Fr. Stephano Manelli, O.F.M.
Imprimatur, 1973


"The devotion to the Eucharist," St. Pius X, the Pope of the Eucharist, said, "is the most noble, because it has God as its object; it is the most profitable for salvation, because It gives us the Author of Grace; it is the sweetest, because the Lord is Sweetness Itself."
The devotion to the Eucharist, together with the devotion to the Blessed Mother, is a devotion of Paradise, because it is the devotion which the Angels and Saints of Heaven also have. "There is a school in Heaven," the mystic, St. Gemma Galgani, used to say, "and there one has only to learn how to love. The school is in the Cenacle; the Teacher is Jesus; the matter taught is His flesh and His Blood."
The Eucharist is Love Itself, identical to Jesus. Therefore, it is the Sacrament of Love, the Sacrament that overflows with charity. It truly contains the true, living Jesus --- the God Who "is Love," (John 4:8) and Who loved us "unto the end." (John 13:1)

All expressions of love, even the highest and the most profound, are verified in the Eucharist. Thus, it is a Love that is crucified, a Love that unites, a Love that adores, a Love that contemplates, a Love that prays, a Love that delightfully satisfies.

The Eucharistic Jesus is a Love that is crucified in the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in which He renews the immolation of Himself for us. In sacramental and spiritual communion He is a Love that unites, making Himself one with the person who receives Him. He is a Love that adores in the holy tabernacle, where He is present as a holocaust of adoration to the Father. He is a Love that contemplates in His encounter with souls who love to be "at His feet," like Mary of Bethany. (Luke 10:39) He is a Love that prays in "always living to make intercession for us" before the Father. (Hebrews 7:25) He is a Love that delightfully satisfies in the heavenly exhilarations of nuptial union with His favored spouses, (virgins of both sexes); whom He draws to Himself in an exclusive Love, as He drew to Himself St. John the Evangelist, the virgin Apostle and the only one who "leaned on His breast" in the Cenacle. (John 21:20)

"To be possessed by Jesus and to possess Him --- that is the perfect reign of Love," wrote St. Peter Julian Eymard. The Eucharist achieves this "perfect reign of Love" in all, who are pure of heart, approach the Holy Tabernacle and unite themselves to Jesus in the Host with humility and love. In the Eucharist, Jesus sacrifices Himself for us, He gives Himself to us, He remains among us with infinite humility and love.

"For One in such a lofty position to stoop so low is a marvel that is staggering," exclaimed the Seraphic Father, St. Francis. "What sublime humility and humble sublimeness, that the Lord of the Universe, the Divine Son of God, should so stoop as to hide Himself under the appearance of bread for our salvation! Behold the humble way of God, my brothers. Therefore, do not hold yourselves to be anything of yourselves, so that you may be entirely acceptable to One Who gives Himself entirely to you".

And St. Alphonsus Liguori adds with his usual affectionate tenderness, "My Jesus! What a lovable contrivance this holy Sacrament was --- that You would hide under the appearance of bread to make Yourself loved and to be available for a visit by anyone who desires You!"

May some remembrance of the priest, who every day gives us Jesus, and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus our God and all priests, be always in our affections toward the Most Holy Sacrament; for the Eucharist, Our Lady, and the priest are inseparable, just as Jesus, Mary and St. John the Evangelist were inseparable on Calvary.

Let us learn all this in the school of the Saints. They lived in a way that was ardent and sublime, as true seraphims of Love for the Eucharist. These are the ones, as Vatican II declares (Lumen Gentium, n. 50), who are the "most safe path" to the Eucharistic God of Love.

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.

Knowing, Loving, Living the Eucharist

In order to explore at least some of the immense riches stored up in the Mystery of the Eucharist, let us undertake an exercise which, while one and constant, uses the mind, the heart and the will.

