Recently in Holy Eucharist Category

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Why are we here?
To abide in Thy presence, O Jesus, and to adore Thee.
The column is a sign of our resolve to abide before Thee permanently.
It marks the place that Thou hast prepared for us,
and to which Thou callest us
at every hour of the day and night.

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The column is the symbol of monastic stability,
by which we are anchored in the presence of the Lord.
The column is to adoration
what the choir-stall is to the Divine Office;
the Benedictine Monk of Perpetual Adoration is his best self,
his truest self, his finest self
in his choir-stall and at the column.

In his choir-stall he is the singer of the praise of God,
doing in the Church on earth what the angels do in heaven;
and at the column he is a victim offered to the Divine Majesty
in reparation for sins
and in the willing sacrifice of himself as a fragrant holocaust to God;
fragrant because his oblation is united to that of the Lamb,
and because it mingles with the sweet odour of Christ Jesus
rising from the tabernacles of the world
to glorify the Father.

Sit laus plena, sit sonora

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A Meditation for Corpus Christi

Remember all the desert way
through which the Lord your God has brought you:
forty years of willful wandering.
Remember the affliction and the testing.
Remember the great and terrible wilderness
wherein there was the serpent burning with his breath,
and the scorpions.
Remember the thirsty ground where there was no water.
Remember who brought you water out of the flinty rock.
Remember who fed you in the wilderness
with manna which your fathers did not know (cf. Dt 8:15-16).
Remember, and out of your remembering
give voice to the Eucharistic amazement
that is what we have in common -- O joy! -- with all the saints.

Remember the sustenance in full ears of wheat, his gift to you.
Remember the honey dripping from the rock to your heart's content (cf. Ps. 80:17).
Remember, and out of your remembering
let praises spring high and sweet and clear.
Praises to fill full the church, but even that is not enough.
Praises pouring out the doors,
praises streaming in procession,
touching every blade of grass and every leaf.
Praises stretching into the vastness of the sky overhead,
praises sinking deep into the earth,
praises sent like sparks to the East and to the West, to the North and to the South,
praises to inflame the cosmos with Eucharistic fire.

Remember, Mother Church, the holy and venerable hands,
the hands that, taking bread, broke and gave it,
the hands that have strengthened the bolts of your gates,
the hands that blessed your children within you (cf. Ps 147:12).
Remember the voice of him whose word runs swiftly,
blessing and saying, “Take and eat, this is my Body”;
“This chalice is the new testament in my Blood” (cf. 1 Cor 11:24-25).
Remember the Crucified, the Risen One, the Lord of glory
whose Face alone plants peace in your borders,
whose Heart would save your souls from death,
and feed you in time of famine (cf. Ps 32:19).
Remember his hands, his Face, and his Heart,
remember his words on the night before he suffered,
and out of your remembering, let praise come to flower on your lips.
Praise to fill that Upper Room,
praise to fill the Church,
praise to fall like a balm on every heart that has forgotten
the language of the Great Thanksgiving.

Remember the chalice of blessing
and adore the Blood of Christ.
Remember the bread that we break
and adore the Body of Christ.
Remember the one Bread by which we, though many, are made one (cf. 1 Cor 10:16-17).
Remember the chalice of the Blood
in which every tear of yours dissolves into joy.
Remember the broken Bread by which every brokenness of yours is made whole.
Remember the chalice offered to those who have nothing to offer.
Remember the Bread given to those who have nothing to give.
Remember, and into your remembering
welcome the immensity of a silence that seeks only to adore.
Tacere et adorare!

Adoring silence: liturgy of the angels, language of the prophets, poem of the saints.
Adoring silence: Eucharistic amazement too deep, too wide, too high for words.
Adoring silence spread like a mantle over the sighs and groans of a world
that has forgotten to be still in the presence of the Word.
Adoring silence, well-kept secret of a ceaseless jubilation.
Adoring silence, hidden from the learned and the clever.
Adoring silence cherished by the little ones.
“Yes, Father, for such is your gracious will” (cf. Lk 10:21).

Remember the living Bread which came down from heaven
and eating that Bread, be assumed even now into future glory.
Remember the Flesh of the Word given
in a mystery of word and Spirit, handed over in the Upper Room
Remember the Flesh of the Word lifted to the Father from the altar of the Cross.
Remember the Flesh of the Word drawing all flesh to itself
divine Flesh for the children of Adam,
healing Flesh for Eve’s sorrowing children,
God’s very Flesh for the life of the world.
Remember, and adore.

Remember the chalice that flows and overflows,
the chalice of salvation, the cup of your surpassing joy.
Remember the Blood gushing with the water
from the Open Side.
Remember the Heart’s Blood that to your hearts carries life.
Remember the Chalice that leaves on every tongue the taste of eternity,
and on your lips the lingering sweetness of the Kiss of the Mouth of God.
Remember the fire-filled Chalice,
the Chalice spilling Spirit into every open mouth.
Remember Him on whom you feed;
see him held before your eyes,
raised to the Father in the Holy Spirit,
held out to you, his hunger meeting yours.
Remember, and pronounce the “Amen” for which he waits.
The Amen of your amazement,
the Amen of your joy,
the Amen of your adoring silence.
And listen closely.
To that Amen of yours the Angels add their Alleluia.

Amen, Alleluia.
O Eucharistic adoration of heaven and of earth!
Amen, Alleluia.
Saying all that can be said.
Amen, Alleluia.
O Eucharistic song!

Amen, Alleluia.
Song of angels praising
and of archangels shining together with thrones;
song of dominations bowing low,
and of the awestruck powers;
song of the incandescent seraphim,
and of the heavenly hosts of every rank adoring.
Amen, Alleluia.

Song of the Church today.
Song of the saints dazzling with Christ-Beauty,
song of the least of his brethren
summoned today to stand in his presence,
driven by the Spirit to walk before him,
compelled by love to kneel and to adore.
Corpus Christi. Amen, Alleluia.

Corpus Domini

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Hail, Festival Day!
Hail, Day of Sion's sweetest hymns!
Hail, Day of timeless adoration!
Hail, Day of lavish jubilation!
Hail, Day of our most fragrant incense!
Hail, Day of flowers strewn before their Maker!
Hail, Day of flames dancing in the presence of the Fire!
Hail, Day of a silence that is song!
Hail Day of a song become silence!
Hail, Day made radiant by the Face that shines like the sun in full strength!
Hail, Day made lovely by the Face of the fairest of the children of men!
Hail, Day rising to see the Face once hidden in the tabernacle of the Virgin's womb!
Hail, Day rejoicing in the Human Face of God concealed in bread and wine!

Hail, Eucharistic Face reflecting the Glory of the Father
and bearing the very stamp of His nature!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Living Icon of the Father!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Epiphany of the Father's Love!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Kindly Light amidst the gloom!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Crucified in the Sacrament of Your abiding presence!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of Life conquering death!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of Mercy rising in the night with healing in your rays!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Sweetness leaving no bitterness!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Risen One,
filling earth and heaven with glory
from the rising of the sun even to its setting
in the offering of your pure and eternal Oblation!
Hail, Eucharistic Face raising the dead to life!
Hail, Eucharistic Face breathing peace into every troubled place!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, revelation of a Heart full of mercy and ready to forgive!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Ascended One!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of the High Priest interceding for us beyond the veil!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Victim reconciling heaven and earth!
Hail, Eucharistic Face all ablaze with the Holy Spirit's fire!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the King who will return in glory!
Hail, Eucharistic Face hidden from the powerful, the clever, and the wise!
Hail, Eucharistic Face revealed to the pure of heart!
Hail, Eucharistic Face familiar to little children and to those like them!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Divine Wayfarer!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, unrecognized and unknown in the midst of men!
Hail, Eucharistic Face shrouded in silence,
and with us always, even unto the consummation of the world!

Hail, God-With-Us!
Hail, God-Turned-Toward-Us!
Hail, God who with immense yearning desire to share your Pasch with us!
Hail, God-in-Search-of-Those-Who-Hunger!
God-in-Search-of-Those-Who-Thirst!
Hail, O inexhaustible and precious Chalice!

Hail, Day of the Altar and of the Blood!
Hail, Day of the new and everlasting covenant!
Hail, Day that calls us anew to obedience:
"All that the Lord has spoken we will do,
and we will be obedient" (Ex 24:7).
"This is my Body which is given for you.
This Chalice poured out for you is the new covenant in my Blood.
Do this in remembrance of me" (cf. Lk 22:19-20).

Hail, Day of the Blood without which there is no pardon!
Hail, Day of the Blood poured out for the refreshment of the weary!
Hail, Day of the Blood that flows, a river of mercy in the wastelands of sin!
Hail, Day of the Blood that vanquishes demons!
Hail, Day of the Blood that consoles in sorrow!
Hail, Day of the Blood that cleanses the entire world of sin!
Hail, Day of the Blood of Christ, Victim and Priest!
Hail, Day of the Blood presented in the sanctuary not made by hands!
Hail, Day of the Blood offered on earth as it is in heaven!

Hail, Precious Chalice lifted up for all to see!
Hail, Precious Chalice, thanksgiving sacrifice worthy of God!
Hail, Precious Chalice held to the lips of the martyrs!
Hail, Precious Chalice strengthening every witness!
Hail, Precious Chalice making pure the impure!
Hail, Precious Chalice containing the Fire of the Divinity!
Hail, Precious Chalice, the antidote for every poison!
Hail, Precious Chalice, the remedy for every ill!

Hail, Day of the Upper Room made ready for eternity!
Hail, Day of the Pasch without end!
Hail, Day of the Bread lifted up in Christ's holy and venerable hands!
Hail, Day of the blessing uttered by His sacred lips!
Hail, Day of the Body forever given and of the Blood forever poured out!
Hail, Day of the Cenacle opened to every nation on earth!
Hail, Day of the Mystical Supper open to the poor, the sick, the lame, and the blind!
Hail, Day of Heaven's open door!
Hail, Day of the Supper of the Lamb!

Hail, Day that sees us prostrate before the Eucharistic Face of God!
Hail, Day on which men do the work of Angels!
Hail, Day on which Angels stand amazed
before the Mystery set before the children of men!
Hail, Day that passes too quickly and never passes!
Hail, Day that begins in time the joys of eternity!
Hail, Day that fills the earth with a foretaste of heaven!
Amen. Alleluia.

Adoration and Rejuvenation

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"When I am in adoration, what matters is not my capacity to be lucid for an hour, but rather the fact that in accounting for life, I have chosen that all of myself should be His. I am not there with my head, nor with my senses, but I am there, and I am there, my God, because I have chosen to be there with you. Whether I succeed or do not succeed at this is your business. The important thing is that -- even if I lose my initial lucidity -- I must recall the days of my youth. The youth that we must recall before God is not our biological youth, but rather the youth of the "Yes" we said to God. To rejuvenate means to be always young before God."
Antonino Grimaldi, La sfida del puro amore, Itinerario umano e spirituale di Madre Mectilde de Bar (1614-1698) (Portalupe Editore, 2006, p. 131).

It is not for nothing that the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar of the Tridentine Missal begin with the words, Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam, "I will go up to the altar of God, to God who makes glad my youth" (Ps 42:4).

Spiritually, we grow old and stiff-jointed when we forget the "Yes" that first brought us to the foot of the altar in adoration. The recovery of a youthful spirit -- not to be confused with an impulsive and immature spirit -- but of the freshness and wisdom of spiritual childhood is intrinsically related to the recovery of adoration.

Communities (and individuals) grown old, and stiff, and resistant to change, that is, to conversion, can recover their youth, their suppleness, and the élan of their initial "Yes" by exposing themselves to the glorious Body of Christ in Eucharistic adoration.

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In response to Thy presence, O Lord,
I offer Thee my presence.
In response to Thy silence,
I offer Thee my silence.
In response to the gaze of Thy Eucharistic Face,
I offer Thee my eyes.
In response to Thy Eucharistic Heart,
I offer Thee every heartbeat of mine.
In response to the mystery of Thy Eucharistic poverty,
I offer Thee my poverty.
My one desire is to remain before Thee
even as Thou remainest before me
in this the Sacrament of Thy Love.

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Constrained by the Holy Spirit

Abba Agapios lingered in church after the Holy Oblation whilst his disciple Theophilos waited for him to begin the meal. When, after some time, the venerable elder arrived, the disciple made a profound reverence and said, "Forgive me, Reverend Father, but what detaineth thee so after the Holy Mysteries? Why dost thou not return straightaway that together we might break bread after the fast?" Abba Agapios crossed his hands over his breast and, with downcast eyes, replied, "No sooner do I partake of the Body and Blood of Christ than the Spirit of God fills my heart, constraining me to say again and gain, 'O Jesus, live Thou in me that I may live in Thee.' And so do I pray until He Whom I have received biddeth me depart in peace."

Adore te devote, latens Deitas

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O hidden God,
I adore Thee.

O silent God,
I adore Thee.

O utterly humble God,
I adore Thee.

O ineffably obedient God,
I adore Thee.

O God, faithful and constant,
I adore Thee.

O piteously vulnerable God,
I adore Thee.

O God delivered into the hands of sinful men,
I adore Thee.

O God held lightly in the hands of Thy priests,
I adore Thee.

O God most fragile in appearance,
I adore Thee.

O God, offering Thyself to be broken and consumed,
I adore Thee.

O God, ready to descend into the souls and bodies of poor sinners,
I adore Thee.

O God, ignored by the multitudes,
I adore Thee.

O God, whose real presence heretics deny,
I adore Thee.

O God, grieved by the coldness, indifference, and irreverence
of too many of Thy priests,
I adore Thee.

O God, denied to little children who would long to receive Thee,
I adore Thee.

O God, excluded from the rooms of the dying,
I adore Thee.

O God, waiting to be carried to those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death,
I adore Thee.

O God, surrounded by routine and unbelief,
I adore Thee.

O God, waiting for the company of Thy priests,
I adore Thee.

O God, forsaken in Thy tabernacles,
I adore Thee.

O God, ignored in Thy churches,
I adore Thee.

O God, unacknowledged in Thy sanctuaries,
I adore Thee.

O God, forever adored by the Angelic Choirs,
I adore Thee.

O God, who art Love, and all Love, and forever Love,
I adore Thee.

Eight Days Would Be Enough

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It is good, I think, to be reminded of Saint Peter Julian Eymard's "secret" for arriving at a fully Eucharistic life:

The secret for arriving quickly at a life centred in the Eucharist is, during a certain period of time, to make Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament the habitual object of the exercise of the presence of God, the dominant motive of our intentions, the meditation of our spirit, the affection of our heart, the object of all our virtues.
And if the soul is generous enough, one will come at length to this unity of action, to familiarity with the adorable Sacrament, to think of it with as much and even greater ease than of any other object.
Easily and gently one's heart will produce the most tender affections. In a word, the Most Holy Sacrament will become the magnet of devotion in one's life and the centre of perfection of one's love.
Eight days would be enough for a simple and fervent soul to acquire this Eucharistic spirit; and even if one should have to put weeks and months to acquire it, can this ever be compared with the peace and the happiness which this soul will enjoy in the Divine Eucharist?

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

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In a private audience yesterday with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI approved the "heroic virtue" of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, thereby officially opening the well-loved radio and television preacher's cause for canonization.

When Fulton J. Sheen was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois in 1919, he promised to make a Holy Hour each day before the Most Blessed Sacrament. He remained faithful to his promise for the entire sixty years of his priesthood. It was during his Holy Hour that he learned to listen to the voice of Our Lord and abandon himself to the love of His Heart. Archbishop Sheen was a tireless promoter of the daily hour of Eucharistic adoration, particularly among priests. Concerning this practise, he wrote:

I keep up the Holy Hour to grow more and more into His likeness... Looking at the Eucharistic Lord for an hour transforms the heart in a mysterious way as the face of Moses was transformed after his companionship with God on the mountain.
The Holy Hour is not a devotion; it is a sharing in the work of redemption. 'Could you not watch one hour with Me?' Not for an hour of activity did He plead, but for an hour of companionship.
The purpose of the Holy Hour is to encourage deep personal encounter with Christ. The holy and glorious God is constantly inviting us to come to Him, to hold converse with Him and to ask such things as we need and to experience what a blessing there is in fellowship with Him. One of the by-products of the Holy Hour was the sensitiveness to the Eucharistic Presence of Our Divine Lord.

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128. The divine Redeemer is ever repeating His pressing invitation, "Abide in Me."[121] Now by the sacrament of the Eucharist, Christ remains in us and we in Him, and just as Christ, remaining in us, lives and works, so should we remain in Christ and live and work through Him.

129. The Eucharistic Food contains, as all are aware, "truly, really and substantially the Body and Blood together with soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ."[122] It is no wonder, then, that the Church, even from the beginning, adored the body of Christ under the appearance of bread; this is evident from the very rites of the august sacrifice, which prescribe that the sacred ministers should adore the most holy sacrament by genuflecting or by profoundly bowing their heads.

130. The Sacred Councils teach that it is the Church's tradition right from the beginning, to worship "with the same adoration the Word Incarnate as well as His own flesh,"[123] and St. Augustine asserts that, "No one eats that flesh, without first adoring it," while he adds that "not only do we not commit a sin by adoring it, but that we do sin by not adoring it."[124]

131. It is on this doctrinal basis that the cult of adoring the Eucharist was founded and gradually developed as something distinct from the sacrifice of the Mass. The reservation of the sacred species for the sick and those in danger of death introduced the praiseworthy custom of adoring the Blessed Sacrament which is reserved in our churches. This practice of adoration, in fact, is based on strong and solid reasons. For the Eucharist is at once a sacrifice and a sacrament; but it differs from the other sacraments in this that it not only produces grace, but contains in a permanent manner the Author of grace Himself. When, therefore, the Church bids us adore Christ hidden behind the Eucharistic veils and pray to Him for spiritual and temporal favors, of which we ever stand in need, she manifests living faith in her divine Spouse who is present beneath these veils, she professes her gratitude to Him and she enjoys the intimacy of His friendship.

132. Now, the Church in the course of centuries has introduced various forms of this worship which are ever increasing in beauty and helpfulness: as, for example, visits of devotion to the tabernacles, even every day; benediction of the Blessed Sacrament; solemn processions, especially at the time of Eucharistic Congress, which pass through cities and villages; and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament publicly exposed. Sometimes these public acts of adoration are of short duration. Sometimes they last for one, several and even for forty hours. In certain places they continue in turn in different churches throughout the year, while elsewhere adoration is perpetual day and night, under the care of religious communities, and the faithful quite often take part in them.

133. These exercises of piety have brought a wonderful increase in faith and supernatural life to the Church militant upon earth and they are reechoed to a certain extent by the Church triumphant in heaven which sings continually a hymn of praise to God and to the Lamb "who was slain."[125] Wherefore, the Church not merely approves these pious practices, which in the course of centuries have spread everywhere throughout the world, but makes them her own, as it were, and by her authority commends them.[126] They spring from the inspiration of the liturgy and if they are performed with due propriety and with faith and piety, as the liturgical rules of the Church require, they are undoubtedly of the very greatest assistance in living the life of the liturgy.

134. Nor is it to be admitted that by this Eucharistic cult men falsely confound the historical Christ, as they say, who once lived on earth, with the Christ who is present in the august Sacrament of the altar, and who reigns glorious and triumphant in heaven and bestows supernatural favors. On the contrary, it can be claimed that by this devotion the faithful bear witness to and solemnly avow the faith of the Church that the Word of God is identical with the Son of the Virgin Mary, who suffered on the cross, who is present in a hidden manner in the Eucharist and who reigns upon His heavenly throne. Thus, St. John Chrysostom states: "When you see It [the Body of Christ] exposed, say to yourself: Thanks to this body, I am no longer dust and ashes, I am no more a captive but a freeman: hence I hope to obtain heaven and the good things that are there in store for me, eternal life, the heritage of the angels, companionship with Christ; death has not destroyed this body which was pierced by nails and scourged, . . . this is that body which was once covered with blood, pierced by a lance, from which issued saving fountains upon the world, one of blood and the other of water. . . This body He gave to us to keep and eat, as a mark of His intense love."[127]

135. That practice in a special manner is to be highly praised according to which many exercises of piety, customary among the faithful, and with benediction of the blessed sacrament. For excellent and of great benefit is that custom which makes the priest raise aloft the Bread of Angels before congregations with heads bowed down in adoration, and forming with It the sign of the cross implores the heavenly Father to deign to look upon His Son who for love of us was nailed to the cross, and for His sake and through Him who willed to be our Redeemer and our brother, be pleased to shower down heavenly favors upon those whom the immaculate blood of the Lamb has redeemed.[128]

136. Strive then, Venerable Brethren, with your customary devoted care so the churches, which the faith and piety of Christian peoples have built in the course of centuries for the purpose of singing a perpetual hymn of glory to God almighty and of providing a worthy abode for our Redeemer concealed beneath the eucharistic species, may be entirely at the disposal of greater numbers of the faithful who, called to the feet of their Savior, hearken to His most consoling invitation, "Come to Me all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will refresh you."[129] Let your churches be the house of God where all who enter to implore blessings rejoice in obtaining whatever they ask[130] and find there heavenly consolation.

Thank you, Father Blake

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The Problem of Frequent Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament

Father Ray Blake, writing after a splendid experience of the Forty Hours Devotion in his Church of Saint Mary Magdalene, Brighton, says something that I have long wanted to say: "I am not in favour of frequent exposition".

One might wonder why I, of all people, would have a problem with frequent exposition. I am, after all, a monk professed with an explicit and solemn dedication to adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. First, read what Father Blake wrote:

. . . I am not in favour of the current trend for frequent Exposition, it seems to encourage a type of receptionism and undermine the fact that Lord is truly present and able to be adored when reserved in the tabernacle. I think there is a real danger in promoting a piety that says that he can only be adored or treated with reverence when he is exposed in the monstrance. In part I suspect this is result of the confusion after the Council about reservation in a side chapel. In many places diocesan bishops demanded the removal of the Blessed Sacrament to a side chapel, with the consequence that many even the basics of Eucharistic piety were not only lost but undermined.
Exposition and Benediction were traditionally high points, always involving putting out more candles, having servers, using incense, a priest wearing cope and for Benediction a humeral veil. The modern directory on Eucharistic Devotion seems to downplay all these, having no more candles than at Mass, for example, and often the exposing and reposing is done by an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, with no priest present, and even if one is present it is often done without Benediction. The problem is making something which should be done with as much solemnity as possible worker-day and prosaic.
I do appreciate the intentions of those who try to encourage devotion to the Blessed Sacrament but starting with Exposition rather than the reception of Holy Communion and reverence to the reserved Blessed Sacrament seems to me a dangerous mistake.

Solemn and Festive

It should be noted that, until the post-conciliar chaos, exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance was always considered a particularly solemn and festive occasion, a kind of condensed expression of the jubilant feast of Corpus Domini. Exposition called for an array of candles, flowers, incense, and sacred ministers. It was considered special, out of the ordinary, and the occasion of a lavish outpouring of graces for those who would come to adore.

Adoration Before the Closed Tabernacle

Perpetual adoration neither requires nor presupposes perpetual exposition. In fact, where there are no priests to expose the Most Blessed Sacrament, the faithful do well to adore, even perpetually, before the closed tabernacle, beseeching Our Lord to raise up a new generation of priests who will, humbly and gladly, expose the Sacred Body of Christ in the monstrance, and abide in the radiance of HIs Eucharistic Face.

In the Light of Recent History

Historically, even the first religious and monastic congregations vowed to perpetual adoration, practiced that adoration before the Blessed Sacrament concealed in the tabernacle. Such was -- and remains today in most monasteries -- the regular practise of the Benedictines of the Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament, founded by Mother Mectilde de Bar in 1653. Only on Thursdays, celebrated as a weekly Corpus Christi with the Votive Office and Mass of the Most Holy Eucharist, and on a certain number of greater feastdays in the year, was the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the monstrance.

The Fathers of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary of Perpetual Adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar (Picpus Fathers), founded in 1800, adopted the same sobriety with regard to exposition; adoration was made, habitually, before the closed tabernacle, with reference to the humble, hidden life of Our Lord at Nazareth.

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Only with Saint Peter Julian Eymard did prolonged, even perpetual, exposition become the normative practise, and this by the concession of a rare and precious privilege to the Congregation of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Exposition in the churches entrusted to the Blessed Sacrament Fathers was a lavish display of homage to the King of Kings, enthroned in the monstrance on an awe-inspiring and lofty throne.

The Loss of Awe

The multiplication of chapels of perpetual adoration -- in themselves praiseworthy and holy endeavours -- has led, in far too many places, to a loss of "Eucharistic amazement" and of awe in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed. Exposition is taken for granted. Instead of a precious privilege calling for a sacrificial investment of our resources -- lovely clean white altar linens, including a special corporal under the monstrance; the illumination of multiple burning candles (six, twelve, or fourteen!); flowers, the humble offering of the earth; incense, fragrant as it rises before the Most Holy -- it has become banal. Often there are no more than two burning candles. Sadly, I have seen altars with no more than cheap paraffin votive lights burning in plastic jars. I have even seen exposition with no lighted candles, no flowers . . . and, worst of all, no one watching in adoration.

It must be said, straightway, that such negligence is not the result of economic penury. It is the result of the decline in reverence for the Most Blessed Sacrament that began over forty years ago, a decline manifested and precipitated by:

• the reduction of the Eucharistic Fast to the point of it becoming, in practise, non-existent;
• the demolition of the Communion rail and opening of the sanctuary to all and sundry;
• the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice facing the people;
• the introduction of Holy Communion in the hand;
• the most unfortunate and universally abused authorization for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion;
• the disappearance of the genuflexion and of an "adoring silence" in church.

The promotion of perpetual adoration and of frequent exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament must go hand-in-hand with an ongoing mystagogical catechesis on the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist and by:

• the retrieval of the Eucharistic Fast and frequent Confession;
• the reclaiming of the sanctuary for the priest and sacred ministers alone;
• the restoration of the Communion rail;
• the universal abrogation of Holy Communion in the hand;
• the abrogation of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion in all but circumstances of extremely critical need, such as persecution, imprisonment, or the total lack of priests and deacons.
• the restoration of the genuflection and of an "adoring silence" in church.

At a Marian Shrine

While visiting an international Marian shrine a few years ago, I hastened to the "Adoration Chapel", eager to spend some time before Our Lord's Eucharistic Face. At the appointed hour, the sacristan, a layman, emerged from the sacristy in his work uniform, removed the Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle and, rather unceremoniously, exposed It in the monstrance on the altar. This happened in a Marian shrine where there are a number of priests in service. What saddened me more than anything else was that a priestly service that is so sacred and exalted should be delegated to a layman employed in the sacristy.

A Solution?

Am I against exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament? Not at all. Anyone who has heard me speak on the subject knows that I cherish it as an immense grace and privilege. I will not, however, defend or promote the practise of exposition at any cost. Liturgical minimalism is never a good thing. Minimal liturgical practise leads inexorably to minimal engagement with the Mystery of Faith. The whole question needs to be addressed by pastors of souls, for the glory of Our Lord who waits for us in the Sacrament of His Love, and for the spiritual good of those who come to adore Him.

Here at Silverstream Priory, under the vigilance of Our Lady of the Cenacle, we do indeed have a prolonged exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament daily, making use of all the means at our disposal to express the reverence, jubilation, and love that so great a Mystery calls forth from our hearts.

Reparation

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Prayer of Reparation to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus


O Lord Jesus Christ present in this wonderful sacrament,
I desire at this hour to make reparation to Thy Eucharistic Heart
and to open myself to Thy Love
for the sake of priests grown lukewarm in Thy friendship
and for those who refuse or ignore it.

Increase Thou my faith,
that I may believe firmly
in the truths and mysteries Thou hast revealed to Thy Church,
for the sake of those who do not believe.

By my attention to Thy Eucharistic Heart,
I desire to make up for indifference to Thy Love,
for coldness, and for irreverence in Thy sacramental presence.

By my gratitude to Thy Eucharistic Heart,
I desire to make up for ingratitude toward Thee
Who remainest hidden and forgotten
in the tabernacles of so many locked churches.

By my trust in Thy Eucharistic Heart,
permit me, sinner though I am ,
to make up for those who do not trust Thee,
for those who are afraid to trust Thee, and for those whose trust in Thy Love
has been weakened by sins of scandal,
by the weight of life's hardships,
or by the painful losses they have endured.

By my hope in Thy Eucharistic Heart,
I desire to help those tempted to despair of Thy Mercy.
Allow me, I beseech Thee,
to hope for those who have no hope
and, because Thou didst pour out Thy Blood for them,
let not one of them be lost (cf. Jn 17:12).

In spite of my weakness and inconstancy,
I desire, by this humble act of reparation
to obtain for all who yearn for Thy friendship,
a share in the unspeakable sweetness
experienced by Thy beloved disciple Saint John
when he rested his head upon Thy Heart
on the night before Thy Sacred Side was opened by the soldier's lance.

By surrendering myself to the Love of Thy Eucharistic Heart,
grant that I might serve to repair
the brokenness of those who, among Thy priests,
are the most wounded and fragile.

By the mysterious workings of Thy Holy Spirit,
and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
let the prayer of reparation and adoration
Thou hast inspired me to offer in Thy presence
bring reconciliation to those alienated from Thy Church,
healing to souls in need of Thy mercy,
and choice graces to all Thy priests. Amen.

Corpus Domini

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The Octave of Corpus Domini, culminating on the solemnity of the Sacred of Jesus, is a time of immense graces for the Church and, in particular, for priests. Hail, Festival Day! Here is a meditation for Corpus Domini that I wrote and preached in 2006:

Hail, Festival Day!
Hail, Day of Sion's sweetest hymns!
Hail, Day of timeless adoration!
Hail, Day of lavish jubilation!
Hail, Day of our most fragrant incense!
Hail, Day of flowers strewn before their Maker!
Hail, Day of flames dancing in the presence of the Fire!
Hail, Day of a silence that is song!
Hail Day of a song become silence!
Hail, Day made radiant by the Face that shines like the sun in full strength!
Hail, Day made lovely by the Face of the fairest of the children of men!
Hail, Day rising to see the Face once hidden in the tabernacle of the Virgin's womb!
Hail, Day rejoicing in the Human Face of God concealed in bread and wine!

Hail, Eucharistic Face reflecting the Glory of the Father
and bearing the very stamp of His nature!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Living Icon of the Father!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Epiphany of the Father's Love!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Kindly Light amidst the gloom!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Crucified in the Sacrament of Your abiding presence!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of Life conquering death!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of Mercy rising in the night with healing in your rays!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Sweetness leaving no bitterness!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Risen One,
filling earth and heaven with glory
from the rising of the sun even to its setting
in the offering of your pure and eternal Oblation!
Hail, Eucharistic Face raising the dead to life!
Hail, Eucharistic Face breathing peace into every troubled place!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, revelation of a Heart full of mercy and ready to forgive!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Ascended One!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of the High Priest interceding for us beyond the veil!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Victim reconciling heaven and earth!
Hail, Eucharistic Face all ablaze with the Holy Spirit's fire!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the King who will return in glory!
Hail, Eucharistic Face hidden from the powerful, the clever, and the wise!
Hail, Eucharistic Face revealed to the pure of heart!
Hail, Eucharistic Face familiar to little children and to those like them!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Divine Wayfarer!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, unrecognized and unknown in the midst of men!
Hail, Eucharistic Face shrouded in silence,
and with us always, even unto the consummation of the world!

Hail, God-With-Us!
Hail, God-Turned-Toward-Us!
Hail, God who with immense yearning desire to share your Pasch with us!
Hail, God-in-Search-of-Those-Who-Hunger!
God-in-Search-of-Those-Who-Thirst!
Hail, O inexhaustible and precious Chalice!

Hail, Day of the Altar and of the Blood!
Hail, Day of the new and everlasting covenant!
Hail, Day that calls us anew to obedience:
"All that the Lord has spoken we will do,
and we will be obedient" (Ex 24:7).
"This is my Body which is given for you.
This Chalice poured out for you is the new covenant in my Blood.
Do this in remembrance of me" (cf. Lk 22:19-20).

Hail, Day of the Blood without which there is no pardon!
Hail, Day of the Blood poured out for the refreshment of the weary!
Hail, Day of the Blood that flows, a river of mercy in the wastelands of sin!
Hail, Day of the Blood that vanquishes demons!
Hail, Day of the Blood that consoles in sorrow!
Hail, Day of the Blood that cleanses the entire world of sin!
Hail, Day of the Blood of Christ, Victim and Priest!
Hail, Day of the Blood presented in the sanctuary not made by hands!
Hail, Day of the Blood offered on earth as it is in heaven!

Hail, Precious Chalice lifted up for all to see!
Hail, Precious Chalice, thanksgiving sacrifice worthy of God!
Hail, Precious Chalice held to the lips of the martyrs!
Hail, Precious Chalice strengthening every witness!
Hail, Precious Chalice making pure the impure!
Hail, Precious Chalice containing the Fire of the Divinity!
Hail, Precious Chalice, the antidote for every poison!
Hail, Precious Chalice, the remedy for every ill!

