By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
Just like you can catch more flies with honey, you can change more hearts with kindness. I once watched a video that showed different people in a hospital lobby. As they walked in and out of the elevator and greeted each other with a smile, a caption would come up and reveal to the viewer the hidden struggle in their hearts. One had just received a cancer diagnosis; one had just lost a child. One after the other, they each carried a burden invisible to others’ eyes. The message of the video was, “You never know what someone is going through. Be kind.” Being kind is not always easy but it is always right. But the kindness I am speaking about is much more than simply “being nice”; it is one of the attributes of the Spirit of God, “Love is patient, love is kind” (1 Cor 13:4).
I find it easier to be kind when I either have a pretty good idea of what someone is going through because I’ve gone through something similar, or when I have no idea at all of what they are going through and allow myself to give them the “benefit of the doubt”. I find it hardest to be kind when I know “some” of what they are going through. When I know just enough to form an opinion, but not enough to truly empathize. And if I think their choices will end up negatively affecting me, then I find it even harder to be kind. The choices of others affect us. “If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy” (1 Cor 12:26). It can be unnerving when we see others taking actions that might negatively affect us, yet we are still called to be kind.
Kindness is intimately connected to mercy. You can’t have kindness without mercy, and you can’t have mercy without love. These actions come from the love of God and move towards love of neighbor, fulfilling then the law of love. So, kindness is not merely being nice for our own benefit, or to avoid conflict, but it is necessarily focused on the other. It is sharing with another the very love of God. A truly kind gesture or word has the power to change another’s life, to be a light shining in the dark. It is through our own prayer that this light will shine. As we take the time to nurture our relationship with God and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, His fruit will grow in us. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). It is then we will have the grace to be truly kind.
By: Rick Hernandez
We are imperfect. We err often. We make mistakes. This is absolutely an intrinsic part of the human existence, and it is a fact that our mistakes help pave the road of our experience. It is in our human imperfection, in this human limitation that we live in, that Christ calls us to greater heights. "Be perfect, just as your Heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). Christ directly states what is the goal. The goal is perfection. But what does perfection mean? What is Christ really asking us to be?
We are never going to be perfect, not in the meaning of the word we use today. The original Greek word used in the Gospel of Matthew is "teleioi", which comes from the word "telos", meaning "to be complete" or "to achieve its end". We are imperfect, yet we can work towards fulfilling our purpose and achieving our end, thus reaching for that completeness that we are called to seek.
Thomas Aquinas asserts the following correspondences between the seven Capital Virtues and the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit:
How pure is the love of the Father, that allows us to make our mistakes, yet offers loving guidance towards the right way for us? The road is forward towards the way of growth, the way of experience. Experience allow us to grow in our wisdom and understanding. This understanding allows us then to work diligently towards our completion, towards fulfilling our purpose, and our purpose is to completely unite ourselves with our Lord, to be like Christ, to make it to Heaven. "I have called you by your name: you are mine" (Isaiah 43:1). He calls us, just as we are. He claims us, for He knows exactly who we are. He waits for us, for He knows both our time and our path.
The host that the priest consecrates during Mass is but a piece of bread before the Consecration takes place. It is an imperfect object, but after the Consecration, that imperfect host becomes the Body of our Lord, becomes perfect. This perfection cannot be seen with human eyes but we both know and feel its perfection, for it is Jesus Eucharistic, fulfilling His purpose, showing us the end of the work of Redemption, perfect, complete. In the humble Eucharist we receive His perfect gifts: perfect love, perfect faith, perfect hope.
We are called to achieve our end, to fulfill our purpose, and it is the virtue of Hope that allows us to continue moving forward. Imperfect, incomplete as we are, we can ask God to perfect our charity to be just like His. We can ask God to perfect our faith in Him who is faithful. We can ask God to perfect our hope, that we may draw closer to our goal. Our love convicts us. Our faith emboldens us. Our hope encourages us. Imperfectly perfect we are called to be.
This week, as we are praying the Novena of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost), let's take time to meditate on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, that we may grow towards our call to "telos" (perfection), which is only attainable with God's help. We pray to the Holy Spirit to move us, that His will for us be done, that we may "be perfect, just as your Heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).
By: Laura Worhacz
“She ascended Calvary with Jesus, to die with Him; she came down therefrom with the beloved disciple … Later, she would conduct them to the Eucharistic Cenacle, there to begin her Christian maternity at the foot of the Divine Sacrament.” - Saint Peter Julian Eymard (Eymard Library, Volume 7, page 96)
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
We are blessed to have a mother through Our Lady’s Christian maternity. By Mary receiving the flesh of Christ at the announcement of Gabriel and birthing Jesus into the world, her maternity begins. Mary takes us as mother; she conceived us in the death of Christ; she rose with Jesus to continue to live her divine maternity.
Through the pandemic outbreak of the coronavirus I have been intensely thinking about the Eucharistic life, especially the daily adorers and communicants since the suspension of Mass. Jesus is with us in His promise to be with us to the consummation of the world. (Matt 28:20). So where is the Lord if we are suspended from the Eucharist? It seems the grace Mary received in her espousal to the Holy Spirit is the same grace we will receive through the life of the Holy Spirit in us. We are one with God; the Holy Spirit enables life in the hearts of the believer through our consent. Our own Christian maternity thus begins.