First, it uses the mind. Here one meditates in an attentive, orderly way on the Eucharist This may be done with books which lead us to personally uncover and deeply ponder this Mystery of Love. A simple booklet which is rich in content is St. Alphonsus M. de Liguori's "Visits to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin Mary." Also, there are the two precious booklets by St. Peter Julian Eymard entitled, "The Real Presence" and "Holy Communion."

We should, above all, turn to the school of St. Peter Julian Eymard, who was unequalled as an Apostle of the Eucharist. His vocation and mission was to lead all Christians to the Eucharist. When he founded the Congregation of Priests of the Blessed Sacrament, he offered his life for the Eucharistic reign of Jesus. At that time he wrote these ardent words: "Here, dear Jesus, is my life. Behold me ready to eat stones and to die abandoned, just so that I may succeed in erecting a throne for Thee and give Thee a family of friends, a nation of adorers."

If we but knew the gift of God Who is Love and Who gives Himself to us as a Gift full of Love! "The Eucharist," said St. Bernard, "is that love which surpasses all loves in Heaven and on earth." And St. Thomas Aquinas wrote: "The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Love: It signifies Love, it produces Love." One day an Arabian prince, Abd-ed-Kader, while passing through the streets of Marseille with a French official, met a priest who was carrying Holy Viaticum to a dying man. The French official stopped, uncovered his head, and knelt. His friend asked him the reason for this gesture.
"I adore my God, Whom the priest is carrying to a sick person," replied the good official.

"How is it possible," the prince said, "for you to believe that God Who is so great, makes Himself so little and lets Himself go even to the homes of the poor? We Mohammedans have a much higher idea of God."

The official answered, "It is because you have only an idea of the greatness of God; that you do not know His Love."

In confirmation of this, St. Peter Eymard declares, "The Eucharist is the supreme proof of the love of Jesus. After this, there is nothing more but Heaven itself." Yet, how many of us Christians do not know the vast extent of the love contained in the Eucharist.

Second, to explore the riches of the Eucharist, we use the heart. If every Christian must love Jesus Christ ("If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema." 1 Cor. 16:22). Love for the Eucharist must spring from the heart and be ever alive in us all. Now even love needs exercise. The heart needs to be exercised to love the true God, to long for "The Author of Life." (Acts 3:15).

Holy Communion represents the loftiest point of this exercise of love, Whose consuming flames unite the heart of a creature and Jesus. St. Gemma Galgani could exclaim in this regard, "I can no longer avoid the thought that in the wonderful scope of His Love, Jesus makes Himself perceptible and shows Himself to His lowliest creature in all the splendors of His Heart." And what may we say about the "exercises" of the heart of St. Gemma, who desired to be a "tent of love" in which she would keep Jesus always with her? She longed to have a "little place in the ciborium" to be able to stay always with Jesus. She asked that she could become "a flaming ball afire with love" for Jesus.
When St. Therese of the Child Jesus had become quite ill, she dragged herself with great effort to Church to receive Jesus. One morning, after Holy Communion, she was in her cell, exhausted. One of the Sisters remarked that she should not exert herself so much. The Saint replied, "Oh, what are these sufferings to me in comparison with one Holy Communion?" Her sweet complaint was that she could not receive Holy Communion every day. (It was not permitted in her times.) She ardently pleaded with Jesus: "Remain within me, as You do in the Tabernacle. Do not ever withdraw Your presence from Your little Host."

When St. Margaret Mary Alacoque left the world and consecrated herself to God in the cloister, she made a private vow and wrote it in her blood, "All for the Eucharist; nothing for me." It is useless to attempt to describe the Saint's burning love for the Eucharist. When she was not able to receive Holy Communion, she broke out in ardent expressions of love like these: "I have such a desire for Holy Communion that if I had to walk barefoot along a path of fire to obtain It, I would do so with unspeakable joy."
St. Catherine of Siena said often to her confessor: "Father, I am hungry; for the love of God give this soul her food, her Lord in the Eucharist." She also confided: "When I am not able to receive my Lord, I go into the Church, and there I look at Him ... I look at Him again ... and this satisfies me."

