By: Laura Worhacz
“Jesus in the Sacrament lives the same life of love which consumed Him in the days of His mortal life. Mary united with Jesus in prayer, adding thereto the exercise and the merit of the virtues that our Lord in His glorified state can no longer actually practice. Mary, moreover, renewed in the Eucharist all the mysteries of the Savior’s mortal life, perpetuating and renewing her gratitude with ever-increasing fervor.” Saint Peter Julian Eymard (Eymard Library, Volume 7, page 155)
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
We are living a pandemic outbreak of the COVID-19 virus; the death and suffering we are witnessing is beyond our understanding. Our sacramental lives are suspended, yet Jesus is not suspended. Our Baptism births us into the Mystical Body of Christ, and our existence is securely held within the Body of our LORD. The Body of Christ is nourished by the heart of Christ feeding His people. We do this by the Communion we receive, however, during this time, Jesus is feeding us by His beating heart. We are given life by this heart, and the Eucharistic fire of God’s love finds its way to live. In the depths of our souls, in the quiet of our interior, Our Father has created us in His love.
In the above excerpt we read Jesus lives in the Sacrament in the same love of His mortal life. Mary affixed her existence to this love through prayer. Our Eucharistic lives renew the mysteries of Jesus’ life on earth. Our love for one another is not bound by the suspension of Mass; it is exemplified in a Communion of love that begins with our prayer, union with God like our Mother teaches us. This is reflected in the way we live our everyday lives. There is no suspension of love. Our Eucharistic nourishment at this time is found in what we give away to every person in our lives in the way of self-giving. The Mystical Body of Christ is alive and well in its members. Jesus’ beating heart feeds our life’s breath.
Take some time to sit in the silence; call upon the Holy Spirit to be with you. It is in this spirit of love that Jesus’ breath casts a fire on the earth -- the fire of love. Jesus went through the locked doors to give. His love is descended into the depths of our being. There are no evil forces that can stop the force of graces that are cast upon us by our Savior. As we continue to suffer as a Church within the Mystical Body of Christ, let us live in the joy and hope of our Eucharistic Lord. It is there the Kingdom of Heaven exists -- here and now, in our love, in the beating heart of JESUS CHRIST.
By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
“My tears have been my bread day and night, as they ask me every day, ‘Where is your God?’” (Ps 42:4). So much of my devotion has depended on and benefited from the frequent reception of Holy Communion and attendance to daily Mass that the experience of “fasting” from them has been very disorienting. It is almost like if a magnetic field confused my inner compass as my soul searched for His Presence in our midst. I know God is everywhere; I know He dwells in me, yet… What does it mean to be a Eucharistic person when I don’t have access to the Eucharist? This has been the question in my heart.
I remember clearly the last day I received Jesus Sacramental; I knew it would be the last time, at least for a while, and I said goodbye. I thought of Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, “I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father” (Mt 26:29), and I wept. I had the blessing of sitting in Eucharistic Adoration for an hour afterwards, and I begged for the graces I would need during our time apart. I knew he would sustain me, yet I knew it would be hard. For a while I consoled myself in the knowledge that He is always with me, and focused on praying with Scripture and watching live streamed Mass. I joined in spiritual communion and, for a while, I thought I was fine.
The knowledge that the Mass was still being celebrated by priests all around the world, and even in my own backyard, brought much solace, yet the question continued to nag in my heart… What does it mean to be a Eucharistic person when I don’t have access to the Eucharist? What should be different for a Catholic during this time? I thought of Jesus hidden in the bread and wine, and I allowed myself to mourn for what I once had. As tears streamed down my face I felt a longing I did not know I had. “My tears have been my bread day and night…”
The tears become my bread, the longing my life. It is this desire that, watered by the tears of my love, God is allowing to grow inside. I thought of the beautiful “O Antiphon” prayers we pray during Advent, and how God waited patiently for his people’s desire for him to grow. The longing in our hearts expands our capacity to receive his love. Yet our longing is tempered by the knowledge that He is already in our midst and that He is alive in our hearts. So, with that joy we wait patiently, and allow our hearts to be stretched a little more, knowing that the pain in itself is a sign of our love. And ultimately, this is what our call is and has always been, to love.
May our hearts grow in that love as we ponder on His Presence in the Tabernacle, waiting and longing for us. May we quench his thirst for souls by our prayers and service, by our acts of love. May this chalice of suffering we receive from His hands, mingled with our tears, become bread for others. And, “May the Heart of 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 until the end of time. Amen.”
By: Rick Hernandez
One time, during my childhood years, our Bishop declared a pilgrimage of penitence to visit the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Montserrat in Hormigueros, PR. Visiting the Basilica, with its Holy Door opened for all of us, was a grand occasion. From my hometown of Peñuelas, the trip was about 33 miles. I was but a child, but I remember clearly how amazing this was for our community of believers. A large number of people from all over our diocese joined in this march towards the basilica. If you could imagine thousands of people, walking together down the sides of major roads for 14 hours straight, old and young, healthy and sick, people of all colors and shapes, all in a mindful, sorrowful silence, only broken by the praying of the rosary... The group took care of each other; if someone faltered, there were people there to help them carry on. We had buses ready to help the ones that could not walk anymore. Our Bishop walked with us. Our priests walked with us. Religious Sisters and Brothers walked with us. And us, the lay people, rejoiced in the opportunity to do this for the love of our Lord and under the care of our Lady.
