By: Rick Hernandez
Not too long ago I found myself gazing at a bowl of soup. I know that it sounds odd to use the word “gazing” here, but that is what it was. It was no mere “looking” at my bowl, but a real contemplative inspection of the meaning of this food placed in front of me. This was just a normal bowl of soup, yet for me, in those few minutes, it contained both the strength of a thousand memories and an awakened power of recognition. In a flash, I remembered the times when my grandmother fed me as a child. This beautiful and faithful woman cared so much for me. I could not name it at the time, but I can see now how much love she put into the making of those dishes. Now I can see that being included in her thoughts about what to make, validated my dignity, especially as a child. I now remembered the countless times my mother and father fed and cared for me, and how much effort they put into making sure it was something good for me. They wanted me to thrive, to grow into a good and healthy man. There was so much love there, but sadly, mostly unrecognized at the time because of the regularity of the mundane. That day, looking at my soup, I recognized their love, and I was moved to offer a prayer of thanks for them from the deepest part of my heart. So much was given, and given freely. Then I remembered the times that I was sick or lonely and the many that went out of their way to bring me soup. Oh Lord, there was so much love there too! I remember all the times we, my wife and I, fed our children too, and how we aimed to nourish them. Soup is not their thing, but we tried to feed them food that would help them thrive. Yes, there was real thought and intent, a beautiful mindfulness behind the actions. Remembering all this, I could not help but shed a few tears at the table… for I recognized the true love present there.
Our Lord Jesus loves us so much that He left nourishment for us along our way to Heaven. He has left us the recipe for love, which is to share in His bread and wine, the true Flesh and Blood of the Lamb of God, with our brothers and sisters. When we share of this simple, yet majestic banquet, we are united in love to all of His body, the members of the Church. After so many times of doing this, it is true that in our minds it may become part of the regularity of the mundane. We must fight this! Every time we receive our Lord, we are exactly what we are called to be, one with Him who loves us. Each time we receive Him must become a landmark in our lives, a memory to cherish, a treasure of grace to go back to. It is worth of shedding a tear or two. What a grace that is! The gift of tears. The gift of humble recognition. He nourishes us because He loves us! And He is there, ever present, door always open, food always on the table, ready for creating memories of shared time in relationship. Should we not take Him up on the offer?
That day at the table I re-lived so many loving memories that my heart became mush. With tearful eyes I looked at my wife and my children and was overwhelmed with the thought of how many more meals I will get to cook for them or how many more times we will be sharing together at the table. Any table that we share, is now in my heart the table of love, the table of plenty. I remember that just after that experience, I became rabidly hungry, yet I ate mindfully slow, for I wanted to taste the love that we were sharing. Oh, my precious Lord, please do not ever let me forget the taste of your Love!
Let us pray: Our most loving Lord, you are the God of Plenty, the God of Love. Let us share of your banquet and satiate our hunger for You. Helps us to share You with everyone at our table. Amen.
By: Laura Worhacz
“If we could have seen in spirit the birth of Mary, have seen this sun coming up out of the ocean of God’s love!” - Saint Peter Julian Eymard (Eymard Library, Vol. 8, page 30)
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
The above quote is so beautiful; it reminded me of so many people who have been in my life to bring me hope, who have exemplified God’s love. People who have helped me behold, hold on to trust in God. I am grateful for each of you who bring others to, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”. How we need to behold God. To affix our existence to His presence. In today’s Gospel Jesus is called CRAZY! He certainly lived out His humanity beholding Heaven, held in His Father’s will. He came to redeem, to bring justice through mercy, and to heal. I imagine, like Mary in the above excerpt, we need to rise out of the water, to keep our soul longing for the eternal through baptism. Like a magnetic force, Mary brings us to the Eucharist. Her example is there for us to follow.
We may seem out of our minds by beholding God, His Word, and the way of the Cross through love. Yet we must and do strive to live for the will of God. Perhaps our Eucharistic lives will be strengthened by our charity. The power of love will attract others. Mary, through the Eucharist, imbued with God’s love, attracts souls looking to be healed. We take hold of her hand. As we go through ordinary time, think of the people in your life that have been an example of faith, those people who have brought us closer to Christ, those who may seem a little crazy for preaching and teaching. May our love draw others to the invitation of God’s Divine Healing. We are stronger together in a Communion of God’s love.
I have been bringing the Eucharist to a lady homebound with an illness. As I was sent from Mass, Father told me to bring a message of hope and let the sick ones know they are loved, that their suffering is seen by God. This message brought joy and a smile, interceding to change an ordinary day into a day beheld by GOD.
The other day I was listening to a podcast with my headphones as I walked into the kitchen to grab a drink. My husband started talking to me, but I didn’t hear him. After I noticed his flailing arms signaling to me, I paused the podcast and removed my headphones. He couldn’t see the ear pods hidden behind my long hair and grew concerned over why I was ignoring him. Imagine if I hadn’t seen his attempts to grab my attention and had gone back to the bedroom… I might have never known he was trying to talk to me. How often do we do that with God? How often are we listening to everyone and everything while not even noticing Him trying to talk to us?
Anyone who has been married for a while knows that it is often the little recurring everyday annoyances that make marriage challenging. Family life presents us with constant opportunities to practice the virtues of patience, kindness, and humility; it is truly a school for souls. And in this school, as well as in any other school, we tend to overcomplicate things and lose sight of the simple truth.
