By: Rick Hernandez
“I do not cease giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of [your] hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might”. (Ephesians 1:16-19)
A priest friend once told me: “Our eyes are how we see the world, but the eyes only produce images, impressions of the light on the world. Interpreting the images is what “seeing” is. Both our intellect and our soul give meaning to the images we see so we can gain insight from them, but too often we just see with the eyes of our intellect, as most of the world sees. We have to learn how to see better with the eyes of the soul, for that is how we gain wisdom”.
In the first letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul tells us to pray to God for a “spirit of wisdom”, that is, for the Holy Spirit’s wisdom to come forth to us. From our relationship with the Holy Spirit, active in our lives, we gain both the exercise of the theological and moral virtues and the use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Among the gifts that we receive are wisdom, knowledge, understanding and awe. These gifts are directly related to each other for they relate to “seeing”.
Paraphrasing St. Thomas Aquinas, the gift of wisdom is to be able to see the work of the hand of God in all things, in our lives and in the world. If we use St. Paul’s words from Ephesians 1, wisdom is to “have the eyes of our hearts enlightened”. We are enlightened.
The gift of knowledge is the recognition of our purpose as children of God and how He relates to us. This is that we “may know what is the hope that belongs to His call”. We are able to focus.
The gift of understanding is the ability to comprehend how we are to live as followers of Christ. The moral issues become clear. We are able to discern.
Along with this wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, we can also receive the gift of awe, which is to see and comprehend “the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might”. We are able to stand in awe of the greatness of God.
I have always been more intellectual than anything else. I have always strived for “understanding” as a means to better myself and to help others. I often, mistakenly, thought than knowledge and understanding would inevitably lead to “wisdom”. That is not the case, though it helps. For the true gift of wisdom to be active in our lives, we must cozy up to the Holy Spirit. We must strive to see the world a little differently, through the eyes of our soul and through the eyes of Christ. The eyes of the soul are opened by the virtues, and living the virtues invariably leads to a life of grace. A grace is a gift, just like the gifts of the Holy Spirit. If we live a life of grace, then our life itself becomes a gift, an offering to our Lord.
More than anything we must strive to live in this world with virtue. That is what makes normal people into saints. Extraordinary, heroic virtue comes after normal, ordinary virtue has become a normal part of our lives. Many Saints recognized the role of the mundane and ordinary in this world. When seen through the “eyes of the soul”, the mundane becomes the foundation of our heavenly work on this Earth.
“A saint is one who has learned to spiritualize and sacramentalize and ennoble everything in the world and make of it a prayer.” - Archbishop Fulton Sheen (The Divine Sense of Humor)
Let us pray: Lord, you are the creator of all that is seen and unseen. You have left us your Holy Spirit to guide us toward the path to Heaven. Help us then to be guided by your Spirit, that through His guidance we may achieve a virtuous life. Help us see the world as you see it, that our love may be like yours. May your precious gifts to us be also a gift for our brothers and sisters, that our eyes be opened by your Grace. Amen.
By: Laura Worhacz
“Let us, then, return thanks through Mary. A child receives a gift, but it is his mother who thanks the donor for him. So our thanksgiving, united with that of Mary: will be perfect and most acceptable to the Heart of Jesus.” Saint Peter Julian Eymard
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
The Hail Mary brings us into the mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary. The gift to meditate on the Sacred Scriptures through them, especially during the month of October, is a blessing beyond our understanding. We trust in this divine invitation and cling to the promises attached to this prayer of the Church. We celebrated the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary this past week and next week we will remember the Miracle of the Sun on October 13th.
Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament has been given to us by our Lord and Savior through the heart of Saint Peter Julian Eymard. He reminds us in the above excerpt to give all to Jesus through Mary. We do this by our engagement with the Holy Spirit, by emulating our Mother. Mary shows us the way to eternity, by her yes, her humility. Mary teaches us by her perfect charity, her detachment, her purity, her fidelity, …we can go on and on with the virtues of her love.
