father Kirby's ministry within and for the presbyterate, Bishop Slattery hopes to expand Eucharistic Adoration throughout eastern Oklahoma while helping our clerics rediscover that "the secret of their sanctification lies precisely in the Eucharist ... The priest must be first and foremost an adorer who contemplates the Eucharist." (Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus, Sept. 18).

To Tulsa

Born in Connecticut and a monk of the Cistercian Abbey of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome, Father Kirby has been a priest for 22 years. He is expected to arrive by August 1st and will make his residence in midtown Tulsa, near St. John Medical Center, where he will be able to assist in St. John's program of 24-four Adoration and Intercession. At some point in the future, work will begin on the Cenacle of Prayer, although the Bishop has not disclosed the probable location of the Cenacle, which the Vatican's Claudio Cardinal Hummes described as being 'a kind of Eucharistic shrine.'"

Please send your contributions toward building the Eucharistic Cenacle to:

His Excellency, The Most Reverend Edward J. Slattery
Bishop of Tulsa
P. O. Box 690240, Tulsa, OK 74169-0240

Kindly indicate that your contribution is for the Cenacle of Eucharistic Adoration. Thank you for your generosity. May Our Lord Jesus Christ make the light of His Eucharistic Face shine upon you.

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I am happy to share with the readers of Vultus Christi, the remarkable message that His Excellency, Bishop Edward J. Slattery of the Diocese of Tulsa published on June 22, 2008 in his diocesan newspaper, Eastern Oklahoma Catholic.

A Request Addressed to the Bishops of the World

Since the Vatican asked every bishop in the world to consider this request, you can imagine the importance it has in the mind of His Holiness. Such a world-wide effort is not easily achieved and would only be attempted for the most important of reasons!

Recovery of a Eucharistic Consciousness

The pope's request, delivered through the Congregation of the Clergy, has three interconnected aspects; but when considered as a single whole, these three aspects have a single end or purpose - the recovery of a Eucharistic consciousness in the Church.

Turning Toward the Eucharist

Pope John Paul II called this consciousness of the Eucharist our "Eucharistic imagination," and I have seen the process of recovering it referred to as a "Eucharistic
conversion of life." In spiritual theology, when we speak of a conversion of life, we generally mean a daily effort to turn toward the Lord, that is, a conscious effort made every day to orient our lives to fulfilling God's will, so that little by little, by placing God's love at the center of our lives, our senses, minds and hearts, our hands and our labor, our family life and the love which illuminates it, can all slowly begin to reflect that Divine Love.

A Eucharistic conversion of life would be much the same. It would entail a daily effort to turn toward our Eucharistic Lord, a conscious effort to place the Eucharist at the center of our lives so that little by little everything we do and think and say will reflect the sacrificial love of Jesus which we receive in Communion. Only in this way will we be able to "live and move and have our very being" in Christ's Eucharistic Heart. (cf. Acts
17:28)

Why Adoration?

I think that there may be some people for whom Adoration may be considered a salutary devotion, but still on the periphery of Church life. I fear there may even be priests for whom things like Holy Hours and extended periods of Eucharistic Adoration
are nothing more than quaint relics of a past piety or something which ought to take second place to the pursuit of social justice and the search to find the face of Jesus in the poor. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth!

Being with the Lord

Pope Benedict reminds us that "Eucharistic Adoration is an essential way of being with the Lord." When someone spends time with Our Lord in the Eucharist, he or she makes a conscious and deliberate choice to belong to Christ entirely for that period, since the believer cannot be present to Christ through the mind alone or through the senses alone. Since the believer has put aside every other activity, sacrificed every lesser good which might have been accomplished in that hour for the greater good of lingering
a time with Jesus, that person has made a very clear accounting of what in his or her life belongs by right to Christ. It is everything.

Understood in this sense, Adoration is not a "dispensable" devotion. Rather, it captures within itself the full essence of the Church's response to God's initiative in grace and expresses in a very real sense that the baptismal vocation of each Christian is to live in, with and through Christ.

