Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Silent Anchorite of the Tabernacle and the Crosses We Bear

"Come to me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you."

O beautiful words of consolation, than which none more beautiful were ever spoken at a bed of suffering!  Every word is full of jubilation and carries the joy of the Resurrection into the hearts of men.

These words of consolation Jesus made a reality throughout His life.  Who could enumerate the miracles which He has worked for the salvation of men, for relief of the sick and possessed, who could estimate the blessings which He poured forth upon the human race?  Never, during the thirty three years of His earthly pilgrimage, did any sorely tried being appeal in vain to him for help!  Were even one such case on record, we might rouse the silent Anchorite in the tabernacle from His calm and say to Him: "You are not faithful to your beautiful promises.  Were not all and sundry invited to Your door to receive the alms of consolation?  Yet You abandoned this man to his sorrow and grief!"  However, no such abandoned sufferer is to be found.

On the contrary, we read how His soul was deeply moved by the sight of the poor widow on the street of Nain, because she brought her only son to the churchyard.  By the grace of His dear friend Lazarus He shuddered with grief for his poor sisters.  And when He thought of the destruction that threatened Jerusalem His eyes were filled with tears, and sighs laden with love and a cry of lamentation to His lips.

O heart of my Redeemer, Thou seemest formed of sheer goodness, sheer love, sheer compassion, and infinite pity, - a true Samaritan's heart, pure gold of love without dross!

This same Heart, also beats in the tabernacle  Therefore, I may cry out with greater confidence than before: You cross-bears of the world, raise up your heads and hope!  Your Redemption is at hand.  The Anchorite here in the tabernacle has an arm which conquers every sorrow and a heart which is always ready to help.  Cry out to Him in your need.  He will surely help you.

Yet, what do I see?  Many a cross-bearer knits his brow and shakes his head, as if he could not believe my words.  I heard thousands disputing and complaining.  "Go to the tabernacle and pray for relief?" they ask.  "Better save ourselves the trouble.  It is no use.  How long have I not dragged my cross; how often have I not appealed to Jesus in the tabernacle - yet always there is the old sorrow and old worry!"

A beautiful task here falls to my lot.  I am privileged to defend the loving Son of God.  How often have I not wished that I had lived 2000 years ago, when they haled Jesus into court, and produced false witnesses against Him!  I would have pleaded for Him until my tongue cleaved to my mouth.  Unfortunately I did not exist at that time; but now I am alive and able to plead for You, O kind Redeemer, and it is an easy task to clear You from the reproach just made.

They assert that You did not relieve them of their cross.  Did you promise that?  The Apocalypse holds out the certain prospect of relief, but only for that triumphant Easter morning, when we shall shake the dust of the earth from our feet and be allowed to enter the Heavenly Jerusalem: "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away" (Apoc. 21,4).  Not until that blessed hour will the bells ring out the eternal Sabbath, when every care will cease and every cross will be lifted.

The silent Anchorite in the tabernacle only wishes to refresh, to console, and to strengthen, not to remove the cross and its burden entirely from our shoulders.  Everlasting praise and thanks be to Him for willing to do only this!  For this "less" is "more," nay "considerably more," seeing that one joy of Heaven outweighs a thousand sighs on earth.

How would things have shaped themselves if the Eternal Father had granted the fervent petition of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, to spare Him the bitter chalice of sorrow?  Humanity would have been kept forever in filth and sorrow of sin; Heaven would still be barred, while hell would drag down into its fiery abyss far more victims than before.  Instead the Father sent an angel to console and strengthen the agonizing Savior, thus enabling Him to drink the chalice to the dregs.  And as a reward He is enthroned forever for all eternity on the right hand of the Father, as conqueror over death and hell, and sees redeemed mankind marching in a long procession to Heaven.

A skillful gardener acts the same way when the weight of the fruit of July threatens to break down a tree.  He does not pluck the green apples before they are ripe, but props the branches with strong poles, to enable the tree to go on bearing its fruit until it becomes ripe.

The Redeemer in the tabernacle desires only to refresh those who turn to Him for help, but He will not completely relieve them of the cross which they bear.  Some day when death takes the cross from their shoulders, and harvest time is arrived, and they behold the many full baskets of merits which they have gathered by patiently carrying the cross, they will turn to the tabernacle and give fervent thanks to Jesus, that he has refreshed them, but not taken away the cross.

This is one of the great laws which God has made with reference to the sanctification of men.  St. Catherine has formulated it as follows in her 78th letter: "From the beginning to the end of the world God never wills that anything great should be accomplished except through great suffering."  And in the Apocalypse, when one of the ancients asks in pious curiosity: "These that are clothed in white robes, who are they and whence came they?" the answer comes: "These are they who are come out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  Therefore they are before the throne of God, and they serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth the throne, shall dwell over them.  They shall no more hunger or thirst, neither shall the sun fall on them, nor any heat.  For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall rule them, and shall lead them to the fountains of the waters of life." (Apocalypse. vii, 13 sqq.)

Now we know how the silent Anchorite in the tabernacle occupies His time. There are millions of cross-bearers who daily approach Him for comfort, strength and relief.  Truly, He has no idle hour, and boredom will never be His lot.

But is He adapted to the described task?  Has He an adequate comprehension of our needs?  Jesus son of Sirach asks: "What doth he know that hath not been tried?  He that hath learned many things shall show forth understanding" (Ecclus. 34,9).

It is difficult for one to comprehend the meaning of soul torments, earthly cares, and family troubles if he has never known anything but the sunny side of life.  To pour out one's heart to such a man is almost like addressing him in a strange language utterly unknown to him.  In order that the Redeemer should adequately fulfill His office of consoler, it is necessary that, besides His strong arm and compassionate heart, He should have a profound understanding of every kind of misery and affliction.

Now Christ is a Master in everything, including the comprehension of our troubles and the art of comforting the afflicted.  Did He not spend thirty three years in a veritable school of sorrow?  And does not St. Paul assure all cross bearers that "we have not a high priest who cannot have compassion on our infirmities, but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin"? (Heb. 4,15.) "Let us go therefore," he continues, "with confidence to the throne of grace: that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid" (Heb. 4,16).

