By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
“What has God been doing this past month?” – This is how my Spiritual Director opens our time together each month. The first time he asked me that, I literally felt a shift in my mind. I had made a list in my mind of things I wanted to discuss, but none of those would answer that question. I realized that my mind had been occupied with things that I was struggling with; I was paying more attention to the things that I had been doing, and to things the devil had been doing, than to God himself. I began to ask myself this question often, sometimes more than once a day. What I discovered was that the more I sought, the more I saw.
And what did I see? What do I see? I see that every time I struggle with something, it is an opportunity God is giving me to set me free. That every time I allow (fill in the blank) to take away my peace, to gain access to my mind and heart, God is right there showing me that I am free to choose Him instead. That when I hold to the things that eternally endure, I am holding on to Him. And, when I am holding on to Him, there is nothing I shall want, nothing I shall fear. (Ps 23)
“For you have given your children a sacred time
for the renewing and purifying of their hearts,
that, freed from disordered affections,
they may so deal with the things of this passing world
as to hold rather to the things that eternally endure.” (Preface II of Lent)
“My tears have been my bread day and night, as they ask me every day, ‘Where is your God?’” (Ps 42:4). This process of renewing and purifying of our hearts is not painless, but it is a good kind of pain. It is like when a tight muscle gets massaged by a skilled therapist…it hurts, but in a way that leads to healing, not to brokenness. God is the same today as He was yesterday, and He is loving us through every circumstance. His love and mercy are everlasting, and that is where we place our trust.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4:8). When the world clamors for your attention, and the enemy thinks he’s winning, just look up and see the one who is beholding you and ask yourself: What has God been doing? “See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Is 43:19)
By: Rick Hernandez
“…any superior to whom God has given authority over you stands in the place of God: “Whoever listens to you listens to me” (cf. Lk 10:16). Whenever you perform any deed out of obedience, you are fulfilling God’s will. Direct your obedience to God himself, who is listening. Since you cannot see him, you act out of faith in the authority that he has given; and this makes your obedience meritorious. Your obedience is not merely to the person who commands, who is nothing more than an instrument, but to the very authority this person wields.” - St. Peter Julian Eymard
Once a cherub of God, Lucifer, the “bearer of light”, was himself “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12). More perfect that any other created being, Lucifer thought himself wiser than all, and that pride corrupted his wisdom (Ezekiel 28:17). From that corruption, Lucifer rebelled against God, his creator and the one that had his best interest at heart. Lucifer was disobedient to God, thus becoming Satan (a name that means “Adversary”). Lucifer’s disobedience cost him Heaven.
"Pride is the commencement of all sin… and the beginning of pride is when a man departs from God." (Saint Augustine’s commentary on Ecclesiastes 12).
How many times do we think that we “know better” when figures of authority (bosses, leaders, parents, priests) tell us to do something? Or when we receive advice? Or when we are admonished? As with Lucifer, we think we know better but really, how often do we end up with peace from our own machinations and planning? Yet, our worldly wisdom feeds our pride and our pride feeds our rebelliousness. But God is not asking us for rebelliousness, he is asking us for faithfulness and obedience…
“Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17).
Our leaders are to be just, for they are responsible for us. We have to pray for an increase in humility, so that as we grow in wisdom, we can also fend off the arrogance of pride and be good, faithful followers. When we do this, we surrender to our Lord’s Divine Will, and His perfect plan for our good.
“The more we see that any action springs not from the motive of obedience, the more evident is it that it is a temptation of the enemy; for when God sends an inspiration, the very first effect of it is to infuse a spirit of docility.” - Teresa of Avila
Today, as the world is embroiled with the coronavirus pandemic, our leaders, both civil and Ecclesial, are asking us to make sacrifices, to let go of most of our comforts for the good of the whole. We may be tempted to criticize and vent our frustrations instead of lifting up our brethren trough our actions and words.
Let’s take a little time today to look inwards towards our intentions and identify all our prideful and selfish matters. Let’s pray that we can, with the help of God, remove those imperfections. As Saint Teresa of Avila said, let’s pray for humility and docility. Let’s also pray for our Church, our lay people, our brothers and sisters in religious orders, our deacons, our priests, our bishops and our Pope. For all of us, in that order, have increasing responsibility for the rest of us. Let’s surrender our will to our Father’s Divine Will, which only desires what is best for us; for in that obedience that we owe Him and his Church, our Lord takes full responsibility for us. For “If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him” (Romans 6:8). Remember always that “If God is for us, then who is against us?” (Romans 8:31). Praying for all of us. May our ever-loving Lord grant us peace.
By: Laura Worhacz
Genuine progress: You say that you are not improving? Know that genuine progress consists in doing God’s holy will, in forever plucking up one’s courage, in rising after every fall, and in always saying, “I’ll do better.” - Saint Peter Julian Eymard (Eymard Library, Volume 6, page 239)
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
“Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48) Here again we find an invitation from Jesus to enter into His holy life, “be perfect”. In opposition to these words lives a force that is constantly trying to vacuum us into winds of destruction, yet there is a mounting reality that comes from the Altar of God, a place to secure our souls in the Holy Eucharist.
