A few weeks back, I was abruptly awakened in the middle of the night. As some of you may know, I suffer from chronic pain. Hardly a day goes by without some persistent ache somewhere in my body, joints, muscles, or nerves. I am so used to this discomfort that it takes a lot to make me sit up and take notice. This night, the pain was so intense that it woke me up and kept me up the whole night; I was short of breath and struggling to remain coherent. This was not normal. Prayer and patience got me through the night, and eventually, the pain lessened. I followed up with my doctor in the morning, who ordered a battery of tests.
It is not fun when the nagging worry starts creeping into our minds. I get frustrated about how human I am, but this is silly. What else am I supposed to be? A few hours after my gallbladder ultrasound, the doctor called. The ultrasound revealed a large tumor on my liver. Here we go again, back on the carousel of tests. We had to rule out cancer… no one likes to hear those words.
Few things can sober us quicker than knowing there might be a silent killer going through your system. Usually, that would be the trigger for a world of worry, anxiety, and even despair. My dear wife and I were starting to feel those ill effects, yet something absolutely remarkable happened, something that witnesses to our Faith.
As we shared the news with our precious friends, they shared the news with their beloved friends. Before we all knew it, our brethren in Christ had gone out in force, a dispersed multitude, a legion, to pray a prayer of intercession for us.
Through the intercession of our brethren, the peace that Christ spoke of in the Gospel according to John came to us; the fruit of the Spirit made present from the prayerful sacrifice of all those faithful friends.
And from that moment forward through this journey, we surrendered to God’s will, and we have known peace. We could feel the prayers. Our brothers and sisters took on our cause, our worry, our wait, and in genuine compassion lived God’s charity towards us. With their prayers, they carried the heavy load for us and paid the price for our peace.
We are all the mystical body of Christ. When one suffers, we all suffer. When one rejoices, we all rejoice. This is part of our responsibility, to care, love, and pray for one another. If someone asks you to pray for them, please do. It is not the least we can do, but precisely what we must do. With our prayer, we carry each other through the difficulties.
We know that not every prayer is answered in the way we expect or desire. But we trust that God always knows better than we do, so we submit to His will for us. The Holy Spirit will guide us through any situation. In communion with Christ Eucharistic, we see His hand in action through the love of our community of faith.
After a long weekend of waiting, the tests on my liver came back, indicating that my tumor is benign. I can hear loudly in my soul the roar from the prayerful faithful glorifying God! Glory to You, oh Lord! Hear our prayer of thanksgiving!
Our Lord commands us to pray for one another. Let us take Him at His Word in all humility and with all our trust. To all of you, faithful ones, please continue praying for us. Please be assured of our prayers for you. May the peace of our Lord be with all of us.
Let us pray:
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
The daily scriptures in the Easter Season keep us in flight after the long road of Lent. The Passion of Jesus lives in our existence by the grace of the Eucharist. We hold the death of our Lord deep in our hearts. We walk with Mary to Pentecost and find the immense love of God clearly defined in our Liturgical year.
Our Lady lived without sin, holding all the mysteries of faith by God’s sovereign love. “When we have said Eucharist, we have said everything.”
Where was Mary during the 50 days after the Resurrection of Jesus?
What was she doing, thinking?
Perhaps Mary was preparing for what would come next. Indeed, she remembered all that happened to her Son. Assuredly Our Lady was praying, finding the fullness of grace from the inner cenacle of her heart to the Altar where Heaven and earth meet. Mary’s life passion is Jesus, and He defined her existence. Eastertide; Mary’s spirit of hope enabled her to obtain from God the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
As we journey to Pentecost, let us walk with Mary and pray with Mary. In the Book of Revelation, we have imagined a time when there will be no more mourning and weeping (cf. Revelation 21:4-5). On these Easter days, we are listening to the persecutions of St. Paul and the Apostles. We remember the healing in the name of the Lord Jesus. There will be a new birth streaming from our baptism to the birth of our Catholic Church at Pentecost.
As we keep our eyes fixed on the clouds, think of Mary, who beheld the death of Jesus, which would mold her into the perfect model of Christ, her Son. Pentecost is coming. The fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit are for us to become by our yes and openness to God’s life in us. The mystery is humbling; it is found in a gift of self by submission to God’s Holy Will. Mary saw God’s Providence in every aspect of her life. Mary’s espousal to the Holy Spirit made her become Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Fortitude, Piety, and Fear of the Lord through her love.
Blessings in this Easter Season.
*PLENARY INDULGENCE if recited on the first of January or on the feast of the Pentecost (accompanied by the three prerequisites of a plenary indulgence). Otherwise, a partial indulgence is granted to those who recite it.