Hail, Day of the Upper Room made ready for eternity!
Hail, Day of the Pasch without end!
Hail, Day of the Bread lifted up in Christ's holy and venerable hands!
Hail, Day of the blessing uttered by His sacred lips!
Hail, Day of the Body forever given and of the Blood forever poured out!
Hail, Day of the Cenacle opened to every nation on earth!
Hail, Day of the Mystical Supper open to the poor, the sick, the lame, and the blind!
Hail, Day of Heaven's open door!
Hail, Day of the Supper of the Lamb!

Hail, Day that sees us prostrate before the Eucharistic Face of God!
Hail, Day on which men do the work of Angels!
Hail, Day on which Angels stand amazed
before the Mystery set before the children of men!
Hail, Day that passes too quickly and never passes!
Hail, Day that begins in time the joys of eternity!
Hail, Day that fills the earth with a foretaste of heaven!
Amen. Alleluia.

Deus Absconditus

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Observe Me in the Sacrament of My Love.
The Sacred Host that you see is silent,
still, humble, poor, and hidden.
Imitate Me in the Sacrament of My Love.
Become silent, still, humble, poor, and hidden.

Hide yourself in Me
as I am hidden in the tabernacle,
and as I am hidden beneath the appearance of the Sacred Host.

Outside of Me there is nothing for you,
and with Me,
in My presence,
is all that your heart desires.
Do not look outside of Me
for anything to fulfil your heart's desires.
Instead, hide yourself in Me,
as I hide myself for love of you
in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

How I love hidden souls!
In them I see a reflection of My Mother's hiddenness,
and of the hiddenness of Saint Joseph,
My human father on earth.

Hiddenness is the virtue of those who adore Me hidden
in the Sacrament of My Love.
I am a hidden God,
but I reveal myself face-to-face
to those who hide themselves in Me.

Withdraw more and more from the sight of men.
Seek to go unnoticed.
Hide yourself in Me and with Me
in the bosom of My Father.
Rest in Me,
and be content to abide
where you are not seen, or known, or praised.

Do the work that I entrust to you,
and then be content to disappear,
once you have led souls to the contemplation of My Eucharistic Face
and to the love of My Eucharistic Heart.

The grace of hiddenness and silence
is not given to all,
but it is the grace by which I mark souls
destined to a Eucharistic life,
to a life of adoration
in which they grow in resemblance to Me
hidden in the Sacrament of My Love.
This does not happen all at once;
but it will happen to all who give their consent
to the work of My love in their souls,
and who are faithful to the adoration of My hidden Face,
My Eucharistic Face.

This hiddenness cannot be imposed from without,
nor can it be taught as one would teach a skill.
It is My gift,
and the realization of My likeness
in the souls I have called to a life of Eucharistic adoration.

See how hidden I am in the Gospels,
even when I reveal myself, I remain hidden.
Only the Father knows Me
and those to whom the Father gives the knowledge of My hiddenness.

I am a hidden God
and those whom I call to adore Me
must hide themselves in Me,
becoming hidden from the eyes of the world,
and hidden even from themselves,
having a pure gaze fixed upon Me alone,
even as My pure filial gaze is fixed upon My Father in heaven.

Learn what it means to be hidden:
it is to be free of preoccupations with yourself,
with the opinions of others,
and with what the world may say
of you or of Me.
It is to live for Me alone
even as I live for the Father.

Hide yourself in Me
as I am hidden in the glory of My Father.
Hide yourself in Me
as I am hidden in the bright cloud of the Holy Spirit.
Hide yourself in Me
as I am hidden in the sacred species.
Hide yourself in My Heart
as I am hidden in the tabernacles of the world,
unseen, unknown, and forgotten by men.

I call you to this hidden life
because I am the hidden God
and because My Eucharistic life in your midst is a hidden life.

Those who would be My adorers
must consent to live in My tabernacle hidden with Me
and, at the same time,
loving as I love:
loving the Father as I love Him,
loving souls as I love them,
suffering coldness, rejection, misunderstanding
and abandonment
with Me and for Me.

Understand these things
and you will have begun to understand the Eucharistic life
to which I call you more and more.
Apart from those souls
whom I call to this life of adoration,
such a hiddenness will appear foolish and inhuman,
but it will act as a leaven upon the whole mass of dough
until it rises and becomes a perfect loaf fit for My oblation.
It is a spark of light being kept burning
for a world plunged into darkness.
It is a drop of divine sweetness
in a sea of bitterness and misery.
It is a presence of Love
in a world from which love is absent.

Love My hiddenness
and hide yourself in Me.
Withdraw from all that solicits your attention,
your energy, and your time
into the secret of My Eucharistic Face.
There I will show you
how best to do the things I ask you to do.
There I will give you a peace
that no one will perturb or take from you.
There I will use you
for the sanctification of My priests
and for the consolation of My Church.
Do you want this?

From In Sinu Iesu, The Journal of a Priest

Come Unto Me

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Intercession for other souls is a work of love.
It consists in placing oneself with Me before the Father,
with a boundless trust in the merits of My Passion
and in the wounds that I present to the Father
on behalf of all who approach Him with confidence,
through Me.

I live in the Sacrament of My Love
as I live in heaven,
in a ceaseless state of intercession
for all who believe in Me
and come to Me with the weight of life's burdens and sorrows.
There is nothing that I will not do
for the soul who approaches Me with confidence.

For this reason did I wish to remain present
in the Sacrament of My Love
until the end of time:
so that souls might know where to find Me,
and approach Me easily,
certain of being heard,
and trusting in the mercy of My Heart
for a world marked by suffering
and ravaged by sin.

There is no form of intercessory prayer more efficacious
than that of the soul who approaches My Eucharistic Presence
certain of finding Me,
and certain of being heard.
I am not distant from souls in need.
I have made Myself close to them,
as close as the nearest tabernacle.
Would that my people understood this!
My churches would be filled to overflowing
at every hour of the day and night.
I would never be left alone in the Sacrament of My Love.

The exercise of faith increases faith.
The exercise of confidence causes confidence to grow.
One who approaches My tabernacle in faith
is giving evidence of a complete reliance on My Merciful Love.
The Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar is My Heart
open to receive those who will respond
to My timeless invitation:
Come unto Me,
all you that labour, and are burdened,
and I will refresh you.
Take up My yoke upon you, and learn of Me,
because I am meek and humble of heart,
and you shall find rest to your souls.
For My yoke is sweet, and My burden light.

One who approaches Me frequently
in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar
will discover that he is yoked to Me
by an unbreakable bond of love.
He will discover, by personal experience,
that I share in all his sorrows,
that I bring him relief in afflictions,
that I carry his burdens with him,
and that he is never, not even for a moment,
forsaken or left to himself alone.

What I am teaching you
is more than the simple visit to Me in the Sacrament of My Love;
it is a way of approaching Me marked by absolute confidence
in My intercession with the Father.
It is an act of faith in My Merciful Love,
and a way of disposing oneself to receive
the waters of life that stream abundantly
from My open Side.

Do souls believe in My Real Presence
in the tabernacles of My churches?
Have they altogether forgotten
who I am and where I am to be found?
Has the faith of My priests in the Sacrament of My Love
grown so tepid and so weak
that the souls entrusted to them
have lost the simple instinct of the believing heart,
that is, to seek Me out
in the Most Holy Eucharist,
and to abide in My presence,
loving Me, and allowing Me to love freely
those who come to Me,
to heal their wounds,
and to draw them into the sanctuary
of My open Side?

The emptiness of My churches
is an affront to My Love,
to the Love that compelled Me to give Myself,
by the hands of My priests,
under the forms of bread and wine,
so that no one might perish from hunger or thirst
on the road to eternity.

I am all Love in the Sacrament of My Love.
My Heart is open to receive all,
even those who have in their souls
no more than the faintest spark of faith
in My Real Presence.
Let them come to Me,
and that little spark will become a shining flame
giving joy and hope to all who perceive its light.

The emptiness of My churches
apart from the hours of the liturgical offices,
is an indictment,
first of all, of My priests,
and then, of my faithful.
My Eucharistic Presence meets with coldness,
with indifference, and with a chilling ingratitude,
even on the part of My priests
and of consecrated souls.
They fail to recognize in the mystery
of the Most Holy Eucharist
the pearl of great price,
the treasure once hidden in the field,
but now offered freely
to all who would partake of its inexhaustible riches.

I am left alone in a world where so many lament their loneliness.
If only souls would come to Me
and would tarry in My presence,
they would discover a Love that fills the heart so completely
that it dispels every loneliness
and becomes wondrously fruitful
in the live of those who accept it.

Your life, your vocation, your mission now
is to abide in My sacramental Presence.
It is to console My Eucharistic Heart
and to expose your soul to the radiance of My Eucharistic Face
for the sake of so many of your brother priests
who stumble about in a darkness
that no earthly light can dispel.

From In Sinu Iesu, The Journal of a Priest

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I preached this homily some years ago. Here it is again. The icon depicts Our Lady of the Cenacle's adoration of the Eucharistic Face of her Son.

Genesis 14:18-20
Psalm 109: 1, 2, 3, 4
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Luke 9:11b-17

A Eucharistic Triptych

Today’s Liturgy of the Word forms a Eucharistic triptych. It sets before our eyes three icons, three windows into the mystery. In each panel of the triptych we see what the Servant of God Pope John Paul II called, “the Eucharistic Face of Christ” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, art. 7).

Melchisedech

In the first panel we see the mysterious Melchisedech; his name means, “my king is justice” (cf. Heb 7:2). He is king of Salem, that is, “king of peace” (cf. Heb 7:2). The Letter to the Hebrews tells us that Melchisedech is “without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever” (Heb 7:3). In some shadowy way, “the Eucharistic Face of Christ” appears first in Melchisedech, priest and king.

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This photograph was taken on the day of my First Holy Communion. Left to right: my dear little neighbour friend Brigitte Folz, at that time recently come from Germany; myself, my little sister Donna Marie; my brother Daniel; and little Monika Folz.

A Certain Thursday in June

I received my First Holy Communion 53 years ago today, on June 4th, 1959, from the hands of the Right Reverend Monsignor Vincent J. McDonough in Saint Francis Church, New Haven, Connecticut.

June 4th fell that year on Thursday, the Octave Day of Corpus Christi, and the day before the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I was far from imagining then the place that every Thursday -- day of the Priesthood and of the Most Holy Eucharist -- and the mystery of the pierced Heart of Jesus -- would come to hold in my life.

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We second graders had prepared for the great day by singing a little gregorianish hymn (in Latin!) from our "music readers." I still remember it, and can still sing it lo all these years later:

Veni, Domine Jesu,
Veni, Domine, Jesu,
Veni, veni, veni,
Et noli tardare!

I remember the thrill and the fear of kneeling before the white marble neo-gothic high altar on a prie-dieu covered in white satin, and the glint of the large golden ciborium in Monsignor's hands. Returning from the altar one had to keep one's hands folded while walking straight on the white line inlaid in the church's tile floor. The Sisters of Mercy prepared us well for our First Holy Communion, and even instructed on how to make a suitable thanksgiving with our little faces hidden in our hands. Inevitably, there was the temptation to "peek" through one's fingers.

Adoration,Thanksgiving and Reparation

I celebrated this 53rd anniversary in adoration, thanksgiving, and reparation, mindful of all the times I have received Holy Communion over the past 53 years. I am grateful to Our Lord for having brought me, after 53 years, to to this day in my life, and to this hour, and to this place. In spite of myself, my life these 53 years has been a Eucharistic life, not because I have made it so, but because Our Lord is faithful, and merciful, and relentless in the pursuit of the little ones upon whom He has set His Heart.

I can only ask Him today, in His merciful love, to make the remaining years, or days, or hours of my life wholly Eucharistic. I count on Him to make me the adorer and the priest whom He created me and called me to be.

Eyes Only for Thy Face

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A Longing to See Him Again

Blessed John Henry Newman wrote somewhere that the Ascension of the Lord is "at once a source of sorrow, because it involves His absence; and of joy, because it involves His presence." For Our Blessed Lady and the Apostles, standing on the Mount of Olives with their eyes riveted to the heavens, the Ascension was the last glimpse of the Face of Christ on earth. The disappearance of the beloved Face of Christ leaves in the heart of the Church a longing to see Him again, a burning desire for His return.

I Seek Thy Face

This is the grace offered us in Exaudi, Domine, today's incomparable Introit: "Listen to my voice, Lord, when I cry to Thee, alleluia. True to my heart's promise I have eyes only for Thy Face; I seek Thy Face, O Lord! Turn not Thy Face away from me, alleluia, alleluia" (Ps 26: 7-9). The desire to contemplate the Face of Christ becomes a persistent longing; this is the experience of all the saints. The vitality of one's interior life can be measured by the intensity of one's desire to see the Face of Christ.

Blessed John Paul II

Twelve years ago, in Novo Millennio Ineunte, Blessed John Paul II placed the new millennium under the radiant sign of the Face of Christ. Then again, at the beginning of the Year of the Eucharist, the year of his death, Blessed John Paul II again directed our eyes to the Face of Christ concealed and revealed in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

The Holy Spirit

There is a vital connection between the Holy Spirit and the Face of the Word made flesh. Recall the promise of Our Lord before His Passion: "He who is to befriend you, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send on my account, will in His turn make everything plain, and recall to your minds everything I have said you" (Jn 14:26). "It will be for Him, the truth-giving Spirit, when He comes, to guide you into all truth" (Jn 16:13). Contemplation of the Holy Face of Jesus is the means by which the Holy Spirit teaches us all that we need to know in order to become saints.

The Holy Spirit teaches us by referring them to the adorable Face of Jesus. The Holy Spirit so illumines the Sacred Scriptures for us that we perceive the Face of the Bridegroom shining through the text. "Now," says the Bride of the Canticle, "He is looking in through each window in turn, peering through every chink" (Ct 2:9).

The Memory of the Church

Since His Ascension from the Mount of Olives, the Holy Face of Jesus fills the vision of the Church. The Holy Spirit brings to our remembrance all that Our Lord said by compelling us ceaselessly to seek His Face. This is why the Church sings on this Sunday After the Ascension: "Listen to my voice, Lord, when I cry to Thee, alleluia. True to my heart's promise I have eyes only for Thy Face; I seek Thy Face, O Lord! Turn not Thy Face away from me, alleluia, alleluia" (Ps 26: 7-9).

The Cenacle

Today's Holy Gospel, from the 15th chapter of Saint John, takes place in the Cenacle. The place of (1) the institution of the Most Holy Eucharist and of the Priesthood is the very place wherein (2) Mary's Motherhood of the Church begins to unfold in a ceaseless prayer. At Pentecost, the same Cenacle becomes the place of (3) the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. These three mysteries are telescoped into one in every celebration of Holy Mass. Today, after two thousand years, the Cenacle remains the Church's home. The Church lives out of the Cenacle -- Ecclesia de Eucharistia -- and returns to the Cenacle to be renewed in the Holy Spirit through the intercession of Mary, the Mediatrix of All Graces.

The Eucharistic Face of Christ

In the Cenacle, together with Our Blessed Lady and the Apostles, one contemplates the Eucharistic Face of Christ. The commandment of the Lord on the night before He suffered, "Do this for a commemoration of me" (Lk 22:19), was certainly obeyed by the Apostles during the days that separated the Ascension of the Lord from Pentecost. The Mother of the Eucharist was there. The very Face that disappeared into the heavens over the Mount of Olives on the day of the Ascension re-appears in every Holy Mass, hidden, and yet shining, through the sacramental veils.

The Priestly Prayer

The Priestly Prayer of Christ to the Father, first uttered in the Cenacle on the night before He suffered, is wondrously actualized in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is Christ, the Eternal High Priest, who stands at the altar with His Face turned toward the Father and His pierced Heart open for all eternity, that out of it we may receive the life-giving torrent that is the Gift of the Holy Spirit. In some way, the final chapters of Saint John's Gospel are a sustained contemplation of the Face of Jesus turned toward us, and lifted to the Father.

Contemplate the Face of Jesus, portrayed in the Fourth Gospel: the Holy Spirit will surely draw you into His filial and priestly prayer to the Father. This is, I think, the reason for taking today's Communion Antiphon from Our Lord's Priestly Prayer given in the 17th Chapter of Saint John. One who receives the Body and Blood of Christ, receives the very prayer of Christ into his soul. The grace of every Holy Communion is that of Christ praying to His Father in us and for us.

As the Spirit of the Lord Enables Us

Through the adorable mystery of the Eucharist, the Face we so long to contemplate is set before our eyes and burned into our souls. "It is given to us, all alike, to catch the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, with faces unveiled; and so we become transfigured into the same likeness, borrowing glory from that glory, as the Spirit of the Lord enables us" (2 Cor 3:18).


Appalled

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A Grave Abuse: Invalid Matter for the Most Holy Eucharist

A local Church Goods store here in Tulsa, Oklahoma is supplying Catholic parishes with gluten free "Communion Wafers" made by Ener-G Foods Inc. Here are the ingredients:

Filtered Water, Sweet Rice Flour, Potato Flour, Organic Palm Fruit Oil, Potato Starch, Methylcellulose, Sunflower Lecithin.


One can no more confect the Body of Christ using such "wafers" than one can use cider or orange juice for the confection of the Precious Blood. It is appalling that this product has found its way into the sacristies of Catholic churches across the country. Who is responsible? Or, as my Dad would say, "Who is minding the store?"

Canon Law is explicit:

Can. 924 §1. The most holy Eucharistic sacrifice must be offered with bread and with wine in which a little water must be mixed. §2. The bread must be only wheat and recently made so that there is no danger of spoiling. §3. The wine must be natural from the fruit of the vine and not spoiled.

Catholics with celiac disease, receiving such "wafers" are not receiving the Body of Christ. The consecration of such wafers is invalid, and the use of them is a grave abuse, given that it concerns the matter of the Sacrament.

Hosts Made by the Benedictines of Clyde Missouri

There is another solution. Sister Jane Heschmeyer and Sister Lynn Marie D'Souza, Benedictine nuns of Clyde, Missouri have developed a Communion host that has been approved as valid material for the Most Holy Eucharist by the Holy See.

With a level of gluten content of 0.01% it is safe enough for consumption by almost all celiac suffers, according to Dr. Alessio Fasano of the University of Maryland and other medical experts.

The U.S. Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy judges the Benedictine Sisters' bread "the only true, low-gluten altar bread approved for use at Mass in the United States."

For further information see this article by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.

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This morning Pope Benedict XVI addressed the Roman Curia. In the course of the exchange of Christmas greetings, His Holiness spoke of the experience of Eucharistic Adoration at World Youth Day.

Silence Before the Lord
A third element, that has an increasingly natural and central place in World Youth Days and in the spirituality that arises from them, is adoration. I still look back to that unforgettable moment during my visit to the United Kingdom, when tens of thousands of predominantly young people in Hyde Park responded in eloquent silence to the Lord's sacramental presence, in adoration.
Physical Presence of the Risen Christ
The same thing happened again on a smaller scale in Zagreb and then again in Madrid, after the thunderstorm which almost ruined the whole night vigil through the failure of the microphones. God is indeed ever-present. But again, the physical presence of the risen Christ is something different, something new. The risen Lord enters into our midst. And then we can do no other than say, with Saint Thomas: my Lord and my God!
An Act of Faith
Adoration is primarily an act of faith - the act of faith as such. God is not just some possible or impossible hypothesis concerning the origin of all things. He is present. And if he is present, then I bow down before him. Then my intellect and will and heart open up towards him and from him.
Adoration Determines My Life
In the risen Christ, the incarnate God is present, who suffered for us because he loves us. We enter this certainty of God's tangible love for us with love in our own hearts. This is adoration, and this then determines my life. Only thus can I celebrate the Eucharist correctly and receive the body of the Lord rightly.

The Eucharistic Humility of God

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The 16th Sunday After Pentecost

The Most Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament of the Divine Humility.
Those who partake of It worthily
enter into the humility of God,
for one cannot eat the Bread of the Humble
and remain proud.

Those who adore this Sacrament of the Divine Humility
are drawn into the obedience of God,
who, at the word of a man,
of a priest speaking and acting in the Name of Christ,
annihilates the substance of a little bread
to replace it entirely
with His Divinity united to the Sacred Humanity.

Who can describe the Eucharistic Humility of God?
Here the Word made flesh,
born of the Virgin Mary, and crucified,
He whose side was opened by the soldier's lance,
He who rested in the darkness of the tomb,
He who rose from the dead
and is seated in glory at the right hand of the Father,
here, He is really present:
silent in the fragility of the sacred species,
and hidden from view not only by the sacramental veil
--the appearance of bread--
but, more often than not, by the tabernacle as well.

This is the Humility of God,
hidden from the eyes of the learned and the clever,
but revealed to little children.
I think of Blessed Francisco Marto of Fatima,
who, at nine years of age,
understood the mystery of the Hidden Jesus
and wanted nothing more than to console Him
by hiding himself close to the tabernacle.

Worldly arrogance scoffs at the folly of a God
hidden under the appearance of a little bread
and put away in a box;
but this Mystery follows and completes
the disconcerting logic of God who hides Himself
in a Virgin's womb,
becoming a man like unto other men
in all things, save sin.

The Eucharistic Humility of God
is inseparable from His Eucharistic Silence.
This Saint Benedict understood,
for in his Rule, the silent are humble,
and the humble silent.

This our Mother Mectilde understood
for she wanted her Benedictine adorers to bury themselves
in the silence of the hidden God,
the ineffably humble God
in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

This the little Thérèse understood
for she knew that one who would find the Hidden Face of Jesus,
must first hide himself.

The Eucharistic Face of Jesus, His Hidden Face,
is revealed only to those who themselves risk being hidden,
as the psalm says:
"Thou shalt hide them in the secret of Thy Face,
from the disturbance of men,
Thou shalt protect them in Thy tabernacle
from the strife of tongues" (Psalm 30:20).

The last place at the banquet is elusive;
he who thinks he has found it
may be surprised to discover
that Another has taken a still lower place before him.

No matter how low we think we have placed ourselves,
no matter how little we think we have made ourselves,
no matter how diligently we think we have sought the last place of all,
no matter how completely we imagine ourselves to be
buried in silence,
there is Another, the Other,
who has forever laid claim to the lowest place,
who, though He be the infinite God,
Creator of all things visible and invisible,
has made Himself littler than a crumb of bread.

Has He not made Himself
the very last thing that remains
when all have left the banquet table:
a fragment of bread to be stored away?

Has He not entered into an inviolable silence
that astonishes even the angelic Choirs
and causes kings to fall silent and adore?

One does not become humble by striving to be so,
for all our striving is infected by an insidious pride.
One does not become humble by striking humble poses,
by affecting a humble speech,
or even by thinking humble thoughts.
And why?
Because humility belongs to God alone
who made it His own in the mystery of the Incarnation,
and who continues to make it His own
so often as the mystic words are uttered by a priest
over a little bread and a little wine mixed with water:
"This is My Body. This is the chalice of My Blood."
Here is the Mysterium Fidei:
the Eucharistic Humility of God.

Eat the Body of Christ, and digest the Divine Humility.
Drink the Blood of Christ;
it is the elixir of those who would hide themselves with Christ in God.

Since the event of the Incarnation
--the descent of God into the Virgin's womb,
in view of His descent into death's dark tomb--
and so often as Holy Mass is celebrated
--the descent of God into the frail appearance of Bread
and into the taste and fragrance and wetness
of a few drops of wine--
humility can be found nowhere else.

The very least and last of the guests
has become The Host,
and The Host
has made Himself the very least and last of the guests.

Tremble, then, to adore Him,
and having adored Him, receive Him,
that your soul may become the throne of the Humble Hidden God,
and His humility your most cherished treasure.

"Learn from Me," He says,
"for I am meek and humble of heart" (Matthew 11:29),
and again,
"Everyone that exalteth himself shall be humbled,
and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted" (Luke 14:11).

Adoremus in aeternum
sanctissimum et augustissimum Sacramentum.

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I am continuing my translation of Mother Mectilde's introduction to her Constitutions on the Rule of Saint Benedict, and adding something in the way of a commentary. Today's passage is brief but rich in content.

The Spirit of Prayer

It is this spirit of prayer that will give them the key of the treasures of the knowledge and the glory of God, enclosed and hidden in the Most Holy Sacrament. It will give them entrance to the cellar of the adorable Bridegroom's delicious wine; there they will drink great draughts of it and become inebriated with its sweetnesses and ineffable consolations. This spirit of prayer will give them the prerogative and privilege of all those virgins who follow the Lamb in all the tabernacles wheresoever He is encountered.

Mother Mectilde speaks here of the spirit of prayer. She uses the word "oraison" for prayer, much in the same way as Saint Teresa of Avila uses "oración"; the sense of the word denotes a spirit or predisposition to interior conversation with Our Lord. It has to do with recollection and watchfulness, with a readiness at every moment for what Saint Benedict calls in Chapter 4 of the Holy Rule, "falling to prayer." Saint Benedict's image is that of the law of gravity; he would have his monks fall to prayer, just as an object, once released from a height, naturally falls to the ground. The spirit of "oraison" is also a state of ceaseless attention to God, not by dint of a voluntaristic effort that brings with it fatigue and strain, but by an effect of divine grace and the secret operation of the Holy Ghost. This ceaseless prayer of the heart is a grace that Our Lord is ready to give to souls who seek it. Our Lord would have every Christian "pray always and never lose heart." (Luke 18:1)

Mother Mectilde gives to this state of ceaseless interior prayer a decidedly Eucharistic orientation. It transports the soul to the tabernacles of Our Lord's sacramental presence. Wheresoever the Lamb is present in the Sacrament of His Love, there too are present the virgin souls who follow Him. It is not infrequent that souls called to Eucharistic reparation find themselves drawn to go in spirit before those tabernacles of the world where Our Lord is left unattended, where He is forsaken.

All over the globe there are tabernacles before which no one ever lingers, before which no one ever kneels in adoration, before which no one tarries out of love, and for the sake of the surpassing friendship of Christ. How many tabernacles there are left in the cold solitude of locked churches from one week to the next. Souls called to Eucharistic adoration and reparation will go in spirit before these tabernacles, drawn on by the Holy Ghost, and there will minister mysteriously to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus so grieved and afflicted by the want of response to His Love.

There are those who claim that a spirituality of reparation is foreign to the spirit of the liturgy. The Improperia (Reproaches) of the Liturgical Synaxis of Good Friday, however, give poignant expression to the grief of the Divine Bridegroom, spurned and forsaken by the souls upon whom He has set His Heart: "O my people, what I have done to you, in what have I offended you? Answer me." One cannot sing, or hear, or meditate the Improperia without being pierced to the heart by a desire to make reparation.

To be continued.

Plus dare non potuit

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The image depicts Saint Francesco Caracciolo (1563-1608) in prayer before the Most Blessed Sacrament. Saint Francesco Caracciolo is also the patron saint of Italian cooks; our kitchen is placed under his protection.

A phrase attributed to Saint Augustine says, concerning the Most Holy Eucharist:
Deus cum esset omnipotens plus dare non potuit --
God being all-powerful could give no more than this.

Jesus wishes to conquer the heart of every priest.
He comes to His priest laden with all His gifts,
with all that can draw His priests and win their friendship.
Jesus is the first to give His Heart,
so as to be able to ask for the heart of His priest in return.
The nature of love requires that all goods be held in common,
that life be shared, day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute,
that every movement of the heart may find a response in the heart of the other.
A priest held fast in the embrace of Eucharistic Love
will tend, with all his might,
to a communion of life with Jesus,
and so, he will pray:

Thou art here for me, Lord Jesus;
and I am here for Thee.
Thou hast made Thyself all mine,
and I would make myself all Thine.
Thou art all attentive to me,
and I would be all attentive to Thee.
Thou hast turned Thy Face toward me,
and I would hold my face turned toward Thee.
Love of me has pierced Thy Heart;
would that love of Thee would pierce my heart.
Thou humblest Thyself even to seek my company;
how can I not seek Thy company
Who hast done all in Thy power to be present to me?

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And they shall say to him: What are these wounds in the midst of your hands? And he shall say: With these I was wounded in the house of them that loved me. (Zechariah 13:6)

Today I received this message from a friend in the state of New York :

"Four ciboria were sold/given to a local antiques dealer. All of them contained particles of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and one ciborium was from a church that closed in 1996. Imagine, Our Lord was in there for that long."

A Cancer at the Heart of the Church

How and why does this sort of thing happen? It causes me a piercing sorrow because it is emblematic of the widespread loss of faith in the adorable mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist that is a cancer at the heart of the Church.

The Erosion of Faith

Several years ago, in the context of a course I was teaching, I suggested that the erosion of faith in the Most Holy Eucharist was, in fact, fostered by a number of liturgical and disciplinary changes:

-- Minimalistic approach to the fast before Holy Communion.
-- The offering of the Holy Sacrifice by the priest facing the congregation.
-- The removal of the communion rail and obfuscation of the sanctuary as "the holy place."
-- The relegation of the tabernacle to the side of the sanctuary.
-- The reception of Holy Communion standing, and in the hand.
-- The introduction of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

Taken together, these changes sent a chilling message to the Catholic faithful (and even to confused clergy): "Folks, the Blessed Sacrament just isn't all that we thought it was."

The Protestantization of Catholic Worship

Let it be noted, en passant, that while all of these changes are a cause of scandal to Eastern Orthodox Christians, not one of them would be considered offensive to mainstream Protestants. When one begins to worship like a Protestant, one begins to believe like a Protestant.

Ignorance

The cumulative effect of these changes, compounded by a woefully deficient sacramental catechesis and by certain lamentable theological, liturgical, and moral sensibilities in seminaries during the 60s, 70s, and 80s, is the current Eucharistic Crisis. Redemptionis Sacramentum (2004) remains, in most dioceses, a document that is virtually unknown. Pope John Paul II's Year of the Eucharist seems to have faded into oblivion; his Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia (2003), and his Apostolic Letter, Mane nobiscum, Domine (2004) seem not to have been assimilated at the parish level. Pope Benedict XVI's Sacramentum Caritatis (2007) is, in many places, unknown.

Adoration and Reparation

Adoration in a spirit of reparation is more than ever necessary. Where are the adorers and reparators who will console the Heart of Jesus, wounded by the irreverence, coldness, indifference, and sacrilege that He receives "in the house of them that loved Him," and in the Sacrament of His Love?

As for the much discussed "reform of the reform," might it not be a case of too little too late? Can anything apart from a Divine Intervention, a new sacerdotal Pentecost, obtained through the intercession of the Maternal Heart of Mary, bring about the change of heart that is needed?

Thérèse

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As a love offering for the feast of my dear Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, I translated Dom Eugène Vandeur's doctrinal synthesis of Merciful Love, the Cross, and the Mass in her life. The original text appeared in 1925 as part of a commentary of the then new Propers for the Mass of the feast of Saint Thérèse.

The Cross Reveals Merciful Love

The greatest proof of love that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has given to His Father is His sacrifice on the cross. This sacrifice, the most freely given that ever was, -- and from that derives the infinite merit of this oblation of a Man Who is God -- was an act of filial and loving obedience. This act repaired the profanation of the absolute rights of God over His creation that was wrought by Adam and by his race. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross was supreme adoration, fulness of thanksgiving, victorious supplication, and total expiation. The offering of this immolation appeased God and, at the same time, assured our redemption. By virtue of this, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is also the greatest proof of Merciful Love that Jesus Christ has given to men.

Jesus' Love for His Father and for His Friends

This doctrine is condensed for us in these two words of the Gospel: "But that the world may know, that I love the Father: and as the Father hath given me commandment, so do I: Arise, let us go hence" (John 14, 31). And He went out toward Gethsemani. And again: "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

Love for Love

The love that the Heart of Christ revealed to us there, on the cross, to all of us and to each one, is mercy: mercy bound up with an infinite tenderness, or rather, suffused into it. One who welcomes that mercy is sanctified and saved. He will assuredly be sanctified and assured of his salvation who, wanting to respond with love to this Merciful Love, and meditating the word of the Apostle, "He loved me, and delivered Himself up for me" (Galatians 2, 20), will return the proposition and, "offering himself voluntarily as a victim of holocaust to Merciful Love," will exclaim, "Ah, then, I will love Him, and deliver myself up for Him."

The Cross, the Altar, and the Mass

Know that what the CROSS merited, what the CROSS procured, what the CROSS preached, the ALTAR applies to us, procuring and preaching it ceaselessly, and more and more. And so, to live the MASS, is for a soul to abide in the uninterrupted act of this offering: the response of love to Merciful Love. Thus does a soul draw Merciful Love to herself ever more abundantly.

For Sinners

Thérèse tells us that to be devoted to Merciful Love "continually allows the Love with which God loves a soul and the love with which that soul loves God to come together in the heart, there ceaselessly to conceive new flames, which transform the soul in God" (Thérèse, Act of Offering). Thus does one become a wide open vessel, the receptacle of a Love rich in divine mercies. This frees "the torrent of infinite tenderness enclosed in the Divine Heart to overflow into oneself" (Thérèse, Act of Offering); it is the martyrdom of love, Love's direct work in the soul. The consequences of this will, nearly always, entail suffering, but suffering cherished because with it one can purchase souls, a multitude of souls who will love Merciful Love eternally. By making oneself, at the altar, an extension of Jesus, crucified by Love, one causes the abundance of the infinite merits of the Cross to shower down, especially upon sinners. What an ideal!