This we call "exercise of the heart."

Third, to find the riches of the Eucharist, one should exercise the will. One must do this by bringing the Divine lessons of the Eucharist into his life. What good would it be to discover the infinite worth of the Eucharist as we ponder It and seek to love It at Communion time, if we do not then proceed to live It?

The Eucharist teaches a love that goes beyond telling. It teaches total self-sacrifice, and an unequalled lesson in humility and self-effacement. It teaches patience and unrestricted dedication. But what do we draw from all this? We surely ought to achieve something! Can we continue to be indifferent and do nothing when Jesus has loved us and still loves us with this great generosity "even to the end?" (John 13:1) If we feel frail, we need to turn to Him, to speak to Him and not tarry about asking His help and support, for He is the very One Who said, "Without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5) First of all let us go before Him: "Come to Me ... and I will refresh you." (Matt. 11 :28) Let us often visit Him, entering a Church every time we can and pausing a little while before the tabernacle, and put both our heart close to Him and our body before His! The Saints were constantly eager to make visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, to make Holy Hours of adoration, spiritual communions, ejaculatory prayers and earnest acts of love that come from the heart. How much profit they gained from this and how much good they passed on!

One day in Turin a friend, who was his companion from the University, asked Peter George Frassati, "Let us go and take an appetizer." Peter George took advantage of the occasion and replied, indicating to his friend the nearby Church of St. Dominic, "But, of course, let us go and take it in that cafe." Entering the Church, they prayed for a little while near the tabernacle; then they neared the offering box, Peter George said, "Here is the appetizer." And, from the pockets of the two youths came alms for the poor!

Thinking of the Eucharist during his sermon, St. John Chrysostom asked one time, "How can we make of our bodies a host?" And he himself replied, "Let your eyes look at nothing evil, and you have offered a sacrifice; let not your tongue offer unbecoming words and you have made an offering; let not your hand commit a sin and you have offered a holocaust."

Just recall the eyes of St. Colette, which were always lowered and recollected in sweet modesty. Why? She once gave the answer: "My eyes, I have filled with Jesus upon Whom I have fixed them at the Elevation of the Host at Holy Mass and I do not wish to replace Him with any other image."

Let us think of the reserve and edification of the Saints in speaking, using with exactness the tongue which had been consecrated by contact with the Body of Christ Jesus.

Recall the good works which souls, filled with love by the Eucharist, have accomplished because Jesus communicated to them His Own sentiments of love to all the brothers, especially the most needful.

Can we not also exercise thus our will? Let us learn from the Saints and begin to continue their good works.

Holy Mass is the Sacrifice of the Cross

Only in Heaven will we understand what a Divine marvel the Holy Mass is. No matter how much we force ourselves and no matter how holy and inspired we are, we cannot but stammer on this Divine work which transcends men and Angels.

One day Padre Pio of Pietrelcina had been asked, "Father, please explain the Holy Mass to us." "My children," replied Padre Pio, "how can I explain it to you? The Mass is infinite like Jesus ... ask an Angel what a Mass is and he will reply to you in truth, 'I understand what it is and why it is offered, but I do not, however, understand how much value it has.' One Angel, a thousand Angels, all of Heaven, know this and think like this."

St. Alphonsus of Liguori came to affirm, "God Himself cannot bring about an action more holy and greater than the celebration of one Holy Mass." Why? Because the Holy Mass is, one could say, the synthesis, because the Holy Mass can be said to sum up the Incarnation and Redemption and contains the Birth, Passion and the Death of Jesus, mysteries which God accomplished for our sakes. The second Vatican Council teaches, "At the Last Supper, the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus initiated the Eucharistic Sacrifice of His Body and Blood, in order to continue the Sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until His return." (Sacrosantum Concilium, The Constitution on the Liturgy, n. 47) St. Thomas Aquinas, in an enlightening passage, wrote, "The celebration of the Holy Mass is as valuable as the death of Jesus on the Cross."

