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Vol. XI, January, 2005

 

To the Eucharistic Lord through Faith, Hope and Charity

Dear Brothers in the Priesthood!

Since the incomprehensible presence of Our Lord and God in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar is entirely supernatural, it follows that only by grace and the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity can we embrace this mystery and live in union with our Eucharistic Lord. With this goal in mind let us first consider the mystery of the Incarnation and take inspiration from the persons immediately in contact with His first coming in the Flesh. Just as the holy angels lead men into the mystery of the Incarnation, so now are they eager to lead us into the mystery of His Eucharistic Love. However, this cannot take place without our collaboration. Therefore, let us reflect on the conditions for an appropriate response.

1. The Greatness of this Mystery

a) The Intention of Jesus

By His Incarnation, by His word and example, Jesus, “the only Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father” (Jn 1:18) wanted to bring light into this world. He wanted to save us from all evil by offering His life on the Cross to the Father “as a ransom for many” (Mk 10:45). He wanted to give us strength for our journey on earth through His Eucharistic Body and Blood, for “he who eats Me will live because of Me” (Jn 6:57). He even wanted to remain with us in the “‘Bread of life’, the supreme fulfillment of His promise to ‘be with us always, to the end of the age’ (cf. Mt 28:20)” (John Paul II, Mane nobiscum Domine, 2).

b) The Difficulties of Man

Such love can only be repaid with love. In the last meditation we pondered the difficulties to faith in the events surrounding the Incarnation. However, with the help of the holy angel, Zechariah, Mary and Saint Joseph were able to give their consent in faith. They put their trust in the Lord to Whom all things are possible (cf. Lk 1:37). The further steps towards the Lord become evident in the response of the shepherds and holy Kings. The shepherds believed in the angel’s message; they set out hoping to find their Savior. Once they found Him, they adored and praised Him in loving surrender. The holy Kings also adored the divine Child after a long pilgrimage and gave thanks for His love with their gifts. God wants to lead us all along this way to Himself, especially to His presence in the Blessed Sacrament. The holy Mass is the ritual representation of His unique sacrifice; it is also the great school and formation program in a “Eucharistic spirituality” for us (cf. Congregation for Divine Worship, The Year of the Eucharist. Suggestions and Proposals [= Prop.], part 3, 20-31).

2. The Eucharistic Jesus, Pledge of Future Glory.

The holy angels, the messengers of God, want to open the eyes of our heart (cf. Eph 1:18) for the immense mystery of divine love.

a) The Faith Which Saves

All begins with the act of faith. By faith man does not merely receive a purely intellectual knowledge. All knowledge by its very nature includes an appeal to the will and requires some estimation and reaction. Man must will what he sees or knows or turn away from it. The supernatural mysteries embraced in faith are immense; they reveal man’s eternal goal and orientate his hope and love. We see this in Sacred Scripture: The more incredible the ways and mysteries of divine wisdom, the more strongly does man react. He is astonished, and either turns away from God or submits to Him in adoration forever. Before the Eucharistic Mystery, some, indeed “many”, were scandalized and “drew back” (Jn 6:66), as many angels did before the mystery of the Incarnation (cf. Jer 2:20). Others confessed: “You have the words of eternal life!” (Jn 6:68) and stayed (cf. Prop. 2).

b) The Hope Which Draws Us Near

Faith assures us that the Eucharistic Jesus wants to be our strength: “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). And further, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you; he who eats and My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn 6:53-54; cf. 1 Kg 19:8; Prop. 31). Real faith in the Holy Eucharist spawns hope and stimulates man’s love. Jesus in the Holy Sacrament is Emmanuel, “God with us”. The holy angels help us to see the whole truth about Jesus, as they did at His Incarnation. As Zechariah and Mary broke out in the jubilation of the “Benedictus” and the “Magnificat”, so may “‘His joy may be in [us]’……[for] You fill us with joy, Lord, by your very presence” (Prop. 30).

Hope is dynamic; it moves us. It helps us give up what is past and set us free. It draws us towards the expected, future good. Through hope we overcome hindrances and withstand objections. As the shepherds hastened to the divine Child with confidence and trust, instructed by the message of the angel, so shall hope in His merciful love help overcome thoughts of our unworthiness before the Eucharistic Lord. Hope fixes our gaze not on ourselves, but on Him, our Savior, on His invitation and on His desire to give Himself to us. Surely we will not be content just to shake the dust from our feet with a casual act of contrition. Love will impel us to make frequent use of the purifying grace of confession (cf. Prop. 22). But even if we purify ourselves as best we can, the ultimate motive for our confidence and urgent desire to meet Jesus will be rooted in Him and in His call.

c) The Love Which Never Ends.   