Consumed by Merciful Love

Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus synthesized this doctrine in a practical way when, in her solemn consecration to Merciful Love -- a ceaseless response to the consecration of the Cross and of the Mass -- the Lord inspired her to say:

In order that my life may be one Act of perfect Love, I offer myself as a Victim of Holocaust to Thy Merciful Love, imploring Thee to consume me unceasingly, and to allow the floods of infinite tenderness gathered up in Thee to overflow into my soul, so that I may become a very martyr of Thy Love, O my God!

The Thirst of the Crucified

The entire Christian and religious life of Saint Thérèse is there, whole and entire. She herself provides the living commentary on the [liturgical texts of the] Mass composed for her [feast] by her Mother, the Church. This is what she was saying when, with a pen of fire, she wrote:

One Sunday, closing my book at the end of Mass, a picture of Our Lord on the Cross half slipped out, showing only one of His Divine Hands, pierced and bleeding. I felt an indescribable thrill such as I had never felt before. My heart was torn with grief to see that Precious Blood falling to the ground, and no one caring to treasure It as It fell, and I resolved to remain continually in spirit at the foot of the Cross, that I might receive the Divine Dew of Salvation and pour it forth upon souls. From that day the cry of my dying Saviour--"I thirst!"--sounded incessantly in my heart, and kindled therein a burning zeal hitherto unknown to me. My one desire was to give my Beloved to drink; I felt myself consumed with thirst for souls, and I longed at any cost to snatch sinners from the everlasting flames of hell.

The Souls of Priests

"I feel," she wrote to one of her sIsters,

that Jesus is asking us to quench His thirst by giving Him souls, especially the souls of priests. . . Yes, let us pray for priests; let our life be consecrated to them . . . These souls [of priests] ought to be more transparent than crystal; but, alas, I feel that there are some ministers of the Lord who are not what they should be. And so, let us pray and suffer for them . . . Understand the cry of my heart!

Merciful Love Spread Abroad

It is very clear. Thérèse lived the Mass, especially its expiatory character. She stood at the foot of the holy cross raised over the altar, to gather up the Merciful Love that quenched her own thirst; then she would spread abroad that same Merciful Love over souls, to save them.

The Mass Made Thérèse a Saint

The Mass is the application to souls of the fruits of the Redemption merited upon the cross. If Thérèse of the Child Jesus is a saint, it is the cross that merited sainthood for her, but it is the Mass that applied to her the merits of sanctification and of salvation.

A Time of Blessings

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Photos by Paula Cole

Writing from Connecticut

I'm writing from my parents' dining room table in Connecticut! Today is the first full day of my annual eight day home visit. Connecticut is greener and cooler than Oklahoma: a welcome relief. And my mother and father are flourishing, thank God.

Monsignor Arthur Calkins

Last week was extraordinarily busy and blessed at the Monastery of Our Lady of the Cenacle. Among our illustrious visitors were the Right Reverend Monsignor Arthur B. Calkins, a well-known Mariologist, who has laboured in the service of the Holy See at the Ecclesia Dei Commission in Rome for over twenty years. Monsignor Calkins celebrated Holy Mass and preached on the feast of Our Lady's Assumption and, on the same day, addressed our Oblates, at their monthly meeting, on Marian Co-redemption and Consecration to Our Lady in the teachings of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. Monsignor shared fully in our life, joining his voice to ours at Holy Mass and the Hours, and enlivening our recreations.

Deacon Sean Davidson

On Thursday last, we welcomed the Reverend Deacon Sean Davidson (see photos), a fine Irishman from County Sligo, and a member of the recently founded community of the MIssionnaires du Très-Saint-Sacrement (known in English as Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist) of the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon in France. The Missionaries are dedicated to the promotion of perpetual Eucharistic adoration in parishes. They draw their inspiration from the Eucharistic charism of Saint Peter Julian Eymard.

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A Eucharistic Evening

Deacon Sean addressed some of the Oblates and friends of our monastery last Thursday evening on Eucharistic adoration according to the teachings of Saint Peter Julian Eymard. Sean shared his own spiritual journey, his "Eucharistic" conversion, the challenges of seminary life in Ireland and Rome and, finally, his decision to join the Missionaries of the Most Holy Eucharist in southern France. He communicated to all of us something of his own ardent love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. We began the evening with Eucharistic adoration and Vespers, and ended it with veneration of the relic of Saint Peter Julian Eymard.

Irish Connections

Together with Vultus Christi reader Ailish Melia (Keshcarrigan, Cty. Leitrim), Deacon Sean had occasion to visit, for the first time, one of Ireland's Eucharistic holy places, the Franciscan Convent of Perpetual Adoration in Drumshanbo, County Leitrim, shortly before coming to the United States. Drumshanbo is well known to some of the Irish readers of Vultus Christi. For over 140 years, the convent bell has rung out every hour on the hour as adorers succeed one another at the prie-dieu before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus. Drumshanbo continues to be a hearth of Eucharistic adoration, spreading abroad the light and warmth of Our Divine Lord's presence in the Sacrament of His Love.

Our Lady of Knock

We completed our novena to Our Lady of Knock for her liturgical feast on 22 August, the vigil of the Octave Day of the Assumption. The entire octave, during which we called on Our Lady of Knock every evening after Compline, was a time of abundant blessings. Thank you, Monsignor Calkins, and Deacon Sean, for allowing yourselves to be numbered among those blessings.

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The Holy Father Teaches

The Holy Father's June 17th address to the Convention of the Diocese of Rome on the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist and the celebration of Sunday is a model of pastoral catechesis for every bishop of the Church. Catholics, the world over, are hungry for precisely this kind of clear teaching. Even if bishops and parish priests may not, themselves, be capable of offering teaching of this quality, they can certainly transmit the discourse of the Holy Father to the faithful. Pope Benedict XVI facilitates the mandate to teach that is incumbent upon every bishop and parish priest. Not only does he provides a model of effective teaching; he makes available to all the content of his own tireless transmission of the faith. My own commentary is in italics.

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Psalm says: "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" (Psalm 133:1). It really is like this: it is a profound motive of joy for me to meet again with you and share the great good that the parishes and the other ecclesial realities of Rome have realized in this pastoral year. I greet with fraternal affection the cardinal vicar and I thank him for the courteous words he addressed to me and for the diligence he dedicates daily to the governance of the diocese, in supporting priests and the parish communities. I greet the auxiliary bishops, the entire presbyterate and each one of you. I address a cordial thought to all those who are sick and in particular difficulties, assuring them of my prayer.

As Cardinal Vallini recalled, we are engaged, since last year, in the verification of ordinary pastoral care. This evening we will reflect on two points of primary importance: "Sunday Eucharist and Testimony of Charity." I am aware of the great work that the parishes, the associations and the movements have realized, through meetings of formation and encounter, to deepen and live better these two fundamental components of the life and the mission of the Church and of every individual believer. This has also fostered that pastoral responsibility that, in the diversity of ministries and charisms, must be diffused ever more if we really want the Gospel to reach the heart of every inhabitant of Rome. So much has been done, and we thank the Lord; but still much remains to be done, always with his help.

Doctrine

Faith can never be presupposed, because every generation needs to receive this gift through the proclamation of the Gospel and to know the truth that Christ has revealed to us. The Church, therefore, is always engaged in proposing to all the deposit of the faith; contained in it also is the doctrine on the Eucharist -- central mystery in which "is enclosed all the spiritual good of the Church, namely, Christ himself, our Pasch" (Presbyterorum Ordinis, No. 5) -- doctrine that today, unfortunately, is not sufficiently understood in its profound value and in its relevance for the existence of believers. Because of this, it is important that a more profound knowledge of the mystery of the Body and Blood of the Lord be seen as an exigency of the different communities of our diocese of Rome. At the same time, in the missionary spirit that we wish to nourish, it is necessary to spread the commitment to proclaim such Eucharistic faith, so that every man will encounter Jesus Christ who has revealed the "close" God, friend of humanity, and to witness it with an eloquent life of charity.

Yes, faith can never be presupposed. The embers of faith that glow beneath the ashes of a burned out secular culture need to be fanned into a great flame capable of filling the Church with fire and with light. The Holy Father speaks clearly of doctrine, a word that is rarely heard in today's pastoral discourses and in homilies. In particular, the Church's unchanged, unchanging, and unchangeable doctrine concerning the mystery of the Body and Blood of the Lord must be taught again, at every level, with clarity and with the authority of Christ Himself.

The crucified Christ
revealed the face of God.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

In all his public life, through the preaching of the Gospel and miraculous signs, Jesus proclaimed the goodness and mercy of the Father towards man. This mission reached its culmination on Golgotha, where the crucified Christ revealed the face of God, so that man, contemplating the Cross, be able to recognize the fullness of love (cf. Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, No. 12). The sacrifice of Calvary is mysteriously anticipated in the Last Supper, when Jesus, sharing with the Twelve the bread and wine, transforms them into his body and his blood, which shortly after he would offer as immolated Lamb. The Eucharist is the memorial of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, of his love to the end for each one of us, memorial that He willed to entrust to the Church so that it would be celebrated throughout the centuries. According to the meaning of the Hebrew word "zakar," the "memorial" is not simply the memory of something that happened in the past, but a celebration which actualizes that event, so as to reproduce its salvific force and efficacy. Thus, "the sacrifice that Christ offered to the Father, once and for all, on the Cross in favor of humanity, is rendered present and actual" (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 280). Dear brothers and sisters, in our time the word sacrifice is not liked, rather it seems to belong to other times and to another way of understanding life. However, properly understood, it is and remains fundamental, because it reveals to us with what love God loves us in Christ.

To recapitulate the Holy Father's teaching: The face of the Father, upon which we can "read" the secrets of His Heart is revealed on the suffering Face of the Crucified in the hour of His sacrifice. That same sacrifice, offered on Calvary in a bloody manner, was anticipated in a sacramental manner at the Last Supper, and is actualized in the same sacramental and unbloody manner so often as as Holy Mass is offered. Sacrifice is not a popular word, even in today's "theological culture." It is, however, integral, to a Catholic understanding of the Mass. It must become, once again, part of every Catholic's working theological vocabulary. For this to happen, the doctrine of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass must become a key theme in catechesis and in preaching.

Catechesis and preaching, however, are insufficient by themselves. The entire "ars celebrandi" must be corrected and reformed so as to more clearly manifest the sacrificial character of the Mass. This means, before anything else, the restoration of the eastward position ("versus Deum") of priest and people together for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Nothing has done more to erode the understanding of the Mass as a sacrifice by both priests and lay faithful than the nearly universal trend of the Liturgy of the Eucharist "versus populum." Who will have the courage to catechize the faithfully clearly and patiently in preparation for this necessary step in the re-Catholicization of the "ars celebrandi"? Why are priests so invested in preserving a trend that, for the last forty years, has resulted in a weakening of the faith, in the loss of reverence, and in a downward spiral from "latria" into performance?

Recognize in the bread
that same body that hung on the cross,
and in the chalice
that same blood that gushed from his side.
(Saint Augustine)

Transubstantiation

In the offering that Jesus makes of himself we find all the novelty of Christian worship. In ancient times men offered in sacrifice to the divinity the animals or first fruits of the earth. Jesus, instead, offers himself, his body and his whole existence: He himself in person becomes the sacrifice that the liturgy offers in the Holy Mass. In fact, with the consecration of the bread and wine they become his true body and blood. Saint Augustine invited his faithful not to pause on what appeared to their sight, but to go beyond: "Recognize in the bread -- he said -- that same body that hung on the cross, and in the chalice that same blood that gushed from his side" (Disc. 228 B, 2). To explain this transformation, theology has coined the word "transubstantiation," word that resounded for the first time in this Basilica during the IV Lateran Council, of which in five years will be the 8th centenary. On that occasion the following expressions were inserted in the profession of faith: "his body and his blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar, under the species of bread and wine, because the bread is transubstantiated into the body, and the wine into the blood by divine power" (DS, 802). Therefore, it is essential to stress, in the itineraries of education of children in the faith, of adolescents and of young people, as well as in "centers of listening" to the Word of God, that in the sacrament of the Eucharist Christ is truly, really and substantially present.

The key word in this section of the Holy Father's teaching is transubstantiation: another word that has been effectively erased from catechetical discourse and preaching. The meaning and truth of transubstantiation must, once again, be taught regularly, clearly and with authority. Pope Paul VI's valiant attempt at shoring up a crumbling faith in the Most Holy Eucharist by the promulgation of his now almost forgotten "Credo of the People of God" was, in rather bleak way, prophetic:

Sacrifice of Calvary
24. We believe that the Mass, celebrated by the priest representing the person of Christ by virtue of the power received through the Sacrament of Orders, and offered by him in the name of Christ and the members of His Mystical Body, is the sacrifice of Calvary rendered sacramentally present on our altars. We believe that as the bread and wine consecrated by the Lord at the Last Supper were changed into His body and His blood which were to be offered for us on the cross, likewise the bread and wine consecrated by the priest are changed into the body and blood of Christ enthroned gloriously in heaven, and we believe that the mysterious presence of the Lord, under what continues to appear to our senses as before, is a true, real and substantial presence.
Transubstantiation
25. Christ cannot be thus present in this sacrament except by the change into His body of the reality itself of the bread and the change into His blood of the reality itself of the wine, leaving unchanged only the properties of the bread and wine which our senses perceive. This mysterious change is very appropriately called by the Church transubstantiation. Every theological explanation which seeks some understanding of this mystery must, in order to be in accord with Catholic faith, maintain that in the reality itself, independently of our mind, the bread and wine have ceased to exist after the Consecration, so that it is the adorable body and blood of the Lord Jesus that from then on are really before us under the sacramental species of bread and wine, as the Lord willed it, in order to give Himself to us as food and to associate us with the unity of His Mystical Body.
26. The unique and indivisible existence of the Lord glorious in heaven is not multiplied, but is rendered present by the sacrament in the many places on earth where Mass is celebrated. And this existence remains present, after the sacrifice, in the Blessed Sacrament which is, in the tabernacle, the living heart of each of our churches. And it is our very sweet duty to honor and adore in the blessed Host which our eyes see, the Incarnate Word whom they cannot see, and who, without leaving heaven, is made present before us.

The Rightness of the Rubrics

The Holy Mass, celebrated in the respect of the liturgical norms and with a fitting appreciation of the richness of the signs and gestures, fosters and promotes the growth of Eucharistic faith. In the Eucharistic celebration we do not invent something, but we enter into a reality that precedes us, more than that, which embraces heaven and earth and, hence, also the past, the future and the present. This universal openness, this encounter with all the sons and daughters of God is the grandeur of the Eucharist: we go to meet the reality of God present in the body and blood of the Risen One among us. Hence, the liturgical prescriptions dictated by the Church are not external things, but express concretely this reality of the revelation of the body and blood of Christ and thus the prayer reveals the faith according to the ancient principle "lex orandi - lex credendi." And because of this we can say "the best catechesis on the Eucharist is the Eucharist itself well celebrated" (Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis," No. 64).

It is time to pursue a renewed appreciation for the intrinsically theological value of liturgical rubrics. As I often say in lecturing, "Squeeze a rubric, and theology spurts out of it!" The multiplication of options in the New Order of the Mass has created a situation in which celebrants, faced with options A, B, C, and D, readily (and not altogether unreasonably) assume that they can invent options E, F, and G. Thus do we find ourselves grappling with liturgical formulae and actions that are subjective, personal, and without any roots in sacred tradition. This personal manipulation of the lex orandi leads willy-nilly to the corruption of the lex credendi, and to a lex vivendi characterized by relativism.

It is necessary that in the liturgy the transcendent dimension emerge with clarity, that of the mystery, of the encounter with the Divine, which also illumines and elevates the "horizontal," that is the bond of communion and of solidarity that exists between all those who belong to the Church. In fact, when the latter prevails, the beauty, profundity and importance of the mystery celebrated is fully understood. Dear brothers in the priesthood, to you the bishop has entrusted, on the day of your priestly Ordination, the task to preside over the Eucharist. Always have at heart the exercise of this mission: celebrate the divine mysteries with intense interior participation, so that the men and women of our City can be sanctified, put into contact with God, absolute truth and eternal love.

It is precisely this clear and luminously transcendent dimension of the liturgy that is absent from the greater number of Sunday (and weekday) celebrations of Holy Mass in parishes across the United States and around the world. The multiple options of the New Order of the Mass, codified with the best intentions in the GIRM, have fomented a state of confusion (not clarity) and have fostered a shrinking of the mystery into the small "here and now" of any given celebrant and group of the faithful. One has only to reflect on the complete ineffectiveness of the directives concerning the Proper Chants of the Mass, to see how a minimalistic interpretation of liturgical law has come to prevail in practice, thus doing violence to elements constitutive of the architecture of the Mass itself.

Sunday

And let us also keep present that the Eucharist, joined to the cross and resurrection of the Lord, has dictated a new structure to our time. The Risen One was manifested the day after Saturday, the first day of the week, day of the sun and of creation. From the beginning Christians have celebrated their encounter with the Risen One, the Eucharist, on this first day, on this new day of the true sun of history, the Risen Christ. And thus time always begins again with the encounter with the Risen One and this encounter gives content and strength to everyday life. Because of this, it is very important for us Christians, to follow this new rhythm of time, to meet with the Risen One on Sunday and thus "to take" with us his presence, which transforms us and transforms our time.

A number of factors have contributed to a loss of the uniqueness of Sunday in Catholic life. Who, among our bishops, will have the courage to reexamine critically the now universally accepted Sunday Vigil Mass on Saturday evening? Is this not, in most parishes, the preferred Mass of those who want to have their Sunday free for other pursuits? How has this affected the time available for confessions? Was not the original intention of the Sunday Vigil Mass on Saturday evening to provide those engaged in public service and obliged to work on Sunday with an opportunity to fulfill the Sunday obligation, to be nourished by the Word of God, and by the adorable mysteries of Christ's Body and Blood? Is it not time to reiterate this original intention and to emphasize the traditional encounter with the Risen Christ on Sunday morning?

Eucharistic Adoration

Moreover, I invite all to rediscover the fecundity of Eucharistic adoration: before the Most Holy Sacrament we experience in an altogether particular way that "abiding" of Jesus, which He himself, in the Gospel of John, posits as necessary condition to bear much fruit (cf. John 15:5) and to avoid our apostolic action being reduced to sterile activism, but that instead it be testimony of the love of God.

The fecundity of Eucharistic adoration: what a marvelous expression! Eucharistic adoration is a privileged of way of abiding in the love of Jesus Christ, in the radiance of His Face, and close to His Open Heart. It is the perennial antidote to the sterile activism that exhausts so many workers in the vineyard of the Lord.

The Eucharist Makes the Church

Communion with Christ is always communion also with his body, which is the Church, as the Apostle Paul reminds, saying: "The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Corinthians:16-17). It is, in fact, the Eucharist that transforms a simple group of persons into ecclesial community: the Eucharist makes the Church. Therefore, it is fundamental that the celebration of the Holy Mass be effectively the culmination, the "bearing structure" of the life of every parish community.

Better Care of the Preparation and Celebration of the Eucharist

I exhort all to take better care, also through apposite liturgical groups, of the preparation and celebration of the Eucharist, so that all who participate can encounter the Lord. It is the Risen Christ, who renders himself present in our today and gathers us around himself. Feeding on Him we are freed from the bonds of individualism and, through communion with Him, we ourselves become, together, one thing, his mystical Body. Thus the differences are surmounted due to profession, to class, to nationality so that we discover ourselves members of one great family, that of the children of God, in which to each is given a particular grace for common usefulness. The world and men do not have need of a another social aggregation, but have need of the Church, which is in Christ as a sacrament, "which is sign and instrument of the profound union with God and of the unity of the whole human race" (Lumen Gentium, No. 1), called to make the light of the Risen Lord shine on all people.

Communion of Blood with Jesus

Jesus came to reveal to us the love of the Father, because "man cannot live without love" (John Paul II, Redemptoris Hominis, No. 10). Love is, in fact, the fundamental experience of every human being, what has given meaning to daily living. Nourished by the Eucharist we also, following the example of Christ, live for Him, to be witnesses of love. Receiving the Sacrament, we enter into communion of blood with Jesus Christ. In the Hebrew conception, blood indicates life; thus we can say that being nourished by the Body of Christ we receive the life of God and learn to look at reality with his eyes, abandoning the logic of the world to follow the divine logic of gift and gratuitousness.

Reception of the Most Holy Sacrament establishes us in a communion of blood -- a supernatural kinship of blood -- with Jesus. Thus do we become sons in the Son. The life of the Father is communicated to us through the Body and Blood of the Son, made present by the words of consecration and by the action of the Holy Spirit. Every Holy Communion is transforming. Every Holy Communion marks another step in conversion of life, another surrender to what the Holy Father calls "the divine logic of gift and gratuitousness."

The Social Impact of Supernatural Charity

St. Augustine recalls that during a vision he thought he heard the voice of the Lord who said to him: "I am the nourishment of adults. Grow up, and you will eat me, without, because of this, my being transformed into you, as the nutriment of your flesh; but you are transformed into me" (cf. Confessions VII, 10, 16). When we receive Christ, the love of God expands in our innermost self, modifies our heart radically and makes us capable of gestures that, by the expansive force of good, can transform the life of those that are next to us. Charity is able to generate an authentic and permanent change of society, acting in the hearts and minds of men, and when it is lived in truth "it is the principal propelling force for the true development of every person and of the whole of humanity" (Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, 1). For the disciples of Jesus, the testimony of charity is not a passing sentiment, but on the contrary it is what molds life in every circumstance. I encourage all, in particular the Caritas and Deacons, to be committed in the delicate and essential field of education to charity, as permanent dimension of personal and community life.

Catholics have always believed in the "expansive force of good." One who lives from the Most Holy Eucharist, that is from a sacramental infusion of charity, becomes an agent of charity and a servant of the merciful designs of God for individuals and for the world.

Rome: This City of Ours

This City of ours asks of Christ's disciples, with a renewed proclamation of the Gospel, a clearer and more limpid testimony of charity. It is with the language of love, desirous of the integral good of man, that the Church speaks to the inhabitants of Rome. In these years of my ministry as your Bishop, I have been able to visit several places where charity is lived intensely. I am grateful to all those who are engaged in the different charitable structures, for the dedication and generosity with which they serve the poor and the marginalized. The needs and poverty of so many men and women interpellate us profoundly: it is Christ himself who every day, in the poor, asks us to assuage his hunger and thirst, to visit him in hospitals and prisons, to accept and dress him. A celebrated Eucharist imposes on us and at the same time renders us capable of becoming, in our turn, bread broken for brothers, coming to meet their needs and giving ourselves. Because of this, a Eucharistic celebration that does not lead to meet men where they live, work and suffer, to take to them the love of God, does not manifest the love it encloses.

Sacrificial Oblation

To be faithful to the mystery that is celebrated on the altars we must, as the Apostle Paul exhorts us, offer our bodies, ourselves, in spiritual sacrifice pleasing to God (cf. Romans 12:1) in those circumstances that require dying to our I and constitute our daily "altar." Gestures of sharing create communion, renew the fabric of interpersonal relations, marking them with gratuitousness and gift, and allowing for the construction of the civilization of love. In a time such as the present of economic and social crisis, let us be in solidarity with those who live in indigence to offer all the hope of a better tomorrow worthy of man. If we really live as disciples of the God-Charity, we will help the inhabitants of Rome to discover themselves brothers and children of the one Father.

Here, the Holy Father speaks of the essence of "actual participation" in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: union with Christ the Victim, and the abandonment of ourselves into the hands of Christ the Priest. The altar becomes the place of our own oblation with Christ to the Father, and the starting point of a newness of life marked by self-giving love.

Vocations to Rebuild the Church

The very nature of love requires definitive and irrevocable choices of life. I turn to you in particular, dearly beloved young people: do not be afraid to choose love as the supreme rule of life. Do not be afraid to love Christ in the priesthood and, if you perceive in your heart the call of the Lord, follow him in this extraordinary adventure of love, abandon yourselves with trust to him! Do not be afraid to form Christian families that live faithful, indissoluble love open to life! Give witness that love, as Christ lived it and as the magisterium of the Church teaches, does not take anything away from our happiness, but on the contrary it gives that profound joy that Christ promised to his disciples.

The call of the Lord to the priesthood and to the formation of Christian families is, in effect, a call to rebuild the Church. I am mindful of Our Lord's words to Saint Francis of Assisi in the ruined church of San Damiano, "Francis, rebuild thou My Church, which, as thou seest, is falling into ruin." The rebuilding of the Church in every age is marked by joy.

The Virgin Mary and the Holy Sacrifice

May the Virgin Mary accompany the path of our Church of Rome with her maternal intercession. Mary, who in an altogether singular way lived communion with God and the sacrifice of her own Son on Calvary, enable us to live ever more intensely, piously and consciously the mystery of the Eucharist, to proclaim with the word and life the love that God has for every man. Dear friends, I assure you of my prayer and impart my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing to you all. Thank you.

Increasingly, it seems to me, the Holy Father refers to Our Lady's unique and incomparable role in the mystery of redemption. She who offered her Divine Son with a virginal, maternal, and sacerdotal heart at the foot of the Cross, is the model of "participatio actuosa" in the Holy Sacrifice.

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Feast Instituted by Benedict XV

On 9 November 1921, Pope Benedict XV instituted the feast of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus to be celebrated on the Thursday within the Octave of the Sacred Heart with a Proper Mass and Office. The feast continues to be celebrated in some places and by some communities, notably by the Redemptorists who maintain it in their Proper Calendar. In instituting the feast, Pope Benedict XV wrote:

The chief reason of this feast is to commemorate the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the mystery of the Eucharist. By this means the Church wishes more and more to excite the faithful to approach this sacred mystery with confidence, and to inflame their hearts with that divine charity which consumed the Sacred Heart of Jesus when in His infinite love He instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, wherein the Divine Heart guards and loves them by living with them, as they live and abide in Him. For in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist He offers and gives Himself to us as victim, companion, nourishment, viaticum, and pledge of our future glory.

Even to the Consummation of the World

The adorable mystery of the Eucharist sums up, contains, and communicates to us the entire mystery of Christ: His incarnation, life, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension, and outpouring of the Holy Spirit. If you seek the open Side of the glorious ascended Christ, you will find it in the Eucharist. If you seek the pierced Heart of Christ, beating with love for the Father and with mercy for sinners, you will find it in the Eucharist. The Communion Antiphon of the Mass of the feast is meant to be repeated and treasured. It is, at once, a promise and an invitation: "Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world" (Mt 28:20).

Here, apart from the Epistle, Gradual, Alleluia, and Gospel, is my own translation of the Proper of the Mass of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, together with (optional) General Intercessions.

Introit

SCIENS Jesus quia venit hora ejus ut
transeat ex hoc mundo ad Patrem:
cum dilexisset suos, qui erant in
mundo, in finem dilexit eos. Alleluia,
alleluia. Ps. 97. 1. Cantate Domino
canticum novum: quia mirabilia
fecit. Gloria Patri.

Jesus, knowing that His hour had come
to pass out of this world to the Father,
having loved His own who were in the world,
loved them to the end (Jn 13:1).

Collect

DOMINE Jesu Christe, qui divitias
amoris tui erga homines effundens
Eucharistiæ Sacramentum condidisti:
da nobis, quæsumus; ut amantissimum
Cor tuum diligere, et tanto
Sacramento digne semper uti valeamus:
Qui vivis.

Lord Jesus Christ,
Who in pouring out the treasures of Your love for mankind,
instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist,
grant us, we beseech You,
always to cherish Your most loving Heart,
and worthily to avail ourselves of so great a Sacrament.
Who live and reign with God the Father,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

Epistle: Ephesians 3. 8-12, 14-19
Brethren: To me, the least of all the Saints, is given the grace, to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ: and to enlighten all men, that they may see what is the dispensation of the mystery which hath been hidden from eternity in God, Who created all things: that the manifold wisdom of God may be made known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places through the Church, according to the eternal purpose which He made in Christ Jesus our Lord: in Whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him. For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom all paternity in Heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened by His Spirit with might unto the inward man, that Christ may dwell by faith in your hearts: that being rooted and grounded in charity, you may be able to comprehend with all the Saints, what is the breadth and length, and height and depth: to know also the charity of Christ which surpasseth all knowledge. That you may be filled unto all the fullness of God.

Gradual

EXSULTA et lauda, habitatio Sion,
quia magnus in medio tui Sanctus
Israel. Notas facite in populis adinventiones
ejus.

Exult and praise, O abode of Sion, for
great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst
of thee. Among the people make known His
works.

Alleluia

ALLELUIA, alleluia. V. Quid bonum
ejus est, et quid pulchrum ejus, nisi
frumentum electorum, et vinum
germinans virgines. Alleluia.

Alleluia, alleluia. V. What is His good and
what is His beauteous thing, but the wheat of
the elect, and wine bringing forth virgins?
Alleluia.

Gospel: Luke 22:15-20
At that time Jesus said to His disciples: With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you, before I suffer. For I say to you that from this time I will not eat it, till it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And having taken the chalice, He gave thanks and said: Take and divide among you. For I say to you that I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, till the kingdom of God come. And taking bread, He gave thanks and brake and gave to them, saying: This is My Body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of Me. In like manner, the chalice also, after He had supped, saying: this is the chalice, the new testament in My Blood, which shall be shed for you.

General Intercessions

That the Church may more worthily celebrate, adore, and contemplate
the Sacrament that reveals the Face of Christ shining for all peoples
and the Sacrifice that presents to all His Pierced Side
flowing with living water,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That the leaders of nations
may turn from every temptation
to greed, violence, and the abuse of power,
and seek the things that make for peace,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That those who are enemies of the Cross may find
reconciliation and healing in its embrace;
that the sick may find strength in the Body and Blood of Christ;
and that those tempted against hope
may find comfort and peace in the Sacrament of the Altar,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That families broken by divorce,
divided by misunderstandings,
or wounded by the refusal to forgive and be forgiven,
may be repaired and healed
by the love that ever streams from the Eucharistic Heart of Christ,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

That by offering our adoration to the Eucharistic Heart of Christ today
we may in some way make reparation
for those who fail to recognize in the Sacrament of the Altar
a mercy ready to forgive every sin,
a love capable of healing every wound,
and a joy surpassing all joys,
to the Lord we pray: Christ, hear us. R. CHRIST, GRACIOUSLY HEAR US.

Collect at the General Intercessions

O God, who, in the Heart of Your Son, wounded by our faults,
have opened for us the treasures of Your infinite love,
grant that, with all the saints, we may contemplate this mystery
and, in the gift of the Most Holy Eucharist
recognize the wedding feast of the Lamb,
the sacrifice that saves the world,
and the abiding presence of Him who with great desire
longed to share the paschal meal with His disciples
before He suffered.
Who lives and reigns forever and ever.

Offertory Antiphon

QUAM magna multitudo dulcedinis
tuæ, Domine, quam abscondisti timentibus
te. Alleluia

O how great is the multitude of Your sweetness, O Lord,
which You have hidden away for them that fear You, alleluia (Ps 30:30).

Prayer Over the Oblations

TUERE nos, Domine, tua tibi holocausta
offerentes: ad quæ ut ferventius
corda nostra præparentur, flammis
adure tuæ divinæ caritatis. Qui
vivis.

Look upon us, Lord,
as we offer You this Your holocaust;
and to prepare our hearts for offering it more ardently,
make them burn with the flame of Your divine charity.
Through Christ our Lord.

Preface

VERE dignum et justum est, æquum
et salutáre, nos tibi semper, et ubíque
grátias ágere: Dómine sancte,
Pater omnipotens, ætérne Deus per
Christum Dominum nostrum. Qui
pridie quam pro nobis immolaretur
in ara crucis, dilectionis suæ in homines
divitias velut effundens, de
Cordis sui thesauro Eucharistiæ
prompsit mysterium. In quo credentium
fides alitur, spes provehitur,
caritas roboratur, et futuræ gloriæ
pignus accipitur. Et ídeo cum Angelis
et Archángelis, cum Thronis et
Dóminatiónibus, cumque omni
milítia coeléstis exércitus, hymnum
glóriæ tuæ cánimus sine fine dicéntes:

Truly it is right and just, our duty and our salvation,
always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.

Who on the day before He was sacrificed
on the altar of the cross,
desiring to pour out upon men the riches of His love,
brought forth from the treasury of His Heart
the mystery of the Eucharist.

In this mystery the faith of believers is nourished,
their hope increased,
their charity strengthened,
and they receive the pledge of future glory.

And therefore with Angels and Archangels,
with Thrones and Dominations,
and with all the hosts of the heavenly army,
we sing a hymn to your glory,
ceaselessly saying:

Communion Antiphon

ECCE ego vobiscum sum omnibus
diebus, usque ad consummationem
sæculi, dicit Dominus. Alleluia.

Behold I am with you all days,
even to the consummation of the world (Mt 28:20).

Postcommunion

DIVINIS donis Cordis tui satiati:
quæsumus, Domine Jesu, ut in tui
semper amore permanere et usque
in finem crescere mereamur. Qui vivis.

Filled with the divine gifts of Your Heart, Lord Jesus,
we pray that we may be found worthy
ever to abide in Your love
and to grow therein unto the end.
Who live and reign forever and ever.

This Day Was Chosen

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The transfer of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ to Sunday by the Bishops of the United States is unfortunate; it effectively dismantles the mystagogy of the feast by detaching it from its native theological context on Thursday.

