Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Eucharist - the earthly Heaven

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Let the Eucharist shape your spiritual life completely and you will know a hope and joy that no one and no thing can take from you.  In this land of exile, this valley of tears, the Eucharist is a "possession that is eternal and can never be lost." Christ's love suffered at the thought of having to delay to give you the total gift of Himself.  In order that you might taste now purity, happiness, and  consolation and that His desire to give you His eternal love might be satisfied, our Lord created an earthly heaven - the Eucharist! There hidden in the host your Beloved is personally present. Remain at the altar, dear Daughters, for your Lord cries out: "Come to the foot of my tabernacle and, far from the impure and degraded world, breathe in an atmosphere of purity.  Come and eat my Body and drink my Blood, and I shall live within your heart, and my arms shall enfold you in an embrace which it depends on your free will to make last till the eternal embrace of heaven.  "He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him."  Can you desire more on earth?"

God has created us for heaven.  Hence earth is to us no more than a place of exile, where we feel like strangers and pilgrims.  Like nomads, who today pitch their tents in one place only to move them to another place tomorrow, with never a permanent home, we, too, "exiled children of Eve," are always wandering toward heaven, along the pathways of the "valley of tears."

On earth we have no abiding place, because heaven is our true fatherland, our "home sweet home."  The good God awaits us there, who is our Father, and whose tender love infinitely surpasses that of all mothers together.  There Mary waits for us, enfolding heaven and earth in the incomparable sweetness of her glance and in the tenderness of her most loving heart.  There all the dear ones whom death has torn away from our sides are waiting too.  There we shall enjoy again and forever the sweet affections and holy friendships born on earth.  In truth, heaven is our home and fatherland.

Earth is a place of sin and misery.  How it pains a soul, not yet debased by evil's contact, to see sin reign everywhere, soiling everything, and flooding the earth like a second deluge!  What suffering to thirst for purity and to have to live in the midst of moral filth, to be consumed by the desire of perfection, and yet to feel, at every step, the power of human weakness!

But heaven is the mansion of purity.  O ardently longed for happiness!  There we shall remain free from every stain of sin.  We shall enter there with stainless souls whose brightness shall never more be dimmed.

The earth is a place of punishment, a prison.  Cursed by God after the first sin, it offers man only briars and brambles.  We have to water it with the sweat of our brows and the tears of our eyes, and sometimes, when life holds to our lips its bitterest chalice, with the blood of our hearts.

But heaven is the place of eternal rewards.  There shall be no strife or separation or mourning.  God Himself will dry up the wellspring of our tears.  In heaven every desire will be satisfied; happiness will be perfect and peace unalterable.

Heaven is all that, because it is vision of God, love of God, and possession of God; but a vision without veils, a love without deficiencies, a possession that is eternal and never to be lost.

What wonder, then, as the years roll by, if only one of all our desires survives in the end, namely, the immense, profound, and irresistible desire of heaven and the possession of God?

Jesus who knew the human heart so well, could not bear to see us pine till the end of life, without at least a foretaste of heaven.  His love for us suffered at the thought of having to delay so long the full and total gift of Himself to us.

And so, in order that our exile might be more endurable, that we might enjoy already on earth the inebriating perfume of the purity of paradise, that we might begin even in this place of trial to taste the happiness to be found in the possession of God, to satisfy His love and be our consolation.  He created an earthly heaven: the Eucharist.

It is a veiled heaven, because we still are walking in the obscurities of faith; a transient heaven, like a flash of lightning in the night, or like the echo of a far off harmony; yet, even so, a true heaven.  There, hidden beneath the white appearance of the Sacred Host, Jesus is truly and personally present, the lovely child of Bethlehem, the humble Carpenter of Nazareth, the gentle Wonder-Worker of Galilee, the Victim of Calvary.  There is Jesus, the Man-God, in whom is the fullness of the Godhead, because He is the Word of God, and with the Word are always the Father and the Holy Spirit.  What more shall we possess in heaven?  The manner of the possession will be different, but its object is essentially the same.  The Eucharist is the essence of heaven on earth.

When we receive the Sacred Host, therefore, heaven really comes to us and fills our hearts for all too short a time.  Holy Communion is not only a remembrance and a hope, but a divine reality: it is heaven anticipated!  With good reason, then, the priest says, while placing the Sacred Host on our tongue: "May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve thy soul unto life everlasting" - as if to say: "May the power of the transient earthly heaven you receive from my hand lead you safely, through the obscurities and dangers of this land of exile, to the full enjoyment of the eternal heaven of your fatherland."

Lord Jesus, my Beloved, I hunger for heaven.  The obstinate persistence of my miseries wearies me.  It breaks my heart to see everything enslaved by sin!  The atmosphere of corruption I breathe in the world asphyxiates me!

I hunger for heaven!  Oh, when shall I finally possess Thee, my soul's only love?  When wilt Thou be mine forever?  When shall I be allowed to press Thee to my heart, and be enfolded by Thy divine arms in an eternal embrace?  O beloved Christ, I hunger for heaven!

I hear Thy answer: "Dear soul, I understand you.  I, too, was in exile and trod the ways of life, seeking heaven, the bosom of my Father.  For this reason did I sweeten the words of my farewell to mine own:  "If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father . . . "  Yes, "I return to the Father . . . " to my Father, who is also your Father.

"Yet, to relieve my exile, I carried heaven in the innermost recesses of my soul.  There I contemplated the face of my Father and remained united to Him by the fire of love, which is the Holy Spirit.

"For you, too, I wanted to leave an intimate heaven; it is my Eucharist.  Come to the foot of my tabernacle and, far from the impure and degraded world, breathe in an atmosphere of purity.  Come and eat my Body and drink my Blood, and I shall live within your heart, and my arms shall enfold you in an embrace which it depends on your free will to make last till the eternal embrace of heaven.  "He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him."  Can you desire more on earth?

Thanks, my beloved Lord.  Thanks for Thy tabernacle, that little corner of paradise, to which I can flee away from the world.  Thanks for Thy Eucharist, that parcel of heaven Thou hast left us, to gladden our hearts on earth.  Well didst Thou say: "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst . . . for they shall be satisfied."

This too is how the Eucharist contains a taste which sweetens life's bitterness.  It affords us the joy of possession and, at least for a little while, encloses heaven within our heart.  It is, in very truth, the bread "containing in itself all sweetness."

Jose Guadalupe Trevino
The Holy Eucharist

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Eucharist - Hope of the hopeless

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Hope is often the neglected virtue.  Yet, life would be unbearable without it.  Hope is "the virtue of suffering."  Without hope endurance of suffering is impossible; because it is impossible to endure suffering without any consolation, and at the bottom of every consolation there is a ray of hope.  It might be said also that hope is a natural trait of love on earth.  In heaven love means eternal possession, perfect fruition, and perpetual repose; but on earth love is an aspiration which spurs on the soul, a desire which is never fully satisfied, the confidence of a heart believing and surrendering itself; it is hope which makes us advance always toward the goal of our happiness.  

Earth is the land of hope, because Jesus brought it to her.  Without Him, what hope could there be? In the following reflection, Jose Guadalupe Trevino once again shows us the beauty of the Eucharist - most especially as the "surest guarantee of Christian hope." Daughters, recognize that the Eucharist is God's pledge of enduring love - "such a pledge that we ought not only to hope, but to live in a holy inebriation of hope . . .  ."

Worldlings hope for earthly goods.  "They have set their eyes bowing down to the earth, " says the Psalmist.  We, on the contrary, should always keep our eyes and hearts set on the things of heaven, like the pious king Ezechias, who could write of himself: "My eyes are weakened looking upward."

If only we availed ourselves more assiduously of the power hidden in hope!  If we lived in hope!   With what renewed strength and courage, day by day, would we take up our cross and follow Christ!  When temptation strikes with growing fierceness, when duty becomes intolerable, and the sorrows of life oppress us, the hope of heaven would sustain, encourage, and console us.

Precisely because hope is so necessary to life, our Lord wanted to build it on the most solid foundations.  In a certain manner, we may say: He was eve more intent on strengthening our hope than on confirming our faith.  Faith rests on the divine veracity, hope on God's promises.  Not satisfied with found them on His fidelity to His spoken pledge, God has backed them, so to speak, with the surest guaranties. The most excellent of these sureties, the most satisfactory is the one containing all the others in itself, is Jesus.

St. Paul asserts that  God gave us "the promise of life in Christ Jesus," and he calls our Lord "Christ Jesus our hope."  This clearly means that the Father gave us Jesus that we might have hope.  Hence the same Apostle exclaims: "He who has not spared even his own son but has delivered him for us all, how can he fail to grant us all things with him?"  And, as if His love were not yet satisfied, after giving His Son through the mystery of the Incarnation to all mankind in a general way, God gives Him to each individual in the most real manner, through the mystery of the Holy Eucharist.  The Eucharist is indeed the surest guarantee of Christian hope.  When we possess it within our souls, who will set bounds to our confidence?  To better understand this, consider the Eucharist under itself twofold aspect of sacrifice and Communion.