This year we will reach a significant milestone in our house. After twenty years of homeschooling, our youngest will be graduating high school. He was born in August, as we were beginning our second year of homeschooling his older brothers in fifth and first grade. Coming back from six weeks of being laid up in a hospital bed, exhausted and depleted, I looked at the textbooks on the table and the newborn in my arms, and I was convinced we would not be homeschooling anymore by the time this one turned five. Yet here we are.
As we prepare to close another chapter in the story of our lives, I realize there is a lot to process. Even though each of my children's high school graduation has been a milestone for them, this one is also a milestone for me. I feel a strong desire to set aside the whole Summer just to ponder. I might have to do it in bits and pieces, taking advantage of moments given. As I look back, I can't help but feel gratefulness and awe. Our journey was not perfect, but God was always with us.
There was a moment, early on, when I realized that if God called me to homeschool our children, He would provide everything we needed. I realized I did not need to pay someone to tell me how to do this. Educating my children was an extension of parenting them. And, just like each family parents a little bit (or a lot) differently, it was ok to school differently too.
As I learned what each of them needed, I adjusted, and I learned with them.
That year when our youngest was born, we put away the textbooks until January. The weeks before his birth were very difficult for all of us. I just knew that what we all needed was some time together, just the five of us. I am so grateful for that early lesson. It set us up for a lifetime of listening to where God was calling us, including the three years we took our family on the road.
The month of May often brings a mix of celebration and exhaustion. A month full of endings with promises of new beginnings. Graduations, First Communions, Confirmations, Ordinations… grace upon grace building, calling us to celebrate. It is important to take the time to process, ponder, and look for God's thumbprints in the stories of our lives. He is always there, whether we notice Him or not.
celebrate (v.): mid-15c., "to perform publicly with appropriate rites," originally of the Mass
The life of the Church is one of celebration. Every liturgy, every sacrament, invites us to full participation in the mysteries of Christ. Here we become a family. As we celebrate together the joy of a newborn being baptized, as we hold each other close in the sorrow of a funeral, we share in the life of Christ. Whether we know personally the individual receiving the sacraments, we are all part of the Body of Christ. We rejoice with the ones who are rejoicing, and we weep with the ones who are weeping. We invite God to be a part of every moment of our lives. This is a life worth living, a life that, when pondered on, will bring awe and thanksgiving to our hearts.
Few scenes from the Bible are as full of Eucharistic imagery as the “Feeding of the 5000.”
For us, people of the Eucharist, the heart of this scene echoes across time beautifully within the Mass, and there are a few elements we do recognize and celebrate in our Catholic tradition.
We are shown how the whole group is divided into smaller groups, as our Mother Church is divided into individual parishes, yet united together in the sharing of the bounty, the meal of Christ. We all eat from the same source.
Christ blessed the food brought before Him, fruit of the earth and work of human hands. He broke the bread, gave it to His disciples, multiplied so that the multitude all ate and were satisfied. In the same way today, the priest blesses the bread and wine, fruit of the earth and work of human hands. He breaks the bread, and gives it to Christ’s disciples, us, to be satisfied more than with food, for His overflowing Grace touches and replenishes each one of us.
When we partake of His banquet, we must remember to be grateful for His gift of self to us. The fullness of our Lord is broken and shared with each of us present. This is life-changing and life-giving.
Hidden in between the beautiful words of the bible passage above, specifically in Mark 6:37, our Lord says to us: “Give them some food yourselves.” Christ calls us to feed the hungry, but how can we when we do not have that much?
Growing up in Puerto Rico, in a humble family, we never had “that much,” yet we never really lacked for anything. We had what we needed, not much more, and not much less. Compared to many of our neighbors, we were well off, for many did not have much.
We had enough to feed just ourselves, but often friends would come to visit, and, somehow, food always found its way to their plates at the table. What if someone else also unexpectedly showed up? It would speak of our love and resourcefulness, that we would find a way to stretch our love.
“Asopao” is a typical Puerto Rican dish. It is a very wet dish, rice cooked in stock, like a savory porridge. It was simple fare that would feed many with very little. What if we needed to include one or two or a few more to our table? We added a bit more rice and stock, said our prayer of thanksgiving, and again offered the work of human hands. The asopao just seemed to multiply.
I remember being taught since youth that where two could eat, three could eat also. All it takes from us is a bit of sacrificial love. We are called to let go of our impressions of lack and embrace an attitude of plenty. When love compels us to share, we can get by with a little less. That small sacrifice embraces the ones in need. It is at times like these that we emulate Christ Jesus. He asks us, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” What are we to do then but to go and see?
I have always found it interesting that, in our human nature, we tend to look at our lives and feel that we lack something, that we do not have enough. This feeling of lack gives an opening to sin. We become weary of others. We do not trust; we hide what we have instead of sharing it. We become more selfish and more isolated. That is not the right approach. In fact, giving of ourselves selflessly for the love of God, even when we do not have much to offer, allows Him to multiply our gifts by pouring out His Grace. Our Lord helps us give what is necessary and grants His portion generously. Our Lord is no scrooge; let us be generous as He is generous, that we may all be satisfied in Him who loves us.