Just as the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated on a Friday, inviting us to return to Calvary, there to look upon the pierced Side of the Lord in the company of Our Lady and the Beloved Disciple, so too does the feast of Corpus Christi on a Thursday invite us to return to the Cenacle, there to relive in adoration and joy the gift and mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist. Similarly, the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is celebrated on a Saturday, recalling the Great Sabbath lived by Our Lady who, in her own pierced Heart, kept alive the flame of the Church's faith and hope.

Listen to the Angelic Doctor:

To the end that devotion may be enkindled in the faithful,
we do well to celebrate this solemnity in honour of the institution
of so health-giving and so wonderful a Sacrament,
that thus we may meetly worship our God
who in this Sacrament is present before our eyes,
although in a manner beyond the power of words to describe;
and that thus we may praise God's power,
whereby in this Sacrament are wrought so many and great wonders;
and also that thus we may give God due thanks
for this his bounteous gift so full of health and sweetness.

It is true that special mention is made of its institution
at the celebration of the Mass on Maundy Thursday,
(when we commemorate the Last Supper, at which, as we know,
this Sacrament was instituted;)
but all the rest of the Office on that day
is chiefly concerned with Christ-Suffering,
to the worshipping of whom the Church doth at that season
give all her mind.

In the year of salvation 1264, to the end that the faithful might celebrate
the institution of so great a Sacrament with a complete festal Office,
Urban IV, Bishop of Rome, was moved by his devotion thereto,
to put forth a godly ordinance,
to the effect that the memory of the said institution
should be celebrated by all the faithful
on the Thursday next after the Octave Day of Pentecost.
This day was chosen in order that we,
who from one end of the year to the other
do use this Sacrament to our soul's health,
might particularly celebrate the institution thereof
at that season wherein the Holy Ghost taught the hearts of the disciples
to acknowledge the mysteries thereof;
for then it was, as we read, that they continued stedfastly
in the Apostles' Doctrine and Fellowship,
and in the Breaking of the Bread and the Prayers.

From a Sermon by Saint Thomas Aquinas
Opusculum 57

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I came across this hymn for Compline in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed in Les heures du Saint-Sacrement published at Lille in 1856 for L'Association de l'Adoration Perpétuelle of the Bénédictines du Saint-Sacrement. The Association was erected as an archconfraternity by Blessed Pope Pius IX on May 25, 1851. The hymn can be sung to any of the usual Gregorian melodies for Te lucis ante terminum. I give my own translation in italics. With apologies to Father Z of WDPRS fame, it is not slavishly literal. Dear Vincent, would you like to do a metrical translation?

Iesu, sub ara victima,
Verum Deum quem credimus,
Qui carne nos pascis die,
In nocte nostra sis quies.

O Jesu, our altar's sacrifice
Whom we believe to be our very God,
By day Thy flesh becomes our food,
By night be Thou our heart's repose.

Sis mentium pax et cibus,
Et dulce robur cordium;
Sint templa sancti Spiritus,
Quae consecrasti corpora.

Be Thou the peace and nourishment of our souls,
And of our hearts the gentle strength,
Our bodies, by Thy consecration,
Make temples of the Holy Ghost.

Dum nos quiete recreas,
Supplex precaris hostia;
Locus quietis intimae
Nostris sit ara cordibus.

While we slumber, Thou makest us anew,
Thy pleading for us, O Victim, ceaseth not;
Let then the altar of our hearts
For thee become a silent resting-place.

Laus nocte iugis et die
Sit Trinitati gloria,
Quam Filius non desinit
Laudare factus victima. Amen.

Praise by night and praise by day
and glory to the Trinity,
The Victim's offering riseth still
For ceaseless is the Son's own praise.

Where our paths converge

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Learn From the Saints

Yes, Our Lord would have you learn from His saints. It is good to study the saints and receive their teachings. Draw inspiration from their friendship with the Lord Jesus, but don't try to imitate them slavishly on every point. Each of Our Lord's friends arrives at union with Him by the path traced for that particular soul by the Holy Spirit. Even when two paths may appear similar, they are not identical. All of these paths converge in union with Our Lord in the light of His Face, and all of them lead to the open door of His Sacred Heart.

A Secret of Love

Certain souls are called into the way of adoration. Our Lord asks them to abide before His Eucharistic Face and to make it possible for others to do the same. Even when many souls are called to the same way of life, each soul has her own secret of love, a way of experiencing the friendship of Christ most intimately, that can be shared with no one else.

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A Personal Love

Jesus' love is a personal love. He loves each soul that He has created as if that soul were the only soul in the universe, and He adapts His infinite love to the particular sensibilities and needs of that soul with all the wisdom and tenderness of His Divine Heart.

Humility and Trust

Trust in the path that Christ has opened before you and be faithful to it. Allow His love to direct all things. Remain little and humble. Allow Him to direct and determine the course of events and the growth of His works. The more faithful you are to adoring Him in the Sacrament of His Love, the more will He be faithful to you in manifesting the wonders of HIs providence.

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Remain Before Him

Fatigue and distractions in adoration are no impediment to His action in the depths of your soul. Go before Him and remain before Him even when you feel that your adoration is no more than a struggle and a failure to remain attentive in love and focused on His Eucharistic Face.

In the prayer of adoration, your feelings are of no importance. What matters in Jesus' sight is your humility and your willingness to endure distractions, fatigue, and even sleepiness while adoring Him from the heart of your heart. Know that even when you feel that your adoration has been a waste of time, in His plan it is something fruitful and very pleasing to Him. He does not see things as you see them nor does He measure their value as you measure it.

The images depict Saint Paschal Baylon, Saint Peter Julian Eymard, and the Servant of God, Father Augustin-Marie du T. S. Sacrement (Hermann Cohen).

Blessed Marmion Novena: Day Six

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Tomorrow will be the sixth day of our novena seeking the intercession of Blessed Columba Marmion. I invite the readers of Vultus Christi who are joining me in this novena to publish thanks for any graces or favours received through the intercession of Blessed Abbot Marmion by leaving a comment.

The Sixth Day of the Novena
Wednesday, 27 January 2010

O Holy Spirit, Love of the Father and the Son,
establish Thyself as a furnace of love in the centre of our hearts
and bear constantly upwards, like eager flames,
our thoughts, our affections, and our actions
even to the bosom of the Father.

The priest is raised to a dignity which is, in a certain sense, divine, for Jesus Christ identifies Himself with him. His role as a mediator is the highest vocation in this world. It is worth repeating; if a priest did nothing during his whole life but offer the holy sacrifice piously every morning, or even if he were to offer it only once, he would have accomplished an act greater in the hierarchy of values than those events which convulse the world. For the effect of every Mass will endure for eternity, and nothing is eternal except the divine.

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We must orient our whole day towards the Mass, It is the central point and the sun of the day. It is, as it were, the focus from which there comes to us light, fervour, and supernatural joy. We must hope that, little by little, our priesthood will take possession of our soul and our life so that it may be said of us: "he is always a priest." That is the effect of a eucharistic life, fragrant with the perfume of the sacrifice which makes us an alter Christus.
How good it is to see a priest after long years of fidelity, living with the true spirit of the divine oblation!
There are many priests entirely dedicated to Christ and to souls who realize this ideal fully; they are the glory of the Church and the joy of the Divine Master.
If we also wish to rise to the heights of our priestly vocation, if we want it to impress its character on our whole existence so as to inflame us with love and zeal, we must prepare our souls to receive the graces of our Mass.
After years it may happen that some souls remark an habitual lack of fervour in the course of their lives. To what must we attribute this? Many reasons may be given. Remember that a radical death to sin, even to deliberate venial sin, is an indispensable condition for the definite triumph of charity in us.
Still, lack of effort to celebrate Mass every morning as well as possible is the most common explanation of a spiritual decline. In fact by the checking up of conscience which it pre-supposes and by the atmosphere with which it surrounds the sacred minister, the pious offering of the holy sacrifice affords the priest every day a providential opportunity to recollect himself, to humble himself, and to pull himself together. If we neglect this means, so well calculated to plunge us back into the supernatural current, we open the way more and more for the invasion of routine and mediocrity into our lives. On the other hand, so long as the concern to celebrate as well as possible remains in the soul, it will never be carried away in the drift.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Columba Marmion.
R. That our lives may be hid with Christ in God.

Let us pray.

O God, Almighty Father,
who, having called the blessed abbot Columba
to the priesthood and to the monastic way of life,
wonderfully opened to him the secrets of the mysteries of Christ,
grant, in Thy goodness,
that, strengthened by his teachings
in the spirit of our adoption as Thy sons,
we may pray to Thee with a boundless confidence,
and so obtain, through his intercession,
a favourable answer
to the petitions we place before Thee.
[Express your intentions and requests.]
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son,
who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever.
R. Amen.

Blessed Marmion Novena: Day Three

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The photograph shows Joseph (Columba) Marmion as a seminarian at the Irish College in Rome.

Victims and Victimhood

For today's text from Blessed Columba Marmion, I chose an extract from Christ, the Ideal of the Priest, in which he presents the participation of the faithful in the offering of Christ. Many Catholics become fearful and uneasy when they hear the word "victim" or "victimhood" being applied to themselves. They misconstrue the word as somehow marking them for the most appalling mistreatment by a cruel God. The secular press and media often speak, for example, of the "victim" of a mugging, a rape, a kidnapping, or of some form of abuse. In the minds of many, this has distorted the meaning of "victim soul," a rich and theologically sound expression sometimes encountered in spiritual writings and in the lives of the saints.

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Sacrificial Offering

The theological sense of the word "victim" is a "sacrificial offering." Saint Augustine teaches that a sacrifice is anything or anyone entirely made over to God by being placed literally or symbolically on the altar. The Latin word hostia means victim in this sense; this is why we refer to the bread used in the Holy Sacrifice as the "host." The Eastern Churches call the bread for the Divine Liturgy "the Lamb."

Every Christian is called to make himself over to the Father as a sacrificial offering with Christ, by the grace of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the Prayer Over the Oblations (Secret) of the Mass of Jesus Christ, the Eternal High Priest says this explicitly:

Haec munera, Domine, mediator noster Iesus Christus
Tibi reddat accepta;
et nos, una secum,
hostias Tibi gratas exhibeat.

May our mediator Jesus Christ, O Lord,
make these offerings acceptable to Thee;
and together with Himself
may He present us to Thee as victims.

The Third Day of the Novena
Sunday, 24 January 2010

O Holy Spirit, Love of the Father and the Son,
establish Thyself as a furnace of love in the centre of our hearts
and bear constantly upwards, like eager flames,
our thoughts, our affections, and our actions
even to the bosom of the Father.

In every Mass the supreme mystery is, beyond all doubt, the sacramental immolation of Jesus; but the offering presented by the Church comprises in its totality, with the oblation of Christ, the oblation of His members. On the altar as on the Cross, the Saviour is the one victim, holy, pure, and immaculate, but it is His will that we should be associated with Him in His offering as being His complement.
Since the time of His Ascension, Christ has never been separated from His Church. In heaven He presents Himself before the Father with His mystical body brought to its perfection: "not having spot or wrinkle" (Eph 5,27). All the elect, united with Him and amongst themselves, live of the same life of praise in the light of the Word and in the charity of the Holy Spirit.
The mystery of unity and of glorification is prepared here on earth during Mass. The union of the members with the chief is still imperfect. It is ever growing and develops in faith, but on account of their offering with Christ, the faithful participate truly in His character of victim.
What do these words mean: "character of victim?" The mean that by uniting Himself to Christ as He offers Himself, immolates Himself and gives Himself to be our food, the Christian wills to live in a state of constant and total dedication to the glory of the Father. It is thus that Jesus imparts His life in the poverty of the human heart; He makes it like to His own, entirely devoted to God and to souls.
Among the faithful who assist at Mass some are inspired to a generous gesture; carried away by the example and by the grace of Jesus, they imitate Him unreservedly; their offer their being, their thought, their actions, and accept all the troubles, the contradictions and the labours which Providence disposes for them.

V. Pray for us, Blessed Columba Marmion.
R. That our lives may be hid with Christ in God.

Let us pray.

O God, Almighty Father,
who, having called the blessed abbot Columba
to the priesthood and to the monastic way of life,
wonderfully opened to him the secrets of the mysteries of Christ,
grant, in Thy goodness,
that, strengthened by his teachings
in the spirit of our adoption as Thy sons,
we may pray to Thee with a boundless confidence,
and so obtain, through his intercession,
a favourable answer
to the petitions we place before Thee.
[Express your intentions and requests.]
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son,
who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever.
R. Amen.

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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.

The Heart of Monasticism is Adoration

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This photograph of the church of the Abbazia di San Giovanni dell'Argentella in Italy inspires us to perservere in working toward the construction of our own monastery and church in Tulsa.


Eucharistic Adoration

"The heart of monasticism is adoration." This affirmation of Pope Benedict XVI (on the occasion of his visit to the Abbey of Heiligenkreuz on 9 September 2007) reinforces our conviction that a special dedication to Eucharistic adoration harmonizes itself perfectly with life according to the Rule of Saint Benedict. The daily celebration of Holy Mass compels us to abide in adoration and sustains in us the desire to respond to love with love. One who adores the Most Blessed Sacrament consents to savour inwardly the sweetness of the Lord. Adoring silence allows the soul to receive the mystery in its immensity. It fosters a heart-to-heart dialogue with the Lord, and effects a gradual but real configuration to His divine sonship, to His priesthood, and to His perpetual state of oblation or victimhood.

In addition to the hour of Eucharistic adoration that follows Vespers, our forma vitae provides each monk with an hour of personal adoration daily. As our numbers grow, this will allow us, God willing, to keep a continuous vigil of adoration before Our Lord's Eucharistic Face.

Victimhood

Prolonged, and eventually perpetual, adoration confesses and glorifies the mystery of Our Lord's real presence in the Sacrament of His Love. It is, at the same time, a mode of participation in the victimhood of Christ. The monk-adorer allows the Holy Spirit to unite him to the oblation of Christ, Priest and Victim, for the same intentions that burned in His Heart on the altar of the Cross: the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls. The victimhood of the monk is nothing more than the logical consequence of monastic profession. Saint Benedict mandates that the monk making profession should sign the charter of his vows upon the altar, the place of the Sacrifice of Calvary sacramentally renewed. Then, with hands raised in the form of the Cross, the newly-professed sings his Suscipe, imploring the Father to receive him as a living oblation as Christ himself was received from the altar of the Cross.

The Mass of Life

All of monastic life is, in effect, a Mass: a Mass in which every step, every movement, every word has a precious value, a redeeming worth in the sight of the Father. In the Mass that is daily life, we are called not to a great fidelity to the rubrics, but to a great fidelity to every manifestation of the will of the Father and to every indication of His good pleasure.

The Dilated Heart

This fidelity to the little things in the Mass of daily life implies a constant attention to the Holy Spirit, who unites us to the sacrifice and to the intentions of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest and Spotless Victim. "I came down from heaven," He says, "not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. Now this is the will of Him who sent Me: that of all that He hath given Me, I should lose nothing." (Jn 6:38-39). A monk who allows the Holy Spirit to dilate his heart to the catholic and ecclesial dimensions of the priestly Heart of Jesus and of His Vicar on earth, the Holy Father, will also understand that he is called to participate actively in the victimhood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This he will do by placing himself, day after day, in the wounded hands of Christ, the Eternal High Priest, to be offered with Him to the Father.

Dom Delatte

Lest one think that this Eucharistic hermeneutic of the rites of profession somehow falls outside the mainstream of Benedictine life, consider these compelling insights of Dom Paul Delatte, Abbot of Solesmes, in his commentary on the Holy Rule. Dom Delatte is explaining the significance of the prostration of the newly professed monk before the altar after singing the Suscipe. The abbot writes:

There lies there . . . a living victim, a "pure, holy, and unspotted victim," reunited to the Victim on the altar, offered and accepted with that Victim, and enwrapped by the deacon in the fragrance of the same incense. Then the Mass continues. Motionless and silent, like the Lamb of God, the newly-professed suffers himself to be immolated and consumed mystically by the Eternal High Priest. How sweet that Mass and that Communion! Our whole monastic life should resemble this profession Mass. (Commentary on the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict)

Before His Face

The particular "vocation within a vocation," that His Excellency, Bishop Slattery has entrusted to the little embryo of a monastery that we are at present, is one of Eucharistic adoration in a spirit of self-oblation and intercession for priests, for all the priests of the Church, for the priests of the Diocese of Tulsa, and especially for those priests who are most wounded in their souls, exposed to the powers of darkness, or locked in the exhausting struggles of a spiritual combat. We believe that we can best fulfill this mission by remaining faithful to keeping watch before Our Lord's Eucharistic Face, and this within the balanced rhythm of traditional Benedictine life.


Gustate et Videte

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Twentieth Sunday of the Year B

Proverbs 9:1-6
Psalm 33:2-3. 10-15
Ephesians 5:15-20
John 6:51-58

Today's Grace

We have arrived at the fourth of five Sundays on which the Word of God speaks to us of the astonishing mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist. How important it is to profit from these five weeks dedicated to the Bread of Life. Do not let them pass without leaving an impression on your souls. The particular grace offered you today will not be there tomorrow.

Sadness and Grumbling

Read and re-read the entire sixth chapter of Saint John. Take the Compendium of the Catechism to prayer and review, point by point, exactly what the Church believes and teaches concerning the Most Holy Eucharist. Saint Bernard says, "When men grow weary of studying spiritual doctrine and become lukewarm, when their spiritual energies are drained away, then they walk in sadness along the ways of the Lord. They fulfil the tasks enjoined on them with hearts that are tired and arid, they grumble without ceasing." Never say, "I have already read that, I have had enough: there is nothing more for me to learn."

Like Jacob's Ladder

We offer the Holy Sacrifice over and over again, in obedience to the command of the Lord, "Do this in remembrance of me" (2 Cor 11:24). The Mass is inexhaustible. The reality of the Eucharist stretches, like Jacob's ladder (Gen 28:12), from heaven to earth, and from earth to heaven.

Good Things As Yet Unseen

Today's Mass opened with a Collect that drew us into the very heart of the Eucharist. We prayed, "O God, who have prepared for those who love You good things as yet unseen." What is the Most Holy Eucharist if not a glimpse and foretaste of these good things, "what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor 2:9)? We asked God to "pour into our hearts such love for Him, that we, loving Him in all things and above all things, may obtain His promises, which exceed all that we can desire." This is no ordinary love. This is the love that "takes the kingdom of heaven by violence" (Mt 11:12), a love that permeates every part of us, a love "strong as death" (Ct 8:6). The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass opens onto infinitely more than we can see or think, ask or imagine, onto things that "exceed all that we can desire."

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A Table for the Little and the Poor

How then are we to approach the adorable mystery of the Eucharist? In the first reading we encounter Lady Wisdom. She lays the table and pours out her wine. She calls the little and the poor inside to her table, sending out her servants to cry aloud from the highest places. "Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed" (Prov 9:5). The mistress of the house bakes her bread, airs her wine, and attends to all the details of a gracious hospitality.

God's Own Hospitality

Wisdom appears as the handmaid of God's own hospitality. She appeals to the simple, to those without understanding, without knowledge, in a word, to those without power. The First Reading gave us the very passage that completely changed the life of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, and became the foundation of her "Little Way." Thérèse read it in the translation of the Vulgate where is it is rendered, "Whosoever is a little one, let him come to me" (Prov 9:4). We are to approach the Most Holy Eucharist conscious of our powerlessness, of our need for something that "exceeds all that we can desire." The Eucharist calls us to the poverty of empty hands. Saint Thérèse understood this.

To Offer Ourselves

Saint Bernard teaches that it is not enough for us to take and eat the Bread from Heaven. We must also offer ourselves to be eaten. Holy Communion is a wondrous exchange in which we become the bread of Christ. Listen to Saint Bernard:

My penitence, my salvation are His food.
I myself am His food.
I am chewed as I am reproved by Him;
I am swallowed by Him as I am taught;
I am digested by Him as I am changed;
I am assimilated as I am transformed;
I am made one with Him as I am conformed to Him.
He feeds upon us and is fed by us
that we may be the more loosely bound to Him."

Saint Bernard, ever the poet, uses images of eating and assimilation to describe how Christ unites us to Himself. Our Lord becomes our food that we might become His. We need the language of poets and preachers in our approach to the Eucharist; we need song as well.

The Inadequacy of Mere Words

In the Second Reading, Saint Paul says, "be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart" (Eph 5:18-19). The Church has always sung her way through the Eucharist. The Mass cries out to be sung because mere words, uttered in the routine and conventional tones of our everyday exchanges, fail to convey that the Most Holy Eucharist is something awesome and heavenly, divinely inebriating, powerfully transforming.

Liturgical Singing

The Synod on the Eucharist warned us that we are in danger of losing our sense of awe, in danger of wanting to tame the mystery, of trying to contain it with the narrow margins of our own comfort zones. The Sacred Liturgy demands a kind of singing that suggests more of heaven than it does of earth, a kind of singing that echoes the angels' ceaseless song.

O Taste and See

In the early ages of the Church, Christians always approached the Body and Blood of Christ singing. Their favourite Communion chant was the one we heard as today's Responsorial Psalm. They never tired of repeating, "O taste and see . . . taste and see" (Ps 33:8) because in the Body of and in the Chalice of His Blood they had discovered, already here below, the taste of Wisdom's eternal banquet.

Complete Union

In the Gospel Our Lord brings Wisdom's invitation to fulfillment. "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me will live because of Me" (Jn 6:57). Saint Bernard says, "Christ eats me that He may have me in Himself, and Christ in turn is eaten by me that He may be in me, and the bond between us will be strong and the union complete." What awaits you in Holy Communion exceeds all that you can desire. Eat, then, and offer yourself to be eaten. Receive the Bread of God and become the bread of God.

Doctor Zelantissimus

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Siamo Napoletani

Given that grace builds on nature, my Neapolitan ancestry may, in some way, account for my spiritual affinity with Saint Alphonsus Maria Liguori. For the long lazy days and hot nights of August I recommend a a fascinating biography of the saint: Alphonsus de Liguori, Saint of Bourbon Naples, by Frederick M. Jones, C.Ss.R.

Reparation Then and Now

Meditate the following text written by Saint Alphonsus Maria, and translated by Norman J. Muckermann, C.Ss.R. It is astonishingly relevant to the need for reparation, when one considers the current proliferation of so many outrages against the Most Blessed Sacrament.

The Sorrowful Heart of Jesus

It is impossible for us to appreciate how greatly afflicted the Heart of Jesus was for love of us and at the same time not be filled with pity for Him. . . . The principal sorrow affecting the Heart of Jesus was not so much knowing the torments and insults His enemies were preparing for Him. Rather, it was seeing how ready we would be to reject His immense love.

Desecrations of the Sacred Host

Jesus distinctly saw all the sins which we would commit even after His sufferings, even after His bitter and ignominious death on the cross. He foresaw, too, the insults which sinners would offer His Sacred Heart which He would leave on earth in the Most Holy Sacrament as proof of His love. These insults are almost too horrible to mention: people trampling the sacred hosts underfoot, throwing them into gutters or piles of refuse, and even using them to worship the devil himself!

The Pledge of His Love

Even the knowledge that these and other defamations would happen did not prevent Jesus from giving us this great pledge of His love, the Holy Eucharist. Jesus has an infinite hatred for sin; yet it seems that His great love for us even overcomes this bitterness. Because of His love, He allows these sacrileges to happen in order not to deprive us of this Divine Food. Should not this alone suffice to make us love a Heart that has loved us so much?

Jesus Forsaken on the Altar

What more could Jesus do to deserve our love? Is our ingratitude so great that we will still leave Jesus forsaken on the altar, as so many are wont to do? Rather, should we not unite ourselves to those few who gather to praise Him and acknowledge His divine presence? Should we not melt with love, as do the candles which adorn the altars where the Holy Sacrament is preserved? There the Sacred Heart remains burning with love for us. Shall we not in turn burn with love for Jesus?

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The Seventeenth Sunday of the Year B
The First of Five Sundays
Focusing on the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist
in the Sixth Chapter of Saint John's Gospel


A Midsummer Eucharistic Season

Every three years when the B cycle of the Sunday Lectionary returns, the Church interrupts her reading of Saint Mark's Gospel to spend five weeks listening to the magnificent sixth chapter of Saint John: Our Lord's discourse on the Bread of Life. These five Sundays -- the 17th through the 21st -- constitute a kind of Johannine interlude, a Eucharistic season within the cycle of Time Throughout the Year. In this Year of the Priest, these five Sundays will take on an even richer meaning.

These five weeks, marked by the contemplation of the Bread of Life, invite us to three things:

1) a clear and systematic Eucharistic catechesis;
2) an examination of conscience on our personal response to what the Church teaches concerning the mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist;
3) a more generous dedication of time to Eucharistic adoration.

A Eucharistic Program

Pope John Paul II's Year of the Eucharist in 2004-2005 is, I fear, already beginning to fade from our consciousness. We are, as the saying goes, "no better than our fathers, slow to remember and quick to forget." I would suggest, then, that you make yourself a program for these next five weeks. It would be opportune to re-read Pope John Paul II's Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, and his Apostolic Letter Mane Nobiscum, Domine. Take out the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and study articles 271-294 on the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Meditate on Pope Benedict XVI's Letter for the Year of the Priesthood. Prepare each day's Mass with attention. Make more time for Eucharistic adoration, remembering that when adoration involves an element of sacrifice, it is a more worthy expression of love.

A Lavish Love

Our Lord multiplies the loaves in today's Gospel in order to give us an image of just how lavish His superabundant love for us is. The twelve baskets left over demonstrate that God is not content with providing us with what is strictly necessary: the work of God is characterized by superabundance. "I came that they may have life," says Our Lord, "and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10).

The Antiphons at the Magnificat and Benedictus

The three antiphons carefully chosen by the Church for the Gospel Canticles of today's Divine Office are, in themselves, a meditation in three movements on the Mystery of Faith that we will contemplate over the next five weeks:

Magnificat Antiphon at First Vespers

Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, "How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?" This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.

Benedictus Antiphon

The Lord satisfied five thousand men with five loaves and two fish.

Magnificat Antiphon at Second Vespers

When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!"

Note: The American edition of the Liturgy of the Hours, due to a purely arbitrary editorial decision, does not, alas, give all three antiphons for each of the yearly A, B, and C cycles. They are given in the Latin editio typica, as well as in the Italian, French, and German editions of the Liturgy of the Hours. Those who pray the Hours in English are unjustly deprived of the richness of what Mother Church wants them to have. One hopes that this omission will be corrected in future editions of the Liturgy of the Hours in English. Until then the best solution is to repeat the antiphon corresponding to the Sunday Gospel at all three Gospel Canticles. The Magnificat I Antiphon corresponds to Year A; the Benedictus Antiphon to Year B; and the Magnificat II Antiphon to Year C.

Transubstantiation

The miracle of the multiplication of the loaves is a very little thing in comparison to the miracle which takes place on the altar in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Acting in the very person of Christ the Head of His Mystical Body, the Eternal High Priest, the priest pronounces the words of consecration over the offerings of bread and wine. By the words of consecration and by the action of the Holy Spirit, the bread becomes the very Body of Christ and the wine becomes His Precious Blood. This is the miracle of Transubstantiation: the change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the Body of Christ and of the whole substance of wine into the substance of his Blood" (Comp. CCC, art. 283).

You still see the appearance of bread, but there is no longer any bread, but only Christ, the Bread of Life. You still see the appearance of wine, but there is no longer be any wine, but only the Precious Blood of Christ. The Eucharist is the real presence of Christ under the species of bread and wine: "Christ whole and entire, God and Man" (Comp. CCC, art. 282). This is no momentary or fleeting presence; it is permanent, lasting so long as one can see, touch, and taste the outward properties of bread and of wine.

Fruits of Holy Mass and Communion

In Holy Mass the Sacred Body and Precious Blood of Christ are offered to the Father for the salvation of the world, for the forgiveness of sins, for the needs of the living and for the eternal rest of the dead. This same Sacred Body and Precious Blood are offered to us as food and drink in Holy Communion. Holy Communion builds up the unity of the Mystical Body of Christ; "it increases our union with Christ and with His Church. It strengthens us in charity, wipes away venial sins and preserves us from mortal sin in the future" (Comp. CCC, art. 292).

The Eucharistic Life

Without Holy Communion the Christian life is impossible. The more you receive Holy Communion, the more will you hunger and thirst for it. Saint Sharbel Makhlouf, the Lebanese monk whose feast we celebrated this past Friday, organized his whole life around the Eucharist; he celebrated Mass at noon each day so as to have the whole morning to prepare for it, and the whole afternoon for thanksgiving. Holy Communion is Love poured into our hearts, and the effect of Love is to make us long for even more Love.

Real Presence

The mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist is not confined to the duration of Holy Mass. The miracle of Our Lord's real presence is ongoing and dynamic, continuing by day and by night at every moment in all the tabernacles of the world. This, of course, is why we Catholics adore the Most Holy Eucharist reserved in the tabernacle and exposed to our gaze in the monstrance on the altar. The faithful Catholic is compelled to linger before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, is magnetized by His presence, and drawn to His Open Heart hidden, and yet beating with love for us in the Sacrament of the Altar.

Our Lord's real sacramental presence is not static; it is not the presence of some thing, however sacred; it is the living presence of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, eternally Priest and Victim, offering Himself to His Father, and saying to us, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Mt 11:28). Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is supremely active, divinely active, testifying here and now to what Saint Luke wrote: "And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power (virtus) came forth from him and healed them all" (Lk 6:19).

With the Saints

In a few days the Church will present us with the feasts of three holy priests: passionate lovers of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. These three saints appear right on cue as if to encourage us in living this summer Eucharistic season as they lived their whole lives. On August 1st, we will remember Saint Alphonsus Liguori; on August 2nd, Saint Peter Julian Eymard; and on August 4th, Saint Jean-Marie Vianney. These will be privileged moments of grace in this Year of the Priesthood. Do not let them pass you by!

Saint Alphonsus, Saint Peter Julien Eymard, and Saint Jean-Marie Vianney were priests overwhelmed with Eucharistic Love, drunk with Eucharistic Love, all ablaze with Eucharistic Love! They lived from one Holy Mass to the next. I so look forward to their companionship in this Year of the Priesthood. Ask them, together with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Priests, to introduce us into these five weeks of Eucharistic renewal. There is no better way to go straight to the heart of the Year of the Priesthood.

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Original Chapel of the Drumshanbo Monastery


I had just finished the Invitatory at Vigils this morning when I heard the telephone ringing. Normally, I don't answer the telephone during the Divine Office, but given the very early hour I feared some kind of emergency and so interrupted the Office to answer. I was reassured when, at the other end, I heard the lovely, lilting voice of Reverend Mother M. Angela, abbess of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Drumshanbo, County Leitrim, Ireland. Two years ago I had the privilege of preaching the annual retreat to the nuns of Drumshanbo. Their little monastery is, to my mind, one of the holiest places in Ireland!

Two of the Drumshanbo community's founding members were English ladies, converts from the Church of England: Elizabeth Sophie Law, and Mary Anne Hayes. A third member of the original group, Frances Maria Horne, was the daughter of a British military office and a Catholic mother. After their reception into the Catholic Church in 1851 the three ladies went to Paris to be formed in the austere Monastery of Saint Elizabeth of the so-called "Third Order of Strict Observance of the Reform of Picpus." A pilgrimage from one temporary monastery to another -- first in England and then in Ireland -- followed until, at last, in 1864 the little flock found a permanent home on the hillside in County Leitrim where they are to this day.

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Mother Angela rang to remind me that today is the 140th anniversary of the beginning of Eucharistic Adoration by the Drumshanbo community. For 140 years their adoration has been uninterrupted! Today is also the 130th liturgical anniversary of the death of the saintly Reverend Mother St. Joseph, Drumshanbo's second abbess; Our Lord called her to Himself on the eve of Corpus Christ, 11 June, 1879.

On one occasion, speaking in a rapture of Divine Love, Mother St. Joseph said to a witness:

. . . that Our Divine Lord wished the Devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament to be increased over the whole world; that we were to have Perpetual Adoration and Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament in our Convent Chapel; that we should be the Adorers to keep watch, hour by hour, day and night, before the Most Holy; that a high Tower should be built, and that the Bell should toll every hour, one, two, three; and that men's hearts should be touched thereby; that ladies would furnish the pecuniary aid necessary for the Perpetual Adoration which implied Exposition. She also told me that our Constitutions brought from France should be revised and sent to Rome. . . .
Our Divine Lord also spoke about the Churches of Ireland -- that poverty prevented the Blessed Sacrament being reserved in the Tabernacle [in many cases]; but He wished His priests to be zealous for the adornment of the Sanctuary, and that they would thus minister to Him personally. No heed should be paid to those who murmured against what they would term 'this waste,' as the Pharisees had murmured that the price of the precious ointment was not given to the poor -- adding that the multitude see and compassionate the wants of the Poor, but the enlightened soul of the consecrated spouse best discovers the needs of her Lord!
Our Divine Lord again made know to our dear Mother St. Joseph that great blessings would descend upon our country through means of Devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament -- that external demonstrations and the decoration of Churches honoured Him, and that even regal honours should be paid Him as a King upon His Throne in the Sacrament of His Love; . . . that the Jews would be converted and acknowledge Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament to be their King and their God.