Holy Mass, substantial, universal, and unceasing irradiation of the bloody sacrifice of Calvary, is an always living trophy of the invasion which immolated love made into the world, subjecting to its will, and fashioning as it pleased, the three circumstances which more necessarily impose themselves on every creature: namely, number, time, and place.

Holy Mass, indeed, places before our eyes that same Victim which disappeared from earth nearly twenty centuries ago.  It reproduces at each moment, in all ages, underneath all skies, and simultaneously, not only death of that Victim, but its whole life, both divine and human, in all its states, under all its aspects, with all its perfections and all its prodigious efficacy.  It reproduces all that for God, who it glorifies, satisfies, charms, and subjugates; it reproduces it for us, to whom it communicates - if our free will is not opposed - the substance of all it has obtained from the God whom it has bribed into its chains.  Holy Mass, finally, comes alone the centuries crying in every language and to ever man without exception, to lowly and great, to saint and sinner: "Behold how much God has loved you, since for you Jesus still immolates Himself."

Ah, let us recognize that the holy Mass is such a pledge that we ought not only to hope, but to live in a holy inebriation of hope, all the more because this pledge is given us anew each time Mass is offered, hence every day, perhaps even every minute.

As Communion the Eucharist is perhaps a still surer guarantee of our hope, if such a thing is possible.  At least, it impresses us as a more personal one.  On the altar Jesus sacrifices Himself for all the faithful, though particularly for those who assist at Mass, and still more particularly for those for whom it is applied.  But in Holy Communion He comes to me, for myself alone.  It is not a pledge given to all, but to me alone; and it comes to establish unshakable hope, not in the others, but in me alone.  This gives a personal application to the words of the Apostle: "What can God fail to grant me, after giving me His own son, and, in Him, all that I can desire?"

Each Communion deposits in us a germ of immortality, not just for the soul, but also for the body.  Hence that body shall be more glorious and endowed with a greater fullness of life on resurrection day, which has been nourished more frequently and with better dispositions on the body and blood of Christ.  It was especially for this reason that Jesus said: "I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the desert and have died.  This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that if anyone eat of it he will not die.  I am the living bread that has come down from heaven.  If anyone eat of this bread he shall live forever; and the great I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."  And in what he said thereafter, He repeated the same affirmation in all possible forms.

Hence the Church sings on the Feast of Corpus Christi: "O Sacred Banquet, wherein Christ is received; the memorial of His passion is celebrated; the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given unto us."

How fortunate we are, we who hope for another life!  To us the agony of someone dear is an hour of farewell, full of sadness, but of sadness mellowed by the sweetness of hope.  In that hour we never say "Good-bye forever" - words as bitter as the gall of despair, sickening as the thud of the clods of earth thrown on the coffin's lid.  In that farewell we say: "Soon we shall meet again! - words sweet as the holy of hope.  They have a charm of their own, like the charm of a child's face, when smiles illumine his pearling tears.

More than ever before, we feel that the dying person was like a part of our own life, because a growing darkness falls on ours as that life ebbs away.  With terror, pain, and something akin to spite for not being able to defend it against death, we follow the deepening of death's pallor, advancing like the shadows of night on that dear face . . . the slow glazing of the eyes, which soon will have the awesome fixedness of a statue's unexpressive glance . . . the breast heaving and falling with a weary rale, as if endeavoring to shake off a heavily oppressing hand.  Could death's triumph be more complete?  Yet, in that very moment, the true life challenges death, conquers it, and breaks its sting, if the dying one has the happiness of receiving the Eucharist in that final battle.

Oh what a moment!  Jesus Christ, the true Life, is there, in the consecrated Host, face to face with death.  And on the parched, thickened, almost paralyzed tongue, no longer able to form the words "O Lord, I am not worthy," the Host, the Victim which is pure, "the Victim which is holy, the Victim which is stainless," is deposited by the priest's hand, and slides down till close to the heart which throbs in the breast like a bird wounded unto death.  I think that, if we could perceive what Jesus says at the moment the Host buries itself in that soul, we would hear Him whisper to the departing one: "Fear not!  I am the resurrection and the life."  How sublime and great, how divine is that effect of the Eucharist, which plants the seed of immortality in the very throes of death!  The Holy Eucharist is there; and, because it is there, those eyes some day will see again, those cheeks will again show forth the bloom of life, those lips will smile anew, those arms will again enfold us, and that tongue will have again the power of speech and tell us: "Weep no more!  Here I am!  If the Eucharist is there, how could death triumph?"

The Eucharist is in truth the "Bread from heaven, containing in itself all sweetness," - the sweetness of hope.

Jose Guadalupe Trevino
The Holy Eucharist

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Sorrow's True Remedy

The Eucharist is human sorrow's true remedy and consolation because it unites us with God and with all those we love in God.  In the tabernacle God lives with us; in Communion He lives in us.  This possession of God on earth through Communion is inferior to His possession in heaven, because it still is brought about in the shadows of faith, while the heavenly possession takes place in the light of the beatific vision; and it does not, like the latter, remove forever the possibility of losing Him through mortal sin.  But the object is the same in both manners of possession.

Moreover, Holy Communion unites us not only with God, but also with all those whose we love in God, because it's special purpose is to increase and strengthen that mysterious union of the Church which we call the "Communion of Saints."  If we all eat of the same table in our universal home which is the Church of God, if all of us are closely united with the same Christ who is both "the home toward which we go and the way that leads to it," how could distance and even death separate those whom God keeps united?  Is there a separating force stronger than the uniting force of God?  What created power could separate those who are united in the love of Christ?  The Eucharist abolishes distances, annuls separations, consoles every sorrow, and unites in Christ's immense embrace all those who in Him love one another.  "They were sad and He gave them the chalice of His Blood."

On a certain occasion, Jesus addressed this tender appeal to suffering humanity: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest."  He repeats this invitation and fulfills this promise in all the tabernacles of the world.

That we should forget Christ when the heart rejoices is understandable, but not to be excused.  But when we suffer, what is more natural than to look for consolation?  And where shall we find it in abundance, if not in the Holy Eucharist?  Let us seek it there in all our sufferings of body and soul.

Are we mourning the separation of someone dear?  Let us seek him in the Heart of Christ, which is the trysting place of all who love in Him.  There we shall find him.

Are we sad because even the most legitimate and sincere human affections have cooled and died, and our heart feels itself in chilling solitude?  In the tabernacle lives One who has loved us for centuries, whose love outweighs all human affections and is a superabundant compensation of their loss.

Are we disturbed?  Have we lost our peace of soul?  The Eucharist is the sacrament of peace and brings all aspirations to rest.

Are we tired of life?  Does tedium sap our strength and seek to dampen our enthusiasm?  The Eucharist is the Bread of Life; he who eats of It shall have life in himself and shall possess the One who is "the Resurrection and the Life."

Are we tormented by a hunger and thirst for God?  Let us eat and drink of God who, for that purpose, has made Himself food and drink.

Yes, let us eat the Bread which makes the strong and drink the Wine that consoles the sorrowing.  Thus we shall always find relief and strength in the sadness which besets human life on earth.

Jose Guadalupe Trevino
The Holy Eucharist

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Eucharistic Transformation of Your Souls

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Like Christ's sufferings on earth, the sufferings of eucharistic souls, who are united to Him on the cross in a special manner, offer satisfaction to God for the sins of men (and you Daughters, for the sins of priests), bring the life of grace to souls, and are of such value in the eyes of God that they give those souls an almost unlimited power over His heart.  This is the efficacy, fecundity and value of your commitment, only perceived by faith and offered in response to God's call.  

Daughters, as eucharistic souls, God seeks to transform you into another Christ; to be souls in whom Christ continues His suffering life, as in others He reproduces especially His hidden life and in others His apostolic life.  Most fortunate souls, allow Jesus to give you to men "as a host of praise, because the world blasphemes . . . as a host of tears, because the world laughs . . . as a host of reparation, because God is unceasingly outraged . . ."

"In the universe there is nothing greater than Christ," says Bossuet, "and in Him there is nothing greater than His Sacrifice."  Now, this sacrifice is perpetuated in the Eucharist.  Hence we may conclude that in the universe there is nothing greater than this adorable sacrament.

The Eucharist is indeed the center of Christianity, the soul of the spiritual life, and the supreme exemplar of the highest religious perfection.  In it Jesus has gathered all His wonders and perpetuated all His states.  In Communion, He continues to communicate to us His mysteries, His virtues, and His life.

In the very actions performed by Jesus in its institution, we find a full program of perfection, that is, of the soul's transformation into another Christ.  These actions are enumerated by the priest in holy Mass, immediately before the Consecration: "Taking bread into His holy and venerable hands . . . he blessed it, broke it, and gave it."

God took us for the first time into His holy and venerable hands, when His power drew us out from nothingness: "Thy hands have made me and formed me."  And we continue in existence only because we remain in the hands of His power: if those hands withdrew from us for a single instant, we would fall back immediately into nothingness.

