We often speak about the beautiful gift that is to have a good father and mother. Having good parents can make a big difference in any child’s life, for we know that a good parent will listen in acknowledgment of our dignity and provide us with guidance as required. A good parent will support, correct, praise, and admonish as needed, and set rules and boundaries that ensure our safety. The goal of the good parent is to establish a loving environment where they can share of their love, experience, and wisdom. A good parent is indeed a treasure.
We know very well that we have not all been blessed with great parents, and I pray for all of us who are, in reality, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual orphans. We pray for a parental figure to care for us, help us, and nurture in us that which is needed for us to develop rightly. Sometimes we get to select who is that person in our lives, but sometimes the person selects us.
And it is a blessing to have not only those parental figures who nurture our physical and mental well-being, but also spiritual parents who nurture our spiritual well-being. Some of our spiritual parents are here on earth, and some watch over us from Heaven.
Every February 4th, the Eymardian family (Sacramentinos) celebrates the birthday of our founder, Saint Peter Julian Eymard. He is known to the world as the Apostle of the Eucharist, but for us, Eymardians, we know him as our spiritual father.
What is a spiritual father? The Catholic Dictionary defines a Spiritual Father as “one who counsels and directs a person in the spiritual life. It is generally a priest, the spiritual father is often designated by ecclesiastical authority to guide the members of a religious community or confraternity, students for the priesthood, or in general, persons specially dedicated to Christian perfection or the Church’s apostolate.”
A spiritual father listens in acknowledgment, provides guidance as required, and supports and corrects. Through our spiritual father’s lessons, we are taught how to grow in the spiritual life. As I read through the writings of Father Eymard, I often imagine myself sitting by his side and asking for his guidance in a quiet conversation...
Me: “Father Eymard, tell me. Am I personally loved by God?”
Me: “Father Eymard, tell me. How can I recognize God?”
Me: “Father Eymard, I get so tired and become burdened by life. Most of the time I do not know what to do. How do I grow my spiritual life?”
Me: “Father Eymard, all that you are saying sounds quite difficult.”
Let us learn from the many lessons Saint Peter Julian Eymard shares and grow, that we may fulfill our call to a well-developed spiritual life. Let us live a rich Eucharistic life steeped in thanksgiving for all our Lord Jesus has done for us. May we all grow to emulate Saint Peter Julian Eymard and become spiritual fathers [mothers] to those in need of our love and guidance.
Let us pray: Our Lord, Jesus Christ. We thank you for your loving gift of self in the Eucharist. Thank you for giving us Saint Peter Julian Eymard to help guide us to you. Father Eymard, thank you for your heroic gift of self, the lessons on recognizing Christ Eucharistic, and the advice on how to live the Eucharistic life. May all your spiritual children help bring about a Eucharistic revival. That the heart of our Lord Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored, and loved with grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time. Amen.
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
This past week my husband found out on Facebook that a second cousin from Upstate NY was in a severe car accident and in ICU. We called his wife to extend our concern. We hung up the phone as if we received a spiritual “pep talk” after hearing, “God has a plan, and we will learn from this. So many have come to bring me food and comfort; I do not know how people live without God; Jesus is with us holding our hands through this trial; we are strong in God and will get through. Our parish priest and community are with us...” We received this message from our cousin in a genuine, joyful tone. A faithful heart amid suffering came from a dedicated sacramental life—a life that lives for God, one’s own family, and community—responsibly stewarding the privilege to be in Christ Jesus through the heart of Mary.
We called our cousin to extend our love and received a loving, faithful heart of hope and gratitude in return.
It is beautiful to witness the love of God found in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
For sure, we are baptized into our eternal reality. The Eucharist is our hope to be purified into the Sacramental grace, our doorway of hope in the midst of suffering. In the above excerpt, we hear the words of Saint Peter Julian advising us, to be totally given to Jesus. To be love, burning with zeal, like fire in a heart that longs to return love for love.
It seems like an eternity from one Daily Mass to the next. Prayer reminds us of the Liturgy and the Eucharist we have received. In this pattern of prayer with Mary, we remain faithful to be totally given to God.
We are weeks away from another Lenten Season. We have time in ordinary time to listen to the voice of God in his Word to prepare for another desert experience. As we open our hearts, let us be elevated with the Sacred Host; raise our hearts to see Heaven now. By death, we find life anew and a doorway of grace to what has been hidden in our hearts.