For this reason,. St. Francis of Assisi said, "Man should tremble, the world should vibrate, all Heaven should be deeply moved when the Son of God appears on the altar in the hands of the priest."

Indeed, inasmuch as it renews the Sacrifice of Jesus' passion and death, the Holy Mass, even taken alone, is great enough to restrain Divine justice. St. Teresa of Jesus said to her daughters, "Without the Holy Mass what would become of us? All here below would perish, because that alone can hold back God's arm." Without it the Church certainly would not last and the world would become hopelessly lost. "It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do so without the Holy Mass," said Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. He was following St. Leonard of Port Maurice who had said, "I believe that if there were no Mass, the world would by now have sunk into the abyss under the weight of its wickedness. The Mass is the powerful support which sustains it."

Wonderful are the saving effects which every Sacrifice of the Mass produces in the souls of those who participate. It obtains sorrow and pardon for sins; it lessens the temporal punishment due to sins; it weakens the influence of Satan and the untamed impulses of our flesh; it strengthens the bonds of our union in the Body of Christ; it protects us from danger and disaster; it shortens the punishment of Purgatory; it obtains for us a higher degree of glory in Heaven. "No human tongue," said St. Laurence Justinian, "can enumerate the favors that trace back to the Sacrifice of the Mass. The sinner is reconciled with God; the just man becomes more upright; sins are wiped away; vices eliminated; virtue and merit gain growth and the devil's schemes are frustrated."

And so St. Leonard of Port Maurice did not tire of exhorting the crowds which listened to him, "O you deluded people, what are you doing? Why do you not hasten to the churches to hear as many Masses as you can? Why do you not imitate the Angels who, when a Holy Mass is celebrated, come down in squadrons from Paradise and take their stations about our altars in adoration to intercede for us?"

If it is true that we all have need of graces for this life and for the next, nothing can win them from God like the Holy Mass. St. Philip Neri used to say, "With prayer we ask graces from God; in the Holy Mass we constrain God to give them to us." The prayer offered during Holy Mass engages our whole priesthood, both the ministerial priesthood even apart from that of the individual priest at the altar and the common priesthood of all the faithful. In Holy Mass our prayer is united with Jesus' prayer of agony as He sacrifices HimSelf for us. In a special way during the Canon, which is the heart of the Mass, the prayer of all of us becomes also the prayer of Jesus, present amongst us. The two Mementoes of the Roman Canon during which the living and the dead are remembered, are precious moments for us to present our petitions. Also, in those supreme moments when Jesus in the priest's hands undergoes His Passion and Death, we can beg for our own needs and we can recommend both living and deceased persons who are dear to us. Let us take care to profit by this. The Saints held this to be very important, and when they recommended themselves to the prayers of priests, they asked them to remember them above all during the Canon.

It will particularly be at the hour of our death that the  Masses we have devoutly heard will bring us our greatest consolation and hope, and one Mass heard during life will be more profitable than many Masses heard by others in our behalf after our death.

Our Lord told St. Gertrude, "You may be sure that regarding one who devoutly assists at Holy Mass, I will send him as many of My Saints to comfort him and protect him during the last moments of his life as there will have been Masses which he has heard well."
How consoling! The Holy Cure of Ars had reason to say, "If we knew the value of the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, how much greater effort we would put forth in order to assist at it!" And St. Peter Julian Eymard exhorted, "Know, O Christian, that the Mass is the holiest act of Religion. You cannot do anything to glorify God more nor profit your soul more than devoutly assisting at It, and assisting as often as possible."
For this reason we must consider ourselves fortunate every time we have an opportunity to attend a Holy Mass; and in order not to lose the opportunity, we should never withhold ourselves because of some sacrifice, especially on Sundays and holy days.

