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