This Lenten season I asked Jesus to refresh my love for Him. Jesus prayed; He prayed to transmit LIFE from Our Father’s creative love. Jesus’ perfection was formed in His Triune existence. Mary, our mother, was incarnated into this holy place. She lived in the Trinity and espoused herself to the Holy Spirit; her perfections were enabled by this gift. The interior consent to Our Father’s love enfolds us into His gracious will. Our choices to freely love flow out of our reception of Communion. Our trust and security in God’s love will be nourished in our prayer time.
In my younger years I remember a time in life when I felt very far from perfect. God seemed far away. I knew He was in existence yet could not touch Him. The pure gift we have in the Blessed Sacrament and our grace to know Jesus in this intimate way brings God’s love to us. My imperfections are made ever more present to me now, yet the gift embraced in the Eucharist enables us to take courage.
Saint Peter Julian was proclaimed at his canonization to be “An Outstanding Apostle of the Eucharist”. He lived in the gift of God’s perfections, God’s life, love, and gift of His Son in the Blessed Sacrament. Saint Peter Julian’s counsel to remain in God’s holy will, to take courage and rise when we fall seem like a perfect reminder during this holy season of Lent. May Jesus make us His holy people, those who strive to be perfect by loving Him ever more -- PERFECT by serving Jesus and thanking Him for His Passionate death that has granted us eternal life.
By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
“Love makes burdens lighter, because you divide them. It makes joys more intense, because you share them.” - Anonymous
“Love makes burdens lighter…” I recall a time when my husband had received an abnormal test result, and we were facing the possibility that he had cancer. As we prayed and waited for a series of follow-up tests, we shared the news with some close friends, so they could pray for us too. We were with our friends the day we received the good news that there was no cancer after all, and the wife immediately praised God and started to cry. The relief they were expressing was bigger than even our own. They proceeded to share how they prayed every night as a family for Rick’s health, and how they cried sometimes at night when they thought of what we were going through. What was amazing to me was that, during the whole ordeal, Rick and I had experienced a peace we could not explain. We both had a sense of trust and resignation, knowing that whatever the outcome, we would be ok. When our friends shared their story with us we realized what had happened. They had literally carried our burden for us. “Love makes burdens lighter, because you divide them.”
“Love makes joys more intense…” Those of you who have been following our blog for a while are aware that last November our dear friend Ray, Laura’s husband, received a long-awaited liver transplant. Talk about an occasion where we were carrying each other’s burdens! I can not begin to imagine the weight of the cross Ray and Laura were called to carry during this time, but it must have been really heavy, because so many of us felt the need to carry a piece of it in our hearts. We were with Laura the day she received the call that a liver had been found for Ray and God had answered our prayers. We were about to begin a day of retreat with the Associates of the Blessed Sacrament (in Florida) when she received the call and was told she had to rush to the airport to meet Ray in the hospital in New York City. She went up to the podium and shared the news with our community of Associates, who had been faithfully and relentlessly praying for a miracle… “Ray got a liver!” The burst of absolute joy that enveloped that room was the closest I have been to experiencing what I think Pentecost might have felt like for the Apostles in the Upper Room. There were tears of joy, hugs, and a love so palpable that we could not stop talking about it and praising God long after Laura left for the airport. One of the priests said later, “we will not forget this moment for a long time.” … “Love makes joys more intense, because you share them.”
Our lives are meant to be shared, lived in community with others. This is what it means to live a life centered around the Eucharist. Our whole lives become the bread that is blessed, broken and shared. It is in the sharing of the cross that we find a participation in the joy to come. It was only through walking with others in their pain and suffering that we were able to fully participate in the joy of their restoration. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). Yet it is much easier to be the one helping carry the burden of another, than being the one who needs to ask for help.
I find it interesting that when we hear the phrase “be Christ to others”, we usually think of being the one serving, like Jesus did on Holy Thursday, when He washed the disciple’s feet. (Jn 13:1-20) We are happy to be the one helping others carry their cross. We make a meal for a friend who is sick; we lend a shoulder or a listening ear for someone who is lonely. And this is good, very good indeed. We are not only called, but required to performs acts of mercy like these, but for you to be able to give, someone has to be willing to receive.
Jesus was also the one who needed Simon of Cyrene to help Him carry His Cross. (Lk 23:26) He was the one crucified, vulnerable, naked, the one who cried out “I thirst”. (Jn 19:28) We can’t choose to be Jesus on Holy Thursday and say no to being Jesus on Good Friday. If we truly want to be imitators of Christ, furthermore, if we are to become what we eat, we must allow ourselves to be broken for others… For it is in when we let others walk with us that we “fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2) “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13). So next time we feel tempted to be self-reliant, let us remember that to be God-reliant is to see Jesus in those around us. Let us ask for the grace to have the humility to accept that today might be our turn to have someone wash our feet, to allow someone to share their love.
We are Ivonne Hernandez, Rick Hernandez and Laura Worhacz, Lay Associates of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, and brothers and sisters in Christ.