By: Rick Hernandez
A few months ago, during a team building exercise at the office, we were asked whether we had a main goal to accomplish at work. The answers from our very large and very heterogeneous group were varied and ranged from wanting to do "good for our patients" to wanting to "climb the corporate ladder". I noticed that the people answering had one thing in common, that is, they knew their answers right away. They knew what they wanted to accomplish at work. After this question, the group leader asked us whether we had a main goal in life. To my surprise, most of the co-workers struggled with their answers, some starting with "If I have to have a goal it would be..." or "I don't really know, I guess it would be...".
The point of the exercise was to invite us to think about how work is part of life, and life is what we live. Reality is that we tend to separate our work from everything else, almost like a different world. We invest fully a third of our time at work, but it tends to be disconnected from the rest of our lives...
Later I started to think about my own life, how I'm a husband, father, son, brother, friend, mentor, mentee, teacher, student, and I asked myself the same questions... What is my goal in life, at work, on the street, and at home? Do I have a main, all-encompassing goal to the way I live my life, one that applies to all that I am and am called to be here on this Earth? I prayed for a while and eventually the answer came: “To accept the love God has for me and share it with everyone, through who I am and what I do.” At the end of the day, isn't this what our God commands us to do? To accept His love, we plug into the source, our Lord Jesus Christ. Participating in His feast, the Eucharistic banquet, the Holy Mass, we recharge our hearts with the faith, hope and charity we require to perform our daily chores and jump-start the relationship with our brothers and sisters.
We are children of God, not just some of the time, but all of the time. We are Church, not just on Sundays, but every day. We are sent-disciples, not just at church, but everywhere. We are called to constantly and consistently be in relationship with our Lord, and to show His love to others, that they may get closer to God through seeing His love for us. Let us then, unite the separate aspects of our lives to Him who loves us, that we may achieve the consistency required to be His true disciples, apostles of His love, everywhere we go.
By: Laura Worhacz
“But the mission dearest to Mary ‘s heart was that of constant prayer…” - Saint Peter Julian Eymard
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
Mary guides us through our journey of faith. The mission of our Catholic Church continues through the Cross of Jesus Christ for our eternal salvation. Living in the mystery of our suffering and allowing the pain to be offered in humble service is the revelation of the saints. Grace pours out of the unknown. Our hidden and submissive offerings are those we may be tempted to think unseen. God’s vision of love for our lives is seen in the silence.
Mary’s mission was that of constant prayer. If we think of our Lady’s prayer… How did she pray? She was not praying the rosary as we know it now, or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. It seems Mary lived in a constant state of prayer. This union of prayer granted her to be the first missionary of our Catholic Church. I have been praying for years the rosary, chaplet, and many personal devotions. The prayers take my heart home to the Catholic Church and bring me into greater union with God. However, when Raymond (my husband) was in ICU for two weeks after his recent liver transplant surgery my prayer lived in the deep silence of my soul. I was blessed in those weeks to get to an early morning Mass. Receiving Communion was everything to remind my soul of its mission. The rest of the days were a blur, busy with nurses, doctors and taking care of Raymond. Our mission begins with fulfilling the duties of our state in life. The mission is granted by our interior consent to God’s Holy Will. Obedience to silent time with our Father, and receiving His son, sets us on our course. There are times we are in control of our prayer and other times we are tossed about, yet by the gift of the Eucharist we are still within, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46).
The Holy Spirit will guide our paths and all the work thereafter. God is so gracious; He offers us freedom; we give permission to His life in us. His grace is ever ready to be poured out to us. The mission of our Catholic Church begins in the heart of each believer. Where God extends our mission will be granted one breath at a time. We pray, like Mary, for our constant prayer of consent to be where our mission on earth begins.
Happy and blessed New Year to you and your families.
By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
One of the traditions I miss from Puerto Rico is the celebration of Three Kings Day. Every year, on the eve of January 6th, children fill shoe boxes with grass for the camels and then go to bed with great expectation, for the Three Wise Men will visit that night and leave presents behind. We continued that tradition with our children, but, since we lived in the United States, we had to come up with great stories to explain why the neighbors did not get presents on January 6th; my kids accepted the completely logical idea that camels were slower than Santa’s sleigh and only had time to stop by the houses of the Puerto Rican children who believed in them. They accepted it because it came from us, their parents, who they trust and love. And it was true… as long as they believed the Three Kings would come and visit them that night, they did.
In today’s Gospel (Mk 16:15-18) Jesus says that “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” But later He adds,
“These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
When I read that impressive list, my first thought is, “well, I guess I don’t really believe.” But then, as I ponder a little more, I challenge that thought. I remember the times that I did drive out demons in Jesus’ name. Like the time I was speaking with someone who was having a really bad day, and I witnessed despair leaving and hope settling in instead. I remember the times when my eyes have met the gaze of another, and a new language was spoken, one that went straight to the heart, without a sound being uttered. I remember the time when the “snake” was lurking inside my home; I learned all I could about internet safety and had some uncomfortable but necessary conversations with my children. I remember the time I was given a false teaching, like a deadly thing to drink, yet the truth was so clear in my mind that it did me no harm. And I can also remember the times when a touch, a hug, or just a pat on the shoulder healed a heart sick with loneliness and doubt. Seems like at least sometimes, I do believe. But what about the rest of the time? What about those times when I let fear and worry creep in?