We sigh over poverty and privation.  But did not our Blessed Redeemer lie as a new born babe on rough straw in a stable?  Had He not to flee to Egypt, and be satisfied for many years with the hard bread of banishment?  After such trials, should He not know poverty and privation?  Who does not know the touching confession made in His later life: "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head"? (Matt. 8,20).

From early morning till late at night our shoulders are pressed by the heavy yoke of toil, and yet we eke out a miserable existence. If we complain of our hard lot to the Redeemer, will He be lacking in sympathy?  He who for eighteen years labored from early morning till dusk at a carpenter's bench, toiling and moiling to exhaustion?

Fate deals us violent blows, and often an accident destroys all our hopes, A sudden flash of lightning, and the edifice of our future is a blazing mass of cinders.  But was not the bloody sword of the executioner drawn at the very cradle of the silent Anchorite who now inhabits the tabernacle?  Was He not compelled to fly with haste under cover of darkness?  Did not death rob Him of a dear father and later of a true friend, Lazarus?  Surely He knows how roughly fate can deal with men.

You sit alone in your room at night, and your eyes are red with weeping.  A carefully reared son has gone astray, or a daughter has fallen.  Your heart is almost breaking. Oh, remember that in the nearby tabernacle dwells One who understands you as no one else!  Peter, whom He had surrounded with love and kindness, denied Him three times, and Judas betrayed Him for thirty pieces of silver.  Therefore do not complain: "Great as the sea is thy destruction: who shall heal thee?" (Lam. 2, 13). In the tabernacle is One who understands and will comfort you.

You are persecuted, slandered, misunderstood.  Our Divine Savior was abused as a glutton and a drunkard, who associated with Beelzebub, the prince of devils.  His enemies wanted to stone Him and the Gerasenes shut their doors when He approached them with blessings and graces.  Open your heart to Him, He will comfort you.

You are oppressed by grief; your soul enveloped in darkness and storm. Was not the Redeemer sorrowful unto death?  And what a cry of lamentation came from His lips on Good Friday: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"  He knows what grief is.  With what love did He not go with the two disciples to Emmaus and fill their heavy hearts with joy and hope.  To you also, as to them, He will speak from the tabernacle and infuse your should with new courage.

You are ill, you suffer intense pain; could He, who was scourged, crowned with thorns, and nailed to the Cross, be deaf to your complaints?

The silent Anchorite is the best comforter in every earthly sorrow.  None other has His strong arm, His loving heart, and His wide experience.  Therefore I can never be sufficiently astonished at His saying: "Come to me all you that labor and are burdened!"  Does that not sound like a command and an impatient bidding?  Must He then compel the cross bears to come to Him?  It seems to me He should rather have said: "Do not storm my house so incessantly, you who labor and are burdened!"  How explain this riddle?

Man is three parts sense and passion, and his mind is chiefly concerned with the present.  Therefore, whoever flatters his sense and sweetness the bitterness of the passing moment, seems to him the ideal comforter.  It was always thus, otherwise the loud lament had never escaped the lips of God: "Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and yet gates thereof, be very desolate, for my people have done two evils.  They have forsaken me, the fountain of living water and have digged to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jer. 2, 12).

From the heights of the tabernacle the Redeemer sees how many cross bearers hasten to invoke false comforters; therefore He literally commands us: "Come to me!  But beneath this apparently harsh tone is concealed a world of love.

The Anchorite in the Tabernacle
Rev. F.X Esser, S.J.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Cling to Him

Dear Daughters,

Above all, you must cling to the Beloved. When the tears shed at the feet of the Eucharistic Lord have changed from those of gratitude and love to those of frustration: cling to Him. When the warm and content hours of Adoration you enjoyed at the start have given way to restless minutes, straining towards an hour, spent by a cold and distracted heart: cling to Him. When abundant promises made in love have become meager resolutions made with fear and doubt: cling to Him. Above all, cling to Him.

Do not cling to your feelings — they shift and vanish like smoke and betray the hearts of men. One moment they expand like a wide road before the pilgrim soul and the next they contract entirely and abandon the traveler to a perilous fall. Whatever your feelings may be, whether those of love and joy or of anger and bitterness, abandon them to the Lord and then continue on the narrow, but constant, path of obscure faith that surely leads to the Beloved. 

Do not cling to your plans — they fill your heart with anxiety and a multitude of distractions that act as so many ties to bind you to this life and keep you from running towards the Beloved. Pray for courage and trust and then allow your mind to truly forget all things but the One who is present before you. Why do you allow created things to take the place of the eternal One in your heart? Are you afraid of isolation, or loneliness, or that you will find yourself unhappy? Truly these are fearsome thoughts. Yet, the giving of one’s whole heart unreservedly is the leap of faith demanded by true love. It is the risk all take, who take for their only possession the Eucharistic Lord. It is the risk you too must take. 

It is not the Lord who has changed in your seasons of desolation; it is the mind that has become darkened by the affairs of this world, and the heart that has grown cold from a multitude of distractions. The Eucharistic Lord remains ever the burning furnace of charity that is never extinguished; the heart full of love that is never diminished.

Renounce, then, all that would draw you away from the Lord’s presence. Spurn your inclinations and make choices based on faith; turn from the mere feeling of desire and make true acts of love; set aside your anxiety to please others and seek to please your Lord. Persevere daughters. Amidst your own coldness of heart, amidst your distractions, amidst your lack of desire — persevere. Exercise and stretch your hearts in prayer, spend your hours with the Lord and, when you can bear the difficulty no more, look to the Host and stay a little longer. 

Why, you only just came into church and are you already thinking of leaving it again? Remember, there was a time when it was your sweetest delight to be with Me; and now even in My presence you find the moments hanging heavy on your hands. What is the reason, My child? Why have you changed so? Am I no longer your God? Does it no longer please you to be with Me? Are you afraid perhaps? Oh, what can it be that makes you so ill at ease? 

When I poured into your soul the sweetness of My consolations, oh, then the hour of adoration passed away all too quickly. You prayed . . . prayed . . . Oh how you prayed! But now that I offer you a tiny taste of My chalice, of My sorrowfulness, you seem to feel a sort of repugnance towards Me. You are so silent — so repelling! 

