" "Neither earth nor rock could have held the Cross, nor could the Cross of nails have held God’s only-begotten Son, had not love held him fast.” – St. Catherine of Siena

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Apostle of the Eucharist

Saint Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868) founded the Society of the Blessed Sacrament, and the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament. He is often referred to as the Apostle of the Eucharist. His writings, including those on the Eucharist, are extensive and have been compiled into a 17 volume work. Even a cursory review of quotations attributable to him should set any heart afire. Let me share a few of them:

             “Receive Communion often, and Jesus will change you into himself."

 "Be the apostle of the Divine Eucharist, like a flame which enlightens and warms, like the Angel of His heart who will go to proclaim Him to those who don’t know Him and will encourage those who love Him and are suffering."

“…we cannot consider the Most Blessed Sacrament attentively without concluding: ‘I must love Him and come to visit Him. I must not leave Him alone; He loves me too much’…” 

“Unless we have a passionate love for our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, we shall accomplish nothing. Certainly, our Lord loves us passionately in the Eucharist; He loves us blindly without a thought for Himself, devoting Himself entirely for our good. We should love Him as he loves us."   

Oh, but there are some ears desperate to hear these truths and some eyes anxious to see such love. Why don’t they?

St. John Eudes (1601-1680), whose feast day is August 19 not today as I erroneously stated yesterday, offered an explanation - one which was not well received by those to whom it was directed at the time and which is not likely to be well-received today by anyone to whom his observations may apply: "The most evident mark of God's anger and the most terrible castigation He can inflict upon the world are manifested when He permits His people to fall into the hands of clergy who are priests more in name than in deed…”

This frank but good Saint was quick, however, to point out that: “The greatest blessing that God bestows upon a church, the most single manifestation of divine grace, is to have a saintly shepherd, be he bishop or priest. This is indeed a grace of graces and the most priceless of all gifts for it includes within itself every other blessing and grace…The [holy] priest is a sun cheering the world by his presence and bearing. He brings heavenly blessings into every heart. He dispels the ignorance and darkness of error and radiates on every side bright beams of celestial light. He extinguishes sin and gives life and grace to the multitudes. He imparts new life to the weak, inflames the lukewarm, fires most ardently those who are aglow with the sacred flame of divine love…”

The late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen echoed similar sentiments: "If only all priests realized how their holiness makes the Church holy, and how the Church begins to decline as the level of holiness among priests falls below that of the people!"

We can not have the abundant life God promises us, or the love, reverence, and belief in the Eucharist we ought to have and to which God is entitled, without the example of holy priests. Priests who passionately love the Eucharist and who, by their words and actions, call their flock to passionately love the Eucharist are holy priests! 
Thank God for the many holy priests already in our midst, but let us pray for more.

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