Many fall into the hands of God's justice.  They are the ones who, till the end of their earthly lives, obstinately refuse to cast themselves into the arms of His love.  The horror of their eternal fate can be deduced from these words of St. Paul: "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

But God has still another way, a very special one, of taking a soul into His holy and venerable hands. Even as Jesus took bread into His hands, to change it into his own substance, so God selects the eucharistic soul and segregates her from the multitude of men, to transform her into another Christ and make her a victim of divine love.  In consequence of this selection and vocation, the soul is held not only in the hands of His love, but of His predilection - not only in His creative, but in His priestly hands. Again, as at the Last Supper, Jesus raises eyes that radiate with purity and light to the Father, and thanks Him for that new eucharist which He will produce.

How will He realize this new wonder?  How can a soul become, as it were, a prolongation of the Eucharist? There are three operations leading to so marvelous an achievement, indicated in the words of the celebrant at Mass: "He blessed (the bread), broke it, and gave it."

He Blessed It . . . 

The words "to bless" (Latin: benedicere, from which comes "benediction") mean "to say well," or rather, "to say a good word."  While many good words may be said, there is only one which is essentially good.  It is the word par excellence; it is the Word of God.  The Father's whole life consists in speaking that Word.  He spoke it before time was, "before the day-star"; He said it "in the beginning"; He will utter it unceasingly forever.  All creatures, all the wonders of the universe, and all the mysteries of the supernatural order are but a feeble echo of the eternal Word: "All things were made through Him."  That Word "springs forth from the Heart of God," and is substantial and omnipotent.  It expresses all that God is in the immensity of His being, in the fullness of His perfections, and in the eternity of His life.  Hence it is infinite Wisdom, perfect Praise, an eternal Hymn to the glory of God.

From this we conclude that every blessing (benediction) is necessarily a derivation or extension of that blessed Word by which the Father engenders His Son.  The generation of the divine Word is the only divine blessing; sent down to earth, that blessing is Jesus.  Jesus is the only blessing of the Father.  To receive it in its fullness means to be transformed into Jesus.  All the other blessings, coming from heaven to earth, bless us only in as far as they give us something of Jesus: His grace, His virtues, His sufferings.  St. Paul means this in saying: "God . . .  Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . .has blessed us with every spiritual blessing on high in Christ."

The Father, then, takes us into His only and venerable hands to bestow upon us His Blessing, that is, to transform us into Jesus.

He Broke It . . . 

And how does He transform us?  He breaks and crushes us.  To become other Christs, we must be purified, cleansed not only of whatever is evil in our nature, but even of what is imperfect; to become like Jesus-Victim, we must suffer.  The very purpose of this transformation is to continue His sacrifice in and through us.  The role of suffering is of paramount importance in the eucharistic transformation of our souls.  It prepares and accompanies it; its fruit is our becoming like unto Christ.

It could not be otherwise, because the same thing happens in the transubstantiation, and even in the preparation of the bread and the wine used for consecration.  The millstone has to crush the grains of wheat to make them fit for bread; and the winepress must crush the grapes for the juice that becomes generous wine.

At the consecration, by the words that make Jesus present on the altar, He is also mystically slain, so that we may say He comes to earth on the road of sacrifice.  He lives in the Sacred Host in the state of victim.  His eucharistic life comes to an end when He gives Himself in Holy Communion, which is the last stage of His sacramental immolation.  Thus suffering is signified in the beginning, in the continuation and in the end of the Eucharist.

It is not surprising, then, that the transformation of a soul, called to be a eucharist to Jesus, should be the work of suffering.  Through suffering, that soul is purified and prepared for perfect union with Him.  Through suffering, the bloody features of the divine Victim are engraved on the chosen soul.  It is not surprising, then, that fruitful, redeeming, and divinizing suffering brings about a transformation in which the soul, without ceasing to be human, becomes divine.

Arrived at those heights, the soul is like a eucharist to Jesus; because, even as in the Eucharist of the altar, Jesus, the Victim, is hidden under the appearances of bread and wine, so, under the cover of human nature, something divine is hidden in that soul: an extension of the very sacrifice of Jesus.  In other words, Jesus has perpetuated His sacrifice in two ways: in the Eucharist of the altar, where He continues suffering mystically and offers Himself in an unbloody manner, the only way compatible with His glorious state; and in the eucharistic soul, where He continues suffering also mystically, but where He sacrifices Himself in a painful and sometimes even bloody manner.  He makes His own the sorrows, pains, and other sufferings of that soul, and gives them efficacy, fecundity, and value.  The soul offers Him her capacity for suffering, and Jesus imparts to her sufferings the dignity which His divine personality gave to sufferings He endured one earth.  To Jesus, then, that fortunate soul is like a prolongation of His humanity, or, in the words of Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, "an accrued humanity."  It is a reflection of the Incarnation and an imitation of the Holy Eucharist.

He Gave It . . . 

The only thing still to be done is the completion of the sacrifice.  Christ achieves it in the soul, uniting her to Himself most intimately, and then offering her with Himself to the Father and giving her with Himself to men.

Surrender of self is so necessarily the fruit of love that both are identified: to love is to give oneself.  This is why that gift of self which achieves the soul's eucharistic transformation is the work of the Holy Ghost.  He, indeed, is the personal Love of God.  He crowns all the works of God and completes the cycle of the divine processions which constitute God's inner life.

The heavenly Father takes the soul in His holy and venerable hands and imparts to it His supreme blessing, which is the transformation into Christ.  This transformation is entirely a work of purity and light, because the Word of God is "light from light," and Christ, the Word made flesh, is "the true light that enlightens every man who comes into the world."  The Word is the purity of the Father, "the brightness of his glory and the image of his substance," and Jesus is that very same uncreated purity poured forth upon the earth to enlighten and purify it.

Once the soul has been purified, Jesus unites and assimilates it to Himself, breaking and crushing it.  Then the soul is a victim with Christ, and may well exclaim like St. Paul: "With Christ I am nailed to the cross."

On Calvary Christ "offered himself unblemished unto God through the Holy Spirit," because love alone immolated Him.  When He renews His sacrifice in the eucharistic soul He offers Himself with her to the Father again "through the Holy Spirit," and through the Holy Spirit gives Himself with her to souls in a mystical communion.

"Behold," He would say to the Father, "behold, this soul is no longer a merely human creature; she is like a shell containing a pearl, and like a vessel containing a precious perfume.  That pearl is Thy Word and that perfume is the fragrance of my sacrifice, which "like a sweet odor" rises up to thee."

And after offering her to the Father for His glory, He gives her to men for their salvation.

There is nothing as universal as the saints.  Their virtues are ours, because we find in them models which stimulate us powerfully to imitation, in the measure of our capacity.  Their satisfactions are ours, because they supply our deficiencies.  Their sacrifice is ours, because it is an extension of Christ's sacrifice and, as such, redeems, sanctifies, and saves.  When Jesus gives that soul to men, He might say: "This is my body, this is my blood," for, mystically, that soul is a chalice filled to overflowing with Jesus' blood for a guilty world.

Most fortunate soul, allow Jesus to give you to men "as a host of praise, because the world blasphemes . . . as a host of tears, because the world laughs . . . as a host of reparation, because God is unceasingly outraged . . ."  Like St. Ignatius of Antioch, be Christ's wheat, crushed by the world that despises you and by the devil who persecutes you; crushed in your body by work, sickness, and voluntary mortification; crushed in your heart by separation, disappointment, and ingratitude; crushed in your will by obedience; crushed in your very being by the divine operations; totally crushed by death, which will be your last sacrifice and your last Mass.

To sum up the forgoing considerations, it might be said that in the eucharistic transformation the three Persons cooperate in a manner corresponding to their respective special relations in the Blessed Trinity: The Father blesses with a blessing of purity which makes of the soul another Christ; the Word sacrifices the soul and assimilates her to Himself in suffering; the Holy Ghost consecrates her and offers her to the Father and to men in mystical communion through love.

Thus the three fruits of purity, suffering and love correspond to the three eucharistic acts enumerated by the priest: "He blessed, broke, and gave it . . ."

Jose Guadalupe Trevino
The Holy Eucharist

Saturday, May 28, 2016

In the School of the Host

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,
Once again Dom Mark Kirby, OSB gives us a privileged look into the writings and thought of Mother Mectilde de Bar.  His most recent post captures something particularly important for the eucharistic adorer and that in its hiddenness must be discerned.  
Kirby writes: the on "who contemplates the Sacred Host will, by the secret action of the Holy Ghost, come to resemble the One whom he contemplates.  Mother Mectilde de Bar suggests that each soul is called to participate in some way in what she calls the states of Jesus the Host.  The knowledge of each soul’s particular correspondence to the Divine Host is, she says, given only in the light that comes from prayer. Once a soul has discerned what this correspondence is, she must pray for the grace to adhere to it by love, even though it be a hard and rugged thing to enter into the mystery of the Christus passus (Christ suffering)."  In the remainder of the POST Kirby elaborates on 24 states and how they manifests themselves in the soul and "corresponds a virtue or fruit.  Each state constitutes a particular form of holiness; a hard and rugged path to glory; a grace given for the upbuilding of the Church, and a participation in the priesthood and victimhood of Christ."

