By: Laura Worhacz
Dear Eucharistic Family,
On Sunday we may meditate on Heaven and keep holy the Sabbath. With all our senses we need to remind one another to keep Sunday a special day of remembrance, a little Easter. Avoid unnecessary work. A good way to discern this may be to examine the heart. A perfect Sunday for me, as for many of you I am sure, begins with going to Mass. We are then sent to love and serve our Lord. My perfect Sunday continues with preparation for Sunday dinner. It may seem like work to prepare food, cook, clean, set the table, and clean up again. However, whether it is my husband and me, our girls, or a full table, my heart rejoices in sitting around the table for Sunday dinner. The food is secondary to the faces I am privileged to see gathered around the table. The joy of feeding others has always been a way for me to express love. The Eucharistic Sacrifice enables us to learn how to serve. When we give a gift of ourselves, our Sunday becomes holy.
September 19th is the anniversary of an apparition of Our Lady that is unknown to many, Our Lady of La Salette. Saint Peter Julian would go to the magnificent mountain where Our Lady appeared to pray even before the apparitions were approved by our Catholic Church. He knew in his heart Our Lady visited this holy mountain to bring us a message through her tears. In part of Our Lady’s message of La Salette we learn that she is sitting with her head down, fallen in her lap, crying. Mary’s tears poured forth for the lack of respect Heaven sees for the Sabbath.
In spending time before the Blessed Sacrament, we can be assured that Jesus will lead our hearts to celebrate Sunday in the perfect way for each of us. For me, gathering around the table for Sunday dinner has created many memories, many laughs, many serious and sometimes confrontational conversations. All of these create a bond of unity that keeps the Eucharist we have received in a secure bond of love united to the Heart of Jesus. There are so many Catholics unable to attend Sunday Liturgy and so many that are not aware of the awesome gift of going to church on Sunday. Our enthusiasm, charity, and remembrance of keeping Sunday holy may be the witness that will bring others to church. God’s love is expressed to us in His life-giving gift found in the Living Bread that comes down from HEAVEN.
By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
“Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10). When we look at the ten commandments, we see that the first three order our relationship with God, and the last seven order our relationship with our neighbor. This lets us know two things. First, the order of the commandments let us know that our relationship with God must come first. Second, the number of commandments relating to our relationship with our neighbor lets us know that we will struggle more often in that area. This makes sense when we think of how many hours in the day we are directly talking with God vs. how many hours we are interacting with others. Those we live with often challenge us the most.
When two humans have lived together for many years it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions of face which are almost unendurably irritating to the other. Work on that. (Advice from Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood, The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis)
How often do we feel annoyed by the behavior of those around us? In my younger years I used to jokingly say, “I would be a saint, if it wasn’t for the people around me.” This thought, though meant as a joke, hides a deep truth beneath. It is true, that it is in community, in relationship, that our faults and weaknesses are brought to the surface. The “other” acts as a mirror to the state of our soul. But what we do when these faults come to the surface is the difference between vice and virtue, between sin and love. Those closest to us, by the mere number of interactions, bring up things that just can’t be ignored. Conversation, charity, change, compromise…either from one or likely from both, will be required if the goal is to live in peace.
“Now I wish to tell you further, that a man proves his patience on his neighbor, when he receives injuries from him. Similarly, he proves his humility on a proud man, his faith on an infidel, his true hope on one who despairs, his justice on the unjust, his kindness on the cruel, his gentleness and benignity on the irascible.” - (From The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Sienna)
When my faults rise up in response to an offense, and I become aware of them, it is like a double-edged sword, cutting “between soul and spirit, joints and marrow” (Heb 4:12). “My sin is before me always” (Psalm 51). This revelation is a great gift from God. It is only when I become aware of my own sinfulness that I can bring it to the foot of the Cross. If it remains hidden it festers and slowly kills my soul. It is in the reflection of the other that the soul sees its true state and can surrender to the loving hand of God. Thus, through relationship with other sinners, God works on my soul. This process can happen simultaneously in a relationship, if both are striving to grow in love. “Love is the cross, and the cross is Love” (St. Therese of Lisieux). When we feel annoyed at something or someone we have a choice. We can either choose to focus on what is annoying us, or we can recognize the opportunity in front of us, an opportunity to practice virtue, to grow in patience, to grow in love.
