By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
The first few days after the birth of a child can be a trying time for the mother. The physical toll from the birth itself is compounded by lack of sleep and the needs of others in her care. The circumstances surrounding the birth of each of my three boys were different, but my favorite memories with each of them were those quiet times in the middle of the night when it was just the two of us. The rhythmic squeak of the rocking chair provided a backdrop as I hummed a lullaby and breathed in the sweet new baby smell of his head. In the middle of the hectic stressful post birth period, time stood still. It was as if God knew that I needed that time, in the silence, to ponder and take in the miracle in my arms.
We find ourselves within the octave of Christmas, an eight-day celebration of the Solemnity of Christmas. It is as if time stands still. As the commotion of the world goes on all around us, the Church invites us to quiet down and ponder on the miracle in front of us, God Incarnate, the Babe in the manger. The baby has been born and St. Joseph sleeps after the long journey. The shepherds and Magi are on their way and the crowds will soon press in, trying to see the King. We are invited to open our eyes to the invisible reality “hidden from the wise and the learned” (Mt 11:26), and to see how much God loves each one of us. Mary is inviting us to sit with her and adore the Babe.
Christmas is not over, it’s only just begun. God knows that we live in a fallen, hectic, sometimes crazy world, and that we need a little extra time to take everything in. If your house has been busy with guests, or if you are just exhausted from all the preparations and celebrations, open your ears to the invitation to be still. Maybe you can wake up a little earlier than the rest of the household and let the silence outside give way to the silence within. Those moments before everyone wakes up can be like those precious moments before the shepherds arrive. Accept the invitation to this intimate moment with Mary and the Babe. Ask Mary to place the Baby in your arms, and to be right there with you to make sure He is safe. Ask her to teach you how to hold and ponder all these things in your heart. (Lk 2:19)
By: Laura Worhacz
“Bethlehem had its joys also, joys most sweet and consoling. The shepherds—simple souls—came to adore the infant Savior. Mary rejoiced at seeing their homage and the willing offerings they made to her Jesus.” - St. Peter Julian Eymard (Eymard Library Volume 7, page 69 )
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
Rejoicing with you through the final days of preparation in our Advent season, ready to enter the celebration of Christmas. The joy of this season is like no other since we reflect on the gift of life in the newborn king. In today’s Gospel Mary magnifies the Lord by her consent to His divine plan for her life. She is a simple soul ready to serve her God. The shepherds came to adore, and our Lady was elated. Her whole life was a ray of JESUS’ humility. God’s love came in a very unexpected way to Mary, yet she remembered God’s promise of mercy.
In an earlier blog, I mentioned my husband’s illness, cancer is now added to his cirrhosis and many other health issues that he is suffering from. Advent for our family this year was not spent traditionally. However, the blessings from our church, extended families, friends, prayer cenacle, and ministries came to pay homage to the precious life of my husband in so many various ways. St. Peter Julian tells us, “Mary rejoices in seeing their homage.” Eucharistically adoring our Lord and moreover, bringing that adoration to our relationships, will keep our Lady’s Magnificat proclaiming “the greatness of the Lord.” May the Joy of Christmas extend to the deepest recesses of our hearts, instilling a detachment from the things of this world. May the precious gift of life, love, family and friends be yours, and the gift of yourself offered to them bring to you the JOY of Bethlehem.
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever."
By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
If we were traveling through a long tunnel, the halfway point would be the darkest. We can’t see where we came from, and we probably can’t see where we are heading to. In the middle of that darkness, we might be tempted to go back to where we came from, to the old, the familiar, but then we spot it. A sign that says we’ve made it halfway! We’ve come this far, we just need a little encouragement to keep going. We pause, take a breath, and rejoice. We then take one more step in the right direction and we are now closer to the end than to the beginning. We can do this; no point going back now. We are halfway there!
As I pause and think of the words “we are halfway there”, a song from the 80’s pops in my head and sings “living on a prayer, take my hand…we are living on a prayer.” And just like that, a hit from the 80’s (Bon Jovi), opens my eyes to the universality of this experience. We all know what it feels like to be in a dark place without a sense of direction, sometimes wondering if we are going around in circles. Are we even getting anywhere? Is there even a point in continuing to try? When our sins, our faults, our failings mock us saying, “Well hello there, welcome back my friend, why don’t you just stay here in this familiar place, why continue to fight? Look, you are the same you were two weeks ago, two months ago, two years ago.” And we begin to listen to the lies, and we think that all our efforts have brought us nowhere, but then we go to Mass and hear: “Be strong and do not fear. Behold, our God will come, and he will save us.” (Communion Antiphon 3rd Sunday of Advent) Indeed, He will come and save us. Every time we fall, every time we fail, every time we look away, He will extend His arm and invite us back to Him. If we stay close to the Sacraments, even in the dark halfway points of life, we will see the signs. We will be encouraged and strengthened as we live on a prayer. “When that time comes, I will be your guide, when that time comes, I will gather you in” (Zep 3:20).
