By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
Last week, my son decided unexpectedly to clean his room and his bathroom. I was a little confused at first because we have only been asking him to clean his room for the last three months. Why now? I wondered for a second, but I quickly decided to just be happy he was doing it and let it go. Then, a couple of days ago, he asked if he could do some extra chores for money; he is going to an event next month and is a little short on cash. I said yes. I came home to a sparkling clean house; he had cleaned behind the piano and even cleaned the ledge above the kitchen cabinets! Once I paid him his hard-earned money, he smiled and said: “Thanks, mom. I cleaned my room last week because I knew you would not pay me for extra chores if I had not done mine first.” I was glad that he understood how things work around here and that he took the necessary steps to accomplish his goal (not to mention how happy I was to have a clean house!), but this made me think about my own hidden agendas in my relationship with God.
“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mt 22:37). The first (and greatest) commandment goes straight to the heart of the matter; “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Mt 6:21). When we treasure anything (money, reputation, plans, health, etc.…) over the love of God, we create hidden agendas to try to both serve God and our own personal gods. These agendas are not hidden from God; they are hidden from us. They blur our vision and darken our minds. St. Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Our restless hearts are divided, divided between the world and God, divided between love of self and love of God. “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other” (Mt 6:24). I find that often, even when I think I am serving God, my intentions are often mixed with a little bit (or maybe a lot) of serving self.
When we look into the depths of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we see hearts that love God completely; we see undivided hearts. These hearts are full of the fire of the Holy Spirit. We receive this purifying love at Baptism, when we are claimed for Christ. “A clean heart create for me, God; renew within me a steadfast spirit. Do not drive me from before your face, nor take from me your holy spirit” (Ps 51:12-13). This purifying action it painful, and it is the work of our lifetime. This is why we beg for steadfast spirit, to endure our purification and reach our goal. “Blessed are the clean of heart for they shall see God” (Mat 5:8).
By: Laura Worhacz
“It is Jesus that has called Himself the Bread of Life! What an unusual name! He alone could give it to Himself. An angel commissioned to name our Lord would have drawn a name in conformity with His attributes: The Word, Lord, etc. But Bread? He would never have dared call his God thus. Bread of Life, that is the real name of Jesus. It expresses Jesus Christ fully, in His life, in His death, and after His resurrection: on the Cross, He will be ground and sifted like flour; after the resurrection, He will be for our souls what material bread is for our bodies; He will truly be our Bread of Life. ” 1 - St. Peter Julian Eymard
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
Out of this world into Heaven! Tomorrow we celebrate The Solemnity of Corpus Christi. On this day we remember the central reality of what it means to be part of the Mystical Body of Christ. As members, we participate in the offering of our “self” to the humility of God. In the light of the Monstrance, we see Heaven now through the eyes of the heart, through the charity offered in love for others. We are God’s possession, His possession sent into the world.
Sitting in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament this week I thought of my soul being totally exposed to the light of truth and our Father loving me anyway. God listens; we absorb His presence in the silence; our relationship is built through our openness and purity of intention. The thought of bringing my listening ear to my family, being present to their concerns, building a genuine love from the depths of our hearts seems like a simple way to return God’s love.
Saint Peter Julian Eymard expresses in the above excerpt that perhaps the angels would have named our Lord through His attributes. However, Jesus named Himself from His love, passion, death and rising; from offering His Life to the WORLD! The Bread of Life is food for our souls as material bread is food for our bodies. A life lived for others continues to manifest God’s presence. We live in the world yet are raised to a divine life through the reception of Holy Communion, the Bread of Life.
Jesus, conform our souls to Your soul. Grant us life, love, and holy desires so others may see God. Let our attributes glorify the heavenly mystery. May our presence make known to others that there is a living Bread that comes down from Heaven. Let others see through the way we live our lives that You came into the world to suffer and die for us, to absorb the sins of the world. And that You, Jesus, remain with us in The Bread of Life, the Holy Eucharist.
1 Excerpt taken from Eymard Library Volume 9: IN THE LIGHT OF THE MONSTRANCE, Page 149
By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
In the passage above, St. Paul is asking the Father that you and I “may be filled with all the fullness of God.” This is a very bold prayer. It reminds me of the words the priest says before the “Our Father” during Mass: “At the Savior's command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say…Our Father…”. We dare to call God our Father. And St. Paul dares to ask that we be “filled with all the fullness of God.” This boldness comes from the same place, divine teaching. It is with this understanding, that St. Paul kneels before the Father, and pleads on our behalf. Before he asks for the ultimate gift for us, the fullness of God, he asks that we “may have strength to comprehend...and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” Why would we need strength for this? And why is this strength we need so great that it is to come from His very own Spirit? When I ponder on these questions, I remember the following story about St. Augustine:
Sometimes, in prayer, I get a glimpse of what it means to have the Most Holy Trinity dwelling in me, and it is more than I can take. I sit there for a little while, but then I see my faults, my sin, my unworthiness, and I leave. I fill my mind with all the things I need to do and take care of, and I avert my eyes from the gaze of my Father.
