By: Rick Hernandez
What does it mean to be a king? And I mean, a king in the Catholic sense, the way we are called to be as part of our office of priest, prophet, and king?
The word king is directly related to and derived from the word kin, which means “family” or “of the same kind.” The word king originally meant “the leader of the kin” or, in more modern terms, “head of the family.” I like to think of a king this way, as the head of the family. The king is meant to provide for the needs of the family, help develop, protect, and nurture the kin. The king is ultimately responsible for his kingdom’s charges, and that is a lifelong calling.
The images we get of a king from TV shows and modern novels paint a different idea of what a king is really supposed to be. Selfishness, incompetence, outsized pride, and covetousness are often portraited. Those are the opposites of the attributes that are necessary for a virtuous king.
The life of this king is not supposed to be about his own needs, though those needs exist. This king is meant to be selfless. His life is meant to be about the needs of his kingdom, his people, his kin. He lives not for his own enrichment but for the betterment of others. It takes a lot of selflessness to make the lives of others the kingly mission. The most important attribute required is humility.
The virtue of humility is defined by St. Thomas Aquinas as: “Keeping oneself within one’s own bounds, not reaching out to things above one, but submitting to one’s superior.”
Saint Bernard presents his own definition of humility as: “A virtue by which a man, knowing himself as he truly is, abases himself. Jesus Christ is the ultimate definition of Humility.”
To be humble is to know oneself but not hold oneself in higher regard than necessary. This is important.
I was told long ago that when a man gets married, he becomes a king, but a different kind of king from what the world envisions, not a ruler but a servant. A new husband leaves behind his father and mother. He leaves behind the life that was only his, to take over the reins of a new domestic kingdom. United with his wife, they become a benign ruling entity over a new creation. Yet, this new kingdom is still an extended part of their original kin, continuing the old history and traditions.
The husband, a future father, is now the guarding entity of this new family. What was, is. What is the job of the new king? It is to selflessly lead, love, and serve with Christ’s humility. To grow into sainthood and lead those under his care to the Kingdom of Heaven.
When it comes to servant kings, I always think of the humblest one, our dear Saint Joseph…
As always, not much is known about the life of Saint Joseph, but we know he was a most humble man. He was chaste, faithful, hopeful, and loving. Saint Joseph was kind to his kin and obedient to his God-given mission. He sacrificed from his own life for the good of the family.
We firmly believe that just as our Mother Mary was selected to mother the child Jesus, our dear Saint Joseph was also chosen to be the king of this kin, the head of this family. Saint Joseph is a perfect example of the humble servant, of the selfless king.
Saint Peter Julian Eymard imagines Saint Joseph gazing upon his kingdom in profound adoration:
Through his relationship with Jesus, Saint Joseph was able to perform his kingly duty throughout his earthly life. Even now, Saint Joseph is available to us, still there to support us with our kingly duties whenever we ask.
Society today has too many kingless families. It is not meant to be this way. We need husbands and fathers who strive to grow in humility, in responsibility, and in their commitment to the Godly mission.
To become great kings, we must become humble servants, even slaves, and we must do it with a joyful heart, following after the actions of our Lord.
So, it is clear. We must not forget what the mission is, to raise our family, protect them, and lead them in the stead of our Heavenly King, that we may all be reunited in the Kingdom of Heaven. To do this, we must pray, unite ourselves to the One who loves us in the Eucharist, partake of His love for us, and listen to the wisdom of His Word. Let us grow in wisdom; let us embrace humility. Let us listen to our charges; they will tell us what they need. Let us listen to the Holy Spirit; He will tell us how to respond.
Our kingship must be active. Being a humble king is a responsibility that is assumed, but it needs our persistent commitment. Are we committed to being teachers and guides? Will we protect, correct, love, and participate in the lives of our charges as guides, the same way our Lord Jesus is our guide? This kingly life is a calling… a heavenly calling. With Saint Joseph’s help, how will we reply?
Let us pray: Lord, help us be ever vigilant towards our duties as heads of our families. Help us to gain wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. Helps us to grow ever-humble that we may become the servant kings you call us to be in your image. Help us look up to your foster father, Saint Joseph, as an example of true kingship and Eucharistic spirituality. Help us to grow closer to what you have called us to be and that the ones under our charge can grow ever closer to You, for that is what we desire the most for them, a rich life in You. Amen.