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Height and Depth of Eucharistic Love

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

We come to the stunning conclusion of Jose Guadalupe Trevino's reflection on the dimensions of the Eucharistic Love.  Between God and man there is an immeasurable distance - made only greater by man's plunging himself into the abyss of sin.  Christ alone is able to rise up to the heights of the sublimity of God and at the same time abase himself to the depths of man.  He alone can bridge the great gulf fixed between Creator and creature.  Trevino beautifully writes: "Christ's mission to become and be the bond of union between God and man, to make void that infinite distance and to fill out that bottomless abyss, is perpetuated in the Holy Eucharist.  Communion, we have said, is the loving embrace in which Christ enfolds all those He loves.  Hence, the Eucharist is the grand embrace which unites the infinite with the finite, God with man.  Oh, the height!  Oh, the depth!"

To God the Father Christ offers perfect love and to sinful man perfect mercy and compassion.  And this only through complete immolation forever immortalized in the Eucharist.  ". . . in the Eucharist there are two aspects, both equally admirable: under one aspect, it reaches God and is lost in the Father's bosom; under the other, it touches man and descends into the depths of human misery.  Toward God it is adoring love; toward man, compassionate love.  The first is adoration that glorifies; the second, compassion that saves.  Who could fathom these two last dimensions of the Eucharist?  Who could tell us what is that height which loses itself in God, and that depth which disappears in the abyss of man."  In the face of such mysteries we can only fall silent.

"Behold, my substance is as nothing before thee."  "All nations are before him as if they had no being at all, and are counted to him as nothing and vanity."  Thus sang the Psalmist and the prophet Isaiah.  But modern man, steeped in pride and presumption, refuses to point the infinite superiority of the divine majesty above all human grandeur.

God is the fullness of power, wisdom, and love; man, an abyss of indigence, ignorance, and egoism.  All in God is of absolute and permanent possession; in man all is transitory, accidental and destructible.  In God everything is complete, flawless, perfect; everything in man is limited, rudimentary, and necessarily incomplete.  God is the infinite Being; man is nothingness.  God is life; man moves slowly on toward death.  God is truth and love; man, at the most, is an aptitude for and an aspiration to truth and love.

By their very natures, God and man - the infinite and the finite - are at an immeasurable distance from each other.  Man increased that distance when he plunged himself into the abyss of sin.  Then, between God and the sinner, "a great gulf was fixed" that could not be passed over.  God is light; man, the obscurity.  God, infinite purity; man, bottomless corruption.  God, holiness; man, sin . . .  "A great gulf"  . . .  indeed!

Nevertheless, the greater man's unworthiness, the more in him the need for God has grown.  Who shall fill that double abyss of nothingness and sin?  Who shall bridge that distance?  Who shall be able to rise up to the sublimity of God, and at the same time abase himself to the depths of man?

From the Father's bosom, from the mysteries of the august sanctuary of peace, light, and plentitude, from the splendors and adorations of heaven, the Word came down to earth and, reducing Himself as if to nothing, made Himself a man.  He did not stop there, but "bore our infirmities and carried our sorrows."

I contemplate Him in they night that saw Him in agony, prostrated to the ground, trembling, and sweating blood; and I remember that the prophet called Him "a leper . . .  struck by God" ". . . a worm, and no man."  O divine Word, from what heights and into what depths Thou has descended.!

That descent, however, was not to remain an isolated fact: Christ has immortalized it in the Eucharist.  Christ's mission to become and be the bond of union between God and man, to make void that infinite distance and to fill out that bottomless abyss, is perpetuated in the Holy Eucharist.  Communion, we have said, is the loving embrace in which Christ enfolds all those He loves.  Hence, the Eucharist is the grand embrace which unites the infinite with the finite, God with man.  Oh, the height!  Oh, the depth!

Thus, we see that in the Eucharist there are two aspects, both equally admirable: under one aspect, it reaches God and is lost in the Father's bosom; under the other, it touches man and descends into the depths of human misery.  Toward God it is adoring love; toward man, compassionate love.  The first is adoration that glorifies; the second, compassion that saves.  Who could fathom these two last dimensions of the Eucharist?  Who could tell us what is that height which loses itself in God, and that depth which disappears in the abyss of man.

More than for man's sake, Holy Communion was instituted for the sake of God.

The only absolute and necessary being is God.  Outside of Him, in the world created by Him, the only thing that matters is that He be given glory, and, therefore, that His sovereign rights be acknowledged and respected, and His sovereign will obeyed.  All the glory of God can receive from His creatures, full acknowledgement of His rights and complete subjection to His will, are summed up in one term: adoration.  Love itself, even in its highest summits and ultimate expression, in its very transports and ecstasies, is nothing else than adoration.  From the savage who kneels before a deity whose existence he vague surmises, to the holiest soul absorbed in the loving contemplation of the omnipresent, living, and true God, all religion is summarized and crowned in adoration.

Hence, the object of Christ's whole mission on earth was to give the Father true worshippers, who would worship Him "in spirit and truth."  In spirit and truth: that means united to Christ, who is the Truth, and moved by His Spirit, who is the substantial Love uniting the Father and the Son, namely the Holy Ghost.

To accomplish this, He first made Himself the great Adorer of the Father, giving this supreme meaning to all the mysteries of His life: His poverty and labors, His tears, the shedding of His good, and His death itself means adoration.

"Jesus filled with adoration the deep silence of the crib, the obscure labor of Nazareth, the long nights of prayer on the mountains.  On Calvary He showed it in a more expressive manner by the voice of His tears and blood, and finally by the voice of His death . . ."

On that poor altar, where holy Mass is offered - more frequently than not amidst vulgar surroundings: tasteless ornaments, a distracted congregation, and soulless hymns - profound mysteries are realized.  Putting off the apparel of His glory, Jesus comes down from heaven and hides himself under the veils of the host.  There He makes His own the mute adorations of nature, the silent adorations of the skies, the sorrow-filled adorations of men, and the ecstatic adorations of the angels - the adorations of the whole universe.  He lifts them up to the throne of God and offered them, with the loud voice of His sacrifice, in a supreme homage of adoration.

What a spectacle: Jesus, as man and creature, comprising and carrying in Himself the whole of creation, proclaims His nothingness before His heavenly Father.  Nothingness bows before the Infinite.  And that adoration, from the abysses of indigence and absolute dependency, rises up like a mighty clamor; rises higher and higher, above the skies; penetrates to that "light inaccessible" in which He dwells, the "King of kings and Lord of lords"; it enter into the immensities of that light, and rises higher still, carried on His mighty wings, until it reaches the spheres where all created intelligence is lost, all created eyes are blind, and all created being feels crushed by its own nothingness.  There, even the soul of Jesus, by far surpassing every other creature, is halted, because whatever is finite is confined by limited, detained by barriers, and confronted by unsurmountable weaknesses.  Beyond those barriers there is still divine infinitude, veiled by what in mystical language is called "dark darkness" and "luminous darkness" and is comprehensible only through its very inaccessibility or incomprehensibility: it throws the soul of Jesus into an ecstasy of eternal adoration.  Oh, the height!

But to what depths does thee Eucharistic Christ lower Himself?

All the sublime mysteries we have described take place not far away from us, not high above us in the hidden recesses of heaven, but within the narrow and humble limited of the Sacred Host.  This is already a descent into the depths.  It is, however, only the beginning of Christ's abasements in the Eucharist.  Where do they end?

When the Word, who is "the brightness of his Father's glory and image of his substance" came down to us, the purest reliquary mankind has ever known, the holiest place on earth, the virginal womb of Mary, became His dwelling place.  And yet, the Church exclaims in her hymn of thanksgiving: "Thou didst not abhor the virgin's womb."

What then shall we say when we see Him enter into the heart of any ordinary human being?  "I know the heart of but one honest man," wrote De Maistre, referring to himself, "and, I assure you, it is a horrible thing."  What must be the heart of a wicked criminal, or sacrilegious man? . . . To think that the sweet Jesus of the Eucharist would enter into even such a heart!

How many times unawares the priest's hand places the Sacred Host on lips stained by sin.  Yet the Holy Eucharist does not recoil.  He goes ahead, descends, down, down, to the bottom of a place of corruption, more repulsive than hell itself.  O my God!  My God!  The immaculate Host in that cesspool of sin!  Yet, now I understand the "worm and no man" of the Psalmist - not a man, but a worm writhing in that loathsome mire! . . . How can God permit the perpetration of that - that which has no name?

More than one reason could be alleged to explain it; but the most plausible seems to be the following: the more the Eucharist abases itself, the greater is Its immolation.  Consequently, the adoration born from it rises up higher and, with ever more appealing accents, touches the heart of God.  Christ suffers the infamy of the sacrilege that, from the depths of a sinful heart and the impurities of guilt, He might send up "the unutterable groanings" of His own adoration.

