By: Rick Hernandez
As a Eucharistic person, I often picture in my mind the time of the Institution of the Eucharist, especially when I hear the words from the Gospel according to Luke:
Remembrance? Who can have a more perfect remembrance of Our Lord than Our Lady, Mother Mary? This is not difficult to see. For her, remembrance meant the whole of her life with Jesus, every moment, every thought, every feeling, all the instances of motherly life.
For Mother Mary, remembrance is alive, true love in action, moments of joy, but also of sadness. Her time with Jesus really defined the meaning and purpose of her life. The wholeness of her life, via her most perfect humility, was her sublime offering to God the Father; that along with her opening to the Holy Spirit and her caring for Our Lord Jesus, she also offered her life to mother the Church across all of time... What a mission!
Our Lady knew we were not orphans, neither fatherless nor motherless… not then and not now.
Saint Peter Julian Eymard gave Our Mother Mary the title of “Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament.” How beautifully insightful this title is. From that first Mass in the Upper Room, Our Lord Jesus kept being with Our Lady in the same way that He is now with us.
That is what the title of “Lady of the Blessed Sacrament” means for us, the perfect example of the Eucharistic life in Christ for the Church. The perfect example of what it means to remain in Him who loves us. Perfect, intimate union achieved in the Eucharistic communion.
Saint John Paul II writes in his Encyclical “Ecclesia Eucharistia”:
I like to think Mother Mary was the first one to know Jesus in the flesh, before us, one with Jesus Eucharistic. As Mary is, so we are called to be, one with Our Lord… What a great example is Our Mother…
Today, so many of us struggle with recognizing Jesus in the Eucharist. Is it because we have not seen? Well, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29).
If we are called to truly recognize Jesus Eucharistic so that we may believe, should we not ask Mother Mary for help? The Blessed Virgin Mary knows the way.
Our Mother Mary patiently waits for us to seek her counsel. She is the Mother of Good Counsel. She holds the key to many Graces for us, for she is “Full of Grace” (Luke 1:28). We only have to ask...
Mother of Mercy and Mother of Grace …Through Our Mother, we access Jesus’ Mercy and partake of His Grace.
Mother of Hope and Virgin Most Faithful …Through Our Lady, we access the fullness of Hope. We learn fidelity at the foot of the most faithful of the faithful.
Refuge of Sinners and Comfort of the Afflicted …The first adorer, Mary, teaches us, sinners, how to commune with Christ. As Mother, she comforts us, takes us by the hand to Jesus.
Mary accepted us as her children out of love and obedience to her Son, Our Lord Jesus. That is yet another yes from her, another fiat. Mary’s whole life, up to this moment, even today, a fiat. A fiat for you and me… From Mother Mary’s fiat, what is it that we have available to us?
I remember hearing as a child that Mary was the “Fountain of Grace.”
A fountain does not produce water; the water comes from somewhere else, but the fountain uses the water to create beautiful displays and to help combat thirst. Such is Our Lady, full of grace.
Mary takes the many graces from Our Lord and displays them in the fullness of her beautiful life, an example to be followed, and yet, out of her love for God and us, she also distributes the graces so that we may not wilt. In this, as in everything she does, Mother Mary points to Our Lord Jesus. If we open our hearts to her, our Mother accompanies us on the road home, on the path to Heaven.
Let us then open our hearts to our Mother because where she is, is where we are called to be.
As we continue on this month of May, the month of Our Lady, let us take time and meditate on the life of Mother Mary after the Ascension of Our Lord, guiding the early Church.
Gentle Mother, faithful servant, fearless general, Fountain of Grace. Our Lady has a great many titles, the greatest one being “Mother of God,” but I like to think that, as she looks upon her children in the world, her sweetest one is “Our Mother.”
Let us pray:
By: Rick Hernandez
One of my many memories from childhood is when my family visited the bioluminescent bay called “La Parguera” in Lajas, Puerto Rico. For those of you that do not know, a bioluminescent bay’s waters light up at night. It is such a beautiful sight. There are many glass-bottom boats where you can see the greenish hue of bio light shining as the boat cuts through the water at slow speed. It shows our eyes that there is life, actively fighting the darkness of the deep water.