By: Rick Hernandez
I look up to the Heavens and offer grateful thanks to our Father for the gift of life. We are so blessed to be alive. Yet, I often wonder why I was created, what is it that I am called to accomplish in this world with my earthly life?
We know we are created for something, not for nothing, for we know God does everything with truthful and willful intent. Therefore, the reality of us being here tells us that we have something to do. There is a God-given mission for us, and that mission is personally ours.
The English word “mission” comes from the Latin word “missio,” which stands for “to be sent.” There is another word that we know also means “to be sent,” and that is the Greek word “apostolos,” translated to English as “apostle.” Therefore, when we have a mission, we are sent to fulfill it. We become apostles.
Just as we are unique, distinctly us, so is our apostolic mission unique. Only we can accomplish it faithfully while on this earth. But what is our apostolic mission? It is, in fact, simple. What is the greatest commandment?
The mission of love and mercy is collectively the same for us, yet its reality is notably different for every individual, a permutation uniquely ours.
We do not all interact with the same people daily; we do not all encounter the same situations. We all have a distinct lot in life and different gifts and capabilities. Yet, we all have the potential for loving, kind, and merciful action. Therefore, we must embrace the Works of Mercy.
Having this mission of love and mercy means that we are missionaries, sent, and being sent means we have a place where we are called to action. Where we live and where we work are our mission grounds. It is there where our mission of love and mercy must unfold. We will encounter opportunities to love, serve, minister, and console precisely where we are. All of these are part of our call. Do we acknowledge that?
We must become aware. We must learn to recognize God’s call for us to tend to His people. Whenever we have someone in front of us, we are called to love with God’s love. It is in those present moments where we have the opportunity to be like Christ on this earth. In those moments, only we can fulfill the mission; we should not shy away. After all, in the Eucharist, we are one family. In Him who loves us, we are all One.
The principal place where we must cultivate our mission of love and mercy is at home. There we must provide our family with love and safety. There we must pass along the teachings of Christ. It is there that we must develop merciful hearts. It is there where we must learn to recognize and acknowledge Christ in others. I cannot help but think of the example of the Holy Family.
Christ Jesus showed us how to accept the mission of love and mercy. He worked on his Father’s call to redeem us with zeal and with undying fervor. Christ used his earthly life to provide a means of Salvation to the faithful. In the humble Eucharist He remains, truly-present to provide us with the Grace we need.
Our Mother Mary showed us how to accept the mission of love and mercy. Her fiat was done in perfect faith, with full recognition, and without a doubt. Mary remaining a spiritual mother for us is an offering of love. She remains ready to comfort the faithful.
Our Dearest Saint Joseph showed us how to accept the mission of love and mercy. His obedience is displayed beautifully with a perfect humility born of the hope for Heaven. He obeyed so that the scriptures be fulfilled. He remains a spiritual father for us, ready to protect the faithful.
Looking at the three members of the Holy Family, we find the examples we need, each embracing the uniqueness of their mission. Can we embrace our call to work for the Kingdom of Heaven, that call that is uniquely ours? This world needs us now more than ever. We are called to love and mercy. Do we accept His call?
Let us pray:
Lord, you are always calling us to communion. You gather all to You. We humbly ask that You enrich us with the Love, Faith, and Charity we require to take care of Your people. Help us to recognize You in the face of our brothers and sisters, that we may serve them with open hearts and willing minds. That Your love may be recognized and exalted forever. Amen.
By: Rick Hernandez
Of the many gifts I have been privileged to receive on this Earth, I am genuinely grateful for each of the many great teachers that have left their mark in my life. From their efforts, I like to think that I have learned to be open-minded and curious. I have learned to hypothesize and test, searching deeper when an answer eludes me or is unsatisfactory. I have learned that where work and effort are required, there is an opportunity for growth.
A good teacher can en-kindle these fires in your mind to search for meaning, to search for truth, and we know these are things that can definitively change the course of any life.
Growing up in the Catholic faith, I always thought of Christ Jesus as “My Lord.” That was the title that always stuck to my mind whenever I figured Jesus on this Earth.
I imagined this benevolent King, working and sacrificing for the good of His people, a servant King. As truthful and beautiful as that image is, it is incomplete, for Christ Jesus is more than a King.