Yes, it takes strength to allow yourself to be seen, to allow yourself to be loved. The enemy of your soul does not want you to remain in that place. He wants you to be filled with fear, rather than with love. Be bold and reject the lies. ‘For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!”’ (Rom 8:15)
I have often pondered on the fact that everything I have, every grace I have been open to receive, would not have been if it hadn’t been for the prayers others have offered on my behalf, especially the prayers from my parents and grandparents. It is good to remember that the saints in Heaven are always praying on our behalf, and that St. Paul right now is kneeling before Our Father, asking “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”
It is because of this faith that I can offer prayers for my children, and for all ancestors and any future descendants on my family tree. I believe that the Blood of Christ that runs through my veins can flow through the branches of this tree, as long as we remain on the vine. I pray for each branch, each leaf, especially those that are not bearing fruit and are in danger of being cutoff. I pray that through my prayers, the sap of the vine can reach them and strengthen them, so that each branch can be open to the flow of grace and be full of life, of love. I pray that each one of them “rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
By: Laura Worhacz
“The Angel is the first to salute. His is, indeed, the lesser dignity of the two. Mary is sovereign here, and since the Three Divine Persons are awaiting her answer, she holds the world’s fate in her hands. Ah, how powerful is that lowly maiden!” - St. Peter Julian Eymard (Eymard Library Volume 7, page 39)
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
Tomorrow we rejoice in the great birth of our Catholic Church as we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost. We remember in a significant way this day the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit poured out upon God’s children of faith.
We have closed our eyes, pouring out of them tears, holding the death of the Lord deep in our hearts. We have wandered through our thoughts with those on the road, remembering what happened to Jesus. We unite our sufferings wondering what God is doing with them; we offer them up as a good Christian. We recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread. It is in the Eucharist that we are brought to the divine reality and our sorrow is turned into joy. Open our eyes, dear Lord! Help us to see You as we offer up the true sacrifice of our hearts.
Simple acts of charity day in and day out, blessed by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, sanctify our lives and the world around us. We salute with the angels, we affix our yes to the fiat of Mary, we hold the world’s fate in our hands. We rejoice, we celebrate, and we believe that our humble genuine desire to serve will help renew the face of the earth.
Lord, infuse us with your spiritual gifts of WISDOM, UNDERSTANDING, COUNSEL, FORTITUDE, KNOWLEDGE, PIETY, AND FEAR OF THE LORD. Let Your love shine through us in your our charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity (kindness), goodness, longanimity (generosity), mildness (gentleness), faith, modesty, continency (self-control), and chastity.
By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
A couple of weeks ago my son was really stressed over a final project he was working on for a college class. The amount of work left was daunting and, even if he pulled an all-nighter, he might not be able to finish it all. Rather than fueling him to work harder, the stress was dividing his attention and making him work slower. He couldn’t concentrate and was getting very upset. His mood affected everyone in the house, as we made futile attempts to encourage him. I finally looked him in the eye and said, “What is the worst thing that could happen?” I could see how his mind was snapped out of the dark place it had been pulled into as he tried to make sense of my words. “I fail?”, he asked back. I said: “Yes, and you just take the class again next semester. No big deal.” He calmed down, finished his work, and I am happy to say, passed his class. It was only through an encounter with the truth that he could be free from the fear that was paralyzing him.
How many times do we stop ourselves from doing something we want to do because of fear? Unfortunately for me the answer is way too many. I worry about so many things! I find myself asking “What if?” and playing all kinds of (often terrible) scenarios in my head. And, every time I give into that mindset, I am letting my mind and heart get divided. I am moving my attention from whatever God wants me to do, to the fear the enemy wants me to entertain. And oh boy, do I entertain! Every time I am giving fear my attention, I am ignoring the guest I invited to make a dwelling in me, and I might as well be asking Him to leave.
May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,
what are the riches of glory
in his inheritance among the holy ones,
and what is the surpassing greatness of his power
for us who believe,
in accord with the exercise of his great might:
which he worked in Christ,
raising him from the dead
and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,
far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion,
and every name that is named
not only in this age but also in the one to come.
“What is the worst thing that could happen?” is a good question to ask when fear takes hold and paralyzes us. But we need to ask the question in the light of Truth, in the light of Easter. The Solemnity we celebrate this week is the Truth that can set us free and snap us back into reality. The Ascension of the Lord reminds us that He has gone before us to prepare a place for us. That Jesus conquered death, and that we have nothing to fear.
We are Ivonne Hernandez, Rick Hernandez and Laura Worhacz, Lay Associates of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, and brothers and sisters in Christ.