My child, are those the resolutions you made? . . . the ones you asked Me to bless? How often you have fervently assured Me that I am your only love, your only consolation, your God and your all! Oh, your heart seems to be so forgetful! Or has some other creature perhaps taken My place therein? Can it be possible that you have found something better than I am? Oh, why, why do you want to leave Me so soon? 

Are you not just a little ashamed to get tired of Me? Have you nothing to say to Me, child? Come, tell Me some of the many things you are always telling others. Just mix a little love with the words and then tell Me everything. Without haste. One thing after the other. Tell Me about the unpleasant things and the troubles; tell Me about your little trials; about the plans you are making; the difficulties that await you. Are you perhaps afraid of meeting disagreeable persons? Of living with them? Or are you afraid of some misfortune? Some rude disappointment? Some painful experiences? Just tell me everything! Keep nothing back. 

From time to time your behavior is so strange. When your poor heart has to fight distractions you quickly lose courage and run away from Me. Do you not know that even distractions can be transformed into a glorious prayer? Only listen to Me, Me child. I will tell you how. 

Are you distracted because of your daily work? Because of the duties of your state of life? Do these things keep you from prayer? Yes? But why do you not tell Me everything at once? Why do you not confide in Me? Gather all those things together and bring them to My feet. If you do so I will accompany your every step with My blessing. I will calm your fears. I will make your work fruitful. 

Are you distracted because of some joy that you hope for? Some expectation? Are you? But why not speak to Me about the desires of your heart? Why not tell Me what you long for? Who knows — perhaps I alone can procure that joy for you. Who knows — perhaps I alone can make it full and lasting. 

Are you distracted because someone has offended you, hurt you? Yes? But, child, why do you not tell Me that at once? Tell me about your sensitiveness, your anger, your revengeful thoughts. Why do you not tell Me how touchy, how irritable you are, how full of bitterness our heart is, how restless your soul? Do you think I am not able to restore peace to you? Have you forgotten that I can transform this bitterness into sweetness, this storm into calm? So be of good cheer, My child, and just talk it all over with Me. In this way your distractions can become the best of prayers. 

Sometimes you complain that no one in the world has a kind word for you. You are sad because no one seems to be interested in you. Oh, your poor, deal soul! See, I am the guilty one. I have put this atmosphere of quiet and seclusion around your I have placed you in this solitude. Have you never thought of that? Have you never realized this? And why do I do it? Just because I want . . . you to remain with Me. I want you to belong wholly to Me; no one else should have any right to you. I bid all others to be silent: I wish to be the only one to speak to you. Of, if you but know how much I have to say to you! But if you leave so quickly, My child, you will have no chance to listen to Me at all. My voice, you know, cannot be heard in the bustle of the world: it is too soft and low. It is more gentle than the throbbing of your heart. If you want to hear it everything must be very quiet around you. 

You think that when you visit Me you alone do the talking. No, no; that will never do; I, too, have something to say. I have many bits of advice to give you, some reproaches to make, some consolation to offer. But if you have no time, if you go from me so quickly, how can I whisper anything to you? 

So just stay here, My child. Yes; only be silent. I will do the talking, never fear! Nor are My words going to be wafted away, like a sweet odor in the air; no, they must be stamped upon your soul as the seal of My love. So stay here, and you will see that there is still someone who has a good word for you — who is wholly yours! 

See, child, there are so many men who want to have nothing at all to do with Me. And that despite the fact that I have heaped benefits upon them. But it seems that My gifts have made them the more forgetful, My consolations, the more heartless. Oh, what a detestable thing ingratitude is! What an ugly stain upon the mind of man! And upon this stain I must gaze continually. 

At least you must remain with Me a little while. Tell Me that you love Me, that you have not forgotten the tears you once wept at My feet, that you still remember the consoling sweetness that I poured so abundantly into you heart. Yes; and tell Me that the only reason why you did not let the abundance of your sufferings cast you into despair was that My saving hand was outstretched to you. Tell Me how you thankfully owe it to My grace that you still look upon life as a blessing. For, oh! You have no idea of the joy and satisfaction which I find in a soul that shows itself grateful for My benefits. 

Ah, if you but knew what I must see and hear from the tabernacle! Sins, and always sins; blasphemies; and then blasphemies again; from far; and from near; they are cruelly flung into My face. I am forced to see everything, to hear everything. My child, these things strike My heart like hailstones. Oh, I beg of you, do not leave Me so quickly! Stay with Me a little longer. Tell Me, my child, why are you in such a hurry, why do you run away so soon? Do you not see how a certain dryness of the soul is the direct result of your great haste? You complain to Me, and to your confessor, and to everybody who is willing to listen, that you no longer experience sweetness and consolation in your practices of piety. But do you not see you have not even the time and the patience to remain a tiny little while with Me . . . with Me . . . and I am the source of all spiritual delights. You complain that you feel cold; and, My child, at the same time you have not the perseverance to remain for half an hour at the fire here, to warm yourself at the glowing hearth of My Sacrament. 

So do not leave Me at once, My child. Stay with Me. Pray. Meditate. Examine your conscience. And if you can do nothing else just stay and listen to what I tell you. Look upon the tabernacle. Marvel at the whiteness of the glimmering host, and try at least a little to penetrate this fair white veil that covers Me. You will discover something surely; and some few words you will most certainly hear. 

My child, you well know that I have created and redeemed you, in order that you may one day live with Me for all eternity. Therefore enjoy a foretaste of heaven already now; taste a drop of the bliss of your future paradise. Listen to Me, dear Christian soul . . . do not go away . . . Oh, be so good as to stay here a little longer! 

Eucharistic Whisperings, Volume II

Monday, July 16, 2018

The Forgotten Great "One"

 We children of men are made up of five part senses, and only the sixth part is given up to understanding and faith.  But even the little that our senses grasp, must not be hid modestly like a violet in the grass.  It must thrust itself forward, else men will not heed it.  We give fitting attention to the sun which sends down its scorching rays and to the strong wind which violently blows off our hat, or tears a loose tile from the roof.  But at the same time we go our way regardless of every flower, every beetle, and every blade of grass that we tread on, and a whole world of small and great wonders of creation is trampled underfoot.  We do not heed this other world.  This is the rule, and under this rule the Son of God also suffers in His silent sanctuary.