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3). We need to return to the place where we trust, where we believe. Every time the world tells us we need to be afraid because things are scary and out of our control, we need to turn and hear the Word saying, “Fear not, for I am with you” (Is 43:5), and believe that “I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me” (Phi 4:13). “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 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 8:14-15).
My children received gifts from the Three Kings because they were born into our family. It didn’t matter that they were living in a different land, they only had two requirements to fulfill: to be part of our family and to believe. God also has a gift for His children who believe. “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:16). Through Baptism we have become children of God. Let us help each other remember the truth when doubt creeps in. Let us believe so that God can work amazing signs through us – through our words, our eyes, our hands, our feet. Let us help each other believe.
By: Rick Hernandez
Every year without fail, I meet people that are having a difficult time with the holiday season. Some can verbalize what is difficult for them, but I find that most cannot even tell you why they have such a hard time. Through experience, I have come to understand that, in most cases, their struggle is with loneliness.
Sometimes people struggle because they are away from home and family, driven away by their life circumstances, difficulty of relationships, or hurt and resentment. Sometimes they struggle because they’ve lost someone close to them, be it the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship, and have yet to process the change and recover from the experience. Sometimes they struggle because they just never had someone that was close to them in the first place. The longing to be someone of importance to somebody is heavy in their hearts and minds, and their sense of self-worth is often tied to these feelings. I know this very well, for I have also been trapped in this web of complicated feelings, and after years of praying, God allowed me to understand two things about loneliness.
One -- In order to defeat loneliness, we need a solid relationship with God. We are social beings. We are created in the image of God and we know He is a God of relationship and community. This is evident in His very nature, for He is the Holy Trinity, three in one: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. As He is community and relationship, so are we called to be. In order to share from our cup, the cup must be filled, and we get to fill our cup from our relationship with God. “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (Ps 23:5). From this overflowing cup, we can offer love to others without fear, for we are not alone. “I command you: be strong and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
Two -- We need to let go of our expectations and fears. Some of us live in these cages of our own making, cages that keep us from reaching out to others. We keep ourselves separate from own brothers and sisters, but long for acknowledgement and companionship. This just does not work. Destroy the cages! Let go of fears and expectations. “Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). If we make the effort to love our brothers and sisters, with God’s help, we can win the fight against loneliness. Doing this may be difficult but…
“No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor 10:13).
It is with hope for all of us that I am filled with excitement this holiday season! May this time of reflection bring us the gift of understanding the great love God has for us. May His overwhelming love fill our cups, that we may share His overflowing goodness with everyone, and that by doing so, we may mend old relationships and create new ones. May our hearts all be united in Him who loves us infinitely. We are not alone!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
By: Laura Worhacz
“You know my wishes for you are always the same: let us truly love our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us love him royally in his beloved Sacrament; let us serve him with joy and happiness, like the Angels and Saints in Heaven. Let us find everything good, everything fine which comes to us from his fatherly hand. Let us lovingly surrender to him our worries for the future, forgiveness for the past, and walk under the beautiful sun of his grace.” - Saint Peter Julian Eymard (The Life and Letters of Saint Peter Julian Eymard, Vol.4)
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
Looking for the perfect gift for Christmas?
Most of you know Raymond, my husband, had liver transplant surgery this past November 16th in NYC. We have left our home in Tampa for an indefinite amount of time so Raymond can be close to his medical team. The first year after this extensive surgery is a critical time, and Ray needs to be watched very closely. Clinging to the Eucharist has kept my family secure in God’s love during this alteration in our lives. Lovingly surrendering our own wants to the pathway of Heaven found in our hearts, will keep us close to the Angels and Saints, to the goodness of Our Father. God desires a return of our love. The perfect Christmas gift may be spending more time with our Lord, falling in Love with Jesus more each day.
Change is something often feared and handed over to anxieties. As we lovingly surrender by living in the grace of the moment through the Eucharist, the will of God births into our existence. Our freedom demands our choices; this includes our dispositions. Acts of our own will are important for us to recognize. Sacramental grace lives through us. We can cast out darkness by turning on the light. Have you woken up sad? Transform the sadness by calling upon the Lord, “Jesus cast out the sadness in my soul. Turn all to Your glory. Help me give thanks.”
The Liturgical seasons afford us opportunities to love Jesus more, especially in His beloved Sacrament of the Eucharist. Thanking Him for dying so that goodness may be found in our lives, focusing on our own faults, purifying our own souls, and shining a light on what God may want from us, is a Christmas gift to be cherished. By this dying to our own selves we become a gift to God and others, and only in the Eucharist can we find the grace to live in Heaven while on earth.
Saint Peter Julian Eymard, after a long retreat in Rome, close to his own death, opened his heart to the fullness of the reality of becoming a total Gift of Self. He lovingly surrendered all for the service of the adorable Sacrament of the Altar. In our faith we find the hope of our eternal dwelling place. Jesus lovingly surrendered; His birth brought light to the world. Jesus lovingly surrendered; His passion demonstrated the truth in existence of His love. Jesus lovingly surrendered; His death gifted us with an eternal place of GRACE. In the Blessed Sacrament let us find the perfect gift, the gift of self by lovingly surrendering for Christmas.
We are Ivonne Hernandez, Rick Hernandez and Laura Worhacz, Lay Associates of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, and brothers and sisters in Christ.