Oh, to what depths Jesus descends, and to what heights He ascends!

Before these mysteries, which dazzle our intellect and crush its pride, all we can do is fall down on our knees, incline our hearts, and adore in silence . . .  .

Jose Guadalupe Trevino
The Holy Eucharist

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Breadth of Eucharistic Love

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

In this second reflection on the Dimensions of the Eucharist, Jose Guadalupe Trevino speaks of the expansive reach of the Eucharist across all times, places and even through death itself.  In every age we have seen how the Eucharist has inspired, strengthened and given hope to the faithful.  It has given profound expression to faith and to the longing of the human soul for God, courage to those defending the faith against all error and heresy, perseverance to the lonely missionary, comfort to those who mourn the loss of loved ones, and to all, regardless of background, it has been a source of  light and purity, pardon and consolation, immortality and love.  In its breadth, the Sacrament makes us forever and in all circumstances one Body united in Christ's tender love.

The Holy Eucharist does not extend itself only in a general way, over all the centuries: it embraces all times, places and men in a particular way.

The same Eucharist which I adore shone in the obscurity of the Catacombs.  There it strengthened the martyr's heart for the supreme combat; frequently the breast of a confessor of the faith was the altar on which the Holy Mysteries were celebrated.

The same Eucharist which I revere was the soul of the epic centuries of the Middle Ages; their vigorous and dynamic faith inspired the creation of those poems in stone and marble, the Gothic cathedrals, whose heavenward pointing steeples symbolize the longing of the human soul for the infinite.

The same Eucharist which I love saved the Church in the crises of the Renaissance and the so-called Reformation, and, in modern times, against human reason's appalling aberrations.  This is why, now more than ever before, the eucharistic cult so strikingly characterizes the religious spirit of our Christian people who battle for the conservation of their persecuted faith.

The Holy Eucharist embraces all places.  Surrounded with filigrees of stone, kept in jewel-studded vessels of blazing gold, the Sacred Host is the soul of our magnificent European cathedrals, the center of their great manifestations of devotion, beneath their lofty ceilings, or outside in the open air, beneath the huge vaults of the skies.

It gladdens the humble rural church, which seems to gather around itself the poor huts of the village as the hen gathers her young.  Overseas, from one end of the world to the other, everywhere, we find the Holy Eucharist: in the Arctic regions of perpetual ice and snow, in the heart of the African continent, in the solitude of the Argentinian pampas, in the virgin forests of India, in the sandy vastness of the Sahara, and on barren atolls lost in the immensity of the Pacific Ocean.  What would be the missionary's life without the power to erect a tabernacle wherever he stays?  Where would he find heroic determination, undauntable perseverance, and divine consolation?

Jesus has strewn all over the earth so many Hosts that they seem to cover its whole surface, from east to west, from north to south, with their whiteness.

The Holy Eucharist embraces all men of all races, tongues, and nations.  It distinguishes not between Jew and Gentile, barbarian or scythian, slave or free.  In all it sees only souls.  Every day, early in the morning, the Sacred Host descends into the heart of the peasant's daughter, and into the heart of the poor servant girl; it descends into the heart of the laborer's wife, who rises from her sleep before dawn and goes to holy Mass to receive that daily Bread which gives her strength to bear the heavy burden of the poor.  Through the convent grill it passes to repose in the virgin's heart, where it develops to ever fuller beauty the two flowers of the Eucharist; purity and the spirit of sacrifice, the spirit that makes martyrs.  It descends into the heart of the child, to guard its innocence.  It goes out to meet the homecoming prodigal, and is to him a sure pledge of pardon.  To the humble cot of the poor as well as to the sumptuous bed of the rich, it goes to plant in the heart of the dying a germ of eternal life.  Priest and faithful, saint and repentant sinner, all receive it, and all derived from it strength and courage, light and purity, pardon and consolation, immortality and love . . .  .
O wondrous thought! the poor, the weak, the low
Feast on the body of the living Lord.
Love's great source of suffering here on earth is separation.  It shall be unknown in heaven.  But, as long as we journey through this vale of exile, how frequently separation from those we love is forced upon us by life's vicissitudes!  And then, the final separation of death.  Not seldom, when neither vicissitude or death seem to threaten loving hearts living happily side by side, God Himself, through the austerity of His doctrine and the demands of His love, separates brother from brother, friend from friend, son from mother.

Jesus, who brought a remedy for all evil and a comfort for all grief, could not fail to invent a divine way of abolishing distances, reducing separations to naught, and uniting souls in spite of life's perpetual fluctuations.  That bond of union, the great embrace which enfolds all hearts, draws together all souls, and makes of them but one heart, is the Holy Eucharist.

Tell me, poor child, who, far away from your mother, weep tears of homesickness for her, do you not feel her near when, in your college chapel, you receive the same Sacred Eucharist that nourishes her maternal heart at home?  And you, young man, whose loving heart has courageously made the sacrifice of leaving all your loved ones behind to follow Christ, do you not feel the warmth of your distant home in the Host of your convent tabernacle?  And you, weary missionary, whitened in the rough labors of the apostolate, why do you refuse to accept a well-deserved rest, a return to your homeland, where those who love you wait with open arms?  It is because the Sacred Host unites you every day with those you love.

Earthly distances are like nothing compared to the abyss between time and eternity.  But the Eucharist bridges even this immeasurable distance: it unites us with those who are no more.

Poor orphaned child, dry your tears.  In the heart of him whom you mourn, the same Host you receive had deposited a germ of immortality.  Some day your dear father will rise again, because the Host is "the Resurrection and the Life."

In the splendors of glory, where he does not forget the love ones left on earth, he now contemplates without veils the same Jesus you receive under the veils of the Communion Bread.  In the Holy Eucharist Christ brings together, in a close embrace, all those who are united by love but separated by distance and death.

So intimately does He unite our souls that we come to form only one body, according to St. Augustine's words: "Because we eat only one bread, we who are many, form, nevertheless, only one body.  O Sacrament of Christ tender love!  O symbol of unity!  O bond of charity!

Jose Guadalupe Trevino
The Holy Eucharist

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Length of Eucharistic Love

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

In a fervent prayer, which is part of his magnificent Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul entreats the "Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" that He may grant them to have Christ dwelling through faith in their hearts, so that, strengthened by the power of His Holy Spirit, they "may comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth" of Christ's love, "which surpasses knowledge."

If that love "surpasses knowledge," if it is an inscrutable mystery, how can it be "comprehended" by our human intellect?  In truth, we cannot comprehend Christ's love in the fullness of it measureless dimensions.  Our understanding, however, enlightened by faith through which Christ dwells in our hearts, and strengthened by the power of His Spirit, is able to penetrate those dimensions to a certain and ever widening degree, by attentive, loving and frequent consideration of the works born from Christ's love, and in a particular manner by the consideration of His Holy Eucharist.  Here, indeed in the Eucharist, without ceasing to be a fathomless mystery, Christ's love seems to have placed its divine proportions within the reach of our limited intellect, more than in any other of its admirable works.  Hence, if we want to catch at least a glimpse of those proportions, we have only to study the "breadth and length and height and depth" of this sacrament, which is par excellence "the sacrament of Christ's love.  

It is such a glimpse, dear Daughters, that Jose Guadalupe Trevino seeks to provide us and that I set out to present in the following series of three posts.  Once again, he beautifully opens our eyes to the wonders of the Holy Eucharist in ways that might have otherwise escaped us.

By the length of the Holy Eucharist, I understand its duration.  When did it begin?  When will Christ's eucharistic life come to an end?

It was born on the night of agony, "on the night in which he was betrayed."  The forgetfulness, ingratitude, blasphemy, and hatred of all the centuries past and to come were cruelly oppressing and wounding Christ's divine heart.  Then, even as from the incision made in some Arabian trees a perfume of exquisite fragrance flows forth, so, from the crushed and wounded heart of Jesus came forth the essence of His love, the Holy Eucharist, heavenly perfume, indeed, and balm divine.

The truth is that the nightly hour of the Last Supper, the hour "greatly desired," and called "His Hour" in the Gospel of John, saw only the external realization of what had been conceived of long ago in the heart of our Lord.  The truth is that the Eucharist began with the first pulsation of that heart.  In the long silences of Bethlehem and Nazareth it had been eagerly waiting for this time; more than once it must have been the theme of Christ's intimate disclosures to Mary.  This, however, was only its earthly beginning.

In the person of the God-man, Jesus Christ, besides the truly human love of a truly human heart, there is also the divine love, sometimes metaphorically called "the Heart of God."  The first love began at a determined moment in the course of time, with the first pulsation of His human heart; the second, prior to the first, knew no beginning.  Being the very essence of divinity, according to St. John's definition of God, it is as eternal as God Himself.  Hence, inasmuch as the Eucharist is the work of Christ's divine love even more than it is the work of His human love, its first origin has to be sought in the very bosom of God and is lost to our limited understanding in the inscrutable mysteries of eternity.