. . . the anxious lover who weeps compassionately for the abandoned One and would gladly make Him the center of all our feelings, thoughts and endeavors, queries: Why, O Blessed Redeemer, doest Thou not arise like a pillar of clouds or fire, casting a bright light by day and gloomy shadows by night on the pathway of the sons of men?  Why dost Thou not descend on us like a hurricane from heaven, or hover like a tongue of fire over the heads of Thy devoted servants?  The eyes of all men would then be on Thee.  Would that Thou wouldst appear in our midst under the energetic form which has been described by John the Baptist - in one hand with winnowing shovel and in the other an axe, here sifting the wheat, there felling the hardened stalks as if they were rotten trees.  And if only the tabernacle would become one day like the heights of Tabor, enveloped in light!

But no!  The Redeemer hears the well-meant lamentation; it comforts Him; it shows Him that a friendly heart throbs for Him; yet He will alter nothing.  He abides in retirement, far away from the broad highway, where everything is arranged for show and to attract attention.  His dwelling place on the altar is small, only two or three feet square.  There He abides quietly and is hardly talked about.  Nowhere is there anyone so retired and contented as He.  But rarely is He to be see on the street.  True, on those occasions, in Catholic countries, He allows a little light to shed its rays in front of Him and a little bell to tinkle.  Whoever meets Him, takes off his hat if he is well disposed, and makes the Sign of the Cross.  But Jesus goes on His way quickly, and soon everything is as before.

At times, too, He gives an audience to His faithful subjects.  Then He occupies a golden throne over the tabernacle.  Thick clouds of incense and joyous hymns arise and peal through the church.  But Jesus does not stir; He utters not a word, nay, not even a whisper, much less speaks "as one who has power" (Matt 7:29).

Yet He is God and His knowledge is all-embracing.  Are we to assume that He does not know that we are like little children, to captivate whom one must be surrounded with sunlight and elated by wild trumpeting?  Did not dense crowds of people march behind His ancestor, David, and sing his praise in triumphant strains?  True, David on that occasion was decorated with green bay leaves and was returning as victor from a blood drenched battlefield.  But no notice was taken of him later, when he fled.

Jesus knows all this very well.  He knows, too, how easily He could attract the applause of the multitude.  It would be quite enough to thrust back the white veil of the host and appear to us in the majesty of the Son of God.  Instead of a few faithful servants, millions would then fall on their knees and humbly confess: "Truly this is the Son of God!" (Matt 27:54).  Yet He seems to do the exact opposite.  He wraps Himself up more closely in the white veil, and addresses to that little band the well-known question: "Will you also go away?" (John 6:68).

Why this peculiar attitude?  If Jesus were a human being with faults, one would perhaps attribute His attitude to unreasonable obstinacy, owing to the fact that the idea of keeping Himself concealed lies like an immovable rock in the clear mountain lake of His soul, and never will yield, but force all waters to move around it, whether they hiss or rage or surge.  But He is God, the highest perfection, and hence all His acts must have a profound, noble, and pure meaning.

The veneration which is found on outward appearance and clear perception resembles brummagem gold, which is not a suitable offering to the all-holy God.  Its brilliance may rejoice human eyes, but can not deceive the Searcher of hearts.  If our veneration is to resemble pure gold free from base alloy and dross, which can stand the test of fire, then faith must join our hands, and faith must bend our knees.  And even if, as on Calvary, there should be found but two souls at the tabernacle, two souls resembling Mary and John in loyalty and faith, their devotion would seem to Him more acceptable than if a whole crowd, dazzled by the brilliance of His outward appearance, should lie on the ground, trembling and shuddering.

Once upon a time the Redeemer went about the country with His Apostles in simple pilgrim's garb.  At the first glance He might have been taken for one of them, only that His eyes shone more wonderfully, and His bearing was that of a king.  Suddenly He put the blunt question: "Who do you say that I am?" (Matt 16:15).  Peter impetuously thrust himself forward and worshipped the simple preacher as the Incarnate Son of God.  Was not the heart of the Redeemer overcome with joy by the homage, and was not Peter's noble deed rewarded by a blessing: "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona!" (Matt 16:17).  On another occasion the Savior had cured the sick before a vast multitude, and driven out devils, and finally had multiplied a few loaves of bread in a miraculous fashion.  The crowd marveled and expressed their admiration in unmeasured applause.  Finally they wanted to make Him king.  Did this turbulent shouting and hand-clapping make His heart beat faster and force from His lips a fresh blessing?  No.  He fled from their midst and escaped into a solitary spot in the mountains to pray.

Yes, "Blessed are they who do not see and yet believe!"

So we must content ourselves with the modest tabernacle.  It will never be enveloped in heavy thunder clouds, like Sinai, nor yet in the glory of Heaven, like Tabor.  If it were, the worship of the Eucharistic God would be far, far easier for us human beings, so dependent upon our senses.  But much would be thereby sacrificed in worth and merit.

But one thing we can and will do; namely, to nourish and strengthen the light of faith by contemplation and prayer and by the grace of God, so that it may grow to be a clear and bright sun that will send its rays through the misty veil of the tabernacle and manifest to us the hidden world of wonders and miracles.  Do thou, O hidden God in the Blessed Sacrament, "increase our faith!" (Luke 17:5).

The Silent Anchorite of the Tabernacle
Rev. F.X. Esser, S.J.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

My Beloved

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Is Jesus your Beloved? . . . do you see His beauty? . . . do you see Him as the Eternal Father sees Him?  So many are captivated by the things of this world that but pass into dust.  Even His priests, who serve daily at the altar approach the privilege morosely, as though bored and put out by the task.    How can they speak to others of the Lord if they see not His beauty themselves? . . . if they have no desire in their hearts for Him.

