Monday, July 16, 2018

The Forgotten Great "One"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

My Beloved

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a beautiful day tomorrow will be!

Eucharistic Whisperings
Rt.Rev. Msgr. Guglielmo Reyna

Monday, June 18, 2018

your whole life must be a continuous act of thanksgiving

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eucharistic Whisperings
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Guglielmo Reyna

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A Eucharistic Spirit of Sacrifice

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Prepare yourself for battle

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Let not your heart be troubled

Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me.       (John 14: 1) 
Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

You must have no anxiety at all and let nothing disturb your interior quiet.  Do not try to control, manage or manipulate the realities of your daily life.  Rather, entrust yourself to the Providence of God.  You will be put to the test; if only to lead you to let go of the things that you tend to prefer more than His love.  Know that the Lord sees all of your needs more clearly than you do and there will be many occasions when you discover that your plans are foreign to His. You press to have your own designs fulfilled prematurely rather than according to God's mind and will.  

The call you have received from God is beautifully simple - to adore Him; but you seek to fill your days and nights with things and activities that bring you no closer to fulfilling His designs for you.  You must give first place to adoration and let the Lord accomplish what He desires in your life and the life of others.

Consecrate yourself to the time of prayer in the "rule" the Lord has given you.  This is how you cling to God and through this He can accomplish the impossible in you.  Place the things that weigh upon you the most or cause you the greatest anxiety in His hands, especially those individuals who cause you the greatest distress.  Otherwise work quietly in His presence through the day until you return to Him once again in prayer.  He will "order all things mightily and sweetly."
A troubled heart is always an indication of one’s lack of trust in Me. Trouble, interior disquiet, comes from wanting to control and manage the things that are better left to My Father’s providence. At every moment, I provide you with occasions to trust Me and to abandon to Me the things that you would prefer to see other than they are. Whenever you come up against something that contradicts your plans or fails to meet your expectations, give that thing, that situation, that disappointment to Me. Entrust it to My Heart, and then relinquish all worry over it. 

I am not distant from you nor am I removed from your life and all that makes up your days. Not a hair falls from your head without My Father permitting it. Make frequent acts of trust and abandonment. Let go of the things that you cling to most tightly. Come to Me with empty hands. Hold on to nothing, not even to your own plans and desires for good things. If the things that you want for yourself are good, know, beyond any doubt, that the things I want for you are infinitely better. 

When you find something difficult, or beyond your strength, ask Me to do it in you or even to leave it undone as I see fit. There are things that you would want to do that are alien to My plans, and there are things that I would have you do that you, of yourself, would never think of doing. It is your attachment to doing what you want that impedes the rapid fulfilment of My perfect designs for you and for this place. 

I called you here to adore Me. You have found other things to fill your days and your nights, but none of these will advance My plans, nor will they contribute to the unfolding of what My Heart has conceived for you. Give the first place to the adoration that I have asked of you, and still ask of you, and you will see wonders. 

The doing must be Mine. Yours it is to trust Me, to wait upon Me, to abide close to My Heart like the beloved disciple. When you are to do something that springs from My plan for you, you will find that thing easy to do, for I will give you light and strength and perseverance in the doing of it. 

Consecrate to Me the hours of prayer that I have asked of you. Follow your Rule, and all else will fall into place. When you are close to Me in the Sacrament of My love, you are working with Me, and I am working in you, and this in a way that is divinely efficacious and supernaturally fruitful. When the time to end your adoration comes, take leave of Me with the same freedom and joy with which you came into My presence. By following your Rule, you do not forsake Me; you cleave to Me and allow Me to speak, to act, to do in you things that would otherwise be impossible for you. 

The things that weigh upon you most heavily, the things that cause you the most anxiety and distress, are the very things that I want you to abandon to Me. When a particular people become for you a cause of worry and distress, give them to Me and represent them before My Eucharistic Face. You will see changes in them that only My grace can produce. When something becomes a cause of anguish, or makes you fearful, or robs your heart of peace, give that thing to Me immediately, and once you have given it to Me, think of it no more. I order all things mightily and sweetly. Carry out your duties with freedom and simplicity. Do one thing after another. Give all things to Me upon beginning them, and offer all things to Me upon completing them. Work quietly in My presence, and then return to My presence here in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar to find rest for your soul and to console My Heart with your friendship.

