By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
In a letter to Mme Tholin-Bost, dated October 22, 1851, St. Peter Julian Eymard writes:
St. Peter Julian wrote about this “universal indifference taking hold of many Catholics” back in 1851, which he described as happening “in a frightening way”. I wonder what words he would choose to describe the level of indifference we see today. Yet, as tempting as it is for me to look out and see how “other people” are suffering from this indifference, the call is always to look within. Is there any part of me that has grown numb to the suffering of another? Is there any part of me that is choosing not to love?
Once I heard someone say that they were not going to visit a loved one who was dying because they didn’t want to remember them that way. They didn’t want to deal with the reality of suffering, the reality of death. Visiting the sick is a challenging act of mercy. It requires something of us. When you truly look in the eyes of someone when they are suffering, you cannot be indifferent. Once you open your eyes and look with love, their suffering becomes yours. “Of you my heart has spoken, Seek his face. It is your face, O Lord, that I seek; hide not your face from me” (Psalm 26:8-9). He does not hide His face from us, it is us who choose to turn away when that looks brings us pain.
We are in the season of Lent, a time when we are invited to be transformed, to change. Fasting, prayer, and almsgiving awaken our dulled senses to the reality around us, lifting the veil of indifference that keeps us separate from one another. When we first hear that the remedy for the universal indifference is love for Jesus Eucharistic, some might wonder how this might be. What does receiving the Eucharist or spending time in Eucharistic Adoration have to do with caring for the suffering or tending to the poor? Everything! When you fall in love with Jesus in the Eucharist, you will then recognize Him anywhere, especially in the face of the poor, the suffering, the lonely. These are the faces that most resemble Him while hanging on the Cross. It is when we look in those eyes that we hear Him say, “Turn to me and be safe, …for I am God; there is no other!” (Isaiah 45:22). When we look with love into the eyes of suffering, His face might be disfigured, but “faith will tell us Christ is present when our human senses fail” (Tantum Ergo).
Love always seeks to give itself, and Jesus is the great multiplier. An hour adoring Him in the chapel will be multiplied into many hours serving Him in the world. It is then that the fire that He kindled in our hearts will spread and “enkindle the whole world” (Luke 12:49). So let us take this opportunity of grace to look honestly and ask which parts of our hearts have grown cold and need kindling. And then let us turn…turn to Him and listen… “Listen to Him” (Mark 9:7). “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
By: Rick Hernandez
A couple of days ago, as I was contemplating the meaning of the Lenten season, I felt inspired to look up the etymology of the word “season”. This is what I found:
When I think of the “sower”, I can’t help but picture our Lord Jesus Christ. From times immemorial, the sower spreads the seed all over the land, each seed landing in a different spot. The time and place mean opportunity to the seed. It is in that present moment that the seed can take hold of the ground and get nourishment, making the most of the opportunity. If it does this, it will thrive. If the seed does not grab hold of the opportunity, it will perish.
So, how are we like seeds? What does it mean for us to have opportunity? Christ Jesus is the Divine Sower; we are his seeds. Our Lord, in His great love and wisdom has given us both a time and a place so that we sprout and live fruitfully. That time is now and the place is here. Lent is our reminder of that. Lent is our season, our time of opportunity, our time to do His work. Maybe this Lent, we will all be a people of the “season”. Together let us pray.
For our sake, Lord, You created all that is seen and unseen. For our sake You became incarnate, lived amongst us, taught the many, loved us all, and showed us how to live. For us and for our salvation You died on the cross. For our sake You also resurrected on the third day, opened the gates of Heaven. For our sake You fulfilled all of scripture, promises made out of love. For our sake, Lord, You became humble bread and wine, body and blood, the Paschal Lamb. Out of love You became the Food for Eternal life, the nourishment for the journey home. From Your perfect sacrifice, the most perfect gift to the Father, You redeemed us, poor sinners.
Lord, You atoning for our sin? We do not deserve that, yet You willed it; such is Your love. You have done so much… and just what is it that You ask of us? Love and faithfulness. You ask that we take this life You have given to us and use it for good, that we do not turn away our eyes from those in need, those that You love. You ask that we reach out our hands, that through them You may soothe the pain of the ones who suffer; that we may teach the ignorant, accompany the lonely, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, share with the poor, love the unloved, visit the jailed, and tend to the sick. You are asking us to care… that the work of these human hands now be as the work You do on this world with Your very hands, that it may leave a real mark in the lives of the many, that it may show them exactly who You are.