You must bring yourself to the school of the Eucharistic Master and there you must listen to His word of love and gaze upon His Eucharistic Face.  Pray that He opens your eyes and the eyes of His priests to this Eternal Beauty . . . that He would implant in your and their hearts the desire for Him and nothing more. Above all may He put within your hearts the longing to hear those when you receive the Holy Eucharist: "This is My Beloved."  Prepare yourselves for this Daughters and seek it out devoutly.

It was no mortal man who called Jesus that.  No; it was the Eternal Father Himself . . . He spoke those words at the Savior's baptism by St. John in the Jordan . . . at the transfiguration on the heights of Tabor.

That voice of the heavenly Father is still re-echoing as sweetest music throughout the world.  In the tabernacle's shadow it calls out to Catholics everywhere.  How tender the words: "This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased."

How very beautiful Jesus must be!  What rare beauty there must be in His intellect . . .  what beauty in His will . . . how strikingly beautiful must be His sacred Person?

And yet - what do I do? . . .  I forget the beauty of Jesus . . . I go in search of earthly beauty . . . .I let myself be lead astray and blinded by it.  And all the while, here in the tabernacle, I have all that I seek.  Here I have that which alone can make me happy, which alone can satisfy my hunger for the beautiful.  Here I have Beauty itself - Beauty ever ancient and ever new.  Oh, why do I weary myself in this vain search for beauty among creatures!  And all the while, in my strange folly, I have flattered myself on the attractiveness of my own person!

What a light of eternal love must shine in the Father's eyes when He gazes upon His beloved Son!  How the angels and saints of God must glow with happiness when they gaze upon the beauty of Jesus!  And to think that while the whole heavenly court gazes in rapture and ecstasy upon the sacred Host I do not so much as think of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Of course it is true: my bodily eyes see naught of the beauty of Jesus . . . but the eyes of faith . . . what do I see with them? Nothing?  Alas! if so, then how fast asleep my faith may be, how very, very weak.

The great, almighty God finds His pleasure in Jesus . . . in Him He is well pleased . . . Am I pleased with Jesus too? . . . Oh, to my shame I must say it: I have loved the fleshpots of Egypt more than the manna of the wilderness . . . like the murmuring Jews of old.  If there is anything delicious and sweet on earth it is this living Manna which comes down from heaven itself, this Bread of life, this Food of angels.

My taste has been spoiled . . . I see it now.  And it is all due to the fact that I have not the proper conception and appreciation of the Holy Eucharist.  I do not know how to love and treasure the Blessed Sacrament.

What then must I do?  I must go to school to my Eucharistic Master . . . I must sit at His feet and listen eagerly to His divine words . . . and I must keep them all in my heart.
In my heart . . . Would it not, then, be the best and simplest way for me to beg Jesus to come into my heart in Holy Communion? . . . And when He is with me I will reverently ask Him, in childlike simplicity, to make a little bargain with me. He may remain in my heart as in a dwelling place, but in return He must enclose me within His own Heart.  Where could I learn the things of heaven better or more quickly than in such a sanctuary?  Just there will the soul learn to see everything in a true spiritual light; just there will it learn the secret of sanctity.  Then, too, if Jesus dwells in my heart and I in the Heart of Jesus, I shall find great favor with the Eternal Father; and also I shall have a share in the words of Mt. Tabor and the Jordan: "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased."

A beloved of the Eternal Father? . . . I? . . . Yes; and why not?  Why not, if I am one with Jesus . . . if His blood flows in my veins . . . if His sacred body has been united with mine . . . if His soul has been melted into mine . . . if His divinity has been poured out over my whole being . . . if Jesus finds His happiness in being with me - indeed, why should not I also be the beloved of God?

Ah! how joyfully I am going to Mass early tomorrow morning, and to Holy Communion.  I will do my very best to receive the Savior as devoutly as possible.  Then when I have Him in my heart I will fly to heaven on the wings of faith . . . I will prostrate myself before the throne of the Almighty and will say to Him in childlike love: "Eternal Father, art Thou now well pleased with me?  Oh, I am wondering what the answer of my God will be.

What a beautiful day tomorrow will be!

Eucharistic Whisperings
Rt.Rev. Msgr. Guglielmo Reyna

Monday, June 18, 2018

your whole life must be a continuous act of thanksgiving

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

So often a spirit of presumption shapes our approach to God and is followed, perhaps more shamefully, with a spirit of ingratitude.  We receive our Lord, the gift of the Holy Eucharist and His many graces, and yet so rarely if ever show gratitude for those gifts let alone consider the debt we owe Him.  Our hearts are hardened and our minds oblivious to the thanksgiving that Christ offered His own Father when at last he was able to pour Himself out in love for us and unite Himself to us forever; this all in the face of the humiliations, outrages and offenses that He could so clearly see lay ahead.  Daughters, what response will you make to this reality . . . when so many . . . including His own priests . . . approach and leave the altar with hearts hard as stone?  You must seek to make your whole life a continuous act of thanksgiving.  Furthermore, gratitude for the gift received and the avoidance of sin are not enough.  No, "it is rather a case of acting towards Jesus with all the nobility of soul and with all the gentle considerateness becoming to a child of God and a disciple of Christ the Savior.  Ah no! it is a case of meeting Him with all the generosity and magnanimity of which the heart of man is capable."

Tell your Lord of your love for Him.  Offer him your poverty, humiliations; the drudgeries of daily life, sufferings and sickness and even your eventual death.  Though small and insignificant these tokens if offered in love "will be changed into heavenly gold worthy of being formed into a diadem to crown His kingly brow . . . and your humiliations will be transformed into sweet smelling incense worthy of being burned in the censers of the angels before the very throne of God . . . whereas your sufferings will be changed into myrrh that will preserve from all taint of corruption your faith, your hope and your charity."

It was at the Last Supper, on the night before He died, that Jesus instituted the Blessed Sacrament.  When the solemn moment came wherein He was to give Himself to us, His Sacred Heart overflowed with joyous affection; and He raised His eyes to His heavenly Father in thanksgiving that now at last He would have the happiness of binding Himself for all time to the hearts of men.  It is indeed true, - in that sacred moment the Savior clearly foresaw all the humiliations, all the outrages and offenses, to which He would be subjected in the Sacrament of His supreme love . .  but He thought more of the love than of the pain . . . He thought more, far more, of all that He could give to men than all that He had to expect from them . . . And divine sentiments of unutterable gratitude filled His very being!  And why? . . . O the marvel of it!  Because now it was made possible for Him to enrich souls of men with uncounted graces and numberless blessings.

