Most Blessed Sacrament
FR. STEPHANO MANELLI
Imprimatur: 1973, Naples, Italy
Eucharistic Jesus Is God Among Us
When St. John Mary Vianney arrived at the obscure little village of Ars, someone said to him with bitterness, "Here there is nothing to do." "Therefore, there is everything to do," replied the Saint.
And he began immediately to act. What did he do? He arose at 2:00 A.M. in the morning and went to pray near the altar in the dark church. He recited the Divine Office, he made his meditation and he prepared himself for Holy Mass. After the Holy Sacrifice, he made his thanksgiving; then he remained at prayer until Noon. He would be always kneeling on the floor without any support, with a Rosary in his hand and his eyes fIxed on the Tabernacle.
Things continued this way for a short time. But then ... he had to start changing his timetable; and things reached a point requiring radical changes in his program. The Eucharistic Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary, little by little, drew souls to that poor parish, until the Church did not seem big enough to contain the crowds, and the confessional of the holy Curate became swamped with endless lines of penitents. The holy Curate was obliged to hear confessions for ten, fifteen and eighteen hours a day! How did such a transformation ever come about? There had been a poor Church, an altar long unused, an abandoned tabernacle, an ancient confessional and a priest of little talent with no means to do anything. How could these things achieve such a remarkable change in that obscure village?
We can ask the same question today regarding San Giovanni Rotundo, a town in Gargano, Italy. Until a few decades ago it was an obscure, unknown place amid the rough crags of a promontory. Today, San Giovanni Rotundo is a center of spiritual and cultural life and its reputation is international. Here, too, there had been an unpromising, sickly friar, an ancient, dilapidated little Friary, a small neglected Church, with altar and tabernacle left ever alone to this poor friar, who wore out his beads and his hands in the untiring recitation of the Holy Rosary. How did the change come about? What caused the wonderful transformation that came to Ars and to San Giovanni Rotundo, so that hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions, of persons have come there from every part of the earth?
Only God could work such transformations using, according to His ways, "the things that are not to bring to naught the things that are." (1 Cor. 1:28) It is all due to Him, to the Divine and infinite power of the Eucharist, to the almighty force of attraction which radiates from every tabernacle, and which radiated from the tabernacles of Ars and San Giovanni Rotunda, reaching souls through the ministry of those two priests, true "Ministers of the Tabernacles" and "dispensers of the mysteries of God." (1 Cor. 4:1)
Let us ask the question: What is the Eucharist? It is God among us. It is the Lord Jesus present in the tabernacles of our churches with His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. It is Jesus veiled under the appearance of bread, but really and physically present in the consecrated Host, so that He dwells in our midst, works within us and for us, and is at our disposal. The Eucharistic Jesus is the true Emmanuel, the "God with us." (Matt. 1:23)
"The faith of the Church," Pope Pius XII teaches us, "is this: That one and identical is the Word of God and the Son of Mary Who suffered on the Cross, Who is present in the Eucharist, and Who rules in Heaven."
The Eucharistic Jesus is here with us as a brother, as a friend, as spouse of our souls. He wishes to enter within us to be our food for eternal life, our love, our support. He wants to make us part of His mystical Body in which He would redeem us and save us, and then take us into the kingdom of Heaven to settle us in an everlasting bliss of love.
With the Eucharist, God has truly given us everything. St. Augustine exclaimed: "Although God is all-powerful, He is unable to give more; though supremely wise, He knows not how to give more; though vastly rich, He has not more to give."
To the Eucharist, then, we should go. To Jesus we should turn --- to Jesus, Who wishes to make Himself ours in order to make us His by rendering us "godlike." "Jesus, Food of strong souls," St. Gemma Galgani used to say, "strengthen me, purify me, make me godlike." Let us receive the Eucharist with a pure and ardent heart. This is as the Saints have done. It should never be too much trouble for us to grow familiar with this unspeakable mystery. Meditation, study and reflection on the Eucharist should have an important place each day on our timetable. It will be the time of our day richest in blessings.
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