By: Rick Hernandez
Our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, one Good Friday long ago, for the expiation of our sins, for the redemption of His loved ones. I cannot fathom what it would have been like to be there, at the foot of the cross, knowing that the Messiah was going through that much suffering for me. The Gospels tell us of a few named people among the multitude that were present during the Crucifixion: The Virgin Mary, Mary of Magdala, and John the Evangelist. These holy persons we know very well from their roles in the life of Jesus, but there were another two men present in Golgotha that day, crucified along with Our Lord, the two thieves: Dismas and Gestas.
We do not know much about Dismas and Gestas. Some early Christian writings tell us that they were bandits, men that stole from the people on the road to Jerusalem. Caught by the Roman Auxiliaries, who were tasked with keeping the territory safe, the bandits were sentenced to death by crucifixion. The Gospels tell us that these men were on their own crosses at Golgotha, one to the left of Jesus, the other to His right, and kept addressing Jesus. “‘Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.’ Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.” (Mark 15:32). They both doubted Jesus, but then something incredible happened, Dismas’ eyes and heart were opened, and he was able to see the Son of God.
“Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.’ The other, however, rebuked him, saying in reply, ‘Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’” (Luke 23:39-42).
Dismas, through that encounter with the heart of Jesus, became the “Penitent Thief”. He experienced one moment of perfect clarity. He understood and accepted the guilt from his sin, witnessed to Christ’s innocence, and acknowledged Christ’s power to redeem him. “…Remember me…”. In that moment of true lucidity, Dismas was able to confess to the High Priest, our Lord of Mercy. His admission of fault, true contrition, and acceptance of responsibility allowed his crucifixion to act as his penance. Christ washed Dismas’ soul clean. “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Contrition, theologically speaking, comes directly from the virtue of Charity, and it is, therefore, a gift conferred by God. The acceptance and internalization of the gift is an act of our will. That means that contrition is a cooperative act between God and us.
We know He is always acting, giving, loving, waiting for us to turn back to Him. Are we consciously asking for and trusting His Mercy? How painfully unaware are we of our faults, our prejudices, our sin. We really depend on our courage. Courage allows us to look inwards with humility and sincerity to examine our conscience. After that, we trust in the sacrament of reconciliation. We trust in God’s Mercy. We can hold on tight to our Mother Mary and pray for her help and guidance. We have another guide in St. Dismas that we may be like him and grab onto the presented opportunities even at the final moment.
Let us pray that now and at the time of our deaths, we are gifted with those moments of great clarity. That we persevere through the temptations to give up on the hope for Heaven, and that while accompanied by Mother Mary, as promised to her consecrated children, we can achieve perfect contrition from all our faults and shortcomings. This so we can meekly face Our Lord and humbly ask, “Jesus, please remember me…” Amen.
By: Laura Worhacz
“Take my word: do works of zeal only out of duty, but aspire to the interior life because you are drawn thereto by divine love…Try earnestly to become interior, that is, to live for God, to work in partnership with Him. Manage to thrive on His divine Providence, natural and supernatural, of every moment.” – Saint Peter Julian Eymard (Eymard Library Vol. 6, page 249)
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
July 13th was the 103rd anniversary of the third apparition of Fatima. It was in this appearance from our mother that she opened her hands and rays of light came forth. The light brought the three shepherd children to see; they saw hell, darkness, a place where sin takes us. Our Lady said that day that to prevent this… “I shall ask for consecration of Russia.” Mary allowed the children to know what would become of us without being consecrated to God and His divine love. Mary left us with the words, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
I have been immersed in the Fatima message for many years praying with it. Our Mother asked of us to participate in the five first Saturdays and make communions of reparation. The culmination of Mary’s pleading to me is to be in prayer; God’s divine love and grace come forth from this. A fond memory for me is that of Our Lady interceding to save Saint John Paul II when he was shot on May 13, 1981. This miraculous engagement was rooted in love. He lived in the divine. Mary’s zeal was her duty to save. What a moment of grace. Mary’s Divine love and union with Divine Providence called forth the miracle that guided the bullet millimeters away from what would have been fatal.
What is fatally attracting us from our interior life? As we go with fortitude in prayer through the pandemic outbreak, can we see Mary’s hands, the hands opened to the divine light, the light that will bring us to the divine love of Our Father in Heaven? Divine Providence is before us, every moment. In the interior life we come to see every second. Mary’s hands, the light they hold, bring us to Jesus. His Eucharistic life is still breathing within us. It is interior, it keeps us in divine love.