Let us remember St. Maria Goretti, who, to go to Sunday Mass traveled on foot, a journey of 15 miles going and returning home. We should think of Santina Campana, who went to Mass while she had a high fever. Think of Saint Maximilian M. Kolbe, who offered Holy Mass when his health was in such pitiful condition that one of his brothers in religion had to support him at the altar so that he would not fall. And how many times Padre Pio of Pietrelcina celebrated Holy Mass while he was bleeding and had a fever!

In our own daily lives, we ought to rank the Holy Mass ahead of any other good; for, as St. Bernard says, "One merits more by devoutly assisting at a Holy Mass than by distributing all of his goods to the poor and traveling all over the world on pilgrimage." And it cannot be otherwise, because nothing in the world can have the infinite value of one Holy Mass.

We ought to prefer Holy Mass all the more to mere amusements that waste our time and bring no profit to our soul. St. Louis IX, King of France, attended several Masses every day. A minister of the government complained, remarking that he could devote that time to the affairs of the kingdom. The saintly king remarked, "If I spent twice the time in amusements, like hunting, no one would have any objection."

Let us be generous and willingly make sacrifices so as not to lose so great a good. St. Augustine said to his Christians, "The steps that one takes as he travels to hear Holy Mass are counted by an Angel; and then one will be given a high reward by God in this life and in eternity." The Cure of Ars adds, "How happy is that guardian Angel who accompanies a soul to Holy Mass!"

Holy Communion: Jesus is Mine

In Holy Communion Jesus gives Himself to me and becomes mine, all mine, in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

Thus, one day, St. Gemma Galgani said candidly to Jesus, "I am Your master." With Communion, Jesus enters my heart and remains corporally present in me as long as the species (the appearance) of bread lasts; that is, for about 15 minutes. During this time, the Holy Fathers teach that the Angels surround me to continue to adore Jesus and love Him without interruption. "When Jesus is corporally present within us, the Angels surround us as a guard of love," wrote St. Bernard.

Perhaps we think too little about the sublimity of every Holy Communion, and yet, St. Pius X said that "If the Angels could envy, they would envy us for Holy Communion." And St. Madeleine Sophie Barat defined Holy Communion as "Paradise on earth."

All the Saints have understood by experience the Divine marvel of the meeting and the union with Jesus in the Eucharist. They have understood that a devout Holy Communion means to be possessed by Him and to possess Him. "He who eats My flesh and drinks My Blood abides in Me and I in him" (John 6:57). One time St. Gemma Galgani wrote, "It is now night, tomorrow morning is approaching and then Jesus will possess me and I will possess Jesus." It is not possible to have a union of love more profound and more total: He in me and I in Him; the one in the other. What more could we want?

"You envy," said St. John Chrysostom, "the opportunity of the woman who touched the vestments of Jesus, of the sinful woman who washed His feet with her tears, of the women of Galilee who had the happiness of following Him in His pilgrimages, of the Apostles and disciples who conversed with Him familiarly, of the people of the time who listened to the words of grace and salvation which came forth from His lips. You call happy those who saw Him ... But, come to the altar and you will see Him, you will touch Him, you will give to Him holy kisses, you will wash Him with your tears, you will carry Him within you like Mary Most Holy."

For this reason the Saints have desired and longed for Holy Communion with ardent love; for example, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Paschal Baylon, St. Veronica, St. Gerard, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, St. Dominic Savio, St. Gemma Galgani ... it is pointless to continue because one would really need to list all the Saints.

For example, it happened one night to St. Catherine of Genoa, that she dreamed that the following day she would not be able to receive Holy Communion. The sorrow that she experienced was so great that she cried unceasingly, and when she woke up the next morning she found that her face was all wet from the tears she shed in her dream.

St. Theresa of the Child Jesus has written a little Eucharistic Poem, "Desires near the Tabernacle," in which, among other beautiful things, she said, "I would like to be the chalice, there where I would adore the Divine Blood. I can however in the Holy Sacrifice, gather It in me every morning. My soul is therefore more dear to Jesus, it is more precious than vessels of gold." And what was not the happiness of the angelic Saint when, during an epidemic, daily Communion was conceded to her?