With Mother St. Joseph interceding for the Church in Ireland from her place in heaven, and her faithful daughters, though now they be few in number and rich in years, praying before the Most Blessed Sacrament in their chapel in Leitrim, one has reason to rejoice in hope, even when, from a human perspective, everything there seems to point to an alarming crisis of faith.

Sing praise to the Lord, then, faithful souls,
invoke His name with thankfulness.
For a moment lasts His anger, for a life-time His love;
sorrow is but the guest of a night, and joy comes in the morning.
I, too, had thought, in time of ease, Nothing can shake me now;
such power and state, Lord, had Thy mercy granted me.
Then Thou didst turn thy face away from me,
and I was at peace no more.
Lord, I was fain to plead with Thee,
cry upon my God for pity:
How will it profit Thee to take my life? I can but go down into the grave;
and will this dust give thanks to Thee, or acknowledge, there, Thy faithfulness?
Listen, Lord, and spare;
Lord, let Thy aid befriend me.
With that, Thou didst turn my sadness into rejoicing;
Thou hast undone the sackcloth I wore, and girded me about with gladness.So may this heart never tire of singing praises;
O Lord my God I will give thanks to Thee for ever.

Psalm 29, Translation by R. Knox

Blessed Edouard Poppe

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My God, I forget all fear and all mistrust.
I melt away for joy and love, whenever I lay my eyes on the Tabernacle
and, in my soul, repeat these words:
"That Host is my God, my Creator. . My Master. . . My Bridegroom!
You see me. . . You think about me. . . You love me. . ."
What else could He do? For God is love.
I may not be worthy of it, but He is love!

(Spiritual Notebook of Blessed Edouard Poppe, July 17, 1917)
The ciborium in the photo belonged to Saint Jean-Marie Vianney, the Curé d'Ars.


Adoration at Home

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Judging from some recent comments, I think it may be helpful to say something about the practice of Eucharistic adoration in the home for those who, for one reason or another, cannot go to a church or chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. The zealous apostle of this kind of adoration in the home was a priest of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary of Perpetual Adoration, Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey (1875-1960). Father Mateo wrote:

Not every one is able to make the hour of Eucharistic Adoration in the church, particularly at night. Must they be deprived, then, of the honor and privilege of consoling the Divine Prisoner, alone and forsaken in so many tabernacles? By no means! In the sanctuary of their homes, let them prostrate themselves in spirit before the tabernacle, and, in union with the Priests who at that moment, in some part of the world, are offering the Sacrifice of Calvary to the Trinity, let them adore, praise, petition and atone in the name of their own and other families who offend and sadden the Sacred Heart by their daily denial of His rights as King.

It is helpful to make one's adoration at home in front of a blessed image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or of the Holy Face. There are many people suffering from chronic illnesses, who are unable to go to a church where the Blessed Sacrament is present. They are not deprived of the graces flowing from Eucharistic adoration, and their prayer, even if it is made from a sickbed or a chair, is all the more precious in the sight of Our Lord, insofar as they unite it with patience to His own sufferings. One might say something like this;

Lord Jesus Christ,
my desire and the intention of my heart
is to pray before Thy holy image as if I were in Thy Eucharistic presence.
Transport my soul before the tabernacle where
Thou art most forsaken at this hour,
and there let me offer Thee my desire to adore Thee,
and my love,
in a spirit of reparation.

Or, like this:

Receive this time before Thee
as an act of adoration and reparation directed to Thee
in the Most Blessed Sacrament,
especially in that tabernacle on earth where Thou art most forsaken.
Make me, especially for the sake of Thy priests and for their sanctification,
a faithful adorer of Thy Eucharistic Face
and of Thy Open Heart hidden in the Sacrament of Thy Love.
Trusting that faith, hope, and love abolish every distance
and transport the soul straightway to the object of its desire,
I will adore Thee now with the same sentiments
of thanksgiving, confidence, and pleading love
that I would have,
were I prostrate before the Sacrament of Thy Body and Blood
hidden in the tabernacle, or exposed to my gaze upon the altar.

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Canon 904: Remembering always that in the mystery of the eucharistic sacrifice the work of redemption is exercised continually, priests are to celebrate frequently; indeed, daily celebration is recommended earnestly since, even if the faithful cannot be present, it is the act of Christ and the Church in which priests fulfill their principal function.

The Work of God

A certain secular model of professionalism is pernicious when applied to the priesthood. The priesthood is a life, not a profession, and certainly not a career. While a weekly "day off" and an annual vacation are legitimate and healthy variations in the ordinary pursuits of priestly life, they do not dispense a priest from the "Work of God" -- the Divine Office -- into which the Church sets the daily offering of the Holy Sacrifice.

Desiring With A Holy Desire

The daily celebration of Holy Mass takes its place, in effect, within the living context of the daily Liturgy of the Hours to which every priest is bound (Can. 276 § 3); Canon Law also earnestly recommends daily celebration of Holy Mass (Can. 904). The priest who is faithful to the Divine Office, even on his "day off" or while on holiday, will desire with desire to complete and crown the daily round of praise with the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice, even if he must celebrate without the presence of the faithful. Thus will the word of Our Lord come to burn like a fire in the heart of the priest: " With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you, before I suffer" (Lk 22:15).

Trends

Certain trends holding sway over the past forty years have contributed in no small measure to a loss of attachment, among certain priests, to the daily celebration of Holy Mass. What theological suppositions and liturgical shifts of emphasis have shaped these trends or contributed to their entrenchment?

Sacrifice Offered to God

First of all, there has been a general weakening of adhesion to the essential character of the Most Holy Eucharist as a sacrifice offered to God in view of four ends: adoration, thanksgiving, propitiation, and supplication. This theological loss of perspective obviously goes hand in hand with the horizontalization of the priesthood to the detriment of its essential vertical (and mediatory) dimension. The priest, before being a man for others, is a man for God, a man who places himself upon the altar of the Holy Sacrifice day after day, offering himself through Christ and with Him as one victim (hostia) to the glory of the Father, out of love for the Spouse of Christ, the Church.

To the Altar

This reality is impressed upon the priest himself, and expressed to the faithful, when he alone ascends the altar, acting in the person of Christ the Head, with the body of the Church behind him, there to face God "on behalf of all and for all" (Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom).

Facing God vs. Facing the People

When, in fact, the trend of Mass "facing the people" came to be perceived as normative, a loss of awareness of the latreutic character of the Mass ensued. While addressing the Father in the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest found himself facing the people and, in some instances, was even led to believe that he should actively look at them. In most instances, this contributed, at least subjectively, to a loss of recollection, focus, and singlehearted devotion on the part of the priest. The physical change of direction led insidiously and almost imperceptibly to to a theological change of direction. Even without formulating it consciously, a question began to hang in the very air of the sanctuary: "Is the Mass a sacrifice offered to God or a service offered to the people?" A flashback to the Protestant Reformation.

I would argue, then, that the habit of celebrating "versus populum" has contributed significantly to the disaffection of many priests for the so-called "private Mass," or celebration of Holy Mass without an assembly. This is not the only factor to be considered. Although the Ordo Missae of Pope Paul VI specifically provides for celebration without an assembly, certain elements in it de-emphasize the theocentric direction of the Mass, actual communion with the intercession of the Mother of God and of the saints, and the benefits derived from the Holy Sacrifice for both the living and the dead.

The Rites Themselves

First among these elements would be the curious structure of the Introductory Rites with the salutation of the people being given before the Rite of Penitence, Kyrie, and Gloria, that is, before the Godward direction of the celebration has been unambiguously established. In no traditional Catholic or Orthodox liturgy does the celebration open with the salutation of the people followed straightaway by a monitio addressed to them. This is, I would suggest, the first "structural defect" in the Mass of Pope Paul VI. It is one that could, however, be remedied quite easily.

In the Liturgy of Saint Gregory, the Godward movement set in motion by the Introit and by the priest's private declaration at the foot of the altar, "I will go unto the altar of God," affects the entire theological direction and spiritual climate of the celebration. The place of the salutation after the Introit, Kyrie, and Gloria, and before the Collect, has about it a "rightness" that signifies and fosters the over-arching Godward direction of the celebration even before the Liturgy of the Word.

More could be said on the subject. For today I must limit myself to what I have written thus far. The commitment of priests to the daily celebration of Holy Mass, even on days off and while traveling, will be, I think, all of a piece with the ongoing reform of the reform. What must be recovered above all is a new appreciation for the latreutic character of the Holy Sacrifice. Readers comfortable with Italian will also want to read Cantuale Antonianum on this subject. I welcome comments.

Divine Mercy

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Soul in need of mercy,
whoever and wherever you may be,
know that all the riches of the Divine Mercy
are, for you, contained and offered
in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

Go before the tabernacle,
or seek out the monstrance displaying the Body of Christ,
--a feast for your eyes--
and there adore the mystery of the Divine Mercy.

Open yourself wide,
become all capacity,
so as to receive within yourself
the mighty torrent of Mercy destined for you and, through you,
for those whose sorrows and weaknesses
you have chosen or have been given to bear.

Adore the Blood and Water that, even now,
gush from the Sacred Side
with a freshness and a purity that never grows old.
Adore the Gift of the Holy Spirit
and desire to receive Him anew today
as the Soul of your soul,
that is, the very Life of your life.

The Fountainhead of Divine Mercy
is hidden in the Sacrament of the Altar.
"He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry;
when He hears it, He will answer you.
And though the Lord give you the bread of affliction,
yet your Teacher will not hide Himself any more,
but your eyes shall see your Teacher." (Isaiah 30:19-20)

Close to the Eucharistic Fountainhead,
you will find Mary, the Mater Misericordiae.
She never tires of communicating to souls
the abundance of Divine Mercy.
So close is she to the Source,
that it is as if she and the Source were one:
all that flows out of the Source passes through her,
and it is within her power to direct the flow of Divine Mercy
toward whomsoever she pleases.
Her Son so trusts her maternal Heart
that He has has entrusted all to her,
allowing her freely to dispense His Mercy to souls.

Soul devoted to the Divine Mercy,
adore Him Who is present as Mercy
in the Sacrament of the Altar.
Divine Mercy enters the world through the Most Holy Sacrament,
for therein in is the Heart of Jesus, the wellspring of His Mercy,
and His pierced Side, the mouth of Divine Mercy,
the opening out of which Divine Mercy enters the universe
and streams into souls
to purify, sanctify, and glorify them.

Soul surfeited with miseries,
if you would experience the Divine Mercy,
draw near to the Eucharistic Presence of the Pierced One;
remain in the light of His Eucharistic Face;
hold yourself still and full of expectation before His Open Side.
There, you will never be disappointed in your hope.
For with Him is Mercy and copious redemption,
and He will forgive you all your sins.
Every tabernacle that shelters His adorable Body and Blood
makes available to you, and to all,
the Fountainhead of the inexhaustible Mercy of God.

Venite, benedicti Patris mei

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Wednesday of Pascha

Come, you blessed of my Father,
receive the kingdom, alleluia
prepared for you
since the foundation of the world, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia (cf. Mt 25:34)

The Voice of Christ

In today's Introit, the fourth one of the ongoing Paschal solemnity, we hear the voice of none other than Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Today's text is extraordinary in that it is one of the very few Introits drawn from the Gospels. It comes from Chapter 25 of Saint Matthew. The context is that of the Last Judgment. The words are those of Christ the King, of the Son of Man coming in His glory, and all the angels with him. He is seated upon the throne of His glory. All the nations are gathered in His presence.

Come to Me

How are we to understand this Introit today? Our Lord is addressing the newly-baptized. His first word to them is, "Come." Venite, benedicti Patris mei. Where else do we hear this same word, Venite, in the mouth of Jesus? In Matthew 11:28: "Come to me, all you that labour and are burdened; I will give you rest." I see Our Lord pronouncing this word with His arms spread wide in a gesture of welcome. The hands nailed to the wood of the Cross shine with His glorious wounds. His Holy Face is radiant. A torrent of light flows from His Open Side. When He says, "Come," who can resist His invitation?

Every Spiritual Blessing

Our Lord calls the newly-baptized benedicti Patris mei, blessed of my Father. Is not this what Saint Paul develops in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Ephesians? "Blessed be that God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us, in Christ, with every spiritual blessing, higher than heaven itself" (Eph 1:3). There is no greater blessing than incorporation into the Body of Christ that is the Church. The children of the Church, the Bride of Christ, are nourished from the altar of His Sacrifice with the mysteries of His Body and Blood. It is in the Eucharist that we are blessed, here and now, with every spiritual blessing, higher than heaven itself.

Here is a photo of the little Oratory of the Cenacle where I offer Holy Mass, sing the Divine Office, and make my daily adoration.

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Sacrament of the Kingdom

To receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion is to receive "the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world" (Mt 25:34). The Most Holy Eucharist is a foretaste of heaven. It is already the "Wedding Banquet of the Lamb" (Ap 19:9). The Orthodox theologian, Father Alexander Schmemann, calls the Eucharist, "the ascent of the Church to the heavenly altar." The kingdom prepared for us since the foundation of the world is offered to us sacramentally in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Mass is the Church assumed into heaven, and heaven filling the Church.

Since the Foundation of the World

The little phrase, "prepared for you since the foundation of the world" (Mt 25:34) tells us that creation itself, from the very beginning, was ordered to the Eucharist. Every created thing has a Eucharistic finality; every created thing is ordered to the priesthood of Christ. The Sacrament of the Eucharist recapitulates the purpose of God, the design of His Love, in creating man and in redeeming him. Only the Mass makes sense of history. Only the Mass gives meaning to all things.

The Canticle of the Three Young Men

This is why the Church enjoins the priest to say daily, as part of his thanksgiving after Mass, the Canticle of the Three Young Men, the Benedicite. Blessed Abbot Marmion remained faithful to this all his life. In Christ, the Life of the Soul, he writes, "The Church, the Bride of Christ, who knows better than anyone the secrets of her Divine Bridegroom, makes the priest sing in the sanctuary of his soul where the Word dwells, the inward canticle of thanksgiving. The soul leads all creation to the feet of its God and its Lord, that He may receive homage from every creature."

The Bread of Angels

The Eucharistic motif of today's Introit becomes explicit in the Offertory Antiphon. (This is why I said yesterday that the Proper of the Mass is an integral whole.) As the priest goes to the altar today, the Church sings, "The Lord opened the doors of heaven and rained manna on them for food; he gave them the bread of heaven, man ate the bread of angels, alleluia" (Ps 77:23-25). The priest goes to the altar precisely for this: that the Lord might open before him, for the sake of all those who stand behind him, the doors of heaven. The true Manna, the Bread of Heaven, the Bread of Angels, descends from heaven to become the food of mortal wayfarers.

Year of the Eucharist and Year of the Priest

One final thought: when the Servant of God Pope John Paul II announced the Year of the Eucharist in 2004, he placed it under the sign of today's Gospel of Emmaus. He asked the whole Church to take up the prayer of the disciples on the road: Mane nobiscum, Domine (Lk 24:29) -- "Abide with us, Lord."

The Year of the Eucharist was more than a passing observance; it was a grace of conversion in the strictest sense of the word: a turning toward the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, a rekindling of the fire that burned in the hearts of the disciples of Emmaus. The Year of the Eucharist was a beginning, not an end. The Year of the Priest announced by Pope Benedict XVI on March 16, 2009 is, I think, intrinsically related to the Year of the Eucharist. It represents an opportunity to enter more deeply into the adoration of the Eucharistic Face of Christ for the sake of a holier priesthood, of a priesthood purified and renewed.

Examination of Conscience

We would do well today, five years after the Year of the Eucharist, to make an examination of conscience based on Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter, Mane Nobiscum, Domine.

-- Are we conscious of the Eucharistic finality of all we think, say, and do?
-- Have we grown in the grace of Eucharistic amazement?
-- Has the tabernacle become for us, to use Pope John Paul's expression, "a kind of magnetic pole attracting an ever greater number of souls"?
-- What have we done to respond individually and corporately to the call to Eucharistic adoration?
-- What have we done with the unique grace offered us five years ago?
-- How has it changed us?

We will be held accountable for the Year of the Eucharist, just as we will be held accountable for the Year of the Priest that will open on June 19th, solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. These are moments of grace for the universal Church. "Much will be asked of the man to whom much has been given; more will be expected of him, because he was entrusted with more" (Lk 12:48). "Listen, you that have ears, to the message the Spirit has for the churches" (Ap 2:7).

Of You I Ask Something More

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"So few souls remember to thank Me after receiving My Body and Blood. This is true even of my priests -- my priests, my friends, my chosen ones from whom I expect more, from whom I desire more.
Hearts have grown cold and indifferent towards Me in this the Sacrament of My Love. For many, receiving Me has become a routine action devoid of faith and with no manifestation of adoration and of love. How has My Church come to this?
I will raise up holy priests to rekindle a burning love for the Most Holy Eucharist in the hearts of my faithful. I am calling many priests to adore My Eucharistic Face and to approach My Open Heart in the Sacrament of My Love. These are the priests whom I will use to minister first to their own brothers in Holy Orders and then, through them, to vast multitudes of souls who have never understood the mysteries of My Body and Blood offered to the Father and given up for the life of the world.
It is in these few precious moments after Holy Communion that My Heart seeks to hold conversation with My friends, but so many turn away from Me to busy themselves about many things. Of you . . . I ask something more. Remain with Me for these few moments. Listen for the sound of My voice in your heart. Know that My desire is to speak to you and to listen to all that you have to tell Me. It is in these moments that I am most disposed to grant the requests made of Me in faith."

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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.

Rationabile Obsequium

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Our Holy Father gave an extraordinary catechesis yesterday on Romans 12:1. A certain Irish priest friend of mine should be very pleased! The titles are my own. Here is the text of His Holiness:

Your Bodies: A Living Sacrifice

2. The second passage about which I would like to speak today is found in the first verse of Chapter 12 of the Letter to the Romans. We have heard it and I repeat it once again: "I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship."

The Oblation of Our Selves

In these words, an apparent paradox is verified: While sacrifice demands as a norm the death of the victim, Paul makes reference to the life of the Christian. The expression "offer your bodies," united to the successive concept of sacrifice, takes on the worship nuance of "give in oblation, offer." The exhortation to "offer your bodies" refers to the whole person; in fact, in Romans 6:13, [Paul] makes the invitation to "present yourselves to God." For the rest, the explicit reference to the physical dimension of the Christian coincides with the invitation to "glorify God in your bodies" (1 Corinthians 6:20): It's a matter of honoring God in the most concrete daily existence, made of relational and perceptible visibility.

Living, Holy, Pleasing to God

Conduct of this type is classified by Paul as "living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God." It is here where we find precisely the term "sacrifice." In prevalent use, this term forms part of a sacred context and serves to designate the throat-splitting of an animal, of which one part can be burned in honor of the gods and another part consumed by the offerers in a banquet. Paul instead applied it to the life of the Christian. In fact he classifies such a sacrifice by using three adjectives. The first -- "living" -- expresses a vitality. The second -- "holy" -- recalls the Pauline concept of a sanctity that is not linked to places or objects, but to the very person of the Christian. The third -- "pleasing to God" -- perhaps recalls the common biblical expression of a sweet-smelling sacrifice (cf. Leviticus 1:13, 17; 23:18; 26:31, etc.).

Man Adores and Glorifies the Living God

Immediately afterward, Paul thus defines this new way of living: this is "your spiritual worship." Commentators of the text know well that the Greek expression (tçn logikçn latreían) is not easy to translate. The Latin Bible renders it: "rationabile obsequium." The same word "rationabile" appears in the first Eucharistic prayer, the Roman Canon: In it, we pray so that God accepts this offering as "rationabile." The traditional Italian translation, "spiritual worship," [an offering in spirit], does not reflect all the details of the Greek text, nor even of the Latin. In any case, it is not a matter of a less real worship or even a merely metaphorical one, but of a more concrete and realistic worship, a worship in which man himself in his totality, as a being gifted with reason, transforms into adoration and glorification of the living God.

In the Roman Canon

This Pauline formula, which appears again in the Roman Eucharistic prayer, is fruit of a long development of the religious experience in the centuries preceding Christ. In this experience are found theological developments of the Old Testament and currents of Greek thought. I would like to show at least certain elements of this development. The prophets and many psalms strongly criticize the bloody sacrifices of the temple. For example, Psalm 50 (49), in which it is God who speaks, says, "Were I hungry, I would not tell you, for mine is the world and all that fills it. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Offer praise as your sacrifice to God" (verses 12-14).

And in the Miserere

In the same sense, the following Psalm 51 (50), says, " for you do not desire sacrifice; a burnt offering you would not accept. My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit; God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart" (verse 18 and following).

With Contrite Heart and Humble Spirit

In the Book of Daniel, in the times of the new destruction of the temple at the hands of the Hellenistic regime (2nd century B.C.), we find a new step in the same direction. In midst of the fire -- that is, persecution and suffering -- Azariah prays thus: "We have in our day no prince, prophet, or leader, no holocaust, sacrifice, oblation, or incense, no place to offer first fruits, to find favor with you. But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received; As though it were holocausts of rams and bullocks So let our sacrifice be in your presence today as we follow you unreservedly" (Daniel 3:38ff).

The Acceptable Holocaust

In the destruction of the sanctuary and of worship, in this situation of being deprived of every sign of the presence of God, the believer offers as a true holocaust a contrite heart, his desire of God.

Disincarnate Worship: A Danger

We see an important development, beautiful, but with a danger. There exists a spiritualization, a moralization of worship: Worship becomes only something of the heart, of the spirit. But the body is lacking; the community is lacking. Thus is understood that Psalm 51, for example, and also the Book of Daniel, despite criticizing worship, desire the return of the time of sacrifices. But it is a matter of a renewed time, in a synthesis that still was unforeseeable, that could not yet be thought of.

The Offering of the Body

Let us return to St. Paul. He is heir to these developments, of the desire for true worship, in which man himself becomes glory of God, living adoration with all his being. In this sense, he says to the Romans: "Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice your spiritual worship" (Romans 12:1).

Paul thus repeats what he had already indicated in Chapter 3: The time of the sacrifice of animals, sacrifices of substitution, has ended. The time of true worship has arrived. But here too arises the danger of a misunderstanding: This new worship can easily be interpreted in a moralist sense -- offering our lives we make true worship. In this way, worship with animals would be substituted by moralism: Man would do everything for himself with his moral strength. And this certainly was not the intention of St. Paul.

True Worship in Christ

But the question persists: Then how should we interpret this "reasonable spiritual worship"? Paul always supposes that we have come to be "one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28), that we have died in baptism (Romans 1) and we live now with Christ, through Christ and in Christ. In this union -- and only in this way -- we can be in him and with him a "living sacrifice," to offer the "true worship." The sacrificed animals should have substituted man, the gift of self of man, and they could not. Jesus Christ, in his surrender to the Father and to us, is not a substitution, but rather really entails in himself the human being, our faults and our desire; he truly represents us, he assumes us in himself. In communion with Christ, accomplished in the faith and in the sacraments, we transform, despite our deficiencies, into living sacrifice: "True worship" is fulfilled.

Christ's True Sacrifice Made Present

This synthesis is the backdrop of the Roman Canon in which we pray that this offering be "rationabile," so that spiritual worship is accomplished. The Church knows that in the holy Eucharist, the self-gift of Christ, his true sacrifice, is made present. But the Church prays so that the celebrating community is really united to Christ, is transformed; it prays so that we ourselves come to be that which we cannot be with our efforts: offering "rationabile" that is pleasing to God. In this way the Eucharistic prayer interprets in an adequate way the words of St. Paul.

Christ: the High Priest Who Has Given Himself Up

St. Augustine clarified all of this in a marvelous way in the 10th book of his City of God. I cite only two phrase: "This is the sacrifice of the Christians: though being many we are only one body in Christ" "All of the redeemed community (civitas), that is, the congregation and the society of the saints, is offered to God through the High Priest who has given himself up" (10,6: CCL 47,27ff).

The Priestly Service of the Gospel

3. Finally, I want to leave a brief reflection on the third passage of the Letter to the Romans referring to the new worship. St. Paul says thus in Chapter 15: "the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in performing the priestly service (hierourgein) of the gospel of God, so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the holy Spirit" (15:15ff).

At the Center of the Priesthood

I would like to emphasize only two aspects of this marvelous text and one aspect of the unique terminology of the Pauline letters. Before all else, St. Paul interprets his missionary action among the peoples of the world to construct the universal Church as a priestly action. To announce the Gospel to unify the peoples in communion with the Risen Christ is a "priestly" action. The apostle of the Gospel is a true priest; he does what is at the center of the priesthood: prepares the true sacrifice.

Christ, Priest and Victim, Draws All Things to Himself

And then the second aspect: the goal of missionary action is -- we could say in this way -- the cosmic liturgy: that the peoples united in Christ, the world, becomes as such the glory of God "pleasing oblation, sanctified in the Holy Spirit." Here appears a dynamic aspect, the aspect of hope in the Pauline concept of worship: the self-gift of Christ implies the tendency to attract everyone to communion in his body, to unite the world. Only in communion with Christ, the model man, one with God, the world comes to be just as we all want it to be: a mirror of divine love. This dynamism is always present in Scripture; this dynamism should inspire and form our life.

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 hymn at Vespers of Christ the King evokes both the feast of Corpus Christi and that of the Sacred Heart. This is consonant with the thought of Pope Pius XI who, in instituting the feast of Christ the King in 1925, situated it in the lineage of the two other later Christological feasts. Here are two the two pertinent stanzas:

Ad hoc cruenta ab arbore
pendes apertis bracchiis,
diraque fossum cuspide
cor igne flagrans exhibes.

For this Thou hangedst on the Tree
With arms outstretched in loving plea;
For this Thou shewedst forth Thy Heart,
On fire with love, pierced by the dart.

Ad hoc in aris abderis
vini dapisque imagine,
fundens salutem filiis
transverberato pectore.

And yet that wounded side sheds grace
Forth from the altar's holy place,
Where, veiled 'neath humblest bread and wine,
Abides for man the life divine.

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I am beginning today a novena to Father Lukas Etlin, O.S.B., a monk of Conception Abbey known for his tender devotion to the Mother of God and his ardent devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist. Father Lukas, born in Switzerland in 1864, died on December 16, 1927 in Stanberry, Missouri, as a result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident. Readers of Vultus Christi may want to join me in seeking the intercession of this zealous Benedictine adorer of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Prayer

O God, who didst bestow upon Thy faithful servant, Father Lukas Etlin,
a tender love for the Mother of Thy Son,
fervent devotion to the Holy Eucharist,
and apostolic charity for all,
grant us through his intercession graces and favours,
particularly . . .
so that, through manifesting Thy good pleasure in his merits
and in hastening his beatification,
the Church may be enhanced.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

When Christ Dwelleth in Us

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In this morning's lesson at Matins (Votive Office of the Most Blessed Sacrament on Thursday), Saint Cyril of Alexandria addresses those who would stay away from The Blessing, that is, Holy Communion, for fear of their unworthiness. Then, he enumerates the benefits of Christ dwelling in us eucharistically:

Wherefore I counsel thee to betake thee to godly thoughts,
and to live carefully and holily,
and so to receive that Blessing --
a Blessing which, believe me, doth banish not death only,
but all diseases likewise.
For when Christ dwelleth in us,
He stilleth the law of death in our members,
which warreth against the law of our mind (Rom 8:23).
He giveth strength to godliness,
He turneth to calm the turbulent surging of our mind,
He cureth them which are sick.
He raiseth up them which are fallen,
and like the Good Shepherd, Which giveth His life for the sheep,
He prevaileth that the sheep perish not.

(Book IV on John, Chapter XVII)

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I rejoice to celebrate the Votive Office and Mass of the Most Blessed Sacrament on Thursday whenever the rubrics permit it. At Matins I read Saint Ambrose (De Sacramentis 4:4); he is astonishing in his simplicity and clarity. How I love this text!

And yes, dear readers, that is a beehive resting on the book next to Saint Ambrose! So gifted was he at extracting spiritual honey from the Scriptures, and so sweet was his preaching to the palate of souls, that, in his iconography, he came to be depicted with bees and beehives.

The same symbolism is associated with Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the Doctor Mellifluus (Honey-flowing Doctor) and "the last of the Fathers."

"Ergo non otiose, cum accipis,
tu dicis: Amen;
jam in spiritu confitens,
quod accipias corpus Christi.
Dicit tibi sacerdos: Corpus Christi:
et tu dicis: Amen.
Hoc est, verum.
Quod confitetur lingua,
teneat affectus."

"Therefore it is not idly that,
when thou art a-receiving, thou sayest: "Amen";
testifying in thine heart that
That which thou art taking is the Body of Christ.
The priest saith unto thee: "The Body of Christ!" and thou answerest: "Amen"
That is to say: "It is true." What then thy tongue confesseth, let thine heart hold to."

O Hostie rayonnante!

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On the feast of Corpus Christi, la Fête-Dieu, 1931, Mother Marie des Douleurs (1902-1983) wrote a meditation in the form of a dialogue with Jesus, the Divine Host, for her daughters. It is evident from the vocabulary she used that a strong call to Eucharistic reparation marked her life at that time: Host, High Priest, Victim, sacrileges, profanations. One detects the influence of Mother Mechtilde de Bar with whose writings she was certainly familiar.

You will remark that Mother Marie des Douleurs relates the agony of Jesus in Gethsemani to the institution of the Most Holy Eucharist that preceded it in the Cenacle. She sees the "Holy Hour" practiced on Thursday evenings as an act of Eucharistic reparation for sins of indifference, for the lack of response to the Gift of His Body and Blood, and for sacrileges and profanations.

Echoing the messages of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to Saint Margaret Mary at Paray-le-Monial, she hears Our Lord lament the superficiality of so many Christians, even of consecrated souls, It grieves Our Lord that so few priests offer Holy Mass without realizing that, in so doing, they hand themselves over to be immolated for souls with Himself, the Victim. Mother Marie des Douleurs alludes to the role of Saint Veronica, and hears Our Lord ask that a veil of heartfelt compassion be placed upon His Holy Face.

The last line of this brief meditation is extraordinary. The young foundress is compelled to want to place her own heart between the Heart of Jesus and sin. In effect, she prays to absorb, insofar as possible, the coldness, ugliness, indifference, and violence directed toward that Eucharistic Heart that so loves men. The translation is my own.


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High Priest and Victim

O Hostie rayonnante, notre Pontife et notre Victime, nous aurions voulu savoir vous louer, nous aurions voulu vous faire un chemin bien plus triumphal que ce chemin de fleurs. Que faut-il donc et que pouvez vous demander à nous, si petites parmi les creatures?

O radiant Host, our High Priest and our Victim, we would have wanted to know how to praise You, we would have wanted to make You a much more triumphal path than this path of flowers. What do You need, and what can You ask of us, so little among Your creatures?

I Thirst for the Love of Souls

Je demande, à chacune d'entre vous, de se livrer à moi, sans retour, sans restriction, jusqu'à vouloir continellement vous anéantir, parce que j'ai soif de l'amour des âmes et que je veux, lorsque vous serez vraiment miennes, faire de vous, de chacune de vous, des étincelles qui iront dans le monde des âmes propager l'incendie. Ne vous refusez plus à mon désir, j'ai besoin de vous, j'ai besoin de votre amour pour compenser l'indifférence. J'ai besoin de vous souffrances pour ceux qui me haïssent.

I ask that each one amongst you surrender herself to me, without having second thoughts, without restriction, until you arrive at wanting to nullify yourselves continually, because I thirst for the love of souls, and because, when you will be truly mine, I want to make you -- each one of you -- sparks that will go forth into the world of souls to set them all ablaze. Refuse my desire no longer. I need you. I need your love to make up for indifference. I need your sufferings for those who hate me.

Sins Against the Most Holy Eucharist

J'ai besoin de vous, il faut que vous soyez là près de moi pendant l'agonie où je vois distinctement quel est le petit nombre des âmes qui viendront à l'Eucharistie, où je vois chacun des sacrileges, chacune des profanations, et où mon Coeur se brise.

I need you. You must be there, close to me during the agony in which I see distinctly how few souls will come to the Eucharist, in which I see the sacrileges, and each profanation, and in which my Heart breaks.

Priests at the Altar

De quelle tristesse suis-je étreint lorsque je vois qu'au don total que je fais de moi-meme la plupart des hommes , la plupart aussi des âmes consacrées ne répondent que par des actes superficiels. Où sont les âmes eucharistiques? celles qui ne vivent que par l'Hostie, celles qui s'identifient avec mon état de Victime? Il y a si peu de prêtres qui, chaque matin, lorsqu'ils montent à l'autel, pensent qu'ils vont à l'immolation de tout leur être pour les âmes.

What sorrow holds me in its grip when I see that even the greater number of men, the greater number also of consecrated souls respond with nothing more than superficial acts to the total gift I make of myself. Where are the Eucharistic souls? Where are those who will live only by the Host, those who will identify themselves with my victimal state? There are so few priests who, each morning, when they ascend the altar, consider that they are going to be entirely immolated for souls. I ask you to suffer all of that with me; the tender compassion of your hearts will be for mine like the veil of Veronica upon my Face covered with sweat, with dust, and with blood.