Our Lord Jesus is “Priest, Prophet, and King.” This is called the “Threefold Office” of Our Lord. This is important to know because it presents a much more complete description of the mission of Christ Jesus.
A servant king works for the good of his people; he provides the kingdom subjects with safety and comfort, but not necessarily with growth. For that, we need something different from a king.
A priest sacrifices for the people, providing the flock with a means to make amends for wrongdoings and giving thanks but does not necessarily foster personal growth. For that, we need something different from a priest.
Personal growth is usually nurtured by “teachers,” not “kings” nor “priests,” and that is where Christ Jesus’s office of “Prophet” comes to the forefront.
The word “prophet” translates from the Ancient Greek word “prophḗtēs” as “one who speaks for a God,” or more formally as “one who speaks with Godly authority.”
“Rabbi” is the title most often used in the Bible to address Christ Jesus. “Rabbi” is an Aramaic word that can translate directly to “great one” (one who deserves respect) or more to the point to “teacher” (one who deserves to be heard).
Christ Jesus, as a Prophet, teaches us the way to a faithful and moral life. Our Lord came to establish the Kingdom, redeem us from our sin, and teach us the way to Heaven. With His most sacred life, he offers the perfect example of righteous living.
During His time on Earth, He was a Prophet, for He taught with His Godly authority; He was a Great One, deserving of great respect and was, most of all, worthy of being heard, a teacher to us all. With His words, we are taught the way to Him. He is the most perfect teacher indeed.
But... any good teacher will tell us that they can only teach us if we are willing to learn. A keen open mind is the bare minimum requirement for becoming a student. But as always, minimums are not enough with Our Lord.
Our Lord is not looking for students but for disciples. A Master/Disciple relationship is freely chosen by both teacher and disciple and bonds to the same level as a father and son. Jesus pulled His disciples from all walks of life. He called out to them and asked if they were willing to follow, to learn, to suffer...
Jesus called His disciples to greatness, and He was going to personally teach them.
Like it was for the original twelve Apostles, to be a disciple of our Lord means being called to something greater. It is a call that is not free or without effort. We are called to eagerly bring all that we are, our strengths and weaknesses, and offer ourselves to Our Heavenly Master. We obediently submit to His teachings. Sacrifices will be asked of us. We are no longer ours but His.
The standards for our lives become different from the non-believers. When we are disciples of our Lord Jesus, our lives are meant to be faithful, hopeful, loving, and consistent. The world needs His disciples.
When we internalize Christ’s teachings, we go beyond discipleship and are called into the apostolic life. We go from disciples (those who learn) to apostles (those who are sent, those who teach). When the students are ready and know the material well, they are now able to teach.
Are we learning well? There is a whole world out there that is waiting for our apostolic work. Our Mother Church is waiting to teach us well, in communion with one another. The Eucharist is waiting to nourish us and provide us with the Grace needed for every day. With the help from the Holy Spirit now within us, it is time to work for the Kingdom.
Our Heavenly Teacher is calling us to greatness. How will we respond?
Let us pray:
Our Good and Mighty Teacher, we offer You our very lives that You may impart in us Your great teachings, that we may learn to be like You, that we may be able to love like You. Help us to do this with a joyful heart and a willing mind. May we be always open to the promptings of Your Holy Spirit, that we may be true disciples, new apostles sent into the world. Amen.
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, all the moments of joy and sadness.
It is the wholeness of her life, via her most perfect humility, that became Mary's sublime offering to God the Father. We know 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...
Our Lady knew we were not to be orphans, neither fatherless nor motherless… not then and not now.
Saint Peter Julian Eymard gave Our Mother Mary the beautifully insightful title of “Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament.” 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.
As the “Lady of the Blessed Sacrament,” Mary is the most perfect example of the Eucharistic life in Christ for the Church. Mother Mary lived what it means to remain in Him who loves us, a perfect, intimate union achieved in the Eucharistic communion.
Saint John Paul II writes in his Encyclical “Ecclesia Eucharistia”:
Mother Mary birthed Jesus, becoming the first one to know Jesus in the flesh, but she was also one of the first to become one with Jesus Eucharistic. As Mary is, so we are called to be, one with Our Lord…
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? She can help us see.
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.
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 manages the water to create beautiful displays and to help combat thirst. Such is Our Lady, Full of Grace.
Mary manages the 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.
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:
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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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