We often speak about the beautiful gift that is to have a good father and mother. Having good parents can make a big difference in any child’s life, for we know that a good parent will listen in acknowledgment of our dignity and provide us with guidance as required. A good parent will support, correct, praise, and admonish as needed, and set rules and boundaries that ensure our safety. The goal of the good parent is to establish a loving environment where they can share of their love, experience, and wisdom. A good parent is indeed a treasure.
We know very well that we have not all been blessed with great parents, and I pray for all of us who are, in reality, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual orphans. We pray for a parental figure to care for us, help us, and nurture in us that which is needed for us to develop rightly. Sometimes we get to select who is that person in our lives, but sometimes the person selects us.
And it is a blessing to have not only those parental figures who nurture our physical and mental well-being, but also spiritual parents who nurture our spiritual well-being. Some of our spiritual parents are here on earth, and some watch over us from Heaven.
Every February 4th, the Eymardian family (Sacramentinos) celebrates the birthday of our founder, Saint Peter Julian Eymard. He is known to the world as the Apostle of the Eucharist, but for us, Eymardians, we know him as our spiritual father.
What is a spiritual father? The Catholic Dictionary defines a Spiritual Father as “one who counsels and directs a person in the spiritual life. It is generally a priest, the spiritual father is often designated by ecclesiastical authority to guide the members of a religious community or confraternity, students for the priesthood, or in general, persons specially dedicated to Christian perfection or the Church’s apostolate.”
A spiritual father listens in acknowledgment, provides guidance as required, and supports and corrects. Through our spiritual father’s lessons, we are taught how to grow in the spiritual life. As I read through the writings of Father Eymard, I often imagine myself sitting by his side and asking for his guidance in a quiet conversation...
Me: “Father Eymard, tell me. Am I personally loved by God?”
Me: “Father Eymard, tell me. How can I recognize God?”
Me: “Father Eymard, I get so tired and become burdened by life. Most of the time I do not know what to do. How do I grow my spiritual life?”
Me: “Father Eymard, all that you are saying sounds quite difficult.”
Let us learn from the many lessons Saint Peter Julian Eymard shares and grow, that we may fulfill our call to a well-developed spiritual life. Let us live a rich Eucharistic life steeped in thanksgiving for all our Lord Jesus has done for us. May we all grow to emulate Saint Peter Julian Eymard and become spiritual fathers [mothers] to those in need of our love and guidance.
Let us pray: Our Lord, Jesus Christ. We thank you for your loving gift of self in the Eucharist. Thank you for giving us Saint Peter Julian Eymard to help guide us to you. Father Eymard, thank you for your heroic gift of self, the lessons on recognizing Christ Eucharistic, and the advice on how to live the Eucharistic life. May all your spiritual children help bring about a Eucharistic revival. That the heart of our Lord Jesus, in the Most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored, and loved with grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time. Amen.
I have always loved the Christian life’s focus on newness. We are called to become a new creation through our Lord Jesus Christ. As the splendor of a new dawn presents the beginning of a new day, our spiritual day is also meant to start with the contemplation of Christ’s life present in us. We witness the splendor of His presence here among us and in us. Christ’s Word rings in our ears and minds and is meant to guide our thoughts and actions so that we may become little Christs in our small communities and among those who need to know Christ. We help others know Christ by being like Christ. At Mass, we pray that we may become what we eat. During Communion, we are changed. In that most intimate moment, we are made whole and new, no longer just us. For a few moments, we live our prayer that we may become one with Christ.
As beautifully encompassing and fulfilling as the Mass is, how do we live this prayer beyond the Eucharistic banquet? To do this properly, Saint Peter Julian Eymard encourages us to offer God what he called the “Gift of Self” or the “Gift of our Personality.” We give up what we are, our desires, hang-ups, thoughts, and our very selves so that we may become one with Christ, that He may live in us, and that His Holy Will be done in us and through us.
The perfect selflessness of Christ was the gift of His own personality to our Father, the Most High. For most of us, it may be easy to see how to be selfless in situations we consider extreme, like during the Crucifixion, but how can we find it in ordinary, day-to-day life? There seems to be a misconception of what it means to be selfless. I believe it is seen as something that you turn on or off. Do you become selfless by denying your own needs? No. Do you become selfless by denying your dreams and motivations? No.