There is so much going on in our world, in the very homes of each of us. Our relationships need to be given to our mother, she will bring us to communion, healing, and love. Place yourself in the redemption of Christ and go forward with Mary. Leave the pain and walk to the Heavens. Immerse yourself in the mysteries; they take us to places of freedom, forgiveness, mercy, and compassion. PRAY! The Hail Mary brings us to Our Father, into the Kingdom of Heaven now through the Eucharist. It is Mary who guides us to the fullness of grace. Our mother who reminds us the Lord is with us. Mary is the blessed one, she brings us the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, the fruit of her womb. Mary is holy. She chose to be the humble one of her Creator. She accepted the gifts of the Holy Spirit; they led her in joy through life. Even at the Cross her tears poured forth; her heart was fixed to God through the heart of her Son and the power of the Holy Spirit. HAIL MARY FULL OF GRACE!
“This twofold movement of prayer to Mary has found a privileged expression in the Ave Maria: Hail Mary [or Rejoice, Mary]: the greeting of the angel Gabriel opens this prayer. It is God himself who, through his angel as intermediary, greets Mary. Our prayer dares to take up this greeting to Mary with the regard God had for the lowliness of his humble servant and to exult in the joy he finds in her.”
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2676)
By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
I must have been around five years old when, one evening, I made a very big decision. I packed some things in a little suitcase and announced to my mother that I was leaving…for good. I remember the unworried look on my mother’s face, who, with a gentle smile responded, “ok, good luck”, turned around, and continued preparing dinner. I was taken aback a bit with her lack of care for my wellbeing, but I said nothing. I walked out the front door and proceeded to walk away from my home. I remember stopping in front of the neighbor’s house and looking back, half-expecting my mom would be coming after me…but no one was there. In my little heart I wondered, “mom, do you not care?” Realizing I was all alone and had nowhere to go. I turned around and went back home.
The question in my heart reminds me of a story in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Mark, when Jesus was asleep on the boat as a storm was tossing them about (v.35-41). The disciples woke Jesus up and asked, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” There is another time in the Gospel when Jesus is asked a similar question. “Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?” (Luke 10:40). When our hearts are hurt, fearful or anxious, it doesn’t matter if we are a five-year-old little girl, or a grown man or woman; our burdened hearts seek for someone who sees us, for someone who cares.
Did my mom care that I wanted to run away? Of course she cared! She was probably looking from the window, making sure I remained safe. As I grew I learned that my conclusion that my mom didn’t care was incorrect. I did not have the full vision; I didn’t see her peeking through the window. The waves tossing around my little heart were too big and even at such a young age I was, like Martha, “anxious and worried about many things” (Luke 10:41). The disciples on the boat were also wrong in their conclusion. Did Jesus care that the disciples were in trouble? Of course He cared. Even while asleep on the boat, He was watching over them.
Why do we feel terrified any time the waves around us overwhelm us? Why do we feel anxious? Why do we despair? Perhaps our faith is in our own limited vision and our limited understanding. St. Peter Julian Eymard tells us: “Abide in the House of God's divine fatherly goodness, like a child who knows nothing, does nothing, damages everything, but dwells in his gentle kindness.” When our hearts are burdened and seek someone who cares, let us hear God saying, “I will never forget you” (Isaiah 49:15)… “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” (Mark 4:40).
“Continue to be like a little child in a boat which God is navigating. Leave the care of the future to the Good Lord; yours is to be ready to fulfill his holy Will.” – St. Peter Julian Eymard
By: Rick Hernandez
Once during my travels, I sat at the bar at a local restaurant. A man was sitting there alone at the end of the large counter with a big smile on his face. I remember being intrigued by this man and I engaged him in conversation. He was very personable, had a quiet dignity about him and you could tell life had taught him a thing or two. He told me his name was Justin, and we proceeded to talk about life, faith, politics and everything else we could think of. Eventually, we started talking about our youth, where we came from, and Justin opened up about his past and about the drug addiction and escapism that ruled his teenage years. “Here is a life lesson for you” he said, and told me his story.
Once, Justin was a teenager, with a good caring family, a girlfriend he loved, and a bright future ahead of him. He considered himself a good person; always wanted to be of help, mindful of the needs of others. He was a good student, well-liked at school, where everyone thought he was to continue the family tradition of public office. But Justin suffered from a crippling private anxiety. From a young age he suffered from “carrying everybody’s dreams about his future”. He wanted to fulfill his family’s expectations, but that anxiety kept eating at him in secret. At a party, Justin was introduced to cocaine, the street drug of choice at the time, and he was hooked. The drug became his refuge from anxiety, his effort to escape from his reality; little by little he stopped caring about others. On a fateful day, Justin attempted to rob a store. The attempt went badly and the store clerk was hurt. The police arrived quickly and Justin was arrested. Eventually he was tried as an adult, and thrown into prison.