How consoling it is to think that God had decreed this excess of His love from all eternity.  How consoling to think that, in our analogical way of speaking of the divine operations, from all eternity God had eagerly looked forward to the coming of "His Hour" and of that night which would be "light as the day," because in it would shine the eucharistic Sun, that knows no setting.

How consoling it is to think that in the very moment of the Eucharist's eternal birth I was present to the mind of God, and He foreknew the number of times I would allow Him to come to me in Holy Communion; that, even then, His tender love thankfully appreciated my hospitality, as if not I, a miserable creature of one day, but He Himself were to be the favored beneficiary.

"It was in the beginning . . . "  What, then, will be the duration of His "eucharistic life"?

Christ's eucharistic life will last till the consummation of the world, because until then will men have to eat His flesh to have life everlasting.  When He said to His Apostles: "Behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world," He doubtlessly meant not only His divine and spiritual presence and His moral assistance, but also His eucharistic presence.

His enemies may refuse Him rights they would not deny even the lowest pariah, imprisoning Him within the narrow limits of His temples; they may subject Him to the most abominable outrages, thereby making His mystic passion in the Eucharist in some way exterior and visible.  Those who call themselves His friends may multiply the traitor's kiss, deny Him and His works, and abandon Him who showered upon them the tokens of His love.  But Jesus will stay.  His promise and His love keep Him enchained.  As long as there will be on earth a tear to wipe away, a sorrow to share, and a sinful man in need of His expiatory sacrifice, the Eucharist will continue to pulsate in the silence of our tabernacles.

Will the Holy Eucharist end with time and die with the centuries?

To this question faith gives no answer, and piety remains free to investigate the mystery and draw its own conclusions.  But Christian piety is loth to suppose that the Holy Eucharist will come to a total end with time, and that the Bread which is and gives life will itself, in some way, die some day.

In the risen Christ we recognize an unmistakable eagerness to conserve in His glorious body the vestiges of his passion.  He wanted to keep not only the scars of the wounds opened in His side, hands and feet, but their very perforations.  This seems to be clearly indicated by the words He spoke to the incredulous Thomas with them: "Bring here thy finger, and see my hands; and bring here thy hand, and put it into my side."  What a wound it must have been to make possible the introduction of a hand!

If Jesus wanted to keep His scared wounds in heaven itself, as a living remembrance of His passion and death, will He not also conserve there, in some manner, the living memorial of that same passion and death, the Holy Eucharist?

St. John, the Seer of Patmos, tells us in his Apocalypse that in one of his visions he saw Christ, not among the ignominies of this earth, as did Isaiah, but in the splendors of heaven.  How did He see Him?  Under the symbol of a "lamb standing, as if slain."

In that Lamb "who has been slain from the foundation of the world," and who, in the splendors of the heavenly glory, always appears as a victim immolated, I discover a symbol of the Eucharist.
The manna sent by God to the Israelites to be their chief nourishment during their long wanderings through the desert, another manifest symbol of the Eucharist, lost its purpose when they finally entered into the promised land.  And yet, in obedience to God's own commandment, a vessel filled with manna had been placed near the Ark of the Covenant in the "Holy of Holies," to be kept there, for future generations, as a reminder of how God had nourished His people in the wilderness.  The Holy Eucharist is the food which sustains our supernatural life on the journey through the desert of this earthly life.  Shall we, then, at our final entrance into the promised land, remain forever without the remembrance of this truly divine Manna?  At the approach of our final moment of separation from this vale of tears, when the soul's hope of possessing God without fear of losing Him, of contemplating Him face to face and loving Him with a never fading love, will rise higher than ever before in our hearts, shall we have to be saddened by the thought that we receive our last Host and say "adieu" forever to that Companion of our exile?  If such were the case, many a departing soul, gathering all its strength and spending the last energies of a waning life in this supreme effort, would cry with the disciples of Emmaus: "Stay with us, for . . . the day is now spent."

There are cries of the soul which find so powerful an echo in the heart of God that cannot resist their appeal, even if, to still them, He would have to display all His omnipotence.  It seems to me that one of these mighty cries is the "stay with us" of departing souls.  Would it be too much to suppose that Christ's answer would be the words He once addressed to a holy soul: "If as yet I had not instituted the Eucharist, in this very moment it would come forth from my heart for thee"?

Priesthood cannot be thought of apart from sacrifice, nor eternal priesthood apart from eternal sacrifice.  Now, Jesus is Priest and His priesthood is eternal - "Sacerdos in aeternum."  Must we not conclude therefrom that, since His sacrifice is the eucharistic sacrifice, the Eucharist must be in some manner eternal?  It existed already under the figures of the primitive sacrifices and of those of the Old Covenant, which it endowed with efficacy and made acceptable.  It exists now that Christ reigns in heaven.  Could it be that, once it has fulfilled its purpose on earth, at the glorification of all the elect, it will fade away and die?

Christian piety desires and demands that the Holy Eucharist be not entirely missing in heaven.  It even desires that in heaven it be a Eucharist with veils - otherwise it would not be like what we now adore in the obscurities of faith; but with luminous and transparent veils - otherwise it would not be a celestial Eucharist.

Thus the Holy Eucharist would reach from eternity to eternity, including in its immeasurable love what we call "the centuries," no more than a miserable instant in comparison with eternity.

When Garcia Moreno, martyr-defender of the rights of Christ, fell mortally wounded by the "machete" of an emissary of Ecuadorian Masonry, his last words were: "I die . . . but God dies not!"

At life's end, when my last glance shall fall upon the Host of my Viaticum, I wish to expire murmuring in my turn: "I die . . . What does it matter?  I die, a miserable creature of one day; but He shall never die!"  The light of my eyes, so many times bathed in the light of that divine Sun, shall end in darkness; my lips, that told Him so many words of love, shall remain cold and sealed by death's icy finger; my rigid limbs will not allow me any more to even drag myself to the foot of the tabernacle, where day and night I have spent the best hours of my life; my heart, which has so loved Him, will beat no longer . . . . I shall die.  My mortal remains will go to decay in the obscurity of a tomb; those who love me now will forget me; nothing else will remain of me but dried bones, ashes, and dust.  What does it matter?  He shall not die!  New generations will offer Him adoration and love, and that divine Sun will continue bathing them in His light; no sunset will it know, because it is He, who "is the same, yesterday and today, yes, and forever," and "whose reign shall have no end."  Men will forget me.  What does it matter?  Thou, O Jesus, wilt not forget me, because even as in the course of my life on earth, since the happy day of my ordination, I have celebrated Thy Holy Mysteries, in memory of Thy love and in obedience to Thy command, "Do this in memory of me," after my death Thou shalt celebrate those same Mysteries, through other priests, in memory of a heart which never ceased loving Thee as long as it beat on earth.

If death were the end of it all, even then, that so consoling thought alone would suffice to make me go joyously to the grave.  But death is not the end.  Much to the contrary, it is the dawn and beginning of the glorious eternity.  "If anyone eat of this bread he shall live forever."

Non omnis moriar - "I shall not die altogether," exclaimed a great pagan poet.  More fortunate than he, I shall be able to challenge death on the very edge of the tomb, because each consecrated Host will have deposited in my soul and in my body a germ of eternal life.  "Oh death, where is thy victory? where is thy sting?"

If the Holy Eucharist, which is "the Resurrection and the Life," dwells in my soul now, my eyes, when closed by death, shall see again, my muted tongue shall speak and sing an immortal canticle, and my heart shall throb again with an endless life.  "Death will be swallowed up" in the victory of the Holy Eucharist, which is the Bread that gives life everlasting.

O wellspring of grace which rises up unto life everlasting!  O eternal testimony of God's eternal love!  O living Bread that gives perpetual life to perishable man!  Grant that I may live on Thee, true heavenly ambrosia; grant that I may taste evermore of Thy incomparable sweetness.
O divine remembrance of my Savior's death,
Living Bread that brings heaven's breath,
Be my soul and body thine forevermore;
Lift me to the sweetness of thy sacred love.
Such is the "length" of the Holy Eucharist, and such the amplitude of the love that created it.  It reaches from eternity to eternity, including in its duration that moment we call "the centuries," and communicating to man, creature of one day, immortal and everlasting life.

Jose Guadalupe Trevino
The Holy Eucharist

Saturday, April 30, 2016

My soul's audacious desire

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

You are to be eucharistic souls living eucharistic lives.  Thus, your greatest desire should be that the whole world might fall in love Christ's adorable Eucharist and there to find its truest consolation and hope.  The fullest aspirations of the human heart are to be found there, because there it will find all the love it craves.

Having received and tasted that Love yourselves, let there arise an even bolder desire.  Cry out to God:  "I want to form with purity and sacrifice a "sacrament" of love, a "eucharist" of my heart.
Be thou, O Jesus, the priest of this consecration.  Purify and offer me.  Offer me in sacrifice, and multiply this my "sacrament" as many times as there are tabernacles on the earth.  Make my whole life like a chalice of suffering, so that Thou mayest change it into a perpetual Mass."  May self-love be immolated in you in all its forms and with all its consequences.  Keep silent when the world forgets you and train your hearts to remain at peace in the hour of humiliation.  Let your home be with Christ on the cross.