St. Gemma Galgani, one time was put to the test by a confessor who forbade her to receive Holy Communion. "O Father, Father," she wrote to her spiritual director, "today I went to Confession and the confessor has said that I must stop receiving Jesus. O my Father, my pen does not want to write more, my hand shakes strongly, I cry." Dear Saint! Truly a seraphim all on fire with love for the Eucharistic Jesus.

Similarly, St. Gerard Majella, for a false and slanderous report from which he did not wish to defend himself, was punished by being deprived of Holy Communion. The suffering of the Saint was such that one day he refused to go to serve Holy Mass for a priest who was visiting, "because," he said, "on seeing Jesus in the Host in the hands of the priest, I would not be able to resist taking by force the Host from his hands." What longing consumed this wonderful Saint! And what a rebuke for us who, perhaps, are able to receive Holy Communion daily with ease and we do not do it. It is a sign that we lack the essential: love. And perhaps we are so in love with earthly pleasures that we can no longer appreciate the heavenly delights of union with Jesus in the Host. "Child, how can you feel the fragrance of Paradise which diffuses Itself from the Tabernacle?" asked St. Philip of a young man in love with the pleasures of the flesh, of dances and amusements. The joys of the Eucharist and the satisfaction of the senses are "opposed to each other" (Gal. 5:17) and the "sensual man perceives not these things which are of the Spirit of God" (1 Cor. 2:14). This is wisdom which comes from God.

St. Philip Neri loved the Eucharist so much that, even when he was gravely ill, he received Holy Communion every day, and if Jesus was not brought to him very early in the morning he became very upset and he could not find rest in any way. "I have such a desire to receive Jesus," he exclaimed, "that I cannot give myself peace while I wait." The same thing took place in our own time to Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, since only obedience could make him wait until 4 or 5 a.m. to celebrate Mass. Truly, the love of God is a "Devouring Fire" (Deut. 4:24).

When Jesus is mine, the whole Church exalts, the Church in Heaven, in Purgatory and the Church on earth. Who can express the joy of the Angels and Saints at every Holy Communion devoutly received? A new current of love arrives in Paradise and it makes the blessed spirits vibrate every time that a creature unites himself to Jesus to possess Him and be possessed by Him. A Holy Communion is of much greater value than an ecstasy, a rapture or a vision. Holy Communion transports the whole of Paradise into my poor heart!

For the Souls in Purgatory then, Holy Communion is the dearest personal gift which they can receive from us. Who can say how much Holy Communions are helpful in their liberation? One day St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi's dead father appeared to her and he said that one hundred and seven Holy Communions were necessary for him to be able to leave Purgatory. In fact, at the last of the one hundred and seven Holy Communions offered for him, the Saint saw her father ascend into Heaven.

St. Bonaventure made himself an apostle of this truth and he spoke of it in vibrant tones, "O Christian souls, do you wish to prove your true love towards your dead? Do you wish to send them the most precious help and golden key to Heaven? Receive Holy Communion often for the repose of their souls."

Finally, let us reflect that in Holy Communion we unite ourselves not only to Jesus but also to all the members of the Mystical Body of Christ, especially to the souls most dear to Jesus and most dear to our heart. It is in Holy Communion that we realize fully the words of Jesus, "I in them ... that they may be perfect in unity" (John 17:23). The Eucharist renders us one, even among ourselves, His members, "all one in Jesus" as St. Paul says (Gal. 3:28). Holy Communion is truly all love of God and neighbor. It is the true "feast of love," as St. Gemma Galgani said. And in this "feast of love" the soul in love can exult singing with St. John of the Cross, "Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth, mine are men, the Just are mine and sinners are mine. The Angels are mine, and also the Mother of God, all things are mine. God Himself is mine and for me because Christ is mine and all for me."
The Purity of Soul Necessary for Holy Communion

What is there to say about the great purity of soul with which the Saints approached to receive the Bread of Angels? We know that they had a great delicacy of conscience which was truly angelic. Aware of their own misery, they tried to present themselves to Jesus "holy and immaculate," (Eph. 1:4) repeating with the Publican, "O God, be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13), and having recourse with great care to the cleansing of Confession.