By: Rick Hernandez
Fortitude is the moral virtue that ensures firmness in difficulties and constancy in the pursuit of the good. It strengthens the resolve to resist temptations and to overcome obstacles in the moral life. The virtue of fortitude enables one to conquer fear, even fear of death, and to face trials and persecutions. It disposes one even to renounce and sacrifice his life in defense of a just cause. "The Lord is my strength and my song." "In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (CCC 1808).
The virtue of fortitude works hand-in-hand with the virtue of perseverance. Father Eymard tells us that to live a virtuous life, we must strive towards the virtues without fear, and that we must persevere in this struggle. When I think about perseverance, the first word that pops into my head is “abide”. The definition for “abide” is “to remain”. To remain, but remain where?
"Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me" (John 15:4).
Jesus is asking us to remain in Him and that means to persist in Him. Christ’s love is our anchor, it is what helps us to persist. Just as His Cross was rooted in His love, so are we to be rooted. This is what the virtue of fortitude is. “Fortitude is love bearing all things readily for the sake of the beloved" (St. Augustine). We are called to patiently bear, to abide, to remain, to persist. “Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; … encourage through all patience and teaching" (2 Timothy 4:2).
Now, life is always asking us, to move, to change, to act. It is good to change. We must evolve into the best version of ourselves and that means that that we must work towards that better state, but how do we do that? How do we evolve, yet remain? We can do that by working to align ourselves with the virtues. Out in the world we are to live in His love, share from His hope and grow from His faith. Yes, we grow and we change but through fortitude and perseverance, we remain in our given state as beloved children of God.
On September 5th, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Mother Teresa was deeply rooted in Jesus’ Cross, the place where Jesus abides. That was the place where her heart lived, yet she went out into the world, where she could meet Jesus’ heart in the lives of all the poor and the needy. It was difficult work there in the streets of Calcutta. Among the sick and the dying Mother Teresa grew in the virtues, grew closer to the perfection that we are called to pursue. With her guidance and example, she helped countless others to grow in virtue, helped them to care for one another. Through a virtuous life of love, hope, faith, humility and selflessness she persevered; there she was courageous. There she taught us, through her humble life, how to abide in Jesus’s love… Can we persevere like that? Where do we abide?
Let us pray: “O eternal God, grant me the virtue of perseverance; without it, no one can please You nor be acceptable to You. This virtue brings to the soul an abundance of charity and the fruit of every effort. Oh! how happy I should be, Lord, if You would give me this virtue, because even here on earth it will make me enjoy a pledge of eternal life. But Your light reveals to me that I cannot attain it unless I suffer much, because this life cannot be lived without suffering. He who would escape suffering would deprive himself of holy perseverance” (St. Catherine of Siena). Amen.
By: Laura Worhacz
“Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.” (Psalm 3:12,13)
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
It seems more important than ever that we unite in a spirit of love and fidelity, a spirit of communion; a spirit that comes from Heaven’s grace, poured out from our Father, through the life of His Son, Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Today the Catholic Church commemorates The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist. As I immersed into prayer trying to imagine John the Baptist, his relationship with Christ, and the life he lived, fidelity came strongly to my heart. John loved God so much, he put the Lord above and before himself. John taught us that Christ must increase and we should decrease (John 3:30). His love was so intense that the truth could not be concealed; he preached God’s truth. Saint John the Baptist’s fidelity overtook his existence. He could not stand witnessing the ungodly, the deceit of unfaithfulness.
The Gospel tells us that Herod had John imprisoned yet liked to listen to him. It seems Herod made the choice to be faithful to sin; the deception of taking what did not belong to him ruled. Herod was in a battle within, liking John’s words yet choosing what was contrary to truth. God would have wanted Herod to find a new way of living. Saint John’s proclamation of the truth was poured out in love. Saint John the Baptist was crying out to bring sin to a new life, a life of fidelity to God.