In Sinu Jesu
The Journal of a Priest at Prayer

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

sink into the ground of adoration

But Jesus answered them, saying: “The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified. Amen, amen I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world, keepeth it unto life eternal. If any man minister to me, let him follow me; and where I am, there also shall my minister be. If any man minister to me, him will my Father honour.” John 12: 23–26 
Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

Are you willing to follow the Lord into the hiddenness of prayer; allowing yourself to sink into the darkness of an absolute faith?  More, are you willing to completely die to self and to lose yourself in adoration?  For you must let go of all that the senses cling to and that to which reason and understanding hold fast for security; forgoing what even seems to be soundness and stability of mind.  

For it is only in imitation of your Beloved, by allowing yourself to be buried in the rich ground of faith, by dying to any sense of yourself outside of Him, will you bear much fruit. Can you let yourself consent to disappear, to become what you contemplate, to be forsaken by all and wrapped in silence?  It is only then that you will enter into the Silence that is Life and the glory that is not of this world.

There is a very real sense in which the prayer of adoration is a loss of one’s life. It is a kind of falling into the ground to die. Remember this when you come to adore Me. Look at the Sacred Host and see Me, who am the grain of wheat fallen into the ground and risen to life, and become the food of a vast multitude of souls, and this until the end of time. The grain of wheat that I was has become the Host that I am. 

When you adore Me, forgetting yourself and forsaking all things for Me, you imitate Me, for adoration is a kind of death. It is a passing out of everything that solicits the senses and a cleaving to Me alone in the bright darkness of faith. So it will be in the hour of your death. 

The more deeply you sink into adoration, the more deeply are you planted in the earth, there to die, and there to sprout, and finally to bring forth much fruit. 

Sink into the ground of adoration. Consent to disappear, to forsake appearances, and to die. Enter into the silence of the Host. Become by grace what you contemplate in faith. Here, I am hidden, silent, and forsaken by all, save a very few whom I have chosen to enter into My hiddenness, My silence, and My solitude. If you would serve Me, follow Me into My Eucharistic state. Lose all that the world counts as something and become with Me something that the world counts as nothing. 

“Where I am, there also shall my servant be.”  You are here because I am here and was here before you. Adoration is the humblest and, at the same time, the most fruitful expression of service. To adore Me is to serve Me, and “if anyone serve Me, my Father will honour him.”  When you adore Me, you serve Me, and in serving Me, you are united to Me who hide Myself, and give Myself, and reveal Myself in this Sacrament. This is the life of adoration: it is the mystery of the grain of wheat buried and hidden in the darkness of the earth. It is the promise of life in abundance and a foretaste of the face-to-face vision that awaits you in glory.

In Sinu Jesu
A Journal of a Priest at Prayer

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Know what you pray for Daughters!

Dear Daughters of St. Philip Neri,

You must understand well what it is that you pray for in order that you give yourself over fully to the life of Adoration and Reparation.  You must grasp in a way that even few priests do the significance of their calling and the magnitude of their identity.  Not only has the priesthood been stripped of its dignity in recent years, dimming the Face of Christ the Eternal Priest, but the impact of this on the life of the Church and the loss for the faithful has been incalculable.  The reflections below from In Sinu Jesu capture not only the beauty of the priesthood and the gift that it is for the Church but also the commitment and grace that is needed for men to be conformed to Christ in every way.  

Contrary to the attempts of the world to diminish the priesthood and make it invisible or absent altogether, the priest must give his whole self to God and allow himself to be shaped as God wills.  He must chose definitively to turn away from the vanities of the world and have eyes only for Christ and the holiness to which He has called Him.  A priest must live for the Blessed Sacrament as Christ keeps Himself present for us always in the Tabernacle.  A priest must truly put on the mind of Christ and live in complete docility to the Spirit of Lord in order that He might truly act and speak through him.  

A priest is not a functionary but rather an "alter Christus", an other Christ, in and through whom the Lord continues to speak to and heal His people.  He makes Christ present to others not in an abstract way but through his touching souls and comforting them.  The recent scandals may make many priests shrink back from making themselves so radically present to others, from loving them, and so build the walls high to protect themselves.  Yet they must not hide themselves and their identity from others but make themselves visible and vulnerable.  As Spiritual Mothers, you are poised to understand the importance of and the world's need of true fathers - fathers who heal the wounds of abuse and neglect and provide souls in their care with love, comfort, direction, guidance and courage.  The absence of true fathers has left so many with a distorted view of God and the world. And so you, Daughters, must bear priests in your hearts as you come before the Lord in Adoration and through your asceticism and sacrifices until through God's mercy the souls of true spiritual fathers are reborn.