Our hearts beat with the Sacred Host by the Incarnate life, and we are called out of ourselves daily to let Jesus be known through our existence. The scriptures this past week remind us of conversion, the conversion of St. Paul and his fatherly care to St. Timothy and St. Titus. It brought to mind so many who have ministered to me to learn the teaching of our Catholic faith. The greatest gift I have ever received was finding myself in church, where there was the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament almost 25 years ago. It was then an intimate relationship with Christ through the heart of Mary was found. As Catholics, we are blessed to be in a spiritual conversion forever. Baptized in this life unto the next, purgatory, and please God, the fullness of Heaven.
May all we have found in the mystery of God be professed in every situation, in all we do and speak. Our words are important and may invite another soul to come to know the love of God found in the Holy Eucharist.
By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
It always amazed me how, whenever I was pregnant, whether I was walking down the street, shopping at the mall, or going to Mass on Sunday… no matter where I went, there seemed to be pregnant women everywhere. It is like being pregnant gave me a special radar to hone in on those who were in the same boat as me. We would notice each other and share a smile that said, “Hang in there… I see you. I see your pain, your sacrifice, your love. I see the difficulties you are dealing with in a world that refuses to make room for you and the child inside you, a world that values productivity and speed as you slow down. Hang in there, my friend; you are not alone.” The rest of the time, which has been the majority of my life, I am sure many pregnant women have walked by without me noticing, without me seeing them… without a glance of love to acknowledge their plight. When I’ve done this, I have sinned in what I have failed to do, “through my fault, through my fault, through my own grievous fault….”
Sins of omission are very difficult to deal with, and we should put in extra effort to identify them, lest we compound the omission by omitting to look for them. Acknowledging the limitations of our human nature, we must put checks and balances in place to help us cover all our bases… especially the areas most prone to neglect. The call to love our neighbor requires this; we must not delay. God does not ask the impossible of us. He has given us to one another to help “cover our six.” Just like a pregnant woman has eyes to notice other pregnant women, a person in a wheelchair sees others without mobility. The mother of an autistic child sees her neighbor’s undiagnosed child with empathy. The hard of hearing has more patience with the loudness of the old man standing in line behind him. We can not expect, as individuals, to have eyes that see what is hidden from us; we can only see what we see. But we can choose to see more by actively seeking the company of those different than us.
We must have the courage to expand our view to see all the dimensions of human suffering. What stops us from doing this? A phrase in Spanish comes to mind… “ojos que no ven, corazon que no siente,” which translates to “eyes that don’t see, heart that doesn’t feel”…or… “what you don’t know, can’t hurt you.” If we are already suffering, looking to our neighbor in a similar situation brings us comfort; we know we are not alone. But seeking to see suffering we are not going through ourselves right now? That requires courage; that requires love. It requires the courage to be willing to be moved with compassion, to be moved to action fueled by love. Once we see, we can not say we did not know. Once we see, we can not ignore anymore.
One day, as I walked out of a store with my cane, a young man held the door for me and offered to help me with my bags. I gratefully accepted, and we talked as he pushed my shopping cart toward my car. He asked me what was wrong with me; why did I need a cane to walk? After I told him, he shared that his mom also has an illness that makes it difficult for her to walk. He didn’t know that not long before he showed up, I was feeling frustrated that this store did not have an automatic door, nor did it have attendants to help me. I was already tired from shopping and now needed to exert more effort to get my stuff to the car. God heard my cry, and he called the young man. If this man had not experienced his mother’s suffering, he might have walked on by without noticing I was tired, for my suffering was not evident to all. It is not like I had fallen on the ground; almost everyone would leap to help in that circumstance. No, my physical and mental pain was hidden from most. His mom’s illness had been the instrument God used to open this man’s eyes and heart to see me this day, to help me and bring joy and light to my day.
Why does a good God allow suffering? I might not know the full answer, but I know that on that day when I was walking out of a store, the suffering of the young man’s mother and my own worked together to bring greater glory to God. When we look at the Cross, we see what is required of love. Let us open our eyes and expand our worldview. Let us not be afraid of allowing the suffering of others to break our hearts, for Christ is ready to heal and strengthen us, to then use us in His service… to help us bring sight to the blind and bring comfort to the afflicted.