Our Lady truly brings us to the Eucharistic Cenacle; her yes is passed to us, her children, through divine maternity. The life of the Holy Spirit will be with us in a magnified way this Pentecost. We prepare for the gifts by remembering them, seeking them, and praying for them. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and the fear of the Lord. Mary’s Eucharistic maternity came forth from her relationship with the Holy Spirit. Mother lead us to the gifts…especially now when the Eucharist is far from reception for many.
It is in our own ascension to Calvary where we find the grace of God dwelling within, for then we call out to God in our longing and desire for peace. We each have a cross to bear this side of Heaven. In our death of self, we rise to God’s life in us. We remember our mother and the way in which she attained her Christian maternity. Mary’s desire is for us, her children, to bring the faith of the resurrection to the next generation, and to find a place of rest in her motherly arms, in her nurturing heart. This is the wisdom she received to guide us to the Eucharistic Cenacle.
By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
I sometimes think of how great it would be to be able to look at a piece of art and know if it is real or not by examining it, to know the fingerprint of the artist so well, that a counterfeit would not fool me. To acquire that level of knowledge would take a lot of time and effort; you would need to truly know the artist. In most cases, the artist is long gone, but their works remain. It is by studying their works, immersing yourself in them, that you can ever hope to be able to tell the difference between an authentic work of art, and a fake. Why would anyone want to do that? Why even care? Because authorship is important. It is not just a matter of talent; a forger must be very talented to be able to copy a great work of art. But a forger is not creative; he is just a pretender whose talents are misused. The author of a work imparts it with some of its own self, creating something new; authorship gives the work it’s value. When we search for authorship, we are searching for truth. Why? Because truth matters, and deep down, we know it. But learning to discern the truth takes effort, and time. And accepting truth requires a willingness to deal with its consequences. It means valuing truth above comfort, valuing truth above convenience. “The truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32).
Truth matters; it is everything. If you doubt that, think back to a time you discovered you had been lied to, betrayed. Betrayal can cause one of the deepest wounds in the human heart. It makes you question everything, even the truth of who you are; it affects your ability to trust. Unfortunately, I have quite a few of those stories to look back on, and I am sure the same is likely to be true for you. The human condition is such that we hurt each other, sometimes willingly, but many times unknowingly. We become so accustomed to a life of lies and half-truths that we believe the biggest lie of all…that we can’t handle the truth. But truth matters. If we want to learn to discern the truth, we must immerse ourselves in the Truth. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life…” (Jn 14:6). The world will try to dazzle us with counterfeits, with lies adorned with bits of truth, but it is up to each of us to choose. Do we want to live the life of truth we were created for, or do we choose to believe that we are not worth it after all? It is in Christ that we find the Truth of who we are.
A work of art has worth by its connection to its author, even when it has been damaged but not destroyed. Its value is such that experts will spend painstaking hours carefully restoring it to its original glory. The same is true for us. “We are God’s work of art” (Eph 2:10). If we look in the mirror of God’s love and look past the scratches and the damage, we will see the image of the One who created us, inviting us to trust in Him. “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb” (Ps 139:13). Who would be better suited to restore an original work than the very author of the work? When we surrender to His care and allow Him to pour love in each of our wounds, He painstakingly restores us to the image of His Son. “He restores my soul” (Ps 23:3). By his authority as creator not only can God restore His work, but He can make of us something completely new. Trust in Him, because in the end, each tear and drop of sweat will be worth it. “Behold, I make all things new… Write these words down, for they are trustworthy and true” (Rev 21:5).
By: Rick Hernandez
During my teenage years, I was blessed with living very close to a chapel, one to which I had access on a regular basis. The Chapel of Santa Ana, that small and humble building was my refuge, my safe harbor. Whenever I felt troubled, sad, lonely, or overwhelmed with life, I would try to go into the chapel. I always searched for the lighted sanctuary lamp that indicated the Real Presence of our Eucharistic Lord, there in the tabernacle. I felt great comfort, comfort from knowing that my Lord was there and watching over me. These visits with my one true friend, in that small building, were dear to me. We would have the best conversations in the silence. Most times I would offer Him a song before departing. That was our little routine.
"Society will be restored and renewed when all its members group themselves around our Emmanuel." -- Peter Julian Eymard
Here we are today, and we are mostly kept from our wonderful church buildings and chapels. Some lucky few still have access to visit Him directly but most do not. Yet, we are not kept from our conversations with Him who loves us. It is not the same as a visit, but we still can talk to Him in prayer. The same way that a phone call cannot replace a live visit, this remote prayer cannot replace our offering of presence to the Lord. Yet it can hold us over until we can, once more, be together. Soon we will be able to gather again, to be able to gift our presence to the Lord in all the altars and tabernacles of the world. Until then, let us keep up our offerings of prayer and mindful meditation. Let us love the ones near us and be mindful of both what we have to give, and what we are missing.
At the end of these visits with my Lord in His temple I would often proceed to sing this song, which always made His presence more tangible to me and truly soothed my heart. I gift you with this song's lyrics, clumsily translated from Spanish, in the hope that it may bring you some comfort in these trying times. Hold on to your faith in Him who loves us. We are almost there.
I AM... (Translated and adapted from the Spanish song "Soy")
We are Ivonne Hernandez, Rick Hernandez and Laura Worhacz, Lay Associates of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, and brothers and sisters in Christ.