When St. Jerome was brought Holy Viaticum at the end of his life, the Saint prostrated himself on the ground in adoration and he was heard to repeat with profound humility the words of St. Elizabeth and those of St. Peter, "How is this, that my Lord should come to me?" "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (Luke 5:8). And how many times was the angelic and seraphic St. Gemma tempted to not receive Holy Communion, holding herself to be nothing else than a vile "dunghill?" Padre Pio of Pietrelcina used to repeat with trepidation to his brethren, "God sees blights even in the Angels. What must He see in me!" For this reason he was very diligent in making his sacramental Confessions.
"Oh, if we could only understand Who is that God Whom we receive in Holy Communion, then what purity of heart we would bring to Him!" exclaimed St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi. For this reason St. Hugh, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis de Sales, St. Ignatius, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Francis Borgia, St. Louis Bertrand, St. Joseph Cupertino, St. Leonard of Port Maurice and many other Saints went to Confession every day before celebrating Holy Mass.

St. Camillus de Lellis never celebrated Holy Mass without first going to Confession, because he wanted at least "to dust off" his soul. Once, at sundown in a public square in Livorno, before taking leave of a priest of the same religious order, foreseeing that he would not have a priest to confess to on the following morning before his Mass, paused, took off his hat, made the Sign of the Cross and went to Confession right there in the square to his confrere.

Also, St. Alphonsus, St. Joseph Cafasso, St. John Bosco, St. Pius X, and Padre Pio of Pietrelcina went to Confession very often. And why did St. Pius X wish to lower the age for First Holy Communion to seven years, if not to allow Jesus to enter into the innocent hearts of children, which are so similar to Angels. And why was Padre Pio so delighted when they brought him children five years old who were prepared for First Holy Communion?

The Saints applied to perfection the directive of the Holy Spirit, "Let everyone first examine himself, and then eat of that Bread and drink of that Chalice; because he who eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks unto his own condemnation" (l Cor. 11:28-29).
To examine themselves, to repent, to accuse themselves in Confession and to ask pardon of God, and in this way even every day profit from the Sacrament of Confession, was something natural for the Saints. How fortunate they were to be capable of so much! The fruits of sanctification were constant and abundant because the purity of soul with which each Saint welcomed into himself Jesus, "The Wheat of the elect," (Zach. 9:17) was like the good ground" ... which brings forth fruit in patience" (Luke 8:15).

St. Anthony Mary Claret illustrates this fact very well: "When we go to Holy Communion, all of us receive the same Lord Jesus, but not all receive the same grace nor are the same effects produced in all. This comes from our greater or lesser disposition. To explain this fact, I will take an example from nature. Consider the process of grafting, the more similar the one plant is to the other, the better the graft will succeed. Likewise, the more resemblance there is between the one that goes to Communion and Jesus, so much the better will the fruits of Holy Communion be." The Sacrament of Confession is in fact the excellent means whereby the similarity between the soul and Jesus is restored.

For this reason St. Francis de Sales taught his spiritual children, "Go to Confession with humility and devotion ... if it is possible, every time that you go to Holy Communion, even though you do not feel in your conscience any remorse of mortal sin."

In this regard it is well to recall the teaching of the Church. Holy Communion must be received only while one is in the grace of God. Therefore, when one has committed a mortal sin, even if one has repented of it and has a great desire to receive Holy Communion, it is necessary and indispensable to confess oneself first before receiving Holy Communion, otherwise one commits a most grave sin of sacrilege, for which Jesus said to St. Bridget, "there does not exist on earth a punishment which is great enough to punish it sufficiently!"