Men give thanks - if they give thanks at all - only after benefits have been received . . .  But Jesus gives thanks that now He may shower His favors upon men, His heavenly Father so ordaining.  It is His greatest joy to make His creatures happy.  He would make them happy even at the risk of receiving only ingratitude in return.

Yes; Jesus takes it for granted that His love will be repaid with ingratitude.  But what a shame it would be for you to belong to the crowd of the ungrateful . . .what a shame!  Jesus thanks the Father that He may be all yours and become all yours in Holy Communion . . . and you - what do you do?  Are you truly grateful to Him for coming into your heart in Holy Communion, for being your constant Companion in the tabernacle there, for daily offering Himself for you in the unceasing Sacrifice of the Mass?  Oh, be sure to remember this: if you wish honestly to pay your debts - the debts of gratitude that you owe to Jesus - you must be convinced that the short and often distracted thanksgiving that you make after Holy Communion does not suffice . . . it is not enough . . . more is needed.  Simply your whole life must be a continuous act of thanksgiving for the untold benefits that you receive from Him in His adorable Sacrament.  Nor is it merely a case of avoiding sin - ah no! that is not enough for a soul that is conscious of its Eucharistic dignity.  Ah no! it is rather a case of acting towards Jesus with all the nobility of soul and with all the gentle considerateness becoming to a child of God and a disciple of Christ the Savior.  Ah no! it is a case of meeting Him with all the generosity and magnanimity of which the heart of man is capable.

Jesus gives you His very Self; and He not only gives you His Divine Person, but together with it He likewise gives you His grace, His love, and His whole life.  So, if there is even a spark of gratitude in your heart, you must feel bound to give Him in return all that you are, all that you have, all that you do.  In a word, you must work for Him, and live and die for Him, and that with all the greater generosity, since He does not deprive you of the blessings of gratitude but lets you continue to enjoy them to the full.  You give and give . . . and in giving thanks you nevertheless receive - the reward of a grateful heart.

Now you know wherein your duty lies.  Enjoy gladly the earthly blessings that God gives you; but at the same time think, love, speak, and act out of gratitude towards Him.  Rejoice in the gifts of His grace; but at the same time pray, meditate, and receive the Sacraments out of gratitude towards Him.  Draw nearer to the grave with quiet peace, become old and wrinkled and bent, prepare yourself for death - in gratitude towards Him.  All that you see, all that you have, all that you do, is little enough, as you know full well; but this little takes on infinite value when it is offered to Him with the tender love of a grateful heart.  And you were to be pitied indeed, were you, because of the littleness of your gifts, to resist the pious promptings of a heart overflowing with affectionate gratitude.

Surely you must have been worried time and again because you could not make what you considered a worthy thanksgiving after Holy Communion . . . because you did not know what to say to the Savior in your visits to the Blessed Sacrament.  But put aside this anxiety and regret now . . . put it aside . . . and in the future act in this way:

Tell the Savior, quite simply and confidingly, that you love Him . . . that you really do appreciate this greatness and the multitude of His benefits to you . . . that you would like to give Him the whole universe and even all heaven itself in return.  Tell Him that you are only a poor little creature, so poor that you must content yourself with offering Him your littleness and your poverty.  Then gather together all the bits of goodness that you can find in your heart and in your everyday life and assure Him that you are bringing them all to Him in thanksgiving.  Tell Him that you give Him everything that you love, that you desire, that you fear . . . all that you do at home . . . your daily work and the drudgery of daily tasks . . . your bitter disappointments and those painful misunderstandings . . . your little sacrifices and humiliations . . . all the trials and troubles of life . . . the violence you must do to yourself . . . the inconveniences and sufferings of sickness . . . the deprivations of poverty . . . in short, everything that occupies your mind and heart, everything that causes you joy or sorrow, satisfaction or misgiving.  Offer everything to Christ your Savior in gratitude for what He has given to you.

Perhaps a thanksgiving such as this seems too small and insignificant to you.  It would no doubt be quite insignificant and inadequate to men who have no esteem or regard for anything except earthly gold . . . and the incense of the dust and ashes of the earth . . .  But if you offer your poor little tokens of love to Jesus, they will be changed into heavenly gold worthy of being formed into a diadem to crown His kingly brow . . . and your humiliations will be transformed into sweet smelling incense worthy of being burned in the censers of the angels before the very throne of God . . . whereas your sufferings will be changed into myrrh that will preserve from all taint of corruption your faith, your hope and your charity.

Divine Savior, I beg of You and I beseech You by Your infinite love for my poor soul - fill my heart with that spirit of gratitude which fills Your own towards Your heavenly Father when You instituted the Blessed Sacrament.  Let my heart be wholly imbued with this gratitude as often as I think of You, speak of You, or receive You in Holy Communion.  And when the sacred Host rests upon my tongue, - O teach that tongue to speak words of thanks such as are due to You . . .

For it is truly meet and just, right and salutary, to render due thanks to the Lord our God.

Eucharistic Whisperings
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Guglielmo Reyna

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Eucharistic Spirit of Sacrifice

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

You may firmly believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, adore His Eucharistic face, but do you remember that with Him in the Blessed Sacrament is His spirit of sacrifice - that this sacrifice is communicated to your soul each time you receive Him?  Jesus your Sacrifice lives in you and so ought not His spirit of sacrifice also be yours?  You must be a lover of mortification, self-denial and penance and these things must shape your life.  