You ask that mercy and compassion be given to our brothers and sisters. You ask that we might see them through Your eyes, to see them with Your love. In this time we have now on this Earth, we are but preparing to go home to Heaven. Lord, we do hope that when we show up to the gates of Heaven, we do so in the company of all our brothers and sisters that we tended to in this life. Oh Lord, how much we desire to share of Your infinite light and Your all-encompassing love, all of us together!
It is not too much to ask of us, Lord. Please, grant us the strength to do Your work with a joyful heart, that we may glorify You always and in everything, forever Yours. Amen.
By: Laura Catherine Worhacz
“Saint Joseph endured them (sorrows) in silence, humility, and love, neither having nor desiring any human consolation. He suffered, not for himself, but for Jesus, for Mary, for the world, for us. Blessed suffering that united him to the redemptive work of the Savior.” - Saint Peter Julian Eymard (Eymard Library, Volume 8, page 80)
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
In this year of Saint Joseph, we look to him for all God has blessed him with in his relationship to Jesus in the way of grace. Ash Wednesday is a few days away, our entrance into the desert with Jesus. It is a time for us to long to grow in and learn the wisdom of God. Our docility to the Holy Spirit, the embrace of the Cross and the sorrows of life, form us into the mystery of salvation. We suffer, “Resist him and be firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering” (1 Peter 5: 9).
The reality of suffering, united to the redemptive work of the Savior, transforms everything into an offering of love. This is how Saint Joseph lived in love of the Son of God, in his love for the Mother of God, Mary, and his love for the mystery he lived. Much came to Saint Joseph in a dream!
There is much suffering. Our prayer list grows daily for the sick, the suffering, the dying. The pain is real and consolation is so far for many who are swept over with loss. Saint Joseph teaches us how to endure suffering in silence and humility, and for the love of Jesus. Enduring suffering, to embrace the Cross in this way will bring us to our resurrected life now through the Eucharist. Let us take some time to pray in the silence and go to the place that may be hidden in the depths, perhaps to a place that has been ignored rather than endured. A good cry and acceptance, offering to God all that you hold will both behold and endure the present sorrows. And like Saint Joseph it will allow us to be for the world an offering of praise to our Father in Heaven.
There is a phrase my mother always says at the end of a difficult day: “Tomorrow will be another day.” She said that to me last night. Yesterday was one of those days when you feel like you’ve been bopped around nonstop, when you feel like your strength and your sanity are hanging on by a very thin thread. It was one of those days when you’ve been praying nonstop, yet you do not know if you have been heard. And then the day comes to an end, and you hear your mother say… "tomorrow will be another day" …sigh …and you allow yourself to exhale…
“Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil” (Matthew 6:34). “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Sufficient…enough…His grace is enough for me. His grace is enough to deal with today’s evil, but not yet for tomorrow’s. When we worry about tomorrow, we are biting more than we can chew. When we try to run ahead of grace, when we try to do it on our own, sooner or later, we will always fall. But sometimes we will catch ourselves and will notice the small thin thread we are holding on to. And then we look closer, and we realize it is Him who is holding on to us. “Even there your hand guides me, your right hand holds me fast” (Psalm 139:10). It is then we remember…that thin thread of grace is enough. It’s the hem of His garment, “the tassel on his cloak” (Matthew 9:21). “Jesus turned around and saw her, and said, 'Courage daughter! Your faith has saved you'” (v.22).
Jesus saw her…just as He sees each one of us. He sees our efforts and our failures; He sees our perseverance; He sees our faith and our love. At the end of the day I allow myself to exhale because if there is another day, I can also trust there will be another breath. As the breath leaves my lungs I surrender, and without words my soul joins the Church as she sings each night the Nunc Dimittis, the Song of Simeon (Luke 2:29-32):
“Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled. My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.”
I’ve always found this prayer to be a balm for my weary soul. Just like the words from my mother, they carry within them the gift of hope… hope for a new day, hope in God. This is the mark of a Christian, for can you imagine a Christian without hope? Whether we see it here on earth or we see it from Heaven above… Tomorrow will be another day, and we trust tomorrow is also covered in God’s love.
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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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