All promises culminate in Him Who loved us first and to the end (cf. 1 Jn 4:19; Jn 13:1). The more we appreciate Him and the more we await from Him, the more He can be for us, the more He can give us. He is afterall the infinite God. All things are ever in His hands. And yet, could He ever give us more than Himself?

The Church has never stopped to sing daily the praise of Zechariah and the Magnificat of Our Lady. Since the institution of the Holy Eucharist, the Church hastens unceasingly from all corners of the world like the three holy Kings to the Eucharistic Jesus in the manger of her altars. She joins the angels in their shouts of joy: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to people on earth!” With her we should not miss any opportunity to see and be with our Lord. For “no eye has seen, nor ear heard?…[what] GOD has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor 2:9). With the entire Church, we are daily invited and expected to sing at every Holy Communion: “I have found Him Whom my soul loves!” (Cant 3:4), and “We have seen the Lord!” (Jn 20:25; Prop. 26).

3. The Unending Praise and Thanksgiving

a) The Priest of Divine Love

The shepherds and the three holy Kings prostrated themselves before the divine Child and left their gifts as symbol of their “selves” with Him. The Church acts similarly, as should every communicant. The “first fruits” and the best mankind had to offer were offered to the Church to build shrines for the Eucharistic Lord. “The priests, chosen from among men” (Heb 5:1), should be the best of mankind and always stay with the Lord. Through their perpetual recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours, the heart and soul of mankind, as it were, remains constantly in the presence of its King and Redeemer. As “the light [which was]?…kept burning continually” (Lev 24:2) before His Eucharistic presence, so should they bring in the name of all the constant offering of praise and thanksgiving for the love God has for His people. This brings to light the ideal priest, who is in continual communion with Jesus (cf. Jn 17:24).

b) The Angelic Help of the Priest

Jesus’ love impels the priest to make known the Eucharistic love of Jesus (cf. Redemptionis Sacramentum (2004), 29-33). Through the full truth about the most Holy Eucharist, Jesus Himself will awaken faith in souls, stir up their hope and the desire to encounter Him. They will grow and wish to be united with Him in love. With faith, hope and love we follow the pedagogical steps in the Holy Mass: with faith, the Liturgy of the Word; with hope, the moment of Consecration; and with love, Holy Communion. To remain with Him, the Church indicates some moments which should be part of the education of the faithful.

There should be reserved “some time [for] praying privately” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, ed. 3, 88) in thanksgiving after Holy Communion. That is one of the most opportune moments to confess to Jesus our faith and hope in Him and to exchange our love. Exposition at the end of the Sunday parish Mass, with a short silent thanksgiving, renewal of the consecration of the whole parish to Mary and Benediction would be a considerable opportunity to let them drink more deeply at this living fountain of grace (cf. Prop. 3,5,8,13,17,25-28,35).

The Liturgy of the Hours is “intended to become the prayer of the whole People of God” (CCC 1175).   It extends “to the different hours of the day?…[offering to God] praise and thanksgiving?…and [to men] the foretaste of heavenly glory that are present in the Eucharistic mystery, ‘the center and high point in the whole life of the Christian community’” (General Introduction to the Liturgy of the Hours, 12). The recitation of Morning or Evening Prayer before Holy Mass is “an excellent preparation for the celebration of the Eucharist itself, for it inspires and deepens in a fitting way the dispositions necessary for the fruitful celebration of the Eucharist: faith, hope, love, devotion, and the spirit of self-denial” (ibid.). Night Prayer after evening Mass could be a good extension of thanksgiving as well (cf. Prop. 12, 15).

This “in a complementary way calls forth the various devotions of the People of God, especially adoration and worship of the Blessed Sacrament” (CCC 1178). It is more than a profession of faith; it is an act of love towards the Divine Prisoner of love (cf. Mt 25:36). It brings the fruits of union or peace and joy, kindness and self-control with the victory over sin (cf. Gal 5:22); it constitutes an inestimable means for the sanctification of souls (cf. Prop. 13-17, 29).

4. Dear Brothers in the Priesthood!

The holy angels manifested themselves as zealous servants of the Incarnate Word. With them we should become zealous servants of the Eucharistic Jesus. Let us deepen our faith, hope and love for Jesus, giving Him our lives daily as He gives His daily to us! Let us not waste any opportunity in giving the faithful our own example and then direct them to the center of the entire creation, to Jesus our Eucharistic Lord.

Fr. Titus Kieninger ORC