Fear not - for nothing of love is forgotten and nothing of love is lost.

Beloved Christ, would I were able to draw to Thy feet thousands of hearts willing to offer Thee the sweet odor of their adoration and love.  Would that thousands of souls would come and attach themselves permanently to Thy tabernacle, there to consume themselves like living sanctuary lamps.  Would that the whole world might fall in love with Thy adorable Eucharist and seek there, as in their source, the true consolation, the only hope, and the most perfect love.

Divine Eucharist, Thou are a perpetual manifestation of God's measureless love, and in Thee we receive His loving caresses.  From Thee flow, as from their fountainhead, the candor of the child, the delicacy of the virgin soul, the tenderness of the mother's heart, the dynamic energy of the priest, the forgiveness of the sinner, and the only consolation of the exiled.

Thou fullest all the aspirations of the heart, because in Thee it finds all the loves it craves: Thou loves like a father, like a brother, like a friend, and like a spouse.  But, above all, Thou loves like a mother.  Without Thy heart's warm love, the motherless could not withstand their yearnings for that earthly angel whom we call "Mother."  Dearest Jesus, Thou wouldst not leave us like motherless orphans in the world: Thou Thyself art our Mother.  And without the attraction of Thy Love, the world would never have known those "orphans of love" who have sacrificed everything for Thy sake, nor those "motherless sons" who have left their mothers in order to consecrate themselves entirely to Thy service.

Well mayest Thou tell me from Thy concealment in the Host and in the tabernacle: "Look at me: doest Thou see in me anything but love?" For my sake Thou deepest hidden all the splendors of Thy divinity, and even Thy humanity - everything, but Thy love.

Greedily doest Thou covet our love, squandering Thine own unstintedly on us.

Oh beloved Eucharist, dearest Jesus, it is my cherished hope that some day, free from every earthly attachment, I, too, shall have nothing left but Thy love, so that in my turn I may say to Thee: "Look at me: dost Thou see in me anything but love?"

If at this moment I should ask Thee that, Thy answer would fill me with sadness and confusion.  So many things in me do not bespeak Thy love!  How much negligence in Thy service!  How may purely natural attachments!  How much love of myself!  Truly, I should rather ask myself: "Is there in me at least something which I might call love, merely love?"  Yet, I dare say, there is in me "something" that is merely love of Thee, and that "something" is my pure and true desire to love Thee and to sacrifice myself for They sake.  I wish to live only to adore and to love Thee.  I wish all my movements, respirations, immolations, and sufferings, my whole substance and existence, to be nothing in Thine eyes, but a perpetual hymn of adoration and love.

When at last I shall have reached the end of my earthly life, then I shall understand, better than ever before, the follow of Thy love; because I feel that, when I shall receive my last Sacred Host and take leave of that divine Companion of my exile, my soul's ardent desire to see the eternal Light face to face will not prevent my heart from feeling anguish for having to leave Thee behind on earth.  Therefore, since one folly may well be met with another, allow me to manifest to Thee my soul's audacious desire: I want to form with purity and sacrifice a "sacrament" of love, a "eucharist" of my heart.

Be thou, O Jesus, the priest of this consecration.  Purify and offer me.  Offer me in sacrifice, and multiply this my "sacrament" as many times as there are tabernacles on the earth.  Make my whole life like a chalice of suffering, so that Thou mayest change it into a perpetual Mass.  But, O Jesus, "as often as Thou shalt do this, I entreat Thee, remember me."
What in me has to be put to death, to make possible the realization of my bold desire?  I know - it is my inordinate love of self.  Self-love must be immolated in all its forms and with all its consequences.  I must immolate myself in silence, and keep silent when all forget me.  I must maintain myself in peace in the hour of humiliation.  I must feel "at home" with Thee on the cross, and smile even when tears well up from my saddened and wounded heart.  I must practice unwavering kindness and perfect charity.

Henceforth, then, each time Thou wilt immolate me, each time I call have to die to myself, I shall feel happy at the thought that Thou takes me into Thy holy and venerable hands like a host, to "consecrate"me, to transform me into Thyself, and to offer me in sacrifice.

Like Thy Martyr Ignatius of Antioch, I ardently desire to be "Thy wheat."  I give Thee my heart.  Take it, grind and crush it through suffering and humiliation, forgotten by men and deprived of human consolation.  Thus shall be realized my life's ideal: love for love, folly for folly, heart for heart.

When our union is consummated in heaven and I see Thee face to face, shall I be able to love Thee more?  Thou wert hidden when I first met Thee and, drawn irresistibly by Thee, gave Thee my heart with all the ardor and freshness of a first love.  Hearts loving each other delight in remembering the day of their first meeting, the place, and the most insignificant circumstances.  We, too, Jesus, shall remember in heaven the place of our first intimate communing in the land of exile - that silent chapel, that beloved tabernacle.  I shall remember with love and gratitude the humble sacramental veils that covered and concealed Thee, when I first knew Thee.  In Thy turn Thou wilt remember the garment of misery and weakness which covered and concealed my love on earth.  And even as now my eyes turn heavenward in reach of the reality, so in heaven they will turn down to earth to contemplate the eucharistic skies starred with thousands of consecrated Hosts.

Oh mystery of love . . . folly of love . . . excess of love!

Jose Guadalupe Trevino
The Holy Eucharist

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Look Upon Me!

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Know when you come before the Lord in the Eucharist, your Beloved gazes upon you with His own eyes.  The yearning of His Heart meets your own - that you should see the love of the other, a love that words alone are incapable of expressing.  "While your lips are still, let your eyes speak.  Yes, tell it all to Jesus with a long gaze full of adoration, love and pleading.  Put all your tenderness in that look, all your desires, your sorrows, your disillusions - in a word, your whole soul. Stir up your faith and seek the eyes of Jesus through the eucharistic veils.  May His gaze and yours meet, be united and form together one and the same light and one and the same fire of love."

Those who love and see each other feel irresistibly attracted to each other; they cannot bear to be separated.  This, we may believe, was one of the reasons why Jesus invented the Eucharist.  He wanted to shorten the distance; to look on us, not alone from far-off heaven, but from near by, so near that, if the sacramental veils of the Mystery were rent, we should be able to hear His throbbing heart and see ourselves mirrored in the pupils of His eyes.

Christian piety likes to think that Jesus in the Sacred Host looks upon us.  There, certainly as in heaven, He sees us as God.  There, too, He knows us by His infused and acquired knowledge.  But it is the opinion of very serious theologians that, in the Sacred Host, He sees us also with His bodily eyes, with the same eyes that illumine the heavenly Jerusalem, rejoice the Blessed, and, on earth, smiled and wept frequently.

In the Sacred Host, Jesus visits again the world He knew during His sojourn on earth.  He lives through the same scenes.  When the Sacred Host is carried in solemn procession, placed on the exposition throne, given to first communicants, or taken as viaticum to the sick, Jesus again, as two thousand years ago, rest His bodily eyes with love on the children, with compassion on the sick, with sympathy on the forsaken and misunderstood, and their glance relieves with joyous hope the anguish of dying.

Given the mysterious manner of Christ's presence in the sacrament, He cannot make use of His senses without a miracle; and nothing in divine Revelation tells us explicitly whether that miracle takes place or not.  But Christian piety and the heart, which "has reasons that reason itself does not understand," almost instinctively take it for granted.  The simple and cordial belief of the faithful unanimously asserts it.  It is chiefly through this belief that eucharistic souls find the time spent in adoration before the Sacred Host so delightful.

Reason itself comes to the support of this opinion: it sees no cause for rejecting it, and, to the contrary, sees several causes for supporting it.

First of all, it does not seeming becoming the dignity of Christ's sacred humanity that His glorified body should remain in the Host without the perfect use of its senses, not only for a fleeting moment, but throughout the centuries and in all the tabernacles of the world.  A body with powerless senses, with eyes that see not, with ears that hear not?  Could such a condition be regarded as becoming to any glorified body, let alone the glorified body of Christ?  Besides, would it be in harmony with Christ's supreme dignity?

We must not forget that the body of Jesus in the Eucharist is longer capable of suffering and painful immolation as it was during His sojourn on earth; it is His body in the same condition of immunity to suffering and of glory as in heaven.

Theologians may well analyze the eucharistic miracle and debate amongst themselves the number of miracles it implies, but to Christian piety there is but one great miracle, and that is the miracle of love, which is unique and sublime, overcoming every obstacle and alone explaining everything.  That love which changed God into a Victim for man, retained Him in the tabernacle to be man's never failing Friend and Companion, and transformed Him into food for souls, had made unto itself a law, which the Gospel of St. John records for us: "Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end."  That is its law: to the end.  But would it be its law if, after working so many miracles in the miracle of transubstantiation, and after derogating so many natural laws in order to come near man, that love had shrunk from one more miracle and left sightless the eyes of Jesus in the Eucharist?