While in prison, Justin thought “This is all wrong. This is not me; I am supposed to be a good person”, but he had made many mistakes and had to acknowledge them and make amends. He took his prison sentence as an opportunity to learn, to know himself, to combat his anxiety, to understand where he went wrong. Justin found solace in the Bible, specifically “Though the just fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble from only one mishap” (Proverbs 24:16). Justin thought, “If I am a just man, I shall rise again. I have to learn what it is to be a just man…” And that started a lifetime of trying to understand the virtue of justice and how it relates to his life and the ones around him.
Justin said to me, “You see, I have a good life now. I am a just man, and this I have learned. When we make mistakes, we have to repent and own up to them, fix them the best we can. The world will still try to kick you down for your mistakes, sometimes savagely. It will attempt to make you relive your worst mistakes, tell you that you are still that man that did not know better and that you have not changed. It will tell you that you have no worth, even to yourself. That is a lie. That is misguided justice. Yes, the world will kick you down, but a just man RISES regardless. Live your life rightly. Give to the people what is theirs, to you what is yours, to God what is His. Live justly, love freely.”
I remember Justin’s advice often. For someone who is not a Catholic, I believe he did understand Catholic justice better than most. The Catholic definition of justice is “the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and to neighbor.” We have to understand that we are also included here; we are called to be just with everyone, including ourselves. Even when we sin, when we are at our worst, we still have infinite value. Even at our lowest point, we still have the power to change with God’s help. We repent, confess, and make retribution. That is justice. Once restored, we have to continue to act justly because our actions have to honor our dignity, which is given to us by God. Practicing the virtue of justice will help keep us in relationship with God and others. Justice allows us to love. Live justly, love freely.
Let us pray, Our Lord of Heaven, please grant us wisdom, that we may learn how to live a just life and apply discernment to our actions, that we may always act in a pleasing manner to You. Amen.
By: Laura Worhacz
Dear Eucharistic Family,
On Sunday we may meditate on Heaven and keep holy the Sabbath. With all our senses we need to remind one another to keep Sunday a special day of remembrance, a little Easter. Avoid unnecessary work. A good way to discern this may be to examine the heart. A perfect Sunday for me, as for many of you I am sure, begins with going to Mass. We are then sent to love and serve our Lord. My perfect Sunday continues with preparation for Sunday dinner. It may seem like work to prepare food, cook, clean, set the table, and clean up again. However, whether it is my husband and me, our girls, or a full table, my heart rejoices in sitting around the table for Sunday dinner. The food is secondary to the faces I am privileged to see gathered around the table. The joy of feeding others has always been a way for me to express love. The Eucharistic Sacrifice enables us to learn how to serve. When we give a gift of ourselves, our Sunday becomes holy.
September 19th is the anniversary of an apparition of Our Lady that is unknown to many, Our Lady of La Salette. Saint Peter Julian would go to the magnificent mountain where Our Lady appeared to pray even before the apparitions were approved by our Catholic Church. He knew in his heart Our Lady visited this holy mountain to bring us a message through her tears. In part of Our Lady’s message of La Salette we learn that she is sitting with her head down, fallen in her lap, crying. Mary’s tears poured forth for the lack of respect Heaven sees for the Sabbath.
In spending time before the Blessed Sacrament, we can be assured that Jesus will lead our hearts to celebrate Sunday in the perfect way for each of us. For me, gathering around the table for Sunday dinner has created many memories, many laughs, many serious and sometimes confrontational conversations. All of these create a bond of unity that keeps the Eucharist we have received in a secure bond of love united to the Heart of Jesus. There are so many Catholics unable to attend Sunday Liturgy and so many that are not aware of the awesome gift of going to church on Sunday. Our enthusiasm, charity, and remembrance of keeping Sunday holy may be the witness that will bring others to church. God’s love is expressed to us in His life-giving gift found in the Living Bread that comes down from HEAVEN.
By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
“Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10). When we look at the ten commandments, we see that the first three order our relationship with God, and the last seven order our relationship with our neighbor. This lets us know two things. First, the order of the commandments let us know that our relationship with God must come first. Second, the number of commandments relating to our relationship with our neighbor lets us know that we will struggle more often in that area. This makes sense when we think of how many hours in the day we are directly talking with God vs. how many hours we are interacting with others. Those we live with often challenge us the most.
