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 certain awareness that comes from being shined upon. It sharpens the way things look. In 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!
This 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 in the years of transition between the old and the new, just after the implementation of the Second Vatican council edicts.
I was really young and remember 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 listen to every word perfectly.
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 there 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, it is a showing of LOVE, in the intersection of Faith and Hope.
We must hear it still, that call to all of us, “Can’t you see? This is important. Pay attention.” 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.
Image by By Imgorthand at Canva
By: Laura Catherine Worhacz
“BEHOLD the beautiful month of Saint Joseph! We must spend it well. My only wish is that you develop a great devotion to Saint Joseph…Saint Joseph as the faithful adorer, the perfect model of the life of adoration...We offer it too for our beloved country that Saint Joseph may increase its faith and virtues and above all shower on it the Bread of life the better to revive it and rescue it from spiritual starvation. “
Dearest Eucharistic Family,
Our hope is in the Lord who made Heaven and Earth -- save us from spiritual starvation!
It seems we need a shield in front of our souls at every breath of life. A child in fear takes hold of its parent hands and immediately finds security. Saint Peter Julian reminds us in the above excerpt to behold Saint Joseph... to behold fatherhood and the integrity it was created to be, whole and undivided.
Disheartening is the witness of betrayal. We see and hear of it constantly, marriages collapsing, Holy Orders defiled… The restoration of God’s life begins in the hearts of those who believe in Him, with those who are willing to fall in love with Christ’s redeeming power. The Lenten season calls us to repentance, a time to glimpse into our existence and view our lives, a time to cast away shame and guilt so we may be born into EASTER with the fullness of life through our baptism.
Saint Peter Julian Eymard was always known to carry with him the Gospel of Saint John, another beloved. Saint John, the one who kept his head on the heart of Jesus Christ at the Institution of the Holy Eucharist, was enabled to soar above the darkness of the world through the love of Christ. Saint John, like Saint Joseph, teaches us to find the integrity of life through the desire to return love; this marks them as beloved ones.
The Eucharist leads us to dignity, integrity, fatherhood and motherhood, the sacredness of the sacrament of matrimony, and respect for the holy priesthood. How many men and women deny the vows people make by luring them away from them? BEHOLD Saint Joseph, the one who listened through the deep recesses of his being to be formed anew in God, the one who teaches us integrity illuminated in compassion through humility.
In my early morning rosary walks the joyful mysteries allow me preparation to receive Holy Communion. The birds of the air are chirping loudly; they seem to understand one another. Our prayers keep us in communion with the Kingdom of Heaven. God hears and understands our voices. The world may only hear chirping, yet we understand through our prayer that we are calling to the source of life in whom we seek Our Father.
May our prayers help us to purify our lives throughout these 40 days. May the intercession of our prayer gather many through the beating heart of the Eucharist. Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Saint Joseph, and many beloved ones exemplify the way to salvation through integrity of life. Behold us, Lord, who desire this pathway to HEAVEN. Forgive us of our sins. Amen
By: Ivonne J. Hernandez
In a letter to Mme Tholin-Bost, dated October 22, 1851, St. Peter Julian Eymard writes:
St. Peter Julian wrote about this “universal indifference taking hold of many Catholics” back in 1851, which he described as happening “in a frightening way”. I wonder what words he would choose to describe the level of indifference we see today. Yet, as tempting as it is for me to look out and see how “other people” are suffering from this indifference, the call is always to look within. Is there any part of me that has grown numb to the suffering of another? Is there any part of me that is choosing not to love?
Once I heard someone say that they were not going to visit a loved one who was dying because they didn’t want to remember them that way. They didn’t want to deal with the reality of suffering, the reality of death. Visiting the sick is a challenging act of mercy. It requires something of us. When you truly look in the eyes of someone when they are suffering, you cannot be indifferent. Once you open your eyes and look with love, their suffering becomes yours. “Of you my heart has spoken, Seek his face. It is your face, O Lord, that I seek; hide not your face from me” (Psalm 26:8-9). He does not hide His face from us, it is us who choose to turn away when that looks brings us pain.