Tomorrow is Gaudete Sunday, the midpoint of the penitential season of Advent. We have spent two weeks preparing for Christmas, and we have two more weeks left of waiting. And at this point, Mother Church invites us to pause, take a breath, and REJOICE! “Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). See how far you’ve come with the Lord walking right beside you. See all the graces He has bestowed on you and be confident “that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6). Rejoice, and then keep going, because the Light of the World is coming, indeed, “the Lord is near” (Phil 4:4).
By: Laura Worhacz
“All the mysteries of Mary’s life are re-enacted in the Cenacle. If we meditate on the birth of her Son in Bethlehem let us continue the Gospel narrative, and soon we behold the Eucharistic birth of that same Son on the altar… In this way consider all the other mysteries in the light of the Eucharist and reflect on the part that Mary took therein.” -Saint Peter Julian Eymard, (Eymard Library, Volume 7, page 6)
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
Mary’s relativity! Our Lady’s state of being was born of the total dependence she had in her Father’s love. From the Incarnation to the birth, passion, death and rising of her Son, Mary’s life was born of the Eucharist. Today, as we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are reminded of the purity in which God was able to reveal His light of the Eucharist. Mary therein participated in the living message of Love through Jesus. Her whole life magnified the Lord through the daily re-enactment of the Cenacle; the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.
There were many aspirations I had to enter the first week of Advent. In place of these, my husband was hospitalized, and our plans were derailed and proceeded down another track. “Behold the Eucharistic Birth”, and we did, trusting in the grace of the moment, the plans God had for us and the people we would encounter. I was blessed to bring Holy Communion each morning to my husband. He would hold the pyx while I read him the daily scriptures, then open his mouth to receive the Body of Christ. We are home from the hospital, humbled and grateful for all the blessings that flowed out of the trials of the week. This experience was an invitation to the mystery of God’s way, our trust and receptivity to His plan for our lives.
St. Peter Julian reminds us to “behold the Eucharistic birth”. Christmas is forever, we await in joyful hope daily the coming of Christ. May the season of Advent help us remember to keep our hearts prepared, our Eucharistic lives active in love, and the precious gift of life before us.
Mary, your Immaculate Conception exemplifies the purity in which God will let His life be transferred into His world. Jesus Savior of the world veiled in the Eucharist, keep us in the light of Your coming!
Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament
Blessed are you, Mary exalted daughter of Sion!
You are highly favoured and full of grace, for the spirit of God descended upon you.
We magnify the Lord and rejoice with you for the gift of the Word made flesh, bread of life and cup of joy.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, our model of prayer in the cenacle, pray for us that we may become what we receive, the body of Christ your son. Amen.
By: Ivonne Hernandez
We spend a large part of our lives waiting: waiting in traffic, waiting in line, waiting for other people, waiting for an illness to run its course. This it is not something we usually look forward to, but rather something to be avoided (by careful planning), or managed, by doing something productive or entertaining while we wait. We have so much “on our plates”, that we try to “carve time” from whenever we can find it. We don’t have time left to just sit around and wait, yet somehow, it seems as if life usually has a different plan. Or should I say, God has a different plan?
As I type these words, I find myself sitting in my car, waiting for my son to be done with a class. I knew I would have to wait for an hour, so I brought my laptop and planned to use the time to write my blog. Waiting was easy and the time flew by. This morning, however, I had to deal with an unexpected delay. I had to spend over an hour waiting for my turn at a medical office. I was able to wait patiently because I did not have anything scheduled right after, but had that not been the case, I am sure that it would have been much more difficult to accept the present circumstances. I find that my patience is inversely proportionate to how much my plans are affected by the wait. It is when I have to give up my plan and accept God’s plan for me that the feelings of anger and frustration bubble up inside, but it is precisely this moment of decision that is the moment of grace.
We don’t have a choice on whether we are sick or not, or on whether there is traffic or not, but we do have a choice on how we respond to the situation at hand. Rather than seeing the delay as a time thief, we can choose to see the time of waiting as a gift from God. This morning in the waiting room, rather than taking my phone out and filling my time with mindless entertainment, I decided to raise my eyes and look around. I started to randomly pray for people as they walked by, thinking that God placed me there for that purpose today. My entire perspective changed, and I received a gift in turn. God was there waiting with me and waiting for me. Had I just ran in and out of my appointment as I originally planned, I would have missed it. God had a better plan that the one I had.
Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent. It is a time of expectant waiting. A time to pause, to ponder, and to prepare. Let us empty some of the plans on our plates and leave room for what God wants to place there instead…Himself.
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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.