Leave aside the things that distract you from Me. I am the one thing necessary to you in this life. Save your eyes, your ears, your mouth, your hands, and your heart, your whole being for Me, and I will unite you to Myself. Close your eyes to vanities, and your ears to flattery and deceit. Open your mouth to praise Me, to sing My glory, to speak of Me, and to speak good things to your neighbour. Keep yourself for Me, as I keep Myself for you in the Sacrament of My love. 
Know that I wait for you. There is a consolation that only you can give Me. It is your friendship that My Heart desires, and this friendship of yours cannot be replaced by any other. You are Mine and I am yours. Abide in Me and I will abide in you, speaking through you, and touching souls through your words. 
Allow Me to be the physician of souls and bodies through you. I want to live in you and pursue on earth all of those things that I did out of love and compassion when I walked among men in My flesh. You are My flesh now, and you are My presence in the world. It is through you that I make Myself visible to men. It is through you that I will speak to them, and comfort them, and heal them, and draw them to My Father in the Holy Spirit. 
There is nothing that I will not do for souls through My priests. Let them be visible and present in the world that needs them and, without knowing it, seeks them and waits for a word from them: a word of life, a word of hope, a word of compassion, a word of forgiveness. Let My priests be visible, not in order to make themselves seen and admired by men, but in order to make Me seen, and known, and loved in them and through them. 
The world is looking for fathers, and in My priests I have given souls the fathers whom they need. There are false fathers who would abuse souls and lead them along, and exercise seduction and power over them. These are not the fathers whom I am sending into the world. The fathers whom I send to souls are men in My own image and likeness: humble, meek, self-sacrificing, tender, and strong. I will give to these fathers, chosen and sent out by Me, a wisdom and a courage that the enemies of My Cross will not be able to confound. 
Let My priests forsake all selfishness and worldly aggrandisement, and so become fathers to souls in need of love, comfort, direction, guidance, and courage. It is through My priests—fathers in whom the tenderness and mercy of My own Father will be revealed to His children in this valley of tears—that the world will be healed of the sufferings inflicted upon it by the absence of true fathers. Let My priests be fathers! Let them beg Me for the grace of spiritual fatherhood, and I will give it to them in abundance.

Your prayers, Daughters, must be made with the clarity and courage of the Mother of our Lord; for you must desire that the hearts of the priests you support be shaped by the same self-emptying love of Christ.  In other words, you must pray that they be willing and able to become both priest and victim.  You must pray that they abandon themselves so completely to the embrace of Christ that they stretch themselves out with Him on the Cross.  They must bear within their bodies the marks of the Christ crucified.  In offering the Sacrifice of the Mass, they must allow the immolation of the Lamb to be renewed in their bodies and souls each day.  It is for this reason that they are ordained - to become living icons of the Christ crucified.  

It is normal that a priest be stigmatised; what is not normal, in fact, is that he not be. The real union with the Crucified each day at the altar should leave the traces of His holy wounds in his hands, in his feet, and in his heart. In offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the priest is totally assimilated to Jesus crucified. This the Father sees; this the angels see; it is only men who do not see it. 
The depth of the impression of the wounds of Jesus in the heart and in the soul of the priest is proportionate to his degree of abandonment to the embrace of Jesus, who desires only to unite him to Himself. In some, the interior impression is so strong that it manifests itself even in the flesh of the priest; in others, the identification with the Crucified remains all interior and hidden; in still others, it is barely sketched in the soul of the priest, because he rebels against the idea of letting himself be crucified with Christ, and wants to keep his life for himself. 
To ascend to the altar to offer there the Holy Sacrifice is already to offer oneself to the piercing of the nails and of the lance, and to the crown of thorns. To offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is already to risk the secret interior stigmatisation that the Father sees, who sees in secret, and the angels who are admitted to contemplate the immolation of the Lamb renewed in the body and in the soul of a man. 
To offer oneself to the interior stigmatisation is entirely in the logic of priestly ordination. In some men, God permits it to be manifested visibly, with outpourings of blood. In others, the same mystery is lived in secret, without any outward manifestation. It remains that every priest is chosen to bear the marks of the Passion of Christ, and to be the living icon of His immolation each day upon the altar.