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