Priests and Deacons as Adorers

But I should add immediately that Eucharistic Adoration expresses in a very personal way the particular vocation of those whom Christ has called to a deeper
union with Him through their ordination. Priests should find themselves drawn to Eucharistic Adoration so that they might be ever more deeply identified with
Christ the High Priest, Who lives forever before the Father that He might intercede for us.

Deacons should find themselves drawn to Adoration so that they might pattern their leadership and charity after the love of Christ, the Suffering Servant. I am convinced that those priests and deacons who begin by contemplating the love of Our Lord's Eucharistic Heart must eventually end by recalling the days of their youth, not their biological youth, but rather the youthful energy with which they first responded with
their heart's "YES!" to the invitation whispered by the Heart of Jesus.

Restoration of the Church's Ordained Priests and Servants

In this way, through Adoration, priests and deacons will be constantly rejuvenated and never grow old or weary or stiff-necked in their service of God's people.
This is why when I read the recent instruction on Eucharistic Adoration from the Holy See, I also sensed that while the Vatican talks about the recovery of the
Church's Eucharistic imagination as the end or purpose of this initiative, there is also a very real sense that this whole effort is directed in love toward the spiritual,
psychological, moral and physical restoration of the Church's ordained priests and servants.

The Eucharistic Shrine

This explains, I think, the third request made by Cardinal Hummes. The first two: that each diocese set aside specific churches or oratories to serve as Eucharistic
shrines, similar to Marian shrines; and that in each diocese a priest be appointed to the specific priestly ministry of promoting Eucharistic Adoration, are each
connected to the larger theme of Eucharistic Adoration in the Church as a whole and can be understood as steps to be taken for our recovery of that Eucharistic
imagination of which I have spoken.

Spiritual Motherhood of Priests

But the third request is different. The third request can only be understood as pertaining to the life and holiness of our priests. Becoming the spiritual mother of a priest Cardinal Hummes' third request was that bishops across the world encourage the women of their diocese to discern whether or not they have received the vocation of serving the priestly Heart of Jesus by offering themselves, their prayers and sacrifices, to be the spiritual mothers of those priests who are configured through Holy Orders to the one and eternal Priest, Jesus Christ.

A Feminine Vocation

Of that vocation, Cardinal Hummes writes: "The vocation to be a spiritual mother for priests is largely unknown, scarcely understood and consequently rarely lived,
notwithstanding its fundamental importance. It is a vocation that is frequently hidden, invisible to the naked eye, but meant to transmit spiritual life." Independent of one's age or social status, any woman who has been called by Christ can become a mother for
his priests. It would be just as possible for an unmarried woman or a widow to spiritually adopt a priest-son as it would be for the mother of a family to love another
son, spiritually given her to adopt and nurture. Nor would there be any barriers to prevent the elderly or the handicapped from fully embracing this vocation,
which is at the same time, Marian (since Our Lady is the perfect model of what it means to be united in spiritual motherhood with Jesus the Priest), Eucharistic (since the essence of their prayer and reparation for their spiritual sons will be offered in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament), Ecclesial (since it is intimately connected with the sacramental life of the Church) and Feminine (since it is life-giving and nurturing).

Give Birth to a Movement of Prayer

As I reflect upon the Cardinal's letter, it seems to me that the vocation of spiritual motherhood is so intimately linked to the Eucharistic Conversion of Life of which we have spoken, that the only proper way to put it is that the Church is asking Her women to give birth to a movement of prayer, specifically Eucharistic Adoration, so that from every home there might flow constant love, adoration, thanksgiving and reparation to God on behalf of his priests, that those men who stand before the altar, stand there holy and blameless in God's sight.

Finally, a Welcome

As you will read elsewhere in this issue of the EOC, I have invited Cistercian Father Mark Kirby to come to Tulsa and help all of us - that is, help me as the Bishop, help the priests and deacons serving in our parishes, help the lay people and the religious - to implement this program of Eucharistic conversion of life by offering the witness of his own life of Adoration and reparation, his ministry of spiritual direction to priests and
deacons, and his labors to build a Cenacle of prayer and piety from which, I hope, sufficient graces will flow until the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus is enthroned in every
parish, worshiped in every home and loved in every heart.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

Donations for Silverstream Priory

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