If your Communions are barren of fruit, your spiritual maternity will likewise bear no fruit of either holiness for yourself or healing for the priests for whom you pray.  If your Beloved embraces the Cross for you, mustn't you embrace every cross willingly and joyfully that comes to you.  How can you be averse to the very thing that has brought about your salvation, the very outpouring of love upon which you are now nourished?  In the most intimate way you receive the Lord in Communion, but for you the roads to Gethsemane and Calvary remain unfamiliar.  You so readily welcome Him into your hearts, yet hold no desire to receive His spirit of sacrifice.  "Only a little while ago your body was a sanctuary of God Himself! . . . and now you are in eager pursuit of all kinds of pleasures, worldly distractions, and sensual gratification; or, if you are not actually seeking them, you are at least making mental resolves to do your best to avoid every mortification, every humiliation, to keep as far away from them as possible . . . Jesus, all aglow with the spirit of mortification, has entered into your heart . . . and you?"

Do not fear suffering Daughters.  Your Beloved desires to give you this gift - His spirit of sacrifice.  Even if you have so often left Him on Calvary's dismal heights, He waits to bind you more closely to Himself.  He will transform your lives by the grace of participation in His sufferings.  He will teach you how to suffer as a Christian.  "Your Beloved will sweeten all sacrifices for you when your spirit gropes blindly in the darkness of this mystery."  

I am so accustomed to pronouncing the holy name of Jesus that I fear I do not sufficiently realize the mighty significance of that sweet name.  It means Savior - and, oh, what it cost Him to save us!  When I hear the music of that name in which alone men can be saved I must think, not only of Jesus, but also of His perfections.  I firmly believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament - it is true; but I may not forget that with Him in the Blessed Sacrament - inseparably one with Him - are His wisdom, His omnipotence, His beauty ever ancient and ever new - all His adorable perfections, in short . . . but more than all others, if that be possible, His spirit of sacrifice.  Yes; this perfection is there in a special way; and in a special way it is communicated to my soul each time I receive Holy Communion.

From this something important follows: Jesus, my Sacrifice, lives in me.  In Holy Communion I become one with Him.  Ought not, then, His spirit of sacrifice to be also mine?  Ought I not be a lover of mortification, self-denial, self-sacrifice, penance?  Surely, it ought to implant deep in my soul a spirit of sacrifice, a spiritual understanding of its value, a longing to shape my life according to its dictates . . . I mean the reception of that Body, torn, bleeding, mangled, and crucified for love of me . . . of that Blood which flowed in crimson streams in the scourging at the pillar, in the crowning with thorns, in the nailing to the cross, and in the agonizing three hours spent thereon.

But what am I in reality?   Am I a lover of mortification? of self-sacrifice? of the cross?  Do I actually find pleasure in submissive sufferings?

I wonder why my Communions seem to be so barren of spiritual fruits.  Why is it that, in spit of receiving my Jesus, I afterwards have the same aversion to suffering as I had before, the same love of personal comfort, the same desire to cater to the pleasures of sense? . . . Why is it? . . .  Surely,, when Jesus, the Model of mortification, enters into my soul, He must leave within it some of His spirit of sacrifice.  Then, why, O why, am I the same after Holy Communion as before? . . . Why am I then still averse to each and every sacrifice?

Oh I am all ashamed!  I have been going to Holy Communion for so many years . . . and yet the roads that lead to Gethsemane and to Golgotha are still so unfamiliar to me.  My Jesus is God, I know; and yet to me He is a God that has not suffered.  He is Beauty itself; and yet Beauty that was never disfigured, that was not struck in the face, that was not spit upon.  He is eternal Wisdom; and yet not Wisdom that was dressed in the purple garment of mockery and derided as the king of fools.  He is Omnipotence; and yet Omnipotence that was never bound with the degrading chains of a malefactor.  He is Goodness itself; and yet Goodness that was never loaded with shameless ingratitude.  He is Life itself; and yet Life that never drank to the dregs the bitter chalice of death.  He is Jesus; and yet not the cheerful Giver of Self in countless sacrifices . . . Is that what the Savior is to me? . . . Oh, I am so ashamed!

Does not this prove that Jesus is only partly known to me, only half understood? . . . . How, then, can my heart be so prepared for His coming as He wishes it to be?  . . . I invite Him to enter under my roof, to come to me . . . I hold the door of my heart wide open . . . I long and pray and plead that He may fill me quite with all His perfections . . . . But I make no preparation whatever for the reception of His spirit of sacrifice.  And thus - maybe without thinking - I myself place bounds to His generosity in the distribution of His gifts.  And Jesus, Who knows no bounds when He would enrich us with His treasures, passes through my heart and is sad - sad because He can leave behind only a few little signs of His burning love for me.

Ah! this is the explanation of my continued spiritual poverty . . . Now I know why I am still but the merest novice in the way of perfection.

It is true enough that I have often gone to Holy Communion . . .but where are my sacrifices, my acts of self-denial?

My heart, as it were, is still warm from divine contact with the Precious Blood that I have just received in Holy Communion . . . and yet, already now I feel within me the promptings of self-love, contempt of others, anger, bitterness . . . And why?  All because of a mere nothing!  . . .  because of a slight difference in opinion, a little contradiction, a petty humiliation.  In a certain sense my lips are still purpled with the Blood of my Savior . . . .and I am already beginning to murmur and complain.  Why is this?  Merely because a tiny little cross has been placed upon my shoulder.  My eyes are still well-nigh dazed by the snow-white purity of the Sacred Host, and I already look down upon others with pride and disdain . . . and that only because they displeased me a little or simply because I cannot tolerate them.

Only a little while ago my body was a sanctuary of God Himself! . . . and now I am in eager pursuit of all kinds of pleasures, worldly distractions, and sensual gratification; or, if I am not actually seeking them, I am at least making mental resolves to do my best to avoid every mortification, every humiliation, to keep as far away from them as possible . . . Jesus, all aglow with the spirit of mortification, has entered into my heart . . . and I? . . . .I become impatient at the least discomfort, at the least suspicion of unfair treatment . . . The very thought that I might fall sick makes me feel uneasy . . .  I tremble at the mere imagination of death.