As I was driving home from Mass and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament last week there was a motorcycle in front of me at a red light. The man riding had on a tee-shirt that read, “Forget prayer, no one is listening.” I immediately offered a Hail Mary, knowing in my heart that Our Lady would hear me. I believe (we believe) that our fidelity to God will bring life. I believe this poor soul, who seems to have lost faith, will receive a grace from God that will bring him to truth. We pray with hope to reach hearts longing to hear a voice crying out in the wilderness, make straight the pathway to God (John 1:23).
God is faithful to us. Our fidelity to Our Creator will bring us to everlasting life. Saint John the Baptist did not fear. He was the Baptist. His fidelity was unwavering, his voice crying out. God is listening, He hears the cry of the poor (Proverbs 21:13). The Kingdom of Heaven is with us now in the Eucharist, a fidelity beyond our human understanding. Jesus calls out to us through the silence of our Eucharistic union with Him. Our fidelity will bring us to martyrdom, physically or spiritually, yet our faithfulness to our fidelity will keep us in the truth and love that will bring us to our eternal home, HEAVEN.
By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
I still remember it like it was yesterday….sitting on the passenger side of our motorhome, kids strapped in their seats, car hooked in the back with five bicycles hanging behind on a bike rack, looking out to the house that had been our home for the past seven years… the home where we went from a family of four to a family of five, the home where we began to homeschool, the home we had just sold and was no longer our home. Almost everything we owned was now either inside or being pulled behind this motorhome and it was time to hit the road. We didn’t know where the road would take us, or for how long this house on wheels would be our home, but we were excited and open to new experiences, and God did not disappoint.
Our journey as “full-timers” lasted three years; we collected precious memories, friends, and stories, as we lived a life we could not have imagined before. There is something about living on a home with wheels… it is a daily reminder that at any moment you might go. My husband worked as a consultant and we never knew where his next job would take us, or for how long. We came back to Florida to visit friends and family a few times in between jobs, and I remember, on one of those visits, a friend asking me: how I could be gone for so long? She said that when she goes on a trip, after a few days she just wants to come home. I knew what she was talking about, because I had experienced that feeling before, but this was now different. The RV was our home. We brought home with us wherever we would go.
Just like our home was detached from the ground, set on wheels and ready to go, so must the heart of a Christian be set only on the Will of God. We put down roots and anchors to feel secure, but this world is not our home. No matter how much we seek comfort in its beauty, our hearts will remain restless, because we are meant to go. But God is with us, within us, He’s made our hearts His home. “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (John 14:23). So, fear not my friends and let yourself go. Let God detach you from what holds you back from living the life He wants for you. “For I know well the plans I have in mind for you—oracle of the LORD—plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope” (Jer 29:11).
By: Rick Hernandez
Walking towards my bedroom there is, by the door, a small statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I often touch this statue as I walk by, a subtle attempt on my part to firm up in my heart the connection of my daily life to His. It is a means of acknowledging His role in my life and that we are in this, together.
Why is it that “connection” is so often associated with the heart? When we feel compassion, we say that the situation “tugs at our heart”, asking for our attention. When we feel excitement at meeting someone, we say that our “heart flutters”, asking us to be present. When we accompany someone suffering, our “heart aches”, asking us to be aware of and share in their pain. When we encourage someone, we ask them to “take heart”. Whose heart? Ours. So much connection to the heart…
Ever since ancient times, the heart has been the means for connection to others. But connecting to others is not always easy, and in fact, it is often difficult and even scary. Modern society is trying hard to separate us from our communal good and send us towards the individualism and selfishness that severs real connection. Why is it that now that we are more connected than ever through technology, we are lonelier than ever? Why are we, as a society, more selfish? There is no real connection, not without heart, not without presence, not without compassion, not without courage.
Compassion is an old word, derived from the Latin “com pati”, meaning “to suffer with”. Connection is implied here, our hearts united. Another word for compassion is mercy; the Latin word for mercy is misericordia, which comes from “miseri cordi”, meaning “heart in misery”… the heart again! We are meant to unite our heart to others, to achieve connection. But to do this can be scary. To fight against that fear we need courage, fortitude. Courage is also an old word, derived from the Latin “cor age”, meaning “to bring forth your heart”… it’s all about the heart. So, the question then is: How do we transform our hearts, so that we can be present, courageous, compassionate and merciful? “COR UNUM ET ANIMA UNA”, which translates into English as “one heart, one mind”, to beat as one heart. But whose heart? The Sacred Heart of Jesus.