“You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
Only… that means no less, no more. Simple, right? That is always the way it is with God. We are the ones who complicate things. In our efforts to justify our behavior, to accommodate our will, we twist and turn the truth until we are so tied up in knots that we can not tell which direction is up.
In the footnote for this Scripture passage (NABRE) we read:
So yes, this is simple, but it is not easy. We can only do what is required of us when we “walk humbly” with God, when we listen carefully to the revealed will of God. Humility is tied to listening; it tells us which way is up. We are down; God is up. He knows what is best. And He reveals His will to us… if we only listen.
I was thinking of the example of the Holy Family and how they listened to God. We know we have in Mary an example of perfect humility, of perfect receptivity to the will of God. There was no obstacle between her and the message of the angel. And, as much as I want to be like her, I know there are still many obstacles in my heart that make it difficult sometimes for me to listen. So I also look at Joseph, who had his own plans for how to solve a difficult situation. God waited until he was asleep to speak to him. I don’t think it is a coincidence that in times of worry and anxiety the first thing to go is a good night’s sleep.
“It is in vain for you to rise early and put off your rest at night, To eat bread earned by hard toil—all this God gives to his beloved in sleep.” (Psalm 127:2)
What if instead of trying to find a solution to every problem on my own I would give Jesus my burdens and let Him be my God? What would happen if I shut down the noise of the world and open my ears to Him? Perhaps I would find it easier to “do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with my God”.
By: Rick Hernandez
January 6th is the traditional day for the celebration of the Feast of The Epiphany. This feast is celebrated all over the world with many different customs and traditions, some of which are as big as the traditions of Christmas. But we know that what is really important in a tradition is not the celebration itself but the great wisdom within.
The word “epiphany” is defined in the dictionary as:
A revealing scene? Picture the Holy Family in the manger. We recognize the scene immediately but, do we recognize its essential nature and meaning?
The early Church Fathers had much to say about our early Church’s customs and traditions. They speak of the “Epiphanies”, three in total. These three famous gospel scenes are: The Visitation of the Magi, The Baptism of Our Lord in the River Jordan and The Miracle at the Wedding Feast at Cana. These scenes are so easily recognized by the faithful, but we have to dig deeper to get to their essential nature and meaning. What do we recognize? What do we testify to?
The first and most commonly recognized Epiphany scene is The Visitation of the Magi. For us Eucharistic people, we can identify this scene as one of the first two public adorations of the Christ Jesus. It is written that the local shepherds, after being told by an angel, went to visit the manger and recognized the Christ Jesus. “Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them” (Luke 2:16-20). Then the Magi arrived and from their recognition they “prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:1-12). Do we recognize our Lord, ever-present in our lives? Our Lord’s presence in the Eucharist is as real as the Child Jesus on that manger so long ago. When we prostrate ourselves, what is our offering?
The second Epiphany scene is The Baptism of our Lord in the River Jordan. This feast day, in the Roman Catholic Church is celebrated the Sunday after January 6th. This day traditionally marks the end of the Christmas liturgical season. In this scene we encounter Saint John the Baptist, practicing the baptism of water, also called the baptism of repentance. John preaches, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16). Then our Lord walks by the river and humbly asks to be baptized. After His baptism, the whole of the Holy Trinity is present, revealed for us to see, “…and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’” (Mark 3:16-17). Do we recognize our Lord Jesus guiding us by example into being initiated into the faith? Out of this recognition we receive a desire for initiation, for us and for our children. Are we aware of the Holy Trinity working in our lives? Do we acknowledge that perfect union, that perfect love? For those of us already initiated into the faith by the Sacrament of Baptism, we are invited to meditate upon this gift of Faith.
The third Epiphany scene is The Wedding Feast at Cana, the first public miracle of our Lord. It is traditionally celebrated on the second Sunday after The Epiphany. In this scene, our Mother Mary tells Jesus “…They have no wine” (John 2:3). Our Lord Jesus is moved into action by His love for His mother, Mary, and performs His first “sign”, turning water into wine. Thus, by His blessing, marriage is confirmed as a sacrament. Our Lord “Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him” (John 2:11). His disciples already recognized the Christ Jesus from their earlier experiences, but like us, needed a reinforcement, a confirmation of what was already professed. Our Lord Jesus performed this sign, in public, because of love. The disciples could not be anything other than convicted in their hearts. Looking and meditating upon this scene, we are invited to confirm our faith. We see love, obedience, humility, truth and awe. It is the gift of recognition. Our Lord is exactly who He says He is.
Saint Peter Julian Eymard wrote long ago: “Look at Magdalene: one word from Jesus and she recognizes Him. He acts in the same way in the Blessed Sacrament: He says one word only but it rings in our very hearts: “It is I!….” We sense His Presence; we believe in it more firmly than if we were to see Him with bodily eyes.”
The “Epiphanies period” is for us an opportunity to work on our recognition skills. We recognize Christ; we confirm our initiation into His Faith and His Church. For all the talk about epiphanies, what we have to do first is to keep our eyes and hearts open to Him. We need to be convicted in His love for us, for He is here now, waiting for us to do that. It is all the “Theophany”, meaning: the manifestation of our God, both Human and Divine. He is here, present for us to recognize, waiting... “Oh, let us come and adore Him” (Psalm 95:6).
Let us pray: Lord, open our eyes so we can see. Convict our hearts in Your Love. Amen.
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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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