Hearts Set Between the Heart of Jesus and Sin

O mon Dieu, vous êtes adorablement bon, vous nous traîtez comme vos épouses. Vous nous donnez ainsi un peu de votre souffrance. Mon Dieu, nous la recevons humblement et avec action de grIaces: c'est la part que nous avons choisie et nous ne savons plus comment nous pourrions supporter l'exil si nous ne pouvions pas, tant que nous vivrons, mettre nos coeurs entre le vôtre et le péché.

O my God, You are adorably good, You treat us as Your spouses. Thus do You give us a little of Your own suffering. My God, we receive it humbly and with thanksgiving; it is the part that we have chosen. We know not how we shall ever bear this exile, so long as we shall live, if we cannot set our hearts between Yours and sin.

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.

Vere tu es Deus absconditus

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Nineteenth Sunday of the Year A

1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a
Psalm 84, 9, 10, 11-12, 13-14
Romans 9:1-5
Matthew 14:23-33

Christ in Solitude

Today's Gospel begins with the absence of Jesus. It takes place after the miraculous multiplication of the loaves prefiguring the gift of the Most Holy Eucharist. Jesus has withdrawn into solitude on the mountain. It is night. There, hidden from the eyes of His apostles, He prays to His "Father who sees what is done in secret" (Mt 6:6). "He went up by Himself on to the hill-side, to pray there; twilight had come, and He remained there alone" (Mt 14:23). In two brief sentences, Saint Matthew twice emphasizes the aloneness of Jesus. This would indicate that we are to attend to the solitude of Our Lord. It is, in some way, an invitation to enter into the prayer of Christ in solitude.

A Stormy Night

Mysteriously, Jesus is away from His apostles and, at the same time, present to them. Not only is it night; it is a stormy night. "The ship was already half-way across the sea, hard put to it by the waves, for the wind was against them" (Mt 14:24). Jesus is present to His apostles in the storm-tossed boat because He is present to His Father, who "probes us and knows us, who knows when we sit and when we stand, who discerns all our thoughts from afar" (cf. Ps 138: 1-2). Jesus is present to the Father for whom "the night shines clear as the day itself; light and dark are one" (Ps 138:12).

Linger over the mystery of Jesus' absence: an absence that is presence; a presence that, in the dark night of faith, we experience as absence. Jesus' presence to the Father renders Him wholly present to us. Yielding Himself to the Father in a movement of adoring love, Jesus yields Himself to us in a movement of compassion. There is no artificial separation here between contemplation and action, between presence to the Father and presence to Peter's fragile bark tossed on stormy seas.

The Hidden God

The Christ of today's Gospel is hidden on the mountain with the Father; the Ascended Christ is hidden with the Father in glory; the Eucharistic Christ (Gesù sacramentato, in Italian) is hidden beneath the sacramental veils. Christ is the Deus absconditus: "Verily thou art a hidden God, the God of Israel the Saviour" (Is 45:15).

With Us As He Promised

Jesus comes to the apostles in the fourth watch of the night; their boat, by this time, is many furlongs from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind is against them. In just the same way, Our Lord comes to us in our stormy nights; He comes to us without leaving the Father, just as He goes to the Father without leaving us (cf. Jn 16:28), for He is with us as He promised, even to the end of time (Mt 28:20).

The Word proceeding from above,
Yet leaving not the Father's side,
Went forth upon His work of love,
And reached at length life's eventide.

(Verbum supernum prodiens, Lauds of Corpus Christi)

The Voice of the Lord

The passage of the Lord, His "visitation" of the Church and of our souls is characterized not by a great and strong wind, nor by an earthquake, nor by a fire, but by "a still small voice" (1 K 19:12). This is the voice that says, "Take heart, it is I; have no fear" (Mt 14:27). And again, this is the voice that says, "Why didst thou hesitate, man of little faith?" (Mt 14:31).

He Is With Me

Saint Bernard says: "When the Bridegroom comes to me, as He sometimes does, He never signals His presence by any token, neither by voice nor by vision nor by the sound of His step. By no such movement do I become aware of Him, nor does He penetrate my being through the senses. Only, by the movement of the heart, as I have said, do I come to realize that He is with me" (Sermons on the Song of Songs, 74).

Peace

What is that movement of the heart, by which we detect the passage of the Lord and become aware of His presence? It is, first of all, interior peace, the effect of the voice of Jesus saying: "Take courage, it is I myself; do not be afraid" (Mt 14:27). It is a pull of the heart that compels us to draw near to Christ in spite of the dark night, which obscures our vision, and in spite of the rolling waves, which threaten to pull us back and drag us down.

Il est là!

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L'abbaye aux puces

Twenty-nine summers ago, my dear friend Père Jacob, O.P. (not yet a Friar Preacher) and I were on a kind of back-packing pilgrimage in France that allowed us to discover all sorts of holy people, places, and things. At one point we stayed in the "hôtellerie" of a certain famous monastery only to discover that the beds were inhabited by . . . fleas! I should have guessed as much when I noticed that there were cats lolling about on most of the beds and freely roaming the hallways.

One of the goals of our pilgrimage was to seek the intercession of Saint Jean-Marie Vianney at Ars. For both of us, the priesthood we so desired seemed an almost unattainable dream. We wanted Saint Jean-Marie Vianney on our side.

The Baron with the Purple Hair

We hitchhiked (in the rain) from "l'abbaye aux puces" (the Abbey of the Fleas) to Ars. At one point a shiny black sedan stopped for us; the youngish driver, being frightfully avant-garde, had a bright purple streak of hair. He was very "sympathique," and drove us right to the door of the basilica of Ars. As I extended my hand to thank him for the lift, he gave me his card. He was the Baron de R., a scion of one of Europe's most famous banking dynasties. Who would have known?

Guitars at Ars

We washed our clothes in Ars and, once liberated from the fleas, were able to make our devotions to Saint Jean-Marie Vianney. Oh, one more thing -- there was a "rock" Mass going on in the basilica. Very upsetting. I looked at the Curé of Ars reclining in his glass reliquary, fully expecting him to turn over at any moment. But he didn't.

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The Preacher Belongs to the Word

The Word does not belong to the preacher; the preacher belongs to the Word. This was true of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, it was true of Saint Peter Julian Eymard, and it is true of today's saint, the holy parish priest Jean-Marie Vianney. The Curé of Ars stands in a long line of preachers possessed by the Word, and compelled to speak it without compromise.

Incendiary Preaching

Jean-Marie Vianney was not particularly eloquent; he preached in a cracked and broken voice, but his words communicated the fire of the Holy Spirit. Even the greatest preacher of the nineteenth century, the Dominican Père Lacordaire, fell silent before the charism of holy preaching in Jean Marie Vianney.

John Paul and Jean-Marie

When the Curé of Ars spoke of the Sacrament of the Altar, he glowed. He communicated to his hearers the Eucharistic fire that burned in his own heart. Twenty-two years ago, Pope John Paul II devoted his Holy Thursday Letter to Priests to Saint Jean-Marie Vianney. I think that today we can read that letter as one saint talking about another. This is what Pope John Paul II said:

The Eucharist was at the very center of Saint Jean Vianney's spiritual life and pastoral work. He said: "All good works put together are not equivalent to the Sacrifice of the Mass, because they are the works of men and the Holy Mass is the work of God." It is in the Mass that the sacrifice of Calvary is made present for the Redemption of the world. Clearly, the priest must unite the daily gift of himself to the offering of the Mass: "How well a priest does, therefore, to offer himself to God in sacrifice every morning!" "Holy Communion and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass are the two most efficacious actions for obtaining the conversion of hearts."

Recollection and Adoration

Thus the Mass was for John Mary Vianney the great joy and comfort of his priestly life. He took great care, despite the crowds of penitents, to spend more than a quarter of an hour in silent preparation. He celebrated with recollection, clearly expressing his adoration at the consecration and communion. He accurately remarked: "The cause of priestly laxity is not paying attention to the Mass!"

An End and a Beginning

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June 21, 2008
Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

Official End of my Service as Chaplain
to the Monastery of the Glorious Cross, O.S.B.
Branford, Connecticut, U.S.A.

Luigi: A Eucharistic Saint

Saint Aloysius, Luigi to call him by his proper name, may well be the most loved Jesuit in history. Luigi contracted the plague from those whom he was nursing. He foresaw his own death and asked Our Lord that he might die within the Octave of Corpus Christi. He died, in fact, on the Octave Day of Corpus Christi with the name of Jesus on his lips. Luigi was twenty-three years old. The liturgy commemorates the Eucharistic glow surrounding Luigi’s death in today’s Communion Antiphon:

He gave them the bread of heaven:
men ate the bread of angels (Ps 77:24–35).

Into the Radiance of the Eucharist

I should like to think that this my last “official Mass” as chaplain of the Monastery of the Glorious Cross might also leave us in a kind of Eucharistic glow. Every Holy Mass does this, certainly, but I see this particular celebration, after seven years of service as chaplain to the Sisters, as marking a movement in my own life and, I would hope, in yours too, from the radiance of the Eucharist into the radiance of the Eucharist.

With Faces Unveiled

The high point of my seven years here was, without any doubt, the Year of the Eucharist proclaimed by Pope John Paul II in 2004–2005. The Year of the Eucharist was that of his death, followed by the election of Pope Benedict XVI. It was also, for all of us, I think, in one way or another, a year marked by very special graces flowing, all of them, from the adorable mystery of the Eucharist, and carrying us as on a great surging wave, back into it, again and again. Does not the psalmist say, “In Thy light we shall see light” (Ps 35:10)? And does not Saint Paul describe the Christian journey as a movement from brightness to brightness? “It is given to us,” he says, “all alike, to catch the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, with faces unveiled; and so we become transfigured into the same likeness, borrowing glory from that glory, as the Spirit of the Lord enables us” (2 Cor 3:18).

The Eucharistic Face of Christ

The contemplation of the Eucharistic Face of Christ, the adoration of the Eucharistic Face of Christ is something that, for me at least, came into focus very clearly over the past three years. I had meditated, it is true, the invocation that the Congregation [of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified] taught me thirty-three years ago — “Most Holy Face of Jesus, sub Sacramento abscondita, hidden in the Host, look upon us, and have mercy” — but I needed, as we all do, those thirty-three years of sufferings, weaknesses, sorrows, blessings, and joys, for that invocation to pass from my head into the very fibres of my heart.

My New Mission

The wonderful Providence of God has so arranged things that I find myself now preparing to enter upon a new mission, one that is explicitly Eucharistic and priestly, one that will be marked by adoration, reparation, and a full-time dedication to the spiritual needs of priests and deacons.

In the June, 8, 2008 edition of his diocesan newspaper, Eastern Oklahoma Catholic, His Excellency, Bishop Edward J. Slattery, presented something of his vision for the Eucharistic renewal of his diocese, beginning with the Eucharistic renewal of his clergy. Rather than explain this to you in my own words, allow me to share with you what Bishop Slattery wrote.

“As a living organism, the Diocese must be assessed not at the level of measurable material things, but at the level of spiritual health, that is, the level of our ever-growing intimacy with Jesus Christ. Since the spiritual life is based on love, not to advance in this dynamic relationship with God in Christ is to retreat. One either grows in Divine intimacy or retreats from it; but the spiritual life is never static.”

Spiritual Health of the Clergy

Bishop Slattery has called me to the Diocese of Tulsa to be an agent of the spiritual health of his clergy, to foster and facilitate the ever-growing intimacy of his priests and deacons with Jesus Christ. His Excellency goes on to say:

“Let me introduce an idea, which is evidently a strongly felt part of the Pope’s vision. . . . The pontiff expressed his desires . . . through the Congregation for the Clergy in a circular letter from the Prefect of that Congregation, Cláudio Cardinal Hummes. That idea, briefly put, is this: Since there is an undeniable link between - on the one hand - the holiness of our clergy, the effectiveness of their pastoral ministry and the depth of their personal commitment and – on the other hand - the centrality of prayer and Eucharistic adoration in their lives, then of all the things which are necessary for the good of the Church, nothing can be considered more important, more necessary or more vital than helping our priests and deacons grow in Divine intimacy.”

It is that last line — nothing can be considered more important, more necessary or more vital than helping our priests and deacons grow in Divine intimacy — that explains Bishop Slattery’s mandate to me. He explains:

First and Foremost An Adorer of the Eucharist

“After their ordination, priests and deacons step to the altar of sacrifice and kiss it. They embrace a life of sacrifice which opens them up and makes them vulnerable to their Master’s redeeming love and allows His Eucharistic love to flow through them to sanctify the communities they serve. As Pope Benedict said “The secret of (priestly) holiness lies precisely in the Eucharist. The priest must be first and foremost an adorer who contemplates the Eucharist.”(Sept. 18, 2005).”

Adoration in the Diocese of Tulsa

His Excellency wants to express this concretely in the life of his Diocese:

“Cardinal Hummes asked that Eucharistic adoration be fostered in every parish and Catholic institution, with priests, chaplains and directors encouraged to strengthen the practice of adoration where it is already firmly established and introduce this devotion in places where it has not been known or where it has been allowed to disappear. Cardinal Hummes would be pleased to know that the kind of Eucharistic renewal he envisions has been quietly but steadily growing in our Diocese. Already eight parishes (plus St. John Hospital – a ninth site!) offer continuous (daily or even 24-hour) adoration, and a further 32 offer weekly periods of adoration. In fact, fully 72 out of our 78 parishes and missions have some form of Eucharistic Adoration during the course of the year!”

The Eucharistic Cenacle

Bishop Slattery intends to do still more. Listen to the description of his project:

“Cardinal Hummes asked that wherever possible, specific churches or oratories be set aside by the Bishop to serve the diocese as Eucharistic shrines, similar to Marian shrines. In these shrines of adoration, the Church’s special love for the Holy Eucharist, worthily celebrated and continuously adored, can be fostered and nourished until the light of Our Eucharistic Lord transfigures the whole Diocese. I have already decided to do this, but have prayed much that Our Lord direct me to the best location of our first such Eucharistic Cenacle of Prayer.”

For the Holiness of the Clergy

His Excellency has decided then, to set aside a place, and to designate it a Cenacle of Eucharistic Adoration for Priests. Then he describes what my mission will be.

“A second recommendation made by Cardinal Hummes was that in each Diocese a priest be appointed to the specific priestly ministry of promoting Eucharistic adoration. In some ways, the ministry of this priest-servant of the Eucharist would be to coordinate this important movement throughout the Diocese; but his ministry would be much more than simply coordination and management. Dedicating himself generously to making Our Eucharistic Lord better known and more loved, this priest would live a life of personal reparation and sacrifice offered for the holiness of the clergy. I am taking Cardinal Hummes’ recommendation very seriously; but I think that in this Diocese, it would be very beneficial to add to this priest’s ministry of sacrifice, a further responsibility, that of serving as spiritual director and confessor to our priests and deacons.”

Spiritual and Material Support

I took the time — your time — today to quote Bishop Slattery at length because I want to ask you to adopt this new mission of mine, first of all spiritually, by carrying it in the secret of your own prayer, but also materially if you are able to do so. I appeal to the Sisters, and to all the women here; I ask you to respond generously to the Holy See’s request that you accept the challenge and responsibility of spiritual motherhood for priests. This means offering your prayer, your sufferings, your sacrifices for the sake of priests, for the healing of those who are spiritually wounded, and for their growth in Divine Intimacy.

Thursdays of Adoration and Reparation for Priests

I invite all of you to commit yourselves to an hour of Eucharistic adoration in a spirit of reparation and supplication for priests every Thursday. Thursday is, as you know, the beginning of the weekly rememoration of the Paschal Mystery, it recalls the “Birthday of the Chalice,” that is, the institution of the Priesthood and of the Most Holy Eucharist.

Thanksgiving

It is time now to go to the altar of the Holy Sacrifice. Today, I carry to the altar and place upon the corporal, together with the bread that will become the Body of Christ, and the wine mixed with water that will become His Precious Blood, all that has happened in the Monastery of the Glorious Cross over the past seven years and — because God is eternal — all that the future holds in store for you and for me. For all things willed and permitted by God, I will sing, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” To that, there can be but one suitable response: “It is right and just.”

I gratefully acknowledge Rorate Caeli as the source of the above image of Saint Luigi Gonzaga.

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This image of the Sacred Heart is a detail of the painting in the apse of the Chapel of the Visitation at Paray-le-Monial. I had the joy of going there on pilgrimage last October 16th for the feast of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque.

O Heart of God’s Eternal Word,
Creation’s origin and end:
How great the mystery of your love
To make of man, mere dust, your friend.

O Heart of flesh, which has sustained
The wound we on ourselves inflict:
How great the mystery of your love
Outpoured on us the blind and sick.

O Heart of Jesus, strong and sure,
Obedient to the bitter end:
How great the mystery of your love
To suffer Golgotha’s torment.

O Sacred Heart whose burning love
Craves to set all the world ablaze:
You yearn for us to share your life:
What can we offer but our praise?

O Heart of God the Father’s joy,
O Heart of Christ, the Spirit’s lyre,
What else have we in heaven but you,
Our morning praise is all desire. Amen.

A Hymn for Lauds of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
M.D.K., O.Cist.
8. 8. 8. 8.

The Amen For Which He Waits

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Remember all the desert way
through which the Lord your God has brought you:
forty years of willful wandering.
Remember the affliction and the testing.
Remember the great and terrible wilderness
wherein there was the serpent burning with his breath,
and the scorpions.
Remember the thirsty ground where there was no water.
Remember who brought you water out of the flinty rock.
Remember who fed you in the wilderness
with manna which your fathers did not know (cf. Dt 8:15-16).
Remember, and out of your remembering
give voice to the Eucharistic amazement
that is what we have in common — O joy! — with all the saints.

Remember the sustenance in full ears of wheat, his gift to you.
Remember the honey dripping from the rock to your heart’s content (cf. Ps. 80:17).
Remember, and out of your remembering
let praises spring high and sweet and clear.
Praises to fill full the church, but even that is not enough.
Praises pouring out the doors,
praises streaming in procession,
touching every blade of grass and every leaf.
Praises stretching into the vastness of the sky overhead,
praises sinking deep into the earth,
praises sent like sparks to the East and to the West, to the North and to the South,
praises to inflame the cosmos with Eucharistic fire.

Remember, Mother Church, the holy and venerable hands,
the hands that, taking bread, broke and gave it,
the hands that have strengthened the bolts of your gates,
the hands that blessed your children within you (cf. Ps 147:12).
Remember the voice of him whose word runs swiftly,
blessing and saying, “Take and eat, this is my Body”;
“This chalice is the new testament in my Blood” (cf. 1 Cor 11:24-25).
Remember the Crucified, the Risen One, the Lord of glory
whose Face alone plants peace in your borders,
whose Heart would save your souls from death,
and feed you in time of famine (cf. Ps 32:19).
Remember his hands, his Face, and his Heart,
remember his words on the night before he suffered,
and out of your remembering, let praise come to flower on your lips.
Praise to fill that Upper Room,
praise to fill the Church,
praise to fall like a balm on every heart that has forgotten
the language of the Great Thanksgiving.

Remember the cup of blessing
and adore the Blood of Christ.
Remember the bread that we break
and adore the Body of Christ.
Remember the one Bread by which we, though many, are made one (cf. 1 Cor 10:16-17).
Remember the chalice of the Blood
in which every tear of yours dissolves into joy.
Remember the broken Bread by which every brokenness of yours is made whole.
Remember the chalice offered to those who have nothing to offer.
Remember the Bread given to those who have nothing to give.
Remember, and into your remembering
welcome the immensity of a silence that seeks only to adore.
Tacere and adorare!

Adoring silence: liturgy of the angels, language of the prophets, poem of the saints.
Adoring silence: Eucharistic amazement too deep, too wide, too high for words.
Adoring silence spread like a mantle over the sighs and groans of a world
that has forgotten to be still in the presence of the Word.
Adoring silence, well-kept secret of a ceaseless jubilation.
Adoring silence, hidden from the learned and the clever.
Adoring silence cherished by the little ones.
“Yes, Father, for such is your gracious will” (cf. Lk 10:21).

Remember the living Bread, which came down from heaven
and eating that Bread, be assumed even now into future glory.
Remember the Flesh of the Word given
in a mystery of word and Spirit, handed over in the Upper Room
Remember the Flesh of the Word lifted to the Father from the altar of the Cross.
Remember the Flesh of the Word drawing all flesh to itself
divine Flesh for the children of Adam,
healing Flesh for Eve’s sorrowing children,
God’s very Flesh for the life of the world.
Remember, and adore.

Remember the chalice that flows and overflows,
the chalice of salvation, the cup of your surpassing joy.
Remember the Blood gushing with the water
from the Open Side.
Remember the Heart’s Blood that to your hearts carries life.
Remember the Chalice that leaves on every tongue the taste of eternity,
and on your lips the lingering sweetness of the Kiss of the Mouth of God.
Remember the fire-filled Chalice,
the Chalice spilling Spirit into every open mouth.
Remember Him on whom you feed;
see him held before your eyes,
raised to the Father in the Holy Spirit,
held out to you, his hunger meeting yours.
Remember, and pronounce the “Amen” for which he waits.
The Amen of your amazement,
the Amen of your joy,
the Amen of your adoring silence.
And listen closely.
To that Amen of yours the Angels add their Alleluia.

Amen, Alleluia.
O Eucharistic adoration of heaven and of earth!
Amen, Alleluia.
Saying all that can be said.
Amen, Alleluia.
O Eucharistic song!

Amen, Alleluia.
Song of angels praising
and of archangels shining together with thrones;
song of dominations bowing low,
and of the awestruck powers;
song of the incandescent seraphim,
and of the heavenly hosts of every rank adoring.
Amen, Alleluia.

Song of the Church today.
song of the saints dazzling with Christ-Beauty,
song of the least of his brethren
summoned today to stand in his presence,
driven by the Spirit to walk before him,
compelled by love to kneel and to adore.
Corpus Christi. Amen, Alleluia.

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I find my consolation in the one and only companion who will never leave me, that is, our Divine Saviour in the Holy Eucharist. . . .

It is at the foot of the altar that we find the strength necessary in this isolation of ours. Without the Blessed Sacrament a position like mine would be unbearable. But, having Our Lord at my side, I continue always to be happy and content. . . . Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the most tender of friends with souls who seek to please Him. His goodness knows how to proportion itself to the smallest of His creatures as to the greatest of them. Be not afraid then in your solitary conversations, to tell Him of your miseries, your fears, your worries, of those who are dear to you, of your projects, and of your hopes. Do so with confidence and with an open heart.

Blessed Damien de Veuster, SS.CC.

A Priest–Icon of the Suffering Christ

The saints, all of them, are living illustrations of the power of the Holy Spirit. The saints are the masterpieces of the Divine Iconographer who, in every age, writes in souls the whole mystery of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the Finger of God’s Right Hand tracing on hearts of flesh the likeness of the Heart of Jesus. In Blessed Damian of Molokai the Church sets before us a priest fashioned by the Holy Spirit in a special way into the image of the suffering Christ, “despised and rejected by man, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Is 53:3).

Visits

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This is the image of Saint Tarcisius that I brought back with from the catacombs of San Sebastiano in Rome. Back in the 1950s and early 60s, Saint Tarcisius was presented to Catholic schoolboys as a model of courageous love for the Blessed Sacrament.

Making A Visit

Terry had an excellent post recently in which in talked about something distinctively Catholic: "making a visit." Just a few generations ago this expression was current in Catholic culture. When, in passing in front of a church, one would say, "Let's make a visit," it was understood that one was proposing a visit to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

Walking Downtown

As a little boy I would sometimes walk "downtown" with my (Irish) grandmother. Halfway there we would come to Saint Patrick's Church on Grand Avenue. Grandma would say, "Let's make a visit," and in we would go. On hot summer days the church was a dark, cool place. A red sanctuary lamped burned near the altar. We knew that Jesus was there. There was comfort in visiting Him in His house. Sometimes we would light a candle. After a few moments in prayer we would resume our walk. This was the kind of experience that marks a child for life.

After School

It was not uncommon for children to visit the Blessed Sacrament after school. Yes, it is true that the teaching Sisters encouraged visits, but it was something that children did freely. In the context of a family neighbourhood where nearly everyone walked to the bank, the Post Office, and the market, visits to the Blessed Sacrament were simply part of the fabric of Catholic life. Rarely were our neighbourhood churches empty. Nearly always there was someone kneeling in prayer, lighting candles, stopping at Our Lady's altar, or making the Way of the Cross. Then came the so-called "urban renewal," the destruction of so many family neighbourhoods, and the so-called "post-conciliar renewal," of which enough has been said elsewhere in the blogosphere.

Ego sum panis vitae

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Third Wednesday of Paschaltide

Acts 8:1-8
John 6:35-40

Eucharist-tide

The adorable mystery of the Eucharist illumines all of Paschaltide because, for the Christian, it illumines all of life. Paschaltide might just as well be called Eucharist-tide! The Eucharist is the sacrament of Our Risen Lord’s abiding presence, and the sacrifice of His Passion and Death renewed on the altar in an unbloody manner for the sake of the living and the dead.

Saint Thomas Aquinas tells us that for the sick, the Eucharist is an encounter with the Physician of Life; for the unclean, it is the fountain of mercy; for the blind, it is the light of eternal brightness; for the poor and needy, it is the open treasury of the Lord of heaven and earth.

Christus Passus

Our Lord is, in the Most Holy Eucharist, just as He is in the glory of heaven. He stands before His Father, offering Himself as Victim and Priest. He displays His glorious wounds to the Father, and allows them to speak for themselves on our behalf. How well I remember sitting in a classroom thirty years ago, listening to the saintly Dominican Father Urban Mullaney passionately expound the Eucharist as the sacrament of the Christus Passus: Christ in the very act of His passing-over to the Father by suffering, dying, rising, and ascending to His right hand. In the Eucharist there is no remote “there and then.” The mystery perpetually unfolds before the Father, and before the Church, in the “now” of eternity.

Every Year a Year of the Eucharist

Paschaltide is the Church’s spatium laetissimum, her space of exceeding great joy. We read the Acts of the Apostles in order to discover there the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the Church and among us. And we read the sixth chapter of Saint John in order to receive from it the grace of a Eucharistic renewal affecting all of life. For one who enters deeply into the Church’s Year of Grace, living Paschaltide as the Church intends it to be lived, every year is a Year of the Eucharist.

The Bread of Life

Today’s Gospel gives us but five verses, but they are enough to sustain a lifetime. “It is I who am the bread of life; he who comes to me will never be hungry, he who has faith in me will never thirst” (Jn 6:35). Take these words of Our Lord. Make them your own. Turn them around and address them to Him. “Thou, O Lord, art the bread of life. Thou art the bread of my life, my daily bread, the sustenance without which I will grow weak, and falter, and perish on the way. I come to Thee, that I may never be hungry. Give me faith in Thee, that I may never thirst.

When a Priest Adores

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Reading the biography of Virginie Danion (1819-1900), foundress of the community of L'Action de Grâces de Mauron, I came upon this excerpt of a letter written to her in November 1855 by the Bishop of Lucon, Monseigneur Jacques-Marie-Joseph Baillès (1798–1873). It so moved me that I translated it from the French. There is nothing, I think, as compelling as the sight of a priest in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. In an age of locked churches, of churches opened only for "services" — ah! the Protestant ring of that! — it is a rare thing. And yet, there is no more effective way of communicating to souls the truth about the Most Holy Eucharist.

"I never go up into the pulpit without seeking to move [souls] to love of the Divine Eucharist, and I often recommend the visit to the Blessed Sacrament. Given that example speaks louder than words, I go habitually to recite Vespers, Compline, and later, Matins and Lauds before the Blessed Sacrament in the cathedral, and at nightfall I make a half-hour's meditation there. The Lord will, I hope, bless these efforts, by stirring up in a greater number of souls the desire to visit the Blessed Sacrament. I say this only for you, so that your heart may be consoled by it. Persevere in your holy undertaking, in the midst of difficulties and contradictions. The railway cars are overflowing with travelers while the avenues leading to churches where the Holy Eucharist resides are deserted. This is truly the hidden and unknown God. Apply yourself to making Him known, praised, loved, blessed and welcomed."

Adoration: March 27, 28, 29

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Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of this week, at the Monastery of the Glorious Cross, 61 Burban Drive, Branford, Connecticut, there will be adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament from after the 11:50 a.m. community Mass until 3:00 p.m. Adoration will conclude with Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament at 3:00 p.m., the Hour of Divine Mercy.

The Blessed Sacrament will be exposed in a monstrance blessed by the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, shortly before his death on the Vigil of the Feast of Divine Mercy, April 2, 2005, for the worldwide movement of Eucharistic adoration for priestly vocations.

"The worship of the Eucharist outside of the Mass is of inestimable value for the life of the Church. This worship is strictly linked to the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The presence of Christ under the sacred species reserved after Mass – a presence which lasts as long as the species of bread and of wine remain – derives from the celebration of the sacrifice and is directed towards communion, both sacramental and spiritual. It is the responsibility of Pastors to encourage, also by their personal witness, the practice of Eucharistic adoration, and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in particular, as well as prayer of adoration before Christ present under the Eucharistic species.

It is pleasant to spend time with him, to lie close to his breast like the Beloved Disciple (cf. Jn 13:25) and to feel the infinite love present in his heart. If in our time Christians must be distinguished above all by the “art of prayer”, how can we not feel a renewed need to spend time in spiritual converse, in silent adoration, in heartfelt love before Christ present in the Most Holy Sacrament? How often, dear brother and sisters, have I experienced this, and drawn from it strength, consolation and support!

This practice, repeatedly praised and recommended by the Magisterium, is supported by the example of many saints. Particularly outstanding in this regard was Saint Alphonsus Liguori, who wrote: “Of all devotions, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest after the sacraments, the one dearest to God and the one most helpful to us”. The Eucharist is a priceless treasure: by not only celebrating it but also by praying before it outside of Mass we are enabled to make contact with the very wellspring of grace. A Christian community desirous of contemplating the face of Christ in the spirit which I proposed in the Apostolic Letters Novo Millennio Ineunte and Rosarium Virginis Mariae cannot fail also to develop this aspect of Eucharistic worship, which prolongs and increases the fruits of our communion in the Body and Blood of the Lord."

Pope John Paul II
Ecclesia de Eucharistia

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This is the article by Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Karaganda in Kazakhstan that attracted considerable attention when it appeared in L'Osservatore Romano, 8 January 2008. I applaud His Excellency's well-documented argument. Would this not be another fruit of the "Year of the Eucharist" proclaimed by Pope John Paul II precisely to rekindle "Eucharistic amazement" in the Church?

1. In his last encyclical, the great Pope John Paul II gave the Church a strong warning which sounds like a real testament: "We must carefully avoid underestimating any dimension or requirement of the Holy Eucharist. We thus show our awareness of the greatness of this gift . . . there is no risk of exaggerating in respect for this Mystery."

Awareness of the greatness of this mystery is shown in the way in which Christ's Body is given and received. Being aware of the importance of the moment of Holy Communion, the Church in her bimillenary tradition has tried to find a ritual expression to testify to her faith, love and respect in the most perfect possible way. Thus, in the wake of an organic development, by at least as early as the 6th century, the Church began to give the Holy Eucharist directly into the mouth. This is testified in the biography of Pope Gregory the Great, who reigned from 590 to 604, and by an indication of the Pope himself.

The Synod of Cordova, which took place in 839, condemned the sect of the so-called Casians for their refusal to receive Holy Communion directly into the mouth. After this the Synod of Rouen of 878 confirmed the current practice of placing the Body of Christ on the tongue, threatening priests with suspension from their office should they give the Eucharist to lay people by placing it in their hands.

In the West the custom of kneeling and prostrating oneself before receiving the Eucharist was established in monasteries as early as the 6th century (e.g., in the monasteries of St. Colombanus). Later, in the 10th and 11th centuries, this custom became even more widespread.

At the end of the patristic age, the practice of receiving Holy Communion directly into the mouth became so widespread as to be almost universal. This organic development can be traced back to the spirituality and Eucharistic devotion of the Fathers of the Church. As early as the first millennium, owing to the highly sacred nature of Eucharistic bread, the Western and Eastern Church in unison and almost instinctively realized the urgency of giving the Eucharist to lay people in their mouth.

The well-known liturgist J. A. Jungmann explained that, thanks to the distribution of Holy Communion directly into the mouth, several problems were sorted out: the necessity for those about to receive the Eucharist to clean their hands, the even more serious problems of preventing fragments of consecrated bread from being lost, and the necessity of purifying the patens of the hands after receiving the sacrament. The cloth and later on the paten were expressions of greater respect for the Eucharist.

The Choreography of Faith

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Week of Sexagesima
Tuesday of the Third Week of the Year I

2 Samuel 6:12–19
Mark 3:31–25

The Ark of the Covenant

The Ark of the Covenant that figures so prominently in the First Reading is, according to Saint Maximus of Turin, a type of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Saint Maximus explains that King David’s rapturous dance before the Ark was a prophetic gesture: “In high rejoicing he broke into dancing, for in the Spirit he foresaw Mary, born of his own line, brought into Christ’s chamber. . . . The Ark carried within it the tables of the covenant, while Mary bore the master of the same covenant.”

The Blessed Virgin Mary

The Ark of the Covenant contained the Law; the Virgin Mary contained the Word made Flesh, the living Gospel, the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. The Ark was resplendent both within and without with pure gold; Mary was resplendent both within and without with the dazzling radiance of her virginity. The Ark was adorned with earthly gold; Mary was begraced with an imperishable holiness.