I was fascinated by the fact that the waters of the bay would light up. Water emitting light! From my limited life experiences, I could not grasp that concept at all. I had seen water all of my life, and none before did that; therefore, that water must have been extraordinary. I wanted some of that water…
But then, I remember my dad explaining that it was not the water itself lighting up but what was “in” the water, microscopic organisms generating light via biological processes. I could not see the microorganisms doing that, but I could see the end result of their effort… Light!
I want to be able to see Christ in us, His beloved people, for that is a big part of our call. We are created to be like Christ, to be His hands and feet in this world. When I see the good and the faithful acting His love for us, I see Christ’s light actively overcoming the world’s darkness. Like John, with our lives, we testify to God’s light. We witness to His good.
We must illuminate the way towards Him by shining with His light. Nowhere is there a better example of this than in our most precious Mother Mary, for Mary is to Christ as the moon is to the sun. The moon does not have its own light but perfectly reflects the sun’s light, so much that it brings light amongst the darkness of night. We are to be like Mary, actively shining with His light.
For those who do not know Jesus, the light of His love present in His faithful must be a mystery. Yet people are attracted to the light! Like my father did for me, we must be prepared to explain again and again that it is not our own light that shines through but that it comes from the One who loves us. Let us help them get closer to Christ. Point the way to Him.
Christ’s light shines whenever we share from His banquet, whenever we share of His love, His hope, and His faith. We are to do this “Just so, your light shines before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16).
We must be aware of His gifts that we receive. At the end of every Mass, especially united to our Lord Eucharistic through Communion, we are sent to share His grace with the world. Apostles!
As we continue on our journey home to Heaven, do we testify to the light of Christ? Like Mother Mary, are we shining His light?
Let us pray:
Lord, your love for us is ever-present, and you know us perfectly well. Help us to be as your light in this world. Help us to let your love for us be readily apparent, that the ones seeking you may also come to know you through your actions in our lives. Let it be light! Amen.
By: Rick Hernandez
Holy Saturday, the long silence. As we wait patiently for the rising of Our Lord on Easter, let us take this time to ponder on the meaning of the Passion and Death of Christ. We look up to the Heavens through the eyes of faith, and in our hearts, we can inscribe the words:
“No one has a greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
Jesus laid down His most precious life because of LOVE. For us and for our salvation, He conquered death, and all of this happened because He accepted His Cross. What does that mean for us? What are we to learn from His lesson?
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
Here, our Lord is asking to be released from the Passion's suffering but accepts it out of His love for God the Father. He surrenders His will to accept the Father’s will.
We, as humans, often shy away from suffering; we avoid pain. Yet to suffer is unavoidable. It is the reality of this fallen life. We will encounter suffering, be it ourselves or via our loved ones.
So many of our hearts are deeply hurt these days. We can barely keep up with the battering from the world, so we close our hearts. Society tries to teach us to be selfish. Media bombards us with the message that it is all about us, that we are meant to have an easy life, that we should not have to suffer.
Because of this, love has lost its real meaning.
Jesus on the Cross is the ultimate form of intercessory prayer, the ultimate form of love. His physical life was a living prayer. His suffering and death, in love, are the offering to the Father to atone for our sins. Jesus was not afraid of pain and suffering; He knew that to love freely meant to be able to lay His life if necessary. Such is still our call today.
With His example, Jesus tells us that we do not have to like suffering or want it. Still, we have to be willing to accept it, especially when it is because of our love for others. God's love for us is free, as in freely given. It is unbound.
Free love is not painless love. Free love is not selfish love; it is neither conditional nor temporal. If we are going to be able to love freely, we have to be willing to suffer. Our hurt hearts can know real love, but we have to be willing to be vulnerable.
If you are not willing to suffer disappointment or pain, you cannot love freely.