"His Sacred Heart has given men everything: redemption, salvation, sanctification... Through the mystery of this wounded Heart, the restorative tide of God's merciful love continues to spread over the men and women of our time. Here alone can those who long for true and lasting happiness find its secret." (St. John Paul II)
St. Peter Julian Eymard instructs us, "Let us learn to honor the Sacred Heart in the Eucharist. Let us never separate them." The holy gift of the Eucharist can only be fully explained by His perfect love, completely present in His Sacred Heart. When we partake of our Lord’s banquet, when we are united through that most intimate moment in the consumption of the Eucharist, we are infinitely connected to Him, and through His Sacred Heart, connected to all whom He loves. At that moment, from our presence there, we can partake of His courage, of His compassion, of His mercy. May we be transformed; may our hearts be lit on fire…
The Sacred Heart is depicted on fire, signifying the transformative power of His love for us. If we make an offering of our very selves, uniting it to the offering of the Paschal Lamb, the divine fire of His Sacred Heart can both consume and transform us. We are no longer just us, but He who loves us, a perfect connection. One heart, one mind… “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common” (Acts 4:32). The Sacred Heart, the Holy Eucharist, and Love itself, are one and the same thing: “Cor Unum”. One Heart.
We pray to you, our ever-loving Lord, let your Sacred Heart be our treasure, for where our treasure is, there also will our hearts be. Like Mother Mary’s Immaculate Heart, one heart with Yours. Amen.
By: Laura Worhacz
“Mary, His Mother and the Mother of adorers, made amends to Him for everything, and the love of Jesus found inexpressible satisfaction in receiving her prayers and her tears shed for the salvation of the world.” - Saint Peter Julian Eymard ( Eymard Library Vol. 7, page 130)
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
We are living through an extraordinary time of grace. By keeping our senses aware of Divine Providence and the work of God in our lives, miraculous things will continue to happen for the love of Jesus. Through this time of pandemic, sorrow can so easily take over our existence. It is only through prayer that we can see through the life of the Eucharist and recognize that God is in control of our lives.
Early one morning this week, I thanked God for my prayer routine. I thanked Him for giving me the grace to wake up early, to sit with Him in the silence, and then go for a prayer walk to pray the rosary and the chaplet of Divine Mercy. In preparation for Holy Mass, I pray the joyful mysteries in the morning. As I was praying this week, I stopped for a moment and looked at all of creation… the birds, the grass, the trees, and the animals in my neighborhood. I paused in my rosary offering and continued to walk. I was walking with Jesus and Mary in a special way, thinking. I imagined Mary on her way to the visitation. She walked over 70 miles in haste to the hill country. Our Mother was surely living the rosary; she was probably absorbing the beauty of creation. Her heart was surely excited to see her cousin, to behold her and the lives they were carrying. Mary’s espousal to the Holy Spirit enflamed her prayer with joy! Mary carried the Eucharist, the highest form of prayer. I thought as I went back to my beads, how many of us prepare for Holy Mass? Are we forming our hearts to be open to receive the grace from our prayers? God is with us. The battle is real; we see the evil of hatred, violence, and all sorts of destruction on top of the pandemic outbreak in recent days -- devastating and heartbreaking. We live in our prayer the reality of what is to come and the hope in our relationship with Jesus.
Today we remember Saint Dominic. He knew the power of prayer; the Eucharist and Holy Rosary would change the forces of evil to a pathway to Heaven. Jesus finds inexpressible satisfaction in receiving our prayer; our return of love to Him forms us in the compassion of God. Prayer is the most important part of our day. Let us continue to see God in every facet of our Eucharistic lives and to the best of our ability, PRAY.
We are Ivonne Hernandez, Rick Hernandez and Laura Worhacz, Lay Associates of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, and brothers and sisters in Christ.