How different things would be if I only remembered that Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the Lover of mortification!  To many souls sacrifice, self-denial, has become a real necessity, their joy and their glory.  I see them; admire them for it; but that is all.  Why do I not seek the reasons for their supernatural likings?  Why do I not search for the source of this their spiritual beauty?  Any why do I not try to find out in what school they were so well trained?  Of a truth, if I really had at heart the acquisition of that spirit of sacrifice which I admire so much to others, I would straightaway change my method in the reception of Holy Communion . . . .I would approach my Jesus with a generous heart . . . I would come with quite a different disposition to nourish my heart with a Body that was tormented and crucified for me, to quench the thirst of my soul with the Blood that was spilled for me at the hands of heartless executioners.  Then, indeed, would I be most satisfied and happy to receive my Jesus, even were He to let me feel the burning sharpness of the thorns and nails . . . .and the piercing point of the lance.  Then would I at once make Him the sole and supreme Lord and Master of my entire being and would give Him the full right to dispose of my faculties at His good pleasure, especially of the power that enables me to make sacrifices and to suffer . . . .Yes, to my shame I say it, I am always too mean and stingy towards my Savior.  And that is why the generous Lover of sacrifice has been less generous to me . . .  Suffering has always frightened me so! . . . And it is not my dearest Savior's way to frighten souls . . .  .

Sweetest Jesus, living Sacrifice of Love, too late have I known You!  In spite of my many Communions and my visits to the Blessed Sacrament, I do not yet understand the Holy Eucharist as I ought.  No; I have never realized how ardently You desire to give to the soul, together with Your own divine Self, Your spirit of sacrifice.  I have too often forgotten that the Blessed Sacrament is the living memorial of Your bitter passion and death.  I tried to receive You most devoutly, it is true; I tried to love You above all things; but deep down in my heart I cherished a hidden aversion to all suffering.  I sought You in that beautiful large upper room where You instituted the Blessed Sacrament; and all the while You were waiting for me on Calvary's dismal heights! . . . .Yes; that is where You were and where You so patiently waited for me in order to bind me more closely to Yourself with the bonds of suffering . . . .But I never had the courage to flow in those blood stained footsteps.

But now You have conquered, my Savior.  No matter how painful it may be to my weakness, I lay bare my heart to You . . . And this is my prayer: O Jesus, give me the grace to make sacrifices for You!  Let me esteem it a rare privilege to do so.  Come, O ever living Sacrifice, Lamb of God, immolated on our altars from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof . . . come, transform my life through the grace of participation in Your sufferings.  Speak to my heart and convince me of the necessity of penance for the many sins by which I have stained my soul and made my life miserable. Teach me to suffer as a Christian, to suffer and not complain.  Teach me to subject all the sense of my body, all the powers of my soul, to the dominion of the cross.  Sweeten all sacrifices for me when my spirit gropes blindly in the darkness of this mystery . . . when my heart would grow hard and rebellious in the midst of tribulations . . . when my self-love rebels under the weight of humiliations . . . when my body is consumed by wasting illness.

Oh, come!  Oh, would that I could at length learn from You to preserve peace of heart in spite of all contradictions, to remain faithful in Your service despite the injustices of the world . . . and the deprivations of poverty . . . and abandonment by friends . . . and in the midst of the thorns of community life . . . and in the difficulties of obedience . . . and in the cruel assaults of calumny . . . despite each and all of the many trials that Your love could send me for the purification of my soul.

Come, my Jesus, unite me most intimately with You.  As two pieces of wax melted together are one, so may I from now on be one with You that both of us may be animated by one and the same spirit of sacrifice.  Utterly destroy within me every sinful earthly love, every inordinate attachment to myself and to whatever may displease You.  You die for my sins, dearest Savior; for my sins you offered the mighty Sacrifice of the Cross, continually renewed in the Sacrifice of the Mass.

"O Thou memorial of Our Lord's own dying," Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, how I pray that through the power of Your love I may ever be inflamed with the Eucharistic spirit of sacrifice!

Eucharistic Whisperings Vol. 6
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Guglielmo Reyna

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Prepare yourself for battle

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Your desire for intimacy with the Lord must be accompanied by the desire for virtue and the hatred of sin.  You must have clarity of vision when it comes to the nature of not only the spiritual battle that all Christians are called to in this regard, but the intensity of the struggle for those so deeply committed and consecrated to prayer.  The moment the commitment to adoration and to pray for priests is made Hell will unleash its forces against you - assailing you in all manner of ways. Habits of mind and behavior will conspire against you to resist the changes that you have resolved to make.  Have no illusions Daughters - the Evil One will seek to get his clutches on you and "leave nothing undone to ruin you."

Yet you must not give yourselves over to discouragement.  Keep before your mind always the love and life that your Lord promises.  Where sin abounds grace abounds all the more and where evil is present there also is God and His angels and saints.  Against the habit of mind and behavior that would lead to sin you have the habit of virtue strengthened by grace.  Let the pure and ineffable joys of the Holy Spirit spur you on to victory.

You will no sooner have resolved to give yourself to God than Hell will send out its forces against you. The flesh, corrupted from its birth by the poison of the serpent, will assail you with its insatiable desires and alluring pleasures. Evil habits as strong as nature itself will fiercely resist this change of life and exaggerate the difficulties which you will encounter. 

To turn a river from its course is hardly more laborious than to change a life confirmed by inveterate habits. The world, as powerful as it is cruel, will wage a fierce war against you. Armed with its pleasures and bad examples, it will hasten to compass your downfall. At one time it will seek to captivate your heart with its pomps and vanities. At another time it will strive to entangle you in the net of its ways and maxims. Again it will boldly attack you with ridicule, raillery, and persecution. The devil himself, the arch-deceiver, will renew his warfare and turn all his forces against you. Enraged at your desertion from his party, he will leave nothing undone to ruin you. . .  .

That you may not be discouraged, bear in mind that the prize for which you are striving is worth more than all you can ever give to purchase it. Remember that you have powerful defenders ever near you. Against the assaults of corrupt nature you have God's grace. Against the snares of the devil you have the almighty power of God. Against the allurements of evil habits you have the force of good habits confirmed by grace. Against a multitude of evil spirits you have numberless angels of light. Against the bad example and persecutions of the world you have the good example and strengthening exhortations of the saints. Against the sinful pleasures and vain joys of the world you have the pure joys and ineffable consolations of the Holy Ghost.

Venerable Louis of Granada. 
The Sinner's Guide (p. 183).