Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Heaven on Earth

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

How fortunate and blessed you are to be called adorers of the Holy Eucharist; for you share in something heavenly and eternal - the joyful gaze of contemplation of the angels and saints. Here alone can you quench the thirst for God that He Himself has placed in your heart.

Yet, know daughters that responding to such call is not to walk an easy path.  Adoration of the Eucharist on earth has a painful nature.  To be sure, it has its consolations.  However, it is a path of sacrifice; requiring "great reserves of will power and continuous abnegation of self" and the "supporting force of great love."  Daughters, "like burning incense and the flowers that fade away, you [will] exhaust your strength, sacrifice your health, and immolate your lives before the Sacred Host." But like the Cross itself such sacrificial love will give way to eternal life and joy.

The soul that in its homesickness of heaven is consumed by the desire to contemplate, love and possess God finds in the Eucharist untold consolation and a foretaste of heaven's delights.  She can gaze upon the Sacred Host and exclaim with the certitude of faith: "There He is!  It is He!"

"Adoro te Devote . . . . Devoutly, I adore thee, oh my God, hidden, yet truly present, beneath the eucharistic veils, as the angels and blessed adore Thee in heaven; and while I contemplate Thee my heart faints with love, overwhelmed by Thy divine presence."

And then, putting her own feelings in the last strophe of the same hymn, she can say:

Here 'neath veils, my Savior darkly I behold;
To my thirsting spirit all they light unfold;
Face to face in heaven let me come to thee,
And the blessed union vision of thy glory see.

It has been said, and rightly so, that between contemplation and adoration there is so close a union, so mutual a relationship, that they cannot be separated.  We adore while contemplating and we contemplate while adoring.  The saints in heaven live in perpetual adoration, because their joy is derived from eternal contemplation.  On earth, where in some manner we must imitate the life of heaven, Christian devotion has striven to make the Sacred Host the center of perpetual contemplation and adoration, as far as human frailty permits.  And both adoration and contemplation have called for perpetual exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Sacred Host perpetually exposed on its eucharistic throne, and before it, day and night, loving souls in adoration and contemplation!  Is this not truly heaven on earth?  Is it not like a sketchy picture, a faint reflection, and a consoling anticipating of the happy life of our eternal homeland?

Yet, between adoration and contemplation on earth and adoration and contemplation in heaven there is an important difference which must not be overlooked.  The angels and the blessed adore in perfect joy, because their happiness is born of the very contemplation of the divinity, that is, of the beatific vision.  To contemplate God, to love Him, and to possess Him are all one and the same thing in heaven.

But here on earth, perpetual adoration is painful to nature.  Sometimes the Lord favors it, no doubt, with the sweetness of His consolation, especially during nocturnal adoration, and then the heart feels itself "fainting away."  Such favors, however, are but transitory.  The normal reality is that perpetual adoration, especially when it interrupts our sleep at different hours, obviously demands a great sacrifice.  It cannot be kept up for a long time, without great reserves of will power and continuous abnegation of self, which means, without the inspiring and supporting force of great love.

Because of this, St. Julian Eymard, founder of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, said to his religious: 'Let us not think that we have done anything, as long as we do not love the Eucharist passionately."  Only a passionate and unwavering love is capable of inspiring and sustaining all the sacrifices implied in perpetual adoration.

Souls dedicated to perpetual adoration, who during the hours spent before the Sacred Host would like to imitate at least from afar the fervor of those who adore in heaven, be neither surprised nor scandalized by those weaknesses: fatigue, drowsiness, dryness of spirit, and that "I can't" feeling.  If you are tempted to see in it all a sign of deficient love, you are mistaken.  Much to the contrary, your displeasure at them and your battle against them are proofs of love, because they are acts of sacrifice; and suffering is the proof and nourishment of love.

Christ's heart is deeply touched by the sight of you adoring Him, not in joy as He is adored in heaven, but in pain, as only on earth He can be adored.  And you, in your turn must feel deeply consoled by the thought that you adore Him at the price of your health, strength, and life.

All the objects around the eucharistic throne show you that this is the way of adoration on earth: the candles give light, slowly consuming their wax; the lamp glows, burning its oil; the incense produces aromatic clouds, being destroyed on burning coals; the flowers display their beauty and give forth their fragrance, while they fade and die.

In the same way, you adoring souls, like animated candles and living lamps, like burning incense and the flowers that fade away, you exhaust your strength, sacrifice your health, and immolate your lives before the Sacred Host.

Fortunate, indeed, are the souls called by God to a life of perpetual adoration!  How happy their death will be!  It will be nothing else than their last act of adoration on earth, one that will go over, without any interruption, into the eternal and infinitely jubilant adoration of heaven.

Jose Guadalupe Trevino
The Holy Eucharist