To love is not without consequences on this Earth. Love can be, for us, a little Passion. We know from Christ’s example that when suffering comes, it is an opportunity to make an offering to our Lord. The surrendering of our will to His will, as an act of love, then becomes an intercessory prayer.
It is in this renouncing of self for the good of others that our experience becomes a little like Christ’s on the Cross. “No greater LOVE...”.
"Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2)
Today, let us think not only about physical death. Today let us embrace self-denial, humility, and empathy. Let us be willing to suffer discomfort for the ones in need. We are meant to carry each other’s burdens. Would it not be love if we go out of our comfort zone to help turn around a life? What are we willing to give up for our love of others?
To love fully, we must be willing to suffer. Like Our Lord, are we willing?
Love one another as I have loved you.
May you have a Happy and Blessed Easter!
By: Rick Hernandez
Every day, sitting at my desk, I welcome the afternoon sun that tells me that the day is progressing. My desk is placed in such a way that the afternoon sunlight comes through, at just the right angle so that sometimes I am bathed in light.
There is a particular awareness that comes from being shined upon. It sharpens the way things look. At that very moment, the gentle strength of the light rays is but a gift for me. I am reminded to give thanks for the light!
One day a ray of light shone from the edge of my desk in such a way that, in my memory, I was transported back to an experience of my years as an altar server. This was a few years after the transition between the old and the new, just after implementing the Second Vatican council edicts in our Diocese.
I was really young but remembered being trained to serve under my parish pastor. My main job was to assist with the preparation of the altar and then ring the bells during Consecration. Father was a good man, a gentle soul, and a good priest. He was always kind with me and with the others that were getting trained as altar servers.
I have to say that anybody who saw me back then knew that I just could not stay put for too long. Curiosity for the world and its wonders was ever-present in me, and I would get distracted easily. Many simple things used to catch my eye; it was part of my personality.
Obviously, this trait of mine was not an asset when I was serving at Mass; Father had to gently motion to me every time I was about to miss my cue. What a loving, gentle, and fatherly priest he was to me… But my lack of focus was a problem, and he had to address it.
“Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others…” (Colossians 3:23)
One day Father sat me down before Mass and said:
“Child, you have ‘chispa’, the spark of life. You have ‘gusto’ for all things and are ever curious. That is ok; it is a gift given to you.
That day at Mass, I prayed for the gift of presence. I tried my hardest to be there fully. How could I not after Father so lovingly explained what my presence there was for? I was gifted that day with the ability to concentrate, to be able to see everything in sharp detail, to perfectly listen to every word.
When the time of Consecration came, I was on my knees looking up at the altar and listening to the words: “Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my Body, which will be given up for you”… and at that moment, light from the upper windows shone through, caught the edge of the altar and bathed our Lord Eucharistic in light.
“See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19).
In an instant, recognition. I realized at that moment why my job was important, and I rang that bell confidently and full of zeal. In my heart, I knew that I was announcing that He was there, fully present. This was it, the light telling every eye, the bell telling every ear, His love telling every heart.
That bell ringing called us to be there present with Him IN the moment, to adore Him, to bring our sufferings and unite them to Him who died and rose for us…. to be there for Him who, for us, conquered death… to be there for Him who, for us, became bread and wine. What an honor it was to announce all this, to have been for that fleeting moment, the ringing bell of recognition.
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
At every Mass, the word “Behold” is said, and Christ Eucharistic is raised. In the great humility of Christ, the Son of God is once again as forever, the Lamb of God, our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer. He is food for the journey, sustenance for life, true life. And when we partake of Communion, that most intimate act of union is a perfect showing of Love, Faith, and Hope.
We must hear it still, that call to all of us, “Can’t you see? This is important. Pay attention.” Behold! Let us recognize Him. He recognizes us.
Let us pray: Lord, may we be ever attentive to the promptings of your love and mercy. Help us to recognize your guiding hand in all things. Please, let your light shine on us as it ever shines on You. 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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