The Eucharist is Christ's magnanimous response to the needs of a human heart, because through its institution divine love adjusted itself to the weakness of human love.  For our sanctification, doubtlessly, God's omnipresence through His immensity, His special presence in souls through grace, Christ presence in the Church, the sacrifice of Calvary, and communion with Christ through faith, hope, charity, prayer, and grace would have been sufficient.  But, knowing well the demands of human love, God knew that our heart needed more than that.  He knew that it would demand a sensible object so as to be able to localize God and say: "He is there."  He knew that it would ardently desire to press against itself the One it loves and to adore Him in silence.  It was to satisfy these so legitimate yearnings, which He planted in the human heart, and to realize that touching ambition of our whole being, that He instituted the Holy Eucharist.

Our desires, however, would not yet be entirely satisfied, if we had not the certainty that Jesus looks upon us from the Sacred Host.  Not to be able to see Him with their mortal eyes is already a cause of pain to souls who ardently love Him and makes them exclaim with St. Teresa of Avila:
Let mine eyes see Thee, sweet Jesus of Nazareth;
Let mine eyes see Thee, and then see death.
Yet we realize that our present state of trial demand that we be deprived of that satisfaction, because, if we could see Jesus in the Eucharist, earth would no longer be to us a place of exile, but heaven itself.

In the meantime we find consolation in a hope and in a reality: in the hope that some day heaven will remove all veils, and in the reality that even now from out of the Sacred Host Jesus sees us with His divine eyes, just as really as He loves us with His sacred Heart.

Beloved souls, in suffering and in joy, go to Jesus hidden in the Sacred Host and let the sweetness of His loving gaze fill you.

Like the sick who expose their diseased bodies to the healing rays of the sun, expose your miseries, no matter what they are, to the beams of light streaming forth from the Sacred Host.

Why dilute your love in an unceasing flow of words?  Why destroy the charm of intimate communing with Him by childish loquacity?  May the silence of the Eucharist teach you silent recollection!  But while your lips are still, let your eyes speak.

Yes, tell it all to Jesus with a long gaze full of adoration, love and pleading.  Put all your tenderness in that look, all your desires, your sorrows, your disillusions - in a word, your whole soul.

Stir up your faith and seek the eyes of Jesus through the eucharistic veils.  May His gaze and yours meet, be united and form together one and the same light and one and the same fire of love.

As Him only to deign to look upon you.  Tell Him with entire confidence: "Look upon me and have mercy on me."

Remembering that, as soon as Jesus had looked on that young man who came to Him, He loved him, fear not to tell Him also: "Look upon me and . . . love me!"

Jose Guadalupe Trevino
The Holy Eucharist

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Three Excesses of the Holy Eucharist Part III - The Heart

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

We come now to consider the last of the three great excesses of the Holy Eucharist -  The Heart. Trevino writes: "He comes to our hearts and gives Himself to us in the reality of His being, in the substance of His mysteries, in the plentitude of His graces.  He comes to give us life and to be in our souls the seed of resurrection, a pledge of glory, and the germ of immortality."  And this, dear Daughters, he does in the most startling and marvelous fashion - - as if exclusively yours alone.  It is truly Holy Communion: He comes as Divine Lover - lovingly enfolding in His arms and caressing each soul.  Every morning He comes to you in the Host which you receive and, in a certain manner, dies in your heart!  "For, as soon as the Sacred Species are destroyed, the sacramental presence - the eucharistic being, we might say - expires in a certain manner in your soul.  For this reason, when His eucharistic life comes to an end in your heart, the divine Lover may well exclaim as on the cross: 'It is consummated!'"

The only possible and proper response to this reality must be a total gift of self, a life of sacrifice and unlimited abnegation. How could this unique Communion not form the center of our lives, illumining our younger years with the light of its hope, and our declining years with the aureola of its remembrance?

After abiding presence and constant immolation, the last excess of the Holy Eucharist is the total gift of self.  Beyond the tabernacle and the altar, the last stage of the Mystery is in our heart, where His eucharistic life finds its consummation.  Not satisfied with having made Himself our Companion in exile and the permanent Victim of our sins, He comes to our hearts and gives Himself to us in the reality of His being, in the substance of His mysteries, in the plentitude of His graces.  He comes to give us life and to be in our souls the seed of resurrection, a pledge of glory, and the germ of immortality.

It is the exclusive property of the divine Being to give without ever being exhausted or diminished, to pour to into a soul the plentitude of Its graces, without having to deny other souls even the slightest grace.  Such is the mystery of Christ.  He is the universal gift: He was born and died for all, and He shall be the reward of all the just.  But in the very manner in which He is the gift of all, He is in truth the particular gift of each.

Christ's mystery is as totally mine as if there were no other men of earth.  Hence every soul, however lowly, may in truth make hers the words of St. Paul: "He loved me and gave Himself up for me, and for me He delivered Himself unto death.

Our minds cannot grasp well a reality so startling; we feel lost and forgotten in the multitude of human beings.  To prevent this Jesus invented a marvel of love in which He condensed all His Mysteries, from the moment of His Incarnation till His last breath on the cross.  It is an admirable summary of all His wonderful works, which contains the whole immensity of His love, the wellspring of all graces, the memorial of His life, the living remembrance of His sufferings, the pledge of our resurrection, and the divine germ of life everlasting.  It is a sacrament beneath the outward signs of which the immortal Christ is lastingly present, He "who is the same, yesterday and today, yes, and forever," the same Christ who called unto Himself all who suffer and are burdened.  But in it He is so particularized that I can call Him my Christ, my Jesus.  O yes, every lover of Christ will understand what I am saying, because he knows well love's irresistible ambition to be allowed to say in truth and without exaggeration: "My Jesus . . . mine entirely . . . exclusively mine."  The name given by the first Christians to that sacrament, marvel of love and summary of all His works, was "the Holy Mysteries."  Remembering that in this sacrament Christ lovingly enfolds in His arms and caresses each soul, and unites all souls in His immense heart, we give it the more significant name of "Holy Communion."

Dear eucharistic soul, do  you still find it difficult to believe that Jesus died for love of you, as if you alone of all men on earth had needed redemption, when every morning He comes to you in the Host which you receive and, in a certain manner, dies in your heart?  For, as soon as the Sacred Species are destroyed, the sacramental presence - the eucharistic being, we might say - expires in a certain manner in your soul.  For this reason, when His eucharistic life comes to an end in your heart, the divine Lover may well exclaim as on the cross: "It is consummated!"  I have "loved to the end!"

Here again, as on Calvary, it may be said of Him that by His death He gives us life: "Dying, He destroyed our death."  Could Jesus love us more, in a more particular and total way?

Ending its existence in the human heart, the Eucharist is love's last word on earth.  After that, only the magnificent epiphanies of paradise remain.

Do you understand by now, eucharistic soul, why your response to this last excess of Christ's love must be a total gift of self, a life of sacrifice and unlimited abnegation?  What can you refuse Him who every morning gives you all He is, and comes to expire in your very heart?

Suppose for a moment that Jesus loved us less; that He avoided those excesses of generosity; that, instead of many Communions, we could receive only one in the whole course of our lives; that, instead of thousands of tabernacles, He permitted only one, and instead of millions of Masses only one to be celebrated every year, by only one priest and in only one place.  If such were the case, we might reasonably assume that, instead of cold indifference, a glowing enthusiasm would reign among Christians, and from all parts of the world they would flock to that "Holy of Holies," where not Christ's sepulcher, but Christ Himself, could be venerated.  How eager we would be to assist at that only Mass, in order to witness the re-enactment of the drama of Calvary.  How careful would be our preparation for that unique Communion; how devout our dispositions, when approaching that unique Sacred Table, to receive within ourselves the One of infinite sanctity and greatness; how fervent our thankfulness after receiving Him.  Would not the unique Communion form the center of our lives, illumining our younger years with the light of its hope, and our declining years with the aureola of its remembrance?

But, would we not have to conclude that, if Jesus had loved less, He would be loved more? Would it be possible?  Can we admit that the superabundance of His graces and the excesses of His love have only served to chill our fervor and make us look with indifference upon His measureless gifts?  No the contrary must be true.

Oh, may all Christians, finally won over by such excessive love, fall down upon their knees, exclaiming with the beloved disciple: "We, too, have come to know, and have believed, the love that God has in our behalf."

O beloved tabernacle, where Jesus permanently lives!  O holy altar, on which He constantly immolates Himself for me!  O my daily Host, exclusively mine, under the veils of which Jesus lives for me and gives Himself to me, with all the magnificence of His mysteries, the depths of His sufferings, and the immensity of His love!

The tabernacle . . . the altar . . . my heart!

My Companion . . . my Victim . . . my Life!

His lasting presence . . . His constant immolation . . . His total gift of self!

O my dearest Christ, be Thou blessed a thousand times for all the follies of Thy Holy Eucharist and all the excesses of Thy divine Love!

Jose Guadalupe Trevino
The Holy Eucharist