St. Ambrose said that persons who commit this sacrilege "come into church with a few sins, and leave it burdened with many." St. Cyril wrote something yet stronger: "They who make a sacrilegious Communion receive Satan and Jesus Christ into their hearts  --- Satan, that they may let him rule, and Jesus Christ, that they may offer Him in sacrifice as a Victim to Satan." Thus the Catechism of the Council of Trent (De Euch., v. i) declares: "As of all the sacred mysteries ... none can compare with the ... Eucharist, so likewise for no crime is there heavier punishment to be feared from God than for the unholy or irreligious use by the faithful of that which ... contains the very Author and Source of holiness."

On the other hand, Confession made before Holy Communion to render a soul already in the state of Sanctifying Grace more pure and more beautiful, is something precious even though not required. It is precious because it clothes the soul with a more beautiful "wedding garment" (cf. Matt. 22:12) with which it may take its place at the table of the Angels. For this reason the most conscientious souls have always made frequent use (at least once a week) of the sacramental cleansing of absolution, even for venial sins. If you want. great purity of soul in order to receive Jesus, no purity shines brighter than that which one obtains when he makes a good confession, where the cleansing Blood of Jesus renders the repentant soul divinely bright and beautiful. "The soul that receives the Divine Blood becomes beautiful, as being clothed in a more precious garment, and it appears so beautifully aglow that if you could see it you would be tempted to adore it," declared St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi.

Holy Communion with Mary

Oh, how much it pleases Jesus to be received by a soul cleansed and clothed with His Divine Blood! And what affectionate delight He takes when such a soul is a chaste virgin! For "the Eucharist came from the Paradise of Virginity" (namely, Mary), said St. Albert the Great; and our Eucharistic Lord does not find such a paradise except in virginity. No one can repeat, quite like a virgin, with the Spouse of the Canticle of Canticles at every Holy Communion: "All mine is my true Love, and I am all His; ... He goes out to pasture among the lilies ... Come back, my heart's Love" (Cant. 2:16-17).

One praiseworthy way of preparing for Holy Communion is to invoke the Immaculate Virgin, to count on Her to enable us to receive Jesus with Her humility, Her purity and Her love --- praying rather that She Herself may come to receive Him in us. This pious practice is much recommended by the Saints, in particular St. Louis Grignon de Montfort, St. Peter Eymard, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe. "The best preparation for Holy Communion is that which is made with Mary," wrote St. Peter Eymard. A delightful illustration is given by St. Therese of Lisieux, picturing her soul as a little three or four-year old girl whose hair and dress were in disarray, ashamed to present herself at the altar rail to receive Jesus. However, she appeals to the Madonna, and "immediately," the Saint writes, "the Virgin Mary occupies Herself with me. She quickly replaces my dirty dress, ties up my hair with a pretty ribbon and adds a simple flower ... This is enough to make me attractive and enables me to take my place without embarrassment at the banquet of the Angels."

Let us try this method of preparation. We will not be disappointed. We will be able to say what St. Gemma exclaimed in ecstasy, "How beautiful it is to receive Communion with the Mother of Paradise!"

Thanksgiving After Holy Communion, Part 1

The time of Thanksgiving after Holy Communion is the most ideal time for an intimate exchange of love with Jesus. Let it be a love of total self-giving thus returning Jesus' love so wholeheartedly that there is no longer two of us but one, so to speak, in soul and body. Let it be a love that vivifies and unites, --- He in me and I in Him, so that we may be consumed in the uniqueness and unity of His love.

"You are my loving prey just as I am the object of Your immense charity," said St. Gemma to Jesus with tenderness.

St. John wrote, "Blessed are they that are called to the wedding banquet of the Lamb" (Apoc. 19:9). In truth, in Eucharistic Communion rightly received, the soul realizes, in a heavenly virginal union, a nuptial love for the Spouse, Jesus, to Whom the soul can say with the most tender enthusiasm of the Bride in the Canticle of Canticles: "Let Him kiss me with the kiss of His mouth" (Cant. 1:1).