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