When two humans have lived together for many years it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions of face which are almost unendurably irritating to the other. Work on that. (Advice from Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood, The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis)
How often do we feel annoyed by the behavior of those around us? In my younger years I used to jokingly say, “I would be a saint, if it wasn’t for the people around me.” This thought, though meant as a joke, hides a deep truth beneath. It is true, that it is in community, in relationship, that our faults and weaknesses are brought to the surface. The “other” acts as a mirror to the state of our soul. But what we do when these faults come to the surface is the difference between vice and virtue, between sin and love. Those closest to us, by the mere number of interactions, bring up things that just can’t be ignored. Conversation, charity, change, compromise…either from one or likely from both, will be required if the goal is to live in peace.
“Now I wish to tell you further, that a man proves his patience on his neighbor, when he receives injuries from him. Similarly, he proves his humility on a proud man, his faith on an infidel, his true hope on one who despairs, his justice on the unjust, his kindness on the cruel, his gentleness and benignity on the irascible.” - (From The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Sienna)
When my faults rise up in response to an offense, and I become aware of them, it is like a double-edged sword, cutting “between soul and spirit, joints and marrow” (Heb 4:12). “My sin is before me always” (Psalm 51). This revelation is a great gift from God. It is only when I become aware of my own sinfulness that I can bring it to the foot of the Cross. If it remains hidden it festers and slowly kills my soul. It is in the reflection of the other that the soul sees its true state and can surrender to the loving hand of God. Thus, through relationship with other sinners, God works on my soul. This process can happen simultaneously in a relationship, if both are striving to grow in love. “Love is the cross, and the cross is Love” (St. Therese of Lisieux). When we feel annoyed at something or someone we have a choice. We can either choose to focus on what is annoying us, or we can recognize the opportunity in front of us, an opportunity to practice virtue, to grow in patience, to grow in love.
By: Rick Hernandez
Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life. The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause. "The Lord is my strength and my song." "In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (CCC 1808).
The virtue of fortitude works hand-in-hand with the virtue of perseverance. Father Eymard tells us that to live a virtuous life, we must strive towards the virtues without fear, and that we must persevere in this struggle. When I think about perseverance, the first word that pops into my head is “abide”. The definition for “abide” is “to remain”. To remain, but remain where?
"Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me" (John 15:4).
Jesus is asking us to remain in Him and that means to persist in Him. Christ’s love is our anchor, it is what helps us to persist. Just as His Cross was rooted in His love, so are we to be rooted. This is what the virtue of fortitude is. “Fortitude is love bearing all things readily for the sake of the beloved" (St. Augustine). We are called to patiently bear, to abide, to remain, to persist. “Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; … encourage through all patience and teaching" (2 Timothy 4:2).
Now, life is always asking us, to move, to change, to act. It is good to change. We must evolve into the best version of ourselves and that means that that we must work towards that better state, but how do we do that? How do we evolve, yet remain? We can do that by working to align ourselves with the virtues. Out in the world we are to live in His love, share from His hope and grow from His faith. Yes, we grow and we change but through fortitude and perseverance, we remain in our given state as beloved children of God.
On September 5th, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Mother Teresa was deeply rooted in Jesus’ Cross, the place where Jesus abides. That was the place where her heart lived, yet she went out into the world, where she could meet Jesus’ heart in the lives of all the poor and the needy. It was difficult work there in the streets of Calcutta. Among the sick and the dying Mother Teresa grew in the virtues, grew closer to the perfection that we are called to pursue. With her guidance and example, she helped countless others to grow in virtue, helped them to care for one another. Through a virtuous life of love, hope, faith, humility and selflessness she persevered; there she was courageous. There she taught us, through her humble life, how to abide in Jesus’s love… Can we persevere like that? Where do we abide?
Let us pray: “O eternal God, grant me the virtue of perseverance; without it, no one can please You nor be acceptable to You. This virtue brings to the soul an abundance of charity and the fruit of every effort. Oh! how happy I should be, Lord, if You would give me this virtue, because even here on earth it will make me enjoy a pledge of eternal life. But Your light reveals to me that I cannot attain it unless I suffer much, because this life cannot be lived without suffering. He who would escape suffering would deprive himself of holy perseverance” (St. Catherine of Siena). Amen.
We are Ivonne Hernandez, Rick Hernandez and Laura Worhacz, Lay Associates of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, and brothers and sisters in Christ.