I have always loved visiting office supply stores. Browsing up and down aisles filled with brightly colored papers and plastic bins of every shape and size touched on a hidden desire of my heart, a desire for order. I bought into the idea that with the right combination of tools, perhaps my days could be organized, my thoughts filed in an orderly manner, easily grabbed at a moment's need.
Over the years, I've bought bins and binders, pens and markers, calendar and label makers, filing cabinets, and colored papers. As I look at the piles of papers and baskets on and around my desk today, I wonder…did any of it help? Or am I still the same disorganized mess I was before?
If I were going to write an autobiography, I would probably title it Work in Progress… Pardon My Dust. It seems like my life is constantly changing, and as soon as I adapt to a new phase, the phase is over, and it is time to start fresh again.
Whether it is with our marriage, homeschooling, health and exercise, home projects, or spiritual practices, sometimes it seems life is like laundry…the drudgery of life is never done. And, though there is truth in that statement, it is not quite the whole truth.
When you wash a load of laundry, fold it, put it away, and then wear it again, you do not create a new piece of clothing; you just take away the dirt that had accumulated on it. When you are building a life, you are always making something new.
This experience of creating something new does not only apply to the lives we build or the monasteries monks establish. As temples of the Holy Spirit, we ourselves are works in progress… in the hands of God.
Each day, each interaction changes us; each day, we grow. So perhaps all this dust that so often drives me crazy is there to remind me of the work that has been done and should become an opportunity to give thanks to God.
Maybe rather than looking at the bins of unorganized papers, I should focus on the work that has been published. Perhaps rather than looking at another unopened calendar, I can remember the family activities we had and all that is yet to come.
Yes, I am still a disorganized mess, but, despite that, with God's help, I've accomplished much. So, let us remember what we are building --what God is building with and through us--, and rather than being discouraged by a bit of dust, let us keep going, persevering, always living in hope.
By: Rick Hernandez
A few years ago, I found myself living away from my family in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis during a harsh Wisconsin winter due to my work. While I was there, I attended Mass at Mary Queen of Heaven Catholic Church, served by the Missionary Fathers of the Blessed Sacrament. After a few weeks of attending, that wonderful church became, for me, a second home. There we had Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament every night in a small intimate space, where I would go and kneel to tell God of my day and to try to hear his comforting words in my soul.
It was challenging to be away from home. My loneliness was difficult to overcome as winter kept most people cooped inside, where it was not freezing with below-zero temperatures. Most of my comfort came from praying with my rosary in the Adoration chapel, feeling quite content that I was finally wearing down some of the edges of my rosary beads.
One day, while working outside, I noticed that I had lost my rosary. I was so sad and hurt over this. I felt deflated and lost. That physical rosary had become so important to me like it was the one connection to my sanity, the one road to soothing my anxieties over my loneliness, and it was now lost... I shed many tears over this. It is not that I did not have other rosaries. I did. It is just that both habit and the context of my living situation had given much more meaning to that particular rosary. I felt that loss deeply.
I started praying about this, and when I visited Our Lord in his Adoration chapel, I brought forward my questions... “Why did it become like this? Why did that rosary become so important? I have you here right now, Lord, and that is of more value than a thousand rosary beads, just material things...” But then, why did it hurt so much? Right at that moment, as I was kneeling there in that little chapel, I felt God placing his gentle hand over my shoulder. With this fatherly gesture, a great calm washed over me; I knew then that it was ok. I understood at that moment that my prayers through that particular rosary helped bring forth both His love for me and my love for Him. That rosary was a token of our relationship, of a love alive, shared freely in both directions, but a token does not define a relationship; the relationship defines the token.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
I had come to terms with my loss, and I felt so grateful for the time that I spent there and the gift of understanding that comforted my heart. After a while, I said my goodbyes and left. Hunger reminded me that I had not eaten yet, and I decided to stop and pick up something to eat in a pretty famous burger joint not far from the church. I got out of my car, and there on a snow mound I saw it, my rosary waiting for me. How did it get there? Well, that is for the angels to reveal, but I know deep in my heart that it was another gift, just for me. Like my rosary, I was a little lost, but at that moment, I knew that I had been found. What a way to be yet again claimed by the One who loves me!
I pray for all of us that whenever we are discouraged, lost, anxious, or wavering, we are again reminded by the power of His own hand, that we are LOVED, that He is with us, wherever we go. Amen
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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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