So, being selfless as Christ is selfless is what exactly? It is turning our lives, needs and dreams, motivations, and charism, who we are, into a gift to others. It is to keep an open mind and a willing heart, to gift our fellow brothers and sisters with our very selves. When we are able to make that mental switch, committing our lives to be a gift to God and others, then we become genuinely selfless. This is part of the gift of self, the gift of personality. If we are willing and able to allow Christ to live in us and take over, then we will discover that Christ will say to us:
Many Saints have spoken about relinquishing desires, wants, and expectations so that we may become empty vessels, vessels that may be filled to the brim by the Grace of God. A saintly life means we are vessels, vessels of God’s Grace. Just as water is transported to combat thirst, we, vessels of grace, transport God’s gifts to those we interact with, fighting faithlessness, hopelessness, and the lack of love. Do we actively think about our role as vessels of God’s grace? Do we take our participation in the Eucharistic banquet as a call to distribute that which we receive from God’s goodness? Grace is God’s gift for us, but what do we do with our gifts? If we gift ourselves to God, then we are His instruments. We are called to be pliable in His hands so that we may allow Him to do His sacred work in the world through us. That is living a saintly life.
This does not mean that we are all called to go out to the nations and preach and minister as the apostles. It does mean that we all have an essential part in God’s mission of Mercy and Love that is ours, and we must allow His Will to mold us and guide us to our daily mission in life through the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are called to be like Christ. Let us take every new day and choose to be a new creation in Him. Let us allow ourselves to be His hands in this world so that we may help our loved ones to know and love Christ through His Real Presence in our lives. May we be much less like us and much more like Christ.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, allow us to grow in humility and accept your will for us. Help to make of ourselves a gift to You, that You may reside in us, live presently in us, and minister to the world through us. May we always be Your new creation. Amen.
My favorite part of Christmas has always been the abundance of light. In many countries, Christmas is called the Season of Light. Twinkling lights adorn the streets and homes. Candles are lit and placed on window sills. Our Advent wreath candles are present, partially consumed from our period of expectant waiting for Christmas day, and the Christmas trees are lit up!
Light calls out to light, as love calls out to love, and presence seeks out presence. By focusing on light, we walk away from darkness. Light rescues us from the limitations of the night, and we are liberated from the oppression of the dark. Light represents our Lord and Savior, so when I see all the beautifully colored lights during the Christmas season, I think of Christ. Our Lord is the new dawn, the light of our salvation.
Who among us does not rejoice in the beauty of the sun rising?
Our Lord became man by the power of the Holy Spirit and through the fiat of our Blessed Mother Mary for our good, enacting the plan for our salvation, redemption, and restoration, that we may become one again with Him who loves us. The light of the Star of Bethlehem transited the sky to join the light of Christ. Just as light envelops everything that it touches, our Lord Jesus envelops us if we open our hearts and minds to His love and mercy... We accept Him as our Lord and Savior, acknowledge Him as the King of All Glory, and bask in His light.
We have Christ-Eucharistic present with us at every tabernacle of the world and at every altar during Mass. His light is present to shine upon us, but also somewhat veiled, so that we may search for Him and intentionally come to find Him.
Let us invite Christ into our hearts and minds and celebrate the Christmas season well, in the fullness of Joy. Let us intentionally take time to meditate on the coming of Christ. Let us imagine Mother Mary and Saint Joseph, the first ones to see the light of Christ’s face. Let us find ourselves at that blessed moment. As we acknowledge and receive the grace from Jesus’s birth, let us keep our eyes focused on Christ’s light so that we may be guided, just like the Magi were, to understand the Real Presence of Our Lord among us. May we invite Christ to accompany us to our parties and celebrations. Let us ask Him to bless our presents and the feasts we share. Let us be Eucharistic and take Christ with us to the world!
May we also be able to find that quiet moment to go, prostrate ourselves and adore at the feet of Christ. May this Christmas season help us recognize He who loves us and that His light may shine upon us.
Let us pray: Lord of Heaven, Lord of Light. You are the one and only Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten and not made, consubstantial with the Father; through You, all things were made. For us men and for our salvation, You came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit, You were incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man... Thank You, Lord, because, from the blessed day of your birth, you have guided us out of the darkness by Your light. Amen.