Let us pray: Lord, may your love be multiplied in us, that we may always give freely and generously to feed those hungry for food, love, companionship, compassion, and mercy. That through this work You have given to our human hands, the many may come to know You and love You. Amen.
Dear Eucharistic Family,
We have entered the Easter season abandoning our wills, grasping hold of our Heavenly Father’s hand, and imagining being in the Acts of the Apostles. The Kingdom of Heaven is our eternal reality, and we see it now through the Eucharist. I recently heard someone say we live in a hostile world. True, bizarre things are happening all around us. The God of all creation has called us by name. We are blessed to be invited to set fire to the earth with his love. The hostilities and unusual happenings will be taken over by a longing of the heart as humanity finds the sacred.
“Before birth the LORD called me, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.” (Isaiah 49:1)
I attended a summit this past week, a gathering of ministry leaders, with deacons, priests, and sisters present. The importance of the faithful coming together in prayer with the Eucharist, the Liturgy as the central focus, enraptured something new in me. We who love our Catholic Church have much work to do, together, to keep Christ alive in our world today.
Jesus tells us to “Do This in Memory of Me” (Luke 22:19). The Eucharist must be everything for us, as St. Peter Julian, the Apostle of the Eucharist, reminds us.
The Savior of the world, our risen Jesus, longs to heal, forgive and set fire to the earth. Miracles are waiting to happen. By grace, in deep silent prayer and the reception of Holy Communion, the Kingdom of Heaven will be brought to the world. The inner cenacle lives in our souls united to the heart of God during our consuming of the Sacred Host for us to become a consuming fire of love for our God. Miracles will happen. We will keep the Acts of the Apostles in motion by growing our Church in faith and love. Charity will fall into eternal life with us by our own apostolic lives.
One of the speakers at the summit recommended we create a personal mission statement, handwrite it, check it regularly, rewrite it quarterly, and follow up on its goals.
Imagine if we all make a conscious effort to be our brother’s keeper (Genesis 4:9), to pray for every person we encounter and take an interest in their souls. Our desire to become saints will be blessed in this effort.
I am in the middle of renewing my consecration to Jesus through Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament. Each year our mother calls me to this time with her. Mary is with us always, yet going on retreat with her helps us be comforted in the care of a mother. She helps direct us and guides the fires Jesus would wish to be set. St. Peter Julian tells us the Eucharist can transform the bitterness of suffering in our lives. Mary is the one to show us this way to salvation.
What legacy of love can we leave upon this earth? Believe we will see a gift of God’s promise from the heavens one day, one that the faithful will take sight of as they see everything through the Eucharist.
Does this sound familiar to you? “It’s not your fault. You are not to blame… the fault lies somewhere else.” This seems to be the message behind most self-help programs out there… “this problem you have, it is not your fault, but you can fix it. You don’t need God. All you need is to follow these steps, because, after all… it is not your fault.” And guess what? We eat that stuff up. We love it when we can shift the blame. This started in the Garden of Eden when Eve said, “The serpent made me do it.” And then Adam said, “The woman made me do it.” We know how things turned out for them.
There was some truth in their statements… there were others involved in the scenario, but they still had freedom to choose, and they chose to disobey God. And when they were confronted with the truth, rather than take responsibility for their actions, they hid from God and from themselves. They could have pleaded to God for mercy, but perhaps, He had not revealed that part of Himself to them yet. Maybe they did not know how much He loved them. Perhaps they did not know He would be willing to die for them.
Contrast the message the world gives us (that nothing is our fault) with one of the prayers we say at Mass… striking at the breast we pray The Confiteor (I Confess):
“The Gospel is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners. …To receive his mercy, we must admit our faults.” (CCC 1846-1847).
“Through my fault, through my fault, thought my most grievous fault…” It is when we admit that we sin through our own fault, and when we repent, that we open ourselves to receive God’s mercy. When we admit something is our fault, we have now something we can change. And we know God is at the ready, waiting for us to come to Him for help, for “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Romans 5:20).
This weekend we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. Jesus has opened wide the gates of mercy and is waiting for us to come to Him. He sits at the confessional waiting, longing, ready to pour His grace on us. When we fail, let us not hesitate to run to Him and beg for mercy. And when things are truly not our fault, let us then be merciful to others. Let us forgive and extend the same mercy God has given us.
Let us then constantly accept that we have failed and that we need His mercy, that we need His love. This is the only self-help program we need… taking an honest look at ourselves, and saying, “I Confess…”
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We are Ivonne J. Hernandez, Rick Hernandez and Laura Worhacz, Lay Associates of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, and brothers and sisters in Christ.
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