We are in the season of Lent, a time when we are invited to be transformed, to change. Fasting, prayer, and almsgiving awaken our dulled senses to the reality around us, lifting the veil of indifference that keeps us separate from one another. When we first hear that the remedy for the universal indifference is love for Jesus Eucharistic, some might wonder how this might be. What does receiving the Eucharist or spending time in Eucharistic Adoration have to do with caring for the suffering or tending to the poor? Everything! When you fall in love with Jesus in the Eucharist, you will then recognize Him anywhere, especially in the face of the poor, the suffering, the lonely. These are the faces that most resemble Him while hanging on the Cross. It is when we look in those eyes that we hear Him say, “Turn to me and be safe, …for I am God; there is no other!” (Isaiah 45:22). When we look with love into the eyes of suffering, His face might be disfigured, but “faith will tell us Christ is present when our human senses fail” (Tantum Ergo).
Love always seeks to give itself, and Jesus is the great multiplier. An hour adoring Him in the chapel will be multiplied into many hours serving Him in the world. It is then that the fire that He kindled in our hearts will spread and “enkindle the whole world” (Luke 12:49). So let us take this opportunity of grace to look honestly and ask which parts of our hearts have grown cold and need kindling. And then let us turn…turn to Him and listen… “Listen to Him” (Mark 9:7). “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
By: Rick Hernandez
A couple of days ago, as I was contemplating the meaning of the Lenten season, I felt inspired to look up the etymology of the word “season”. This is what I found:
When I think of the “sower”, I can’t help but picture our Lord Jesus Christ. From times immemorial, the sower spreads the seed all over the land, each seed landing in a different spot. The time and place mean opportunity to the seed. It is in that present moment that the seed can take hold of the ground and get nourishment, making the most of the opportunity. If it does this, it will thrive. If the seed does not grab hold of the opportunity, it will perish.
So, how are we like seeds? What does it mean for us to have opportunity? Christ Jesus is the Divine Sower; we are his seeds. Our Lord, in His great love and wisdom has given us both a time and a place so that we sprout and live fruitfully. That time is now and the place is here. Lent is our reminder of that. Lent is our season, our time of opportunity, our time to do His work. Maybe this Lent, we will all be a people of the “season”. Together let us pray.
For our sake, Lord, You created all that is seen and unseen. For our sake You became incarnate, lived amongst us, taught the many, loved us all, and showed us how to live. For us and for our salvation You died on the cross. For our sake You also resurrected on the third day, opened the gates of Heaven. For our sake You fulfilled all of scripture, promises made out of love. For our sake, Lord, You became humble bread and wine, body and blood, the Paschal Lamb. Out of love You became the Food for Eternal life, the nourishment for the journey home. From Your perfect sacrifice, the most perfect gift to the Father, You redeemed us, poor sinners.
Lord, You atoning for our sin? We do not deserve that, yet You willed it; such is Your love. You have done so much… and just what is it that You ask of us? Love and faithfulness. You ask that we take this life You have given to us and use it for good, that we do not turn away our eyes from those in need, those that You love. You ask that we reach out our hands, that through them You may soothe the pain of the ones who suffer; that we may teach the ignorant, accompany the lonely, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, share with the poor, love the unloved, visit the jailed, and tend to the sick. You are asking us to care… that the work of these human hands now be as the work You do on this world with Your very hands, that it may leave a real mark in the lives of the many, that it may show them exactly who You are.
You ask that mercy and compassion be given to our brothers and sisters. You ask that we might see them through Your eyes, to see them with Your love. In this time we have now on this Earth, we are but preparing to go home to Heaven. Lord, we do hope that when we show up to the gates of Heaven, we do so in the company of all our brothers and sisters that we tended to in this life. Oh Lord, how much we desire to share of Your infinite light and Your all-encompassing love, all of us together!
It is not too much to ask of us, Lord. Please, grant us the strength to do Your work with a joyful heart, that we may glorify You always and in everything, forever Yours. 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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