I walked the 33 miles with my family, but especially with my maternal grandmother, Rafaela, who held my hand most of the way. Grandma whispered to me for most of the trip, explaining to me what we were doing and why. I remember that my feet hurt and I was so tired, but Grandma kept telling me that it was good to be tired. "You have something to offer now", she said. That "long walk" was my introduction to the concepts of sacrifice, repentance and penance as expressions of love. It is true that penitence was the main purpose of the journey, but I understood clearly that what fueled everything in the end was love. As such, for our penitence to be real, love has to be our offering. Christ's march on the Via Dolorosa, with all its falls, full of pain and humiliation, while carrying the Cross for us, was a gift of love.
Think of the moment Our Lord's journey to Golgotha ended, all that pain and suffering inflicted upon Him. There was nothing else for Christ to give physically, but more was asked of Him, and love compelled. Christ once more summoned the strength to continue, to go through with the Crucifixion, completing then the great work of redemption. We know now that there is no Cross without love. Following His example, we have to be willing to suffer for the ones we love, for the suffering is in fact an offering of love. But then, when we think that we have suffered enough, that we have nothing else to give, more is asked of us, and love compels us once more to dig deep and find what is needed.
After our pilgrimage journey ended at the steep steps of the basilica, my Grandma asked me to join her in completing a traditional penance at the steps to the church. We were to go up the 72 steps, on our knees while praying, intention fully in mind to offer this action for the healing of the world. I thought I could not give more that day. I was tired and just a kid. I had just walked 33 miles and prayed more than I had ever prayed before. How would anyone expect me to also go up these stairs on my knees after all I had already done? But love compels, so up we went, each step on our knees. I had never before felt more elated to have finished a task. That day, many miracles happened, and they happened because of sacrifice and penance, offerings of love.
We are here today, commemorating the long silence of Holy Saturday. This is a day perfectly suited to sacrifice, penance and silence. Let us take the time to meditate upon the great sacrifice of Christ and His gift of love to us on the Cross. Let us bring our own pain and suffering, our crosses, as offerings of love, and unite them to His. May this union transform our hearts, that we may say, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, for in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His body, which is the Church” (Colossians 1:24).
May our Good Lord bless us all. Happy Easter!
By: Laura Worhacz
“He came to earth to manifest His goodness, Let us dwell on it at length when we are at His feet.” - Saint Peter Julian Eymard (Volume 7, page 120)
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
Tomorrow is Passion Sunday. Let’s take a moment to enter deeply into Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. At every celebration of the Eucharist we proclaim, “Hosanna… blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9). During this moment in our Liturgy, for years I have received a grace to close my eyes and see Jesus riding into Jerusalem on an animal, riding into His Passion and Death. Palms waving over Jesus, those present are making a pathway to His Crucifixion. People crying out, begging from the depths of their being to find hope, trust, and the love of God. Holy Week is before us; Jesus weeps, cries out to Our Father, sweats blood. He agonizes looking to see if anyone is awake. He is scourged MERCILESSLY, crowned with thorns, carries the Cross, and dies for the sanctification of our lives. We are called to be made HOLY, “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord…” Now let’s take a moment to enter into our own passion with Jesus.
We are in darkness now, a time in history when the unknown is before us, unprecedented, with the threat of the Corona-virus in our midst. Anxiety and fear have entered so many people’s hearts. Jesus entered Jerusalem knowing it would bring death. Jesus united to Heaven’s love and went through His Passion with His eyes fixed on His Father. Our prayer will keep us affixed to the security of God’s love. As our faith rises through the Cross, let us imagine ourselves standing next to Our Lady and Saint John as the blood and water pour out of our Savior. The RESURRECTION is with us now and forever. The Eucharist is the FLESH of the Son of God and we are His MYSTICAL BODY. As we look at our loved ones and all those whom we encounter, we are in the Eucharist. Our longing to receive the Sacramental species will be nourished by keeping our senses awake through our love for each other. The heart wells up with intense longing to be together again in our Churches. The Holy Spirit pours out the life-giving water we have received at our baptism as we die and rise in God’s will for our eternal salvation.
The deaths and suffering we are witnessing in all of humanity due to the Covid-19 virus are beyond our comprehension and the mystery is in the unknown. It is through our communion of love that we carry the Cross with the joy of the Gospel. A joy that lives in the HOPE of those who BELIEVE that we are blessed to come in the name of the Lord. Hosanna, we adore you O Christ and we Praise You, for by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world!
“What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?” (John 11:45-56)
“I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Thus the nations shall know that it is I, the LORD, who make Israel holy, when my sanctuary shall be set up among them forever.” (Ezekiel: 37:21-28)
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We are Ivonne Hernandez, Rick Hernandez and Laura Worhacz, Lay Associates of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, and brothers and sisters in Christ.