True Devotion to Mary

Every authentic expression of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is a way of “dancing before the Ark of the Covenant.” The Litany of Loreto calls upon Our Lady by means of this very expression: Foederis arca, ora pro nobis! Ark of the Covenant, pray for us.

David was not self-conscious in his dance. He was humble, spontaneous, and single-hearted: figuratively and literally moved by grace. Every encounter with the Mother of God — in the liturgy of the Church, in her images, and in the secret manifestations of her presence that comfort us in this valley of tears — should move us to a similar expression of devotion: humble, spontaneous, and single-hearted.

Adoro Te Devote

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Yearning, I adore you, wondrous hidden God,
Bread of Life by bread concealed, speaking heart to heart.
Give me now the faith that sees darkly through the veil,
Let your presence draw me in where my senses fail.

Seeing, touching, tasting, fail to grasp you, Lord.
Hearing only stirs up faith; faith clings to your word.
This is truth enough for me: all that you have said.
Faith alone discerns your Face, radiant Living Bread.

Seeing you upon the Cross, flesh and blood I find;
Here your flesh and blood are hid, veiled in sacred signs.
Trusting in your mercy, like the dying thief,
I confess you, God and Man; this is my belief.

Unlike Thomas touching, probing hands and side,
I see not but name you still God and Prince of Life.
Hold me in your presence, stronger make my faith,
Bolder make my hope in you, fire me with Love’s flame.

Wonderful memorial of the Crucified!
Sacred Banquet, Bread from heav’n, Wellspring gushing light!
Let your life be life to me, feed and feast my mind,
Be to me the sweetness I was meant to find.

In the wounded Pelican, faith sees something more.
She with blood sustains her young; you your blood outpoured
All the world to cleanse of sin. Bathe me in that tide,
Though a single drop makes pure those drawn to your side.

Jesus, here your Face is hid, from my sight concealed,
How I thirst to meet your gaze gloriously revealed!
After life’s obscurity, let me wake to see
Beauty shining from your Face for eternity. Amen.

Original Latin text: Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
English translation: Father Mark Daniel Kirby, O.Cist., 2004

Thank you, Holy Father!

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"One cannot contemplate Mary without being attracted by Christ and one cannot look at Christ without immediately perceiving the presence of Mary."

I am profoundly moved by the Holy Father's message for the 2008 World Day of the Sick. Pope Benedict XVI is showing himself, in every way, as Marian a Pope as the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II. Here is an excerpt of the message; my own comments are in italics.

The Immaculate Conception

The hundred and fifty years since the apparitions of Lourdes invite us to turn our gaze towards the Holy Virgin, whose Immaculate Conception constitutes the sublime and freely-given gift of God to a woman so that she could fully adhere to divine designs with a steady and unshakable faith, despite the tribulations and the sufferings that she would have to face. For this reason, Mary is a model of total self-abandonment to the will of God: she received in her heart the eternal Word and she conceived it in her virginal womb; she trusted to God and, with her soul pierced by a sword (cf. Lk 2:35), she did not hesitate to share the Passion of her Son, renewing on Calvary at the foot of the Cross her 'Yes' of the Annunciation.

Is this not the mystery of Mary invoked and presented as Coredemptrix? "She did not hesitate to share the Passion of her Son." In the next section the Holy Father speaks of the "Yes" which "joined her wonderfully to the mission of Christ, the Redeemer of humanity."

Led by Mary's Hand

To reflect upon the Immaculate Conception of Mary is thus to allow oneself to be attracted by the 'Yes' which joined her wonderfully to the mission of Christ, the Redeemer of humanity; it is to allow oneself to be taken and led by her hand to pronounce in one's turn 'fiat' to the will of God, with all one's existence interwoven with joys and sadness, hopes and disappointments, in the awareness that tribulations, pain and suffering make rich the meaning of our pilgrimage on the earth.

To be taken and led by Mary's hand expresses what we means when we speak of total consecration to her. Consecration to Mary is ongoing and dynamic; for this reason the Holy Father speaks of "our pilgrimage on earth."

An Indissoluble Link Between the Mother and the Son

One cannot contemplate Mary without being attracted by Christ and one cannot look at Christ without immediately perceiving the presence of Mary. There is an indissoluble link between the Mother and the Son, generated in her womb by work of the Holy Spirit, and this link we perceive, in a mysterious way, in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, as the Fathers of the Church and theologians pointed out from the early centuries onwards.

The link between the Mother and the Son is prolonged in the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist. One who contemplates Mary will be attracted to Our Lord in the Sacrament of His Love. One who contemplates Our Lord in the Sacrament of His Love will perceive the presence of Mary. This is the experience of Saint Peter Julian Eymard, and of so many other saints.

Mother of the Eucharist

'The Flesh born of Mary, coming from the Holy Spirit, is Bread descended from heaven', observed Saint Hilary of Poitiers. In the ninth century "Bergomensium Sacramentary" we read: 'Her womb made flower a Fruit, a Bread that has filled us with an angelic gift. Mary restored to salvation what Eve had destroyed by her sin'. And Saint Peter Damian observed: 'That Body that the most Blessed Virgin generated, nourished in her womb with maternal care, that Body I say, without doubt and no other, we now receive from the sacred altar, and we drink its Blood as a sacrament of our redemption. This is what the Catholic faith believes, this the holy Church faithfully teaches'.

The same Holy Spirit who overshadowed the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, overshadows the altar in every celebration of Holy Mass. The Body of Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist is the very Body of Christ that the Blessed Virgin conceived, carried beneath her heart for nine months, brought into the world, and nourished at her breast. Is this not what the magnificent medieval prose, the "Ave, Verum Corpus," sings? "Hail, true body, / Born of the Virgin Mary, / Truly suffered, sacrificed / On the Cross for mankind, / Whose pierced side / Flowed with water and blood, / Be for us a foretaste / In the trial of death."

Mother of the Sacrificed Lamb

The link of the Holy Virgin with the Son, the sacrificed Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, is extended to the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. Mary, observes the Servant of God John Paul II, is a 'woman of the Eucharist' in her whole life, as a result of which the Church, seeing Mary as her model, 'is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy mystery' (Encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," n. 53). In this perspective one understands even further why in Lourdes the cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary is joined to a strong and constant reference to the Eucharist with daily Celebrations of the Eucharist, with adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament, and with the blessing of the sick, which constitutes one of the strongest moments of the visit of pilgrims to the grotto of Massabielle.

Yes, the Holy Virgin is the Mother of the Immolated Lamb. This was illustrated in the apparition at Knock. Our Lady, appearing with Saint Joseph and with Saint John the Evangelist, stood with her hands raised in prayer in the presence of the Immolated Lamb who stood upon an altar with the Cross behind Him. The Holy Father alludes to the three grand Eucharistic moments that mark every experience at Lourdes. These are not of course, limited to Lourdes. I try to make them part of the retreats that I am asked to preach.

Through the Heart of His Most Holy Mother

The presence of many sick pilgrims in Lourdes, and of the volunteers who accompany them, helps us to reflect on the maternal and tender care that the Virgin expresses towards human pain and suffering. Associated with the Sacrifice of Christ, Mary, Mater Dolorosa, who at the foot of the Cross suffers with her divine Son, is felt to be especially near by the Christian community, which gathers around its suffering members, who bear the signs of the Passion of the Lord.

Yes, those who suffer bear the signs of the Passion of the Lord, His wounds. Saint Paul says, "I bear the marks of the Lord Jesus in my body" (Gal 6:17). This is true, not only of the signs of physical suffering, but also of the wounds of the psyche and of the heart.

Mary suffers with those who are in affliction, with them she hopes, and she is their comfort, supporting them with her maternal help. And is it not perhaps true that the spiritual experience of very many sick people leads us to understand increasingly that 'the Divine Redeemer wishes to penetrate the soul of every sufferer through the Heart of his Holy Mother, the first and the most exalted of all the redeemed'? (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, "Salvifici Doloris," n. 26).

"The Divine Redeemer wishes to penetrate the soul of every sufferer through the Heart of His Holy Mother." Is this not what we mean when we speak of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. Mary is the Mother of the Suffering Servant, "despised, and the most abject of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with infirmity" (Is 53:3), and of all who resemble him.

The Eucharistic Congress

3. If Lourdes leads us to reflect upon the maternal love of the Immaculate Virgin for her sick and suffering children, the next International Eucharistic Congress will be an opportunity to adore Jesus Christ present in the Sacrament of the altar, to entrust ourselves to Him as the Hope that does not disappoint, to receive Him as that Medicine of Immortality which heals the body and the spirit. Jesus Christ redeemed the world through His suffering, His death and His resurrection, and He wanted to remain with us as the 'Bread of Life' on our earthly pilgrimage.

The Holy Father emphasizes the healing virtue of the Most Holy Eucharist, the Medicine of Immortality. He invites us to entrust ourselves to Him as the Hope that does not disappoint. In the Sequence of the Mass of Easter, Mary Magdalene calls Our Lord "Spes mea — my Hope." In the Eucharist He remains our Hope, and the remedy for every despondency.

The Face of the Lord

'The Eucharist, Gift of God for the Life of the World': this is the theme of the Eucharistic Congress and it emphasizes how the Eucharist is the gift that the Father makes to the world of His only Son, incarnated and crucified. It is he who gathers us around the Eucharistic table, provoking in his disciples loving care for the suffering and the sick, in whom the Christian community recognises the Face of her Lord. As I pointed out in the Post-Synodal Exhortation "Sacramentum caritatis," 'Our communities, when they celebrate the Eucharist, must become ever more conscious that the sacrifice of Christ is for all, and that the Eucharist thus compels all who believe in him to become "bread that is broken" for others'. We are thus encouraged to commit ourselves in the first person to helping our brethren, especially those in difficulty, because the vocation of every Christian is truly that of being, together with Jesus, bread that is broken for the life of the world.

Every authentic passion for the adorable Mystery of the Eucharist leads to compassion for the suffering, for the sick, for those in difficulty. Contemplation of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus opens one's eyes to the Face of Jesus in the suffering and broken members of His Mystical Body.

A Living Offering for the Salvation of the World

4. It thus appears clear that it is specifically from the Eucharist that pastoral care in health must draw the necessary spiritual strength to come effectively to man's aid and to help him to understand the salvific value of his own suffering. As the Servant of God John Paul II was to write in the already quoted Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris, the Church sees in her suffering brothers and sisters as it were a multiple subject of the supernatural power of Christ (cf. n. 27). Mysteriously united to Christ, the man who suffers with love and meek self-abandonment to the will of God becomes a living offering for the salvation of the world.

The spirituality of victimhood: to suffer with love and meek self-abandonment to the will of God, thus becoming a living offering for the salvation of the world. The Blessed Virgin Mary Coredemptrix was the first to follow her Son, the Immolated Lamb, into the way of victimhood. Since that hour on Calvary she draws other souls after her in the same way of offering and victimhood.

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It was on the feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1857 that Saint Peter Julian Eymard inaugurated the solemn exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament by which the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament came to life. The movement of Thursdays of Adoration and Reparation for Priests, begun on October 29, 2007, compels me, in some way, to offer the following novena for those who care to make it with me.

You may remember that on October 26, 2007 I wrote that, "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 seems to have been confirmed by the splendid letter of Cardinal Hummes, published last December 7th, inviting to adoration and reparation for priests.

Epiphany Novena in Honour of Saint Peter Julian Eymard
January 6 — 14, 2008

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.

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.

Bonjour, chers amis!

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Dear readers of Vultus Christi,

After a long hiatus, I am able today to connect to the internet and give you some news. I am writing from the home of Jean-Baptiste and Thérèse Garnier, friends of the Monastère Saint–Benoît in Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne. Jean–Baptiste and Thérèse have DSL, and were kind enough to invite me to their home to update Vultus Christi.

I have been in France since 12 September, the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. For the first few weeks I stayed at the Monastère Saint-Benoît in Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne. After giving a conference at the General Chapter of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified at Brou-sur-Chantereine on Saturday, 29 September, I went to Subiaco, a dependence of the Monastère de l'Incarnation in Saint-Loup-sur-Aujon.

On Wednesday 3 October, the feast of Blessed Columba Marmion, I arrived at the monastery of the Benedictines du Saint-Sacrement in Craon (Mayenne) to make a personal retreat of adoration and discernment. The monastery of Craon, steeped in adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist, is a blessed place indeed. My retreat there was life-changing.

The day before leaving for my retreat I received a book in the mail. I had not solicited this book, but the librarian of a certain Benedictine monastery, knowing "the interests of my heart" sent it without knowing that I was about to begin a retreat of adoration and discernment. The book, published in 1930, was La Sainte Messe, échelle de la sainteté, by Dom Eugène Vandeur (1875-1967). The evening before my retreat I opened the book at random and read:

Let me be wholly and entirely thy priest, like John, thy beloved disciple, standing at the foot of the Cross, the Tree of Life.

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I was astonished. This one sentence sums up my personal vocation and the thrust of my life for the past thirty years. There was still more. At the end of the book, I read:

O Mary, Virgin and Mother of priests,
I will place myself close to thee, today and all the days of my life,
there, in the very place where stood Saint John, the disciple whom Jesus loved,
the preferred Priest of His love;
I will remain there, with thee, facing the cross, and I will gaze upon Him,
this Jesus Crucified, the only science that a priest need know, love, and preach.
"To know only Jesus and Him crucified" (1 Cor 2:29). . . .

O Mary, teach this priest of Jesus this folly of the Cross,
true Wisdom in the sight of God
and the solemn manifestation of His power.
Teach me how one passes into Jesus Crucified;
how, following the example of the Apostle,
one comes to bear in oneself the wounds of the Lord Jesus.
"I, for my part, bear in my body the wounds of the Lord Jesus" (Gal 6:17).

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Thou dost answer me, O Mother,
saying that I will learn this at the holy altar,
the mountain of myrrh and the hill of incense (Ct 4:6),
that, each morning, I will ascend with thee
to enter into the wounds of Jesus Crucified.

There is much more that I could share about this retreat, but my time is limited. The signal grace of the retreat was a call to live in adoration and reparation for all my brother priests, and to allow my soul to be "johannized," that is to say, to consent to become, by the merciful goodness of Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit, another Saint John, a beloved disciple for His Heart and for the Heart of His Mother.

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.

Our Lord asked me to consecrate every Thursday (day of the Eucharist and of the Priesthood) to this particular mission of adoration and reparation for priests.

Let each Thursday find me close to the Sacrament of Thy Body and Blood,
deep in adoration, and offering Thee the reparation Thou askest of me
in the name of all Thy priests.
Make me an entirely Eucharistic priest,
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.

Idolators or Adorers?

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Monday of the Seventeenth Week of the Year I

Exodus 32:15-34
Matthew 13:31-35

Idolatry

Sins of idolatry and faithlessness are not as remote from us as they may seem. We may not fashion golden calves for ourselves, as did Aaron and the children of Israel, but we are tempted, nonetheless, to seek substitutes for God whenever we feel that He is distant, absent, or not looking.

The Practice of the Presence of God

This is why our holy father Saint Benedict and all the saints so insist on the practice of the presence of God. God is not distant from us, we are alienated from ourselves. God is not absent from our lives, we are absent from our own hearts. The eye of God is ever upon us, but we have roving eyes, ever in search of something to satisfy the cravings of the world, the flesh, and the devil. When we find something that appears to satisfy our itch for novelty, we place it on pedestal. We make it an idol.

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Television

Father Benedict Joseph Groeschel has been quoted as saying that the most corrosive thing in religious life over the past forty years has been the television. I agree with him. A community’s capacity for prayer and, especially, for adoration, is directly affected by its intake of television. There are religious who have no problem spending two hours or more in front of the secular altar of television; the same religious balk at being asked to spend two hours or more in adoration before the altar where Christ is really present. Idolatry.

Theologian Romano Amerio, a theologian at the Second Vatican Council, writes:

The television that daily prints the same images in millions of brains
and returns the next day to overprint others in the same brains like a sheet of paper printed on a thousand times, is the most powerful organ of intellectual corruption in the contemporary world. Nonetheless I will not deny that from those enormous antennae that send out across the world influences more powerful than those of the stars in the celestial spheres, there may come some slight influence that may accidentally be of use to religion. But I do deny that these scraps can legitimate the habitual and uncontrolled use of such technology or become the norm by which to shape the rhythms of religious life. One cannot but be amazed! Certain communities have abandoned the centuries old custom of reciting the night office in church so as to be able to watch television programs that clashed with the keeping of their rule.

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Saturday of the Sixteenth Week of the Year I

Exodus 24:3-8

A Mystic Outline of the Mass

We see in today’s lesson from the Book of Exodus a mystic outline of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The first verse describes what is, in essence, a liturgy of the Word: “So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice: ‘We will do all the words of the Lord, which He hath spoken’” (Ex 24:3).

Actuosa Participatio

What have we here if not a prefiguring of the Mass of the Catechumens, also called the Liturgy of the Word? Moses communicates the Word of God. The people listen, and then commit themselves to carry out what they have heard. Think, for a moment, of the quality of their listening to the Word, and of the density of their silence. One had to listen intently, inclining the ear of one’s heart. Actual participation at its best!

The Altar

After the proclamation of the Word of the Lord and the people’s promise of obedience to it, Moses builds an altar. “And rising in the morning he built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel” (Ex 24:4). One builds an altar for one thing alone: for sacrifice. The altar is surrounded by twelve pillars: a delineation of sacred space and a representation of the communion of the twelve tribes in a single sacrifice.

Soon To Ireland

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To Mayo and Leitrim

On Saturday 30 June, making my way via Ireland to the United States, I will fly Aerlingus from Rome to Dublin, and then from Dublin to Knock in County Mayo. After a few days in Knock I will travel the short distance northeast to Carrick–on Shannon in County Leitrim to visit Cousin John McKeon.

As a small boy, I heard about Knock from my Grandmother Margaret Kirby (1900–1993). Her Aunt Mary had gone there on pilgrimage and sent her a little bottle of blessed water from the shrine. Grandma told me what she knew about the apparitions. In 1988, when I went to Knock together with my Mom, Dad and brother Terence, I was able to celebrate Holy Mass on the site of the apparitions.

Actuosa Participatio and the Silence of the Mother of God

The apparition at Knock is unusual in that the Blessed Virgin spoke no message and uttered no warning; she asked for nothing. Our Lady was silent and, at the same time, intensely present to the Immolated Lamb upon the altar, and to the people who watched the apparition.

The contemplative silence of the Mother of God speaks to my own understanding of actuosa participatio (actual participation) in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. There is a silent inward cleaving to the Mystery of the Eucharist that precedes and perfects all other forms of participation in the Holy Sacrifice. The fifteen parishioners of Knock, young and old, to whom the Blessed Virgin appeared on that rainy night in 1879, were accustomed to "hearing Mass" in silence. By her own silence in the presence of The Mystery, the Mother of Jesus was confirming them in theirs.

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Toward the Recovery of Silence

The Irish custom of silence at the Holy Mysteries was, in its own way, an actual participation in the sacramental re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Christ. While silence is not the only mode of actual participation in the Mass, it remains one that is valid, fruitful, and profoundly unifying. It is remarkable that the neglect of spaces and moments of silence within the celebration of the Mass — even of those clearly prescribed by the Roman Missal — had led, in most places, to the complete loss of silence around the Mass, that is to say, in church before and after the celebration.

Knock After the Motu Proprio

If things here in Rome go this week as I rather suspect they will, I will find myself in Knock very shortly after the promulgation of the long-awaited Motu Proprio of Pope Benedict XVI. Coincidence? I don't think so. Knock is the Blessed Virgin's invitation to enter deeply into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The presence of the Lamb upon the altar surmounted by the cross, of angels in adoration, of Saint John proclaiming the Word, and of Saint Joseph reverently inclined toward the Virgin Mother is, in pictorial form, a mystagogical catechesis waiting to be developed.

In Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI writes:

The Church's great liturgical tradition teaches us that fruitful participation in the liturgy requires that one be personally conformed to the mystery being celebrated, offering one's life to God in unity with the sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of the whole world. For this reason, the Synod of Bishops asked that the faithful be helped to make their interior dispositions correspond to their gestures and words. Otherwise, however carefully planned and executed our liturgies may be, they would risk falling into a certain ritualism. Hence the need to provide an education in eucharistic faith capable of enabling the faithful to live personally what they celebrate. Given the vital importance of this personal and conscious participation, what methods of formation are needed? The Synod Fathers unanimously indicated, in this regard, a mystagogical approach to catechesis, which would lead the faithful to understand more deeply the mysteries being celebrated.

A Devout Method

Compare the teaching of the Holy Father with this Devout Method of Hearing Mass Before Holy Communion in my heirloom Treasury of the Sacred Heart published in 1860 in Dublin, that is nineteen years before the apparition at Knock:

To hear Mass with fruit, and to obtain from that adorable sacrifice abundant treasures of grace, there is no method more efficacious than to unite ourselves with Jesus Christ, who is at once our Priest, Mediator, and Victim. Separated from Him we are nothing, but even in the eyes of God Himself, we are truly great, by and with His Beloved Son. United thus with Jesus Christ, covered, as it were with His merits, present yourself before the throne of mercy.

This was written in a widely diffused household manual of Catholic piety 103 years before the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council. It is not a complete presentation of the mystery of the Mass. Its genre is that of the pious exhortation, not of a comprehensive theology of the Eucharist. That being said, it strikes me that this little Irish text goes to the heart of what is meant by actual participation: communion with Christ, Priest, Mediator, and Victim. Through Him, with Him, and in Him, all who partake of His Sacred Body and Precious Blood are priests, mediators, and victims, offering, and offered to the Father, in the Holy Spirit.

Saint Joseph and Saint John

One last thing. The presence at Knock of Saint Joseph and of Saint John the Evangelist is especially significant to me. Although it was not so in 1879, both are now named in the venerable Roman Canon. They are the two men chosen by God to share most intimately in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Saint Joseph obeyed the word of the Angel of the Lord: "Joseph, son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost" (Mt 1:20). Saint John, for his part, obeyed the word of the crucified Jesus: "Behold thy mother." "And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own" (Jn 19:27).

Saint Joseph and Saint John entered in the silence of Blessed Virgin. One cannot live in the company of Mary without being drawn into her silence, that is, into the ceaseless prayer of her Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart, and into the mystery of the Mass: the Sacrifice of the Lamb renewed in an unbloody manner on the altars of the world.

The Eucharistic Heart of Jesus

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On 9 November 1921, Pope Benedict XV instituted the feast of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus to be celebrated on the Thursday within the Octave of the Sacred Heart with a Proper Mass and Office. The feast continues to be celebrated in some places and by some communities, notably by the Redemptorists who maintain it in their Proper Calendar. In instituting the feast, Pope Benedict XV wrote:

The chief reason of this feast is to commemorate the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the mystery of the Eucharist. By this means the Church wishes more and more to excite the faithful to approach this sacred mystery with confidence, and to inflame their hearts with that divine charity which consumed the Sacred Heart of Jesus when in His infinite love He instituted the Most Holy Eucharist, wherein the Divine Heart guards and loves them by living with them, as they live and abide in Him. For in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist He offers and gives Himself to us as victim, companion, nourishment, viaticum, and pledge of our future glory.

The adorable mystery of the Eucharist sums up, contains, and communicates to us the entire mystery of Christ: His incarnation, life, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension, and outpouring of the Holy Spirit. If you seek the open Side of the glorious ascended Christ, you will find it in the Eucharist. If you seek the pierced Heart of Christ, beating with love for the Father and with mercy for sinners, you will find it in the Eucharist. The Communion Antiphon of the Mass of the feast is meant to be repeated and treasured. It is, at once, a promise and an invitation: "Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world" (Mt 28:20).

Here is my own translation of the Proper of the Mass of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, together with invocations for the Act of Penitence and General Intercessions. The lessons, Gradual, and Alleluia can be found in most older missals in the section entitled "Local Feasts."

Per antica tradizione

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Leafing through the 1941 edition of the Usi Monastici of our Congregazione Cistercense di San Bernardo in Italia, I happened upon this interesting prescription:

Per antica tradizione il Matutino durante l'Ottava del Corpus Domini si recita immediatamente dopo la Compieta et coram Sanctissimo in Altari exposito.

By ancient tradition, Matins during the Octave of Corpus Domini are recited immediately after Compline and in the presence of the Most Holy Sacrament exposed on the altar.

The same book prescribes the solemn renewal in every monastery of the consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the presence of the entire religious family, on the feast of the Sacred Heart, according to the formula prescribed by the Chapter of our Congregation.

While the latter practice is, in fact, maintained, no one here seems to remember Matins in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed during the Octave of Corpus Domini.

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The Church has a beating Heart: the Eucharistic Heart of Christ. This is what Pope Benedict XVI said in today's Angelus address:

“Today’s solemnity of Corpus Christi, which was celebrated last Thursday in the Vatican and in other countries, invites us to contemplate the supreme Mystery of our faith: the Most Holy Eucharist, the Real Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the altar. Every time that the priest renews the Eucharistic Sacrifice, in the prayer of consecration he repeats: ‘This is my Body…this is my Blood.’ He lends his voice, his hands, and his heart to Christ, who wanted to remain with us in order to be the beating Heart of the Church.

But even after the Celebration of the Divine Mysteries the Lord Jesus remains present in the tabernacle. For this reason praise is rendered to Him especially through Eucharistic Adoration, as I sought to remind everyone in the recent Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (see nos. 66-69) following the Synod on this topic. In fact, there is an intrinsic connection between celebration and adoration. The Holy Mass is in itself already the greatest act of adoration on the part of the Church. ‘No one eats this flesh,’ St. Augustine wrote, ‘unless he has first adored it’ (Com. on Psalms 98,9; CCL XXXIX, 1385). Adoration apart from the Holy Mass prolongs and intensifies what has taken place in the liturgical celebration, and makes it possible to receive Christ in a real and profound way.”

I was especially touched by the Holy Father's description of the priest lending his voice, his hands, and his heart to Christ. It is through His priests that Christ, who desires with a great desire to abide with us, is the beating Heart of the Church in the Eucharist.

Salve, Festa Dies

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Hail, Festival Day!
Hail, Day of Sion’s sweetest hymns!
Hail, Day of timeless adoration!
Hail, Day of lavish jubilation!
Hail, Day of our most fragrant incense!
Hail, Day of flowers strewn before their Maker!
Hail, Day of flames dancing in the presence of the Fire!
Hail, Day of a silence that is song!
Hail Day of a song become silence!
Hail, Day made radiant by the Face that shines like the sun in full strength!
Hail, Day made lovely by the Face of the fairest of the children of men!
Hail, Day rising to see the Face once hidden in the tabernacle of the Virgin’s womb!
Hail, Day rejoicing in the Human Face of God concealed in bread and wine!

Hail, Eucharistic Face reflecting the Glory of the Father
and bearing the very stamp of His nature!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Living Icon of the Father!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Epiphany of the Father’s Love!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Kindly Light amidst the gloom!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Crucified in the Sacrament of Your abiding presence!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of Life conquering death!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of Mercy rising in the night with healing in your rays!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, Sweetness leaving no bitterness!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Risen One,
filling earth and heaven with glory
from the rising of the sun even to its setting
in the offering of your pure and eternal Oblation!
Hail, Eucharistic Face raising the dead to life!
Hail, Eucharistic Face breathing peace into every troubled place!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, revelation of a Heart full of mercy and ready to forgive!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Ascended One!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of the High Priest interceding for us beyond the veil!
Hail, Eucharistic Face of the Victim reconciling heaven and earth!
Hail, Eucharistic Face all ablaze with the Holy Spirit’s fire!

Hail, Eucharistic Face of the King who will return in glory!
Hail, Eucharistic Face hidden from the powerful, the clever, and the wise!
Hail, Eucharistic Face revealed to the pure of heart!
Hail, Eucharistic Face familiar to little children and to those like them!

Hail, EucharisticFace of the Divine Wayfarer!
Hail, Eucharistic Face, unrecognized and unknown in the midst of men!
Hail, Eucharistic Face shrouded in silence,
and with us always, even unto the consummation of the world!

Hail, God–With–Us!
Hail, God–Turned–Toward–Us!
Hail, God who with immense yearning desire to share your Pasch with us!
Hail, God–in–Search–of–Those–Who–Hunger!
God–in–Search–of–Those–Who–Thirst!
Hail, O inexhaustible and precious Chalice!

Hail, Day of the Altar and of the Blood!
Hail, Day of the new and everlasting covenant!
Hail, Day that calls us anew to obedience:
“All that the Lord has spoken we will do,
and we will be obedient” (Ex 24:7).
“This is my Body which is given for you.
This Chalice poured out for you is the new covenant in my Blood.
Do this in remembrance of me” (cf. Lk 22:19–20).

Hail, Day of the Blood without which there is no pardon!
Hail, Day of the Blood poured out for the refreshment of the weary!
Hail, Day of the Blood that flows, a river of mercy in the wastelands of sin!
Hail, Day of the Blood that vanquishes demons!
Hail, Day of the Blood that consoles in sorrow!
Hail, Day of the Blood that cleanses the entire world of sin!
Hail, Day of the Blood of Christ, Victim and Priest!
Hail, Day of the Blood presented in the sanctuary not made by hands!
Hail, Day of the Blood offered on earth as it is in heaven!

Hail, Precious Chalice lifted up for all to see!
Hail, Precious Chalice, thanksgiving sacrifice worthy of God!
Hail, Precious Chalice held to the lips of the martyrs!
Hail, Precious Chalice strengthening every witness!
Hail, Precious Chalice making pure the impure!
Hail, Precious Chalice containing the Fire of the Divinity!
Hail, Precious Chalice, the antidote for every poison!
Hail, Precious Chalice, the remedy for every ill!

Hail, Day of the Upper Room made ready for eternity!
Hail, Day of the Pasch without end!
Hail, Day of the Bread lifted up in Christ’s holy and venerable hands!
Hail, Day of the blessing uttered by His sacred lips!
Hail, Day of the Body forever given and of the Blood forever poured out!
Hail, Day of the Cenacle opened to every nation on earth!
Hail, Day of the Mystical Supper open to the poor, the sick, the lame, and the blind!
Hail, Day of Heaven’s open door!
Hail, Day of the Supper of the Lamb!

Hail, Day that sees us prostrate before the Eucharistic Face of God!
Hail, Day on which men do the work of Angels!
Hail, Day on which Angels stand amazed
before the Mystery set before the children of men!
Hail, Day that passes too quickly and never passes!
Hail, Day that begins in time the joys of eternity!
Hail, Day that fills the earth with a foretaste of heaven!
Amen. Alleluia.

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Father Ragheed Gannis, 34 years old, was killed by gunfire after having celebrating Holy Mass on Sunday in the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul, Iraq. Three subdeacons were killed with him. Hours later the bodies were still lying in the street because no one dared retrieve them. On May 28, 2005 Father Ragheed spoke at a prayer vigil during the Eucharistic Congress in Bari, Italy.

"Mosul Christians are not theologians; some are even illiterate. And yet inside of us for many generations one truth has become embedded: without the Sunday Eucharist we cannot live."

"This is true today when evil has reached the point of destroying churches and killing Christians, something unheard of in Iraq till now."

"On June 2004 of last year, a group of young women was cleaning the church to get it ready for Sunday service. My sister Raghad, who is 19, was among them."

"As she was carrying a pale of water to wash the floor, two men drove up and threw a grenade that blew up just a few yards away from her."

"She was wounded but miraculously survived. And on that Sunday we still celebrated the Eucharist. My shaken parents were also there.

"For me and my community, my sister's wounds were a source of strength so that we, too, may bear our cross."

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A Grace Renewed

How do readers of Vultus Christi celebrate the anniversary of their First Holy Communion? Every grace remembered is a grace renewed. Saint Gertrude the Great made a practice of recalling the sacramental anniversaries of her life and of re-living them in the spirit of praise and thanksgiving that runs through all her writings.

Thanksgiving

For me, today is a memorial of thanksgiving embracing all of the Holy Communions received since June 4, 1959. Every Holy Communion draws the soul into the thanksgiving of Christ to the Father in the Holy Spirit: "In that same hour He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, 'I thank Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was Thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him'" (Lk 10:21-22).

Reparation

Today is also a day of reparation for the coldness, indifference, and unworthiness with which I have received the holy and life-giving Mysteries of the Body and Blood of Christ over the years. The desire to make reparation is directly proportionate to what Pope John Paul II called "Eucharistic amazement." Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. wrote of being "lost, all lost in wonder" before the adorable mystery of the Eucharist. It is this sense of awe before the Mystery that ignites the desire to make Eucharistic reparation.

My recent trip to France made me more sensitive to the need for Eucharistic reparation. For one who loves it becomes an imperative of the heart. I passed through dozens of small rural villages, each one having its clocher, its ancient church. In many of these villages churches Mass is offered only once a week on Sunday; in some of them Mass is offered only occasionally. Churches, with the Blessed Sacrament reserved in their tabernacles, are kept locked from one week to the next. No longer is there the possibility of making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or of stealing in quietly to seek the Eucharistic Face and Heart of Love. A coldness is spreading through our lands, and this not only in France. "I came, " says the Lord, "to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled" (Lk 12:49).

I am reminded of what Mother Marie-Adèle Garnier, the saintly foundress of the Tyburn Benedictines wrote in 1875:

In this France which He loves, and where He has been pleased to manifest the torrents of love and mercy of which the Holy Eucharist is at once the ocean and the channel, does He not expect to find souls, objects of His special mercy, uniting themselves to Him, consecrating themselves forever to the prayer of reparation at the foot of His altar, and obtaining by their humble supplications a slackening of the sacrileges committed against Him, and a check to the contagious temptations of indifference and neglect? . . .

A Bold Prediction

I predict that among the fruits of Pope John Paul II's Year of the Eucharist and of his intercession in heaven, we will begin to see here and there in the Church the birth or rebirth of monasteries and other communities of men and women "driven" by the Holy Spirit to a life of Eucharistic adoration and reparation. Priests, in particular, are being called to the life of adoration, reparation, and Johannine intimacy with the Holy Face and pierced Heart of Jesus at once concealed and revealed in the Eucharist. Some are being called to live this out in community, others in a more solitary fashion.

Vere Tu Es Deus Absconditus

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Thursday Adoration

Today, being Thursday, is our weekly day of Eucharistic Adoration at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed from Tierce until Vespers in our choir chapel in the cloister. We take turns watching in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, each member of the community having his designated hour.

John Paul II on the Visitation

It is also the Solemnity of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Yes, Cistercians keep today and all the other greater festivals of Our Lady as solemnities!) The Servant of God Pope John Paul II offered a rich Eucharistic hermeneutic of the Visitation in the Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia (17 April 2003). John Paul II wrote:

Blessed is she who believed” (Lk 1:45). Mary also anticipated, in the mystery of the incarnation, the Church's Eucharistic faith. When, at the Visitation, she bore in her womb the Word made flesh, she became in some way a "tabernacle" – the first "tabernacle" in history – in which the Son of God, still invisible to our human gaze, allowed himself to be adored by Elizabeth, radiating his light as it were through the eyes and the voice of Mary.

The Hidden Face of Christ

The Face of Christ was hidden in Mary’s virginal womb: hidden, yet wonderfully radiant, Christ was hidden in Mary as He is hidden in the tabernacle. (I think that the traditional use of the tabernacle veil suggests that very connection.) The Virgin of the Visitation bears within herself the Human Face of God. She holds it beneath her heart. The joy on Mary's face as she intones her Magnificat is the very joy that shines eternally on the Face of the Word in the presence of the Father. Mary’s womb sheltered “the knowledge of the glory of God in the Face of Christ Jesus” (2 Cor 4:6).

The Virgin of the Sign

This is the significance of the ancient icon of the Virgin of the Sign. She is the Virgin of the Magnificat and the Woman of the Eucharist. Here, the Child in the tabernacle of her womb is displayed to the eyes of faith. His Face shines from Mary’s womb as it shines from the Eucharist. Elizabeth was affected by the light shining from the Face of the hidden Christ; the same light that radiated from the Face of the Infant Christ in the tabernacle of Mary’s womb shines for us from his Eucharistic Face.

The Eucharistic Face of Christ

When the Body of Christ is displayed to our eyes at Mass, or exposed to our gaze in the monstrance during adoration, His Eucharistic Face streams with light for every darkness, healing for every brokenness, joy for every sorrow, and pardon for every sin. When Christ is “brought forth” in the Eucharist, as he was from Mary’s virginal womb on the first Christmas, the Church can sing what she sings every year at First Vespers of Christmas: Rex pacificus magnificatus est, cuius vultum desiderat universa terra — "The King of peace is magnified, the One whose face the whole earth desires to see.”

Visited by Joy

The festival of the Visitation invites to imitate the faith of Elizabeth who, without seeing it, was illumined by the Human Face of God tabernacled in Mary’s womb. For us the same Human Face of God is hidden beneath the sacramental veils, the appearances of bread and wine. The Most Holy Eucharist is the Visitation of the Hidden Christ. He come always with Mary that from her we might learn, as John Paul II said, “to sing the Magnificat in a Eucharistic key.” Thus does the Hidden Face of Christ become for us, as it was for Mary and for Elizabeth, the wellspring of joy in God.

Damien, A Priest Adorer

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I find my consolation in the one and only companion who will never leave me, that is, our Divine Saviour in the Holy Eucharist. . . .

It is at the foot of the altar that we find the strength necessary in this isolation of ours. Without the Blessed Sacrament a position like mine would be unbearable. But, having Our Lord at my side, I continue always to be happy and content. . . . Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the most tender of friends with souls who seek to please Him. His goodness knows how to proportion itself to the smallest of His creatures as to the greatest of them. Be not afraid then in your solitary conversations, to tell Him of your miseries, your fears, your worries, of those who are dear to you, of your projects, and of your hopes. Do so with confidence and with an open heart.

Blessed Damien de Veuster, SS.CC.

A Priest–Icon of the Suffering Christ

The saints, all of them, are living illustrations of the power of the Holy Spirit. The saints are the masterpieces of the Divine Iconographer who, in every age, writes in souls the whole mystery of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the Finger of God’s Right Hand tracing on hearts of flesh the likeness of the Heart of Jesus. In Blessed Damian of Molokai the Church sets before us a priest fashioned by the Holy Spirit in a special way into the image of the suffering Christ, “despised and rejected by man, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Is 53:3).

The Entire Plan of God

Father Damien could have said to his beloved people of Molokai what Saint Paul said to the presbyters of the Church at Ephesus : “You know how I lived among you the whole time from the day I first came . . . I served the Lord with all humility and with the tears and trials that came to me . . .. I did not shrink from telling you what was for your benefit, or from teaching you in public or in your homes. I earnestly bore witness . . . to repentance before God and to faith in our Lord Jesus . . .. Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace . . .. I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God” (cf. Ac 20:17-27).

Eucharistic Adoration

The words are Saint Paul’s but the sentiments — all of them — are those of Blessed Father Damien of Molokai. Where did Father Damien discover “the entire plan of God” (Ac 20:27) or, as another translation has it, “the whole counsel of God”? In the contemplation of the Heart of Jesus. And where did he contemplate the Heart of Jesus? In the adoration of the Eucharist.

Knowledge of the Pierced Side of Christ

The full title of Father Damien’s religious family is a very long one but it expresses completely the charism given them: “The Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary of the Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.” Father Damien’s compassionate devotion to those suffering from leprosy was the fruit of his intimate knowledge of the riches hidden in the pierced Side of Christ. That knowledge came to him in long hours of adoration before the tabernacle.

Lepers Adoring the Hidden Face of Christ

It is a little known fact that Father Damien laboured to established perpetual adoration of the Eucharist among his dear lepers. In this there is something astonishingly beautiful; the sight of lepers adoring day and night the Suffering Servant who, disfigured in his Passion, became, “as one from whom men screen their faces” (Is 53:3), the “Lord of Glory” (1 Cor 2:8) whose face is "all the beauty of holy souls” (Litany of the Holy Face).

The Prayer of the Sacred Heart to the Father

It was in Eucharistic adoration that Blessed Father Damien found himself drawn into the priestly prayer of Christ given us in the seventeenth chapter of Saint John. That prayer did not end with the Last Supper in the Cenacle. It is the prayer of the risen and ascended Christ who stands all-glorious in the sanctuary of heaven, showing the Father the wound in His side, the opening made by love, never to be closed. It is the prayer of the priestly Heart of Jesus in the sacrifice and sacrament of the Eucharist. It is the prayer that, from the tabernacle, rises ceaselessly like incense before the Father. Only those who linger there know this prayer; it becomes their prayer, inhabits them, changes them, and impels them to imitate the self-giving love of the Sacred Heart.

Holding Fast to the Hard Saying

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Third Saturday of Paschaltide

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Acts 9:31-42
Psalm 115: 12-13, 14-15, 16-17
John 6: 60-69

A Eucharistic Lectio Divina

If in your lectio divina this past week, you submitted to the guidance of the Church (as Terry does) and opened yourself to the brightness shining from the sixth chapter of Saint John, the Eucharist has been at the heart of your reading, your repeating, your prayer, and your contemplation. This Third Week of Paschaltide was a kind of Eucharistic retreat. How well did we live it? It is not too late to claim today the Eucharistic graces reserved for us by our Lord for this week of listening to His discourse on the Bread of Life.

Peter Confessing the Mystery

In his Encyclical on the Eucharist, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II gave us a commentary on today’s Gospel. This is what he said: “Here is the Church’s treasure, the heart of the world, the pledge of the fulfillment for which each man and woman, even unconsciously, yearns. A great and transcendent mystery, indeed, and one that taxes our mind’s ability to pass beyond appearances. Here our senses fail us: visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur, in the words of the hymn Adoro Te Devote; yet faith alone, rooted in the word of Christ handed down to us by the Apostles, is sufficient for us. Allow me, like Peter at the end of the Eucharistic discourse in John’s Gospel, to say once more to Christ, in the name of the whole Church and in the name of each of you: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’ (Jn 6:68).”

Peter Addressing Christ

Christ spoke, revealing the astonishing mystery of the Eucharist. Peter responded. It is Peter’s response addressed to Christ that is the first manifestation of his place in the plan of God for the Church. Peter addressing Christ necessarily precedes Peter addressing the world, and this in all times and places. In the Mass, the Church does something similar. After the words of consecration, the priest intones “Mystery of Faith.” Mysterium fidei: a seal placed on all that has been said and done up to this point. The response of the praying Church is a confession of the mystery addressed directly to Christ really present: “We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your resurrection until you come.”

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For my flesh is food indeed,
and my blood is drink indeed.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood
abides in me, and I in him.
As the living Father sent me,
and I live because of the Father,
so he who eats me
will live because of me (John 6:55–57).

Two years ago, on the occasion of one of nine Requiem Masses offered after the death of Pope John Paul II, Msgr. Leonardo Sandri spoke of the Servant of God's lifelong devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. This week's Gospels — taken each day from the sixth chapter of Saint John — are an invitation to seek the Face of Christ and His Sacred Heart in the adorable mystery of the Eucharist. It seems to me that this invitation is addressed first of all to priests.

Today, as in the past, the Church will become resplendent with holiness through the spiritual renewal of the priesthood, and the spiritual renewal of the priesthood is inseparable from the restoration of eucharistic amazement to the Sacred Liturgy. Holiness and beauty are intrinsically related. The priest ties the knot that binds them one to the other: a humble awareness and joyful demonstration of the sacred in the celebration of the Holy Mysteries.

Here is an excerpt from Msgr. Sardi's homily given on 13 April 2005:

In Ecclesia de Eucharistia Pope John Paul II revealed to us the secret of his total dedication to Christ, to the Gospel, and to the Church: “For more than half a century,” wrote the Pope,” each day, since November 2 1946 on which I celebrated my first Mass in the crypt of Saint Leonard in the cathedral of Wawel in Krakow, my eyes have rested on the host and on the chalice. Each day my faith has been able to recognize in the consecrated bread and wine the Divine Wayfarer who one day walked alongside of the two disciples of Emmaus to open their eyes to the light and their hearts to hope.”

How great was his love for Christ really present in the Sacrament of the Altar! This love became a kind of invocation in the very title of his Apostolic Letter, Mane Nobiscum, Domine, his last document on the Year of the Eucharist. Stay with us, Lord! How can we not see in the death of the Pope, coinciding with the Pasch of the Year of the Eucharist a mysterious summons to the intensity with which John Paul II participated in the sacrifice of Christ? Each day, for over fifty years, he pronounced the words of the Consecration: “This is my Body offered in sacrifice for you.” In a very special way, the Pope made these words his own during the final period of his life in which he completed the total gift of himself. It was as if he continuously renewed his Totus tuus ego sum through the hands of the Mother of his Master, as we read in his spiritual testament. We who, as his collaborators, had the grace of accompanying him during these last months, followed with trepidation this most personal Mass in which the Pope, in union with the Passion of Christ, made the gift of his own person, through pain and suffering, to the Church and to the world.

Moreover, those who more closely shared the daily activity of the Pope, were witness to his profound love for the Eucharist. Before taking important decisions, he would always remain a long time before the Most Holy Sacrament, take with him into his private chapel the dossiers to be examined and reserving a planned time of reflection and prayer before the Tabernacle. Every choice in this way emerged only from his seeking the will of God for the true good of the Church.

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Yesterday morning, together with Leonard and Mark, my friends from the U.S., I visited the Carceri or hermitages hidden on the wooded slopes of Mount Subasio above Assisi. In a chapel that is part of the small monastic complex built there by Saint Bernardino of Siena in 1400, I discovered this beautiful fresco of the Precious Blood flowing from the pierced side of Jesus Crucified into a chalice held by an angel. I am always spellbound by depictions of the Holy Face of Jesus and of His Open Side. Here in Italy I find them everywhere.

Note that in this image Jesus is living. His eyes are open; He offers His Blood consciously, willingly, and with infinite love. The fresco is situated just above and behind a stone altar where Holy Mass would have been celebrated; it represents the very mystery that is actualized so often as the Eucharistic commandment of the Lord is carried out: "Do ye this in remembrance of me" (1 Cor 11:24).

Mane Nobiscum, Domine

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Jacopo Pontormo painted this Supper at Emmaus for the Carthusian monastery of Galluzzo sometime between 1523 and 1527. He includes Carthusian monks in the scene, men living at the time he was working on the painting. He brings a once–and–for–all event of the past into the present; something wonderfully effected in every celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Notice the large feet of the disciples: feet accustomed to walking Palestine's dusty roads. The cats barely visible under the table and the puppy in the lower left corner add to the painting's homely realism. The "eye of God" above the head of Our Lord is an unfortunate later addition.

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Wednesday of Pascha

Acts 3:1-10
Psalm 104: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9 (R. 3b)
Luke 24: 13-35

A Eucharistic Icon

With each passing year the unfolding of the Resurrection Gospel of Emmaus becomes more luminous, more transparent like the favourite page in an old book, the page that with each reading delights one anew. The repetition and ritual recurrence of the Word shapes and reshapes the Church, making her ever more perfectly Christ’s beloved Bride, the Companion of the New Adam, born from His pierced side. You recall that it was this very page of the Gospel that was given us by the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II as the heart of his message for the Year of the Eucharist. He presented the mystery of Emmaus as a kind of Eucharistic icon.

Stay With Us, Lord

Mane nobiscum, Domine. “Stay with us, Lord, for it is almost evening” (Lk 24:29). In making these words the title of his Apostolic Letter for the Year of the Eucharist, Pope John Paul II gave the Church a clear orientation for our times. He gave each one of us a kind of personal spiritual direction. More than that, he taught us to pray using these very words: Mane nobiscum, Domine. “Stay with us, Lord.” He taught us to pray as the Holy Spirit had taught the two disciples on the road to Emmaus to pray. Poor wayfarers they were: bewildered and dejected men, sorrowing and not quite knowing what to think, not quite knowing what to do with their lives.

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This Wondrous Sacrament

Sacramentum Caritatis calls the Most Holy Eucharist "this wondrous sacrament." It goes on to speak of the amazement -- the stupefaction -- that the Apostles felt in witnessing what the Lord did and said during the Mystical Supper. "What wonder," writes Pope Benedict XVI, "must the Eucharistic mystery also awaken in our own hearts" (Sacramentum Caritatis, 1).

Eucharistic Amazement

Sacramentum Caritatis resonates with the words of Pope John Paul II in the Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia"

"I would like to rekindle this Eucharistic “amazement” by the present Encyclical Letter, in continuity with the Jubilee heritage which I have left to the Church in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte and its Marian crowning, Rosarium Virginis Mariae. 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 His 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)" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 6).

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Tuesday of Holy Week

Isaiah 49:1–6
Psalm 34:13, 1–2
John 13:21–33, 36–38

Go and Prepare the Passover for Us

Sunday’s solemn chant of the Passion according to Saint Luke cast the whole of this Great and Holy Week in a Eucharistic light. I was moved to hear Jesus say, not only to a certain man in the city, but to me, and to us, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it” (Lk 22:8). For once the disciples were quick to obey: “And they went, and found it as He had told them; and prepared the Passover” (Lk 22:13). They must have sensed an urgency in their Master’s voice; they must have read on his face something of the desire for this pasch that blazed in his heart: “With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you, before I suffer” (Lk 22:15).

The Body and Blood of Christ

Saint Luke’s account of the Passion began with the wondrous account of the institution: “And He took bread, and when He had given thanks He broke it and gave to them, saying: ‘This is My Body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me. And likewise the chalice after supper, saying, ‘This chalice which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in My Blood’” (Lk 22:19–20). It was impossible to hear these words on Sunday and not sense that they were given us, in some way, as a key to the rest of the week and to the Paschal Triduum.

The Eucharist and the Cross

Today’s Introit was the very one that we will sing on Maundy Thursday on the threshold of the Sacred Triduum: “It is for us to glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection: through whom we have been saved and set free” (cf. Gal 6:14). We are given it today in a kind of contemplative rehearsal of the mysteries that will unfold. We are to sing it, and to hear it, in a Eucharistic key. We glory in the Eucharist as we glory in the Cross because the Eucharist is the sacramental demonstration of the Cross. Is this not what the Apostle teaches? “For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall show forth the death of the Lord, until he comes” (1 Cor 11:26). The Eucharist makes present the Cross. The Eucharist is the sacrifice of the Cross set before the eyes of faith, not as something dim and ineffectual, but as an astonishing inbreaking, here and now, of “the power of God and the wisdom of God”(1 Cor 1:24). This is the source of our “Eucharistic amazement.” This is this realization that leaves us, together with the saints of every age, “lost, all lost in wonder.”

O Great Passion

The Eucharist is the awful reality of the Christus passus. The mystery of the suffering Christ is made present to us and for us. For our healing, his wounds are pressed against ours. For our cleansing, his Blood flows impetuous like a torrent. For our life, his breath is given over in death. The Eucharist is the Crucified “lifted up and drawing all men to himself”(cf. Jn 12:32). It is the Eucharist that causes us to cry out, “O great Passion! O deep wounds! O outpouring of Blood! O death suffered in every bitterness, give us life.”

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Reflections on Sacramentum Caritatis

With the approach of Maundy Thursday — the solemn commemoration of the institution of the Most Holy Eucharist and of the Priesthood — I feel compelled to return to the Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis in search of whatever may be helpful to me personally, and to other priests desirous of growing in the friendship of Christ.

The Priest, Friend of the Bridegroom

The theme that emerges straightaway is that of the friendship of Christ. Before all else, the priest — every priest — is The Friend of Christ or, as Saint John the Baptist puts it, “the friend of the Bridegroom” (Jn 3:29).

Amazed By the Sacrament of Charity

“1. The sacrament of charity, the Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of Himself, thus revealing to us God's infinite love for every man and woman. This wondrous sacrament makes manifest that "greater" love which led Him to "lay down His life for his friends" (Jn 15:13). Jesus did indeed love them "to the end" (Jn 13:1). In those words the Evangelist introduces Christ's act of immense humility: before dying for us on the Cross, He tied a towel around himself and washed the feet of His disciples. In the same way, Jesus continues, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, to love us "to the end," even to offering us his body and his blood. What amazement must the Apostles have felt in witnessing what the Lord did and said during that Supper! What wonder must the eucharistic mystery also awaken in our own hearts!”

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Following up on Pope Benedict XVI's teaching on reparation, I want to share two prayers of reparation that I found on Vincent Uher's splendid site Tonus Peregrinus. "He who has ears, let him hear" (Mt 13:9).

O LORD JESUS CHRIST, who for our salvation didst endure the outrages of those who crucified thee, and now endurest the irreverence of those who discern thee not: Rather than withhold thy Sacred Presence from our Altars, give us grace to bewail the indignities committed against thee; and to repair, as far as lies in our power, and with devout love, the many dishonours thou still continuest to receive in this Adorable Mystery; Who livest and reignest, world without end. Amen.

O MY LORD AND MY GOD, MY GOD AND MY ALL, who hast willed to abide with us always in this Wonderful Sacrament, thus ever-glorifying thy Father by making present thy Passion in perpetual Memorial, and giving unto us thy very Self, the Food of Life: Grant us grace to grieve with a hearty sorrow for the insults offered thy Holy Mystery, and with sincere love to offer reparation for the many abuses and sacrileges thou still continuest to receive in thy Blessed Sacrament, who livest and reignest with the Father, in the Unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

Pope Benedict XVI on Reparation

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At a February 22, 2007 meeting of the Roman clergy with Pope Benedict XVI, Don Alberto Pacini, Rector of the Basilica of Sant'Anastasia, spoke of perpetual Eucharistic Adoration and asked the Holy Father to explain the meaning and value of Eucharistic reparation, specifically with reference to sacrilegious thefts and satanic sects. For a fruitful reflection on the Holy Father's response, read it together with Pope Pius XI's treatment of the same subject in the encyclical Miserentissimus Redemptor :

Eucharistic Reparation, A Difficult Topic

We are not speaking now about Eucharistic Adoration in general, which has truly penetrated our hearts and is penetrating the hearts of the people. You have asked this specific question about Eucharistic reparation. This has become a difficult topic. I remember, when I was young, that on the Feast of the Sacred Heart we prayed using a beautiful prayer by Leo XIII and then one by Pius XI in which reparation had a special place, precisely in reference, already at that time, to sacrilegious acts for which reparation had to be made.

The Reparation of Christ

I think we should get to the bottom of it, going back to the Lord himself who offered reparation for the sins of the world, and try to atone for them: let us say, try to balance the plus of evil and the plus of goodness. We must not, therefore, leave this great negative plus on the scales of the world but must give at least an equal weight to goodness.

The Weight of Infinite Love

This fundamental idea is based on what Christ did. As far as we can understand it, this is the sense of the Eucharistic sacrifice. To counter the great weight of evil that exists in the world and pulls the world downwards, the Lord places another, greater weight, that of the infinite love that enters this world. This is the most important point: God is always the absolute good, but this absolute good actually entered history: Christ makes himself present here and suffers evil to the very end, thereby creating a counterweight of absolute value. Even if we see only empirically the proportions of the plus of evil, they are exceeded by the immense plus of good, of the suffering of the Son of God.

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Every Thursday in our choir chapel (located on the second floor of the monastery and just behind the organ chamber of the Basilica) we have Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament with Adoration from 9:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. The custom in many monasteries of having Exposition and Adoration all day long every Thursday goes back to the seventeenth century. It was also not uncommon to celebrate a Votive Office of the Most Holy Eucharist every Thursday: a kindly of weekly festival of Corpus Domini.

The forthcoming Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis, will promote Eucharistic Adoration. His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI has already announced its publication for March 13th.

I took this photo in the choir chapel earlier today. The exquisite little monstrance is from the 1700s. Our own orto provided the luxuriant Calla Lilies: pure white trumpets announcing the presence of the King of Glory.

During the hour assigned them, our postulants quietly prayed the Chaplet of the Eucharistic Face of Christ. The Chaplet of the Eucharistic Face of Christ is a way of anchoring the heart in the silence of adoration.

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O Sacred Banquet in which Christ is received,
the memory of His passion is renewed,
the soul is filled with grace,
and a pledge of future glory is given us, (alleluia).

Before each decade:

My soul is thirsting for God, the strong and living God;
when shall I enter and see the Face of God? (Ps 41:3)

On the Hail Mary beads:

It is Thy Eucharistic Face, O Lord, that I seek;
hide not Thy Face from me. (cf. Ps 26:8-9).

On the Glory be to the Father beads:

Behold, O God our protector,
and look upon the Face of Thy Christ. (Ps 83:10)

In conclusion, three times:

Father, glorify the Eucharistic Face of Thy Son,
that Thy Son may glorify Thee (cf. Jn 17:1)

Wondrous Hidden God

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Yearning, I adore you,
wondrous hidden God,
Living Bread by bread concealed,
speaking heart to heart.
Give me now the faith that sees
darkly through the veil,
Let your presence draw me in
where my senses fail.

It being Thursday, the Most Blessed Sacrament was exposed in our choir within the clausura. Father Abbot posted a list of hours of adoration. The monks, clothed in the white cuculla out reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, kept watch in adoration all day. An indescribable fragrance of adoration seems to linger in the air even after the hours of exposition.

The practice of adoration on Thursday or, at least, of the holy hour of adoration of Thursday night, recalls the Great and Holy Thursday of the Lord's Mystical Supper and the gifts of the Priesthood and Eucharist. It introduces the weekly ascent to the Cross and the contemplation of the Pierced Side on Friday. Then, on Sunday evening after Vespers, it is good to remain before the Eucharistic Face of the Risen Christ, having recognized Him "in the breaking of the bread."

Reparation

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The "Oversight"

I was made aware today that in a certain monastery the Blessed Sacrament (enclosed in a pyx) was left unattended on a shelf near the tabernacle for two days. Just left there. Forgotten. Neglected. "An oversight," they said. People came and went directly in front of the pyx. No one stopped. Priests and levites passed by and paid no attention. Finally, someone intervened and the situation was corrected. A few souls offered some hours of adoration in a spirit of reparation.

Loss of Faith

Would this have happened forty–five or fifty years ago? I think not. The loss of faith in the adorable mystery of the Eucharist, expressed in the way the Blessed Sacrament is now treated, or I should say mistreated, is directly related to the systematic dismantling of the Roman Liturgy and to the dismembering and mutilation of its rites that followed the Second Vatican Council.

Ritual Ruptures and Devotional Discontinuity

First communion rails were removed and tabernacles displaced. Then Holy Communion began to be given in the hand with the communicants standing. Then folks were instructed not to genuflect on two knees in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed. Then, first in one diocese and then in another, the wonderfully fruitful Forty Hours Devotion was suppressed; so too was Nocturnal Adoration. Then, especially in Western Europe and North America, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion — many of them poorly catechized and ill–prepared — began to invade the sanctuary — "to help priests," we were told. (I thought the permament diaconate was restored for that very reason.)

The Adorable Body of Christ

Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. As we worship, so do we believe, and as we believe, so do we live. Every authentic theology of the body derives from the theology of The Body of Christ and refers to it. Reverence for human life and for the human body is a consequence of reverence for the adorable Body of Christ. As we treat the Head sacramentally present in the weakness, vulnerability, and silence of the sacred species so will we find ourselves treating the weak, vulnerable, and silent (or silenced) members of His Mystical Body. It is all of a piece.

The Year of the Eucharist Sabotaged

The Servant of God Pope John Paul II attempted by means of his Year of the Eucharist to revive a sense of eucharistic amazement in the Church and to regenerate adoration, reverence, and holy awe. Admit it: the Year of the Eucharist was not a huge success; it met with indifference among many of the higher clergy. There were dioceses in which nothing was said or done in response to the Apostolic Letter, Mane, Nobiscum Domine. The Year of the Eucharist was sabotaged by indifference.

Adoration and Reparation Recovered

I have been reflecting lately on the charism of Eucharistic adoration and reparation given to so many outstanding souls in the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Among them are Mechtilde de Bar (1614–1698), foundress of the Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration; Adèle Garnier (1838–1924), foundress of the Benedictine Adorers of the Sacred Heart of Tyburn; Théodolinde Dubouché (1809–1863), foundress of the Adoration Réparatrice; Hermann Cohen, Augustin–Marie du Saint–Sacrement (1820–1871), founder of the Nocturnal Adoration Society; Saint Peter Julian Eymard (1811–1868), founder of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament; and Blessed Marie de Jésus (1841–1884), foundress of the Filles du Coeur de Jésus.

Priest–Adorers

The charism of Eucharistic adoration and reparation is being given again at the beginning of this new millennium. Priests, in particular, will find themselves drawn to Eucharistic adoration and to an ever deeper identification with Christ, Priest and Victim living forever before the Father to intercede for us. The "work" of Eucharistic adoration and reparation will go hand–in–hand with the restoration of the Sacred Liturgy and will complement it.

Like Men Who Are Waiting

In one of his novels, R.H. Benson depicts the Parousia of the Lord as a blazing "coming forth" from the Blessed Sacrament exposed in a monstrance, the rays of the monstrance becoming the light of the glorious Body of Christ filling the universe. "Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the marriage feast, so that they may open to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes" (Lk 12:35–37).

Eight Days Would Be Enough

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The Saints in Our Lives

The saints come into our lives, each one with a particular mission. We do not choose the saints to whom we are devoted in a special way; it is they who, in obedience to a mysterious design of God, make themselves known and devote themselves to us. This is something I have experienced over and over again. When a particular saint offers me the gift of his or her friendship, it is because God chooses, through this saint, to teach me something, to offer me a particular gift or, quite simply, to give me a heavenly companion for my journey, a counselor, and a friend.

Saint Peter Julian Eymard, Apostle of the Eucharist

Last December I was given a first class relic of Saint Peter Julian Eymard. Then, several trips to the Italian Consulate in Manhattan gave me the opportunity to pray in the magnificent Church of Saint Jean–Baptiste. The Church contains an altar dedicated to Saint Peter Julian and an important relic. Saint Peter Julian Eymard seemed to be approaching me with a message and with a gift.

I just finished reading two biographies of the saint; both books are in Italian. I found them here in the abbey library. San Pietro Giuliano Eymard, Apostolo dell'Eucaristia by Quirino Moraschini and Mondolfo Pedrinazzi, S.S.S. (Roma 1962), and Il Beato Pietro Giuliano Eymard by Paolo Dott. Fossati, Sacerdote Adoratore (Milano 1925).

What I found most striking is this particular teaching of Saint Peter Julian Eymard. Excuse my translation from the Italian, itself a translation from the French.

"The secret for arriving quickly at a life centred in the Eucharist is, during a certain period of time, to make Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament the habitual object of the exercise of the presence of God, the dominant motive of our intentions, the meditation of our spirit, the affection of our heart, the object of all our virtues. And if the soul is generous enough, one will come at length to this unity of action, to familiarity with the adorable Sacrament, to think of it with as much and even greater ease than of any other object. Easily and gently one's heart will produce the most tender affections. In a word, the Most Holy Sacrament will become the magnet of devotion in one's life and the centre of perfection of one's love. Eight days would be enough for a simple and fervent soul to acquire this Eucharistic spirit; and even if one should have to put weeks and months to acquire it, can this ever be compared with the peace and the happiness which this soul will enjoy in the Divine Eucharist?"

A Eucharistic "Conversion of Manners"

What exactly is Saint Peter Julian Eymard saying here? To use the classic Benedictine expression, he is talking about a conversatio morum, a Eucharistic conversion of the way one lives, a turning toward the mystery of the Eucharist. the first expression of this Eucharistic conversion will be the re–ordering of one's priorities beginning with the organization of one's day. He is suggesting an intensive eight–day exposure to the healing radiance of the Most Holy Eucharist.

Power Comes Forth From Him

I have always loved the Communion Antiphon Multitudo languentium (p. 471 in the Graduale Romanum). The theological and musical summit of the antiphon is in the last line: Quia virtus de illo exibat et sanabat omnes. "For power came forth from Him and healed them all" (Lk 6:19). The fact that the liturgy makes us sing this text during Holy Communion tells us that healing power radiates from the Body and Blood of Christ received from the altar, and contemplated and adored in the tabernacle and in the monstrance. Saint Peter Julian Eymard is suggesting that eight days of conversion, i.e. of turning toward the Most Holy Eucharist is sufficient to begin the healing of one's heart and the renewal of one's life.

Bringing the Messy Bits to Adoration

My friend Lisa H. is famous for counseling folks with problems of all sorts to bring them to Eucharistic adoration. Lisa is 100% right. Bring your whole life to adoration, especially the messy bits, the very parts that you would be tempted to hide or disown. Bring your broken heart and your wounds to adoration. Try it for eight days. It will be the beginning of a Eucharistic conversatio morum.

The Last Day of 2006

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It is customary in many places to devote the last day of the year to adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Tomorrow, at the Monastery of the Glorious Cross, I will expose the Blessed Sacrament after the 11:00 a.m. Mass and the nuns and their friends will keep watch before the Eucharistic Face of the Lord until Vespers. How I desire to see this practice spread, especially to parish churches! If people only knew the Gift of God and Who it is Who waits for them in the Sacrament of the Altar, our churches would not be big enough to contain them all. Read what Pope Benedict XVI says about Eucharistic adoration:

Eucharistic adoration is an essential way of being with the Lord. . . .
The Church's true treasure [is]the permanent presence of the Lord in His Sacrament.
In one of his parables the Lord speaks of a treasure hidden in the field;
whoever finds it sells all he has in order to buy that field,
because the hidden treasure is more valuable than anything else.

The hidden treasure, the good greater than any other good, is the Kingdom of God - it is Jesus Himself, the Kingdom in person.
In the Sacred Host, He is present, the true treasure, always waiting for us.

Only by adoring this presence do we learn how to receive Him properly -
we learn the reality of communion,
we learn the Eucharistic celebration from the inside.

Here I would like to quote some fine words of Saint Edith Stein,
Co-Patroness of Europe, who wrote in one of her letters:

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"The Lord is present in the tabernacle in His divinity and His humanity.
He is not there for Himself, but for us: for it is His joy to be with us.
He knows that we, being as we are, need to have Him personally near.
As a result, anyone with normal thoughts and feelings
will naturally be drawn to spend time with Him,
whenever possible and as much as possible"
(Gesammelte Werke VII, 136ff.).

Let us love being with the Lord!
There we can speak with him about everything.
We can offer him our petitions, our concerns,
our troubles, our joys,
our gratitude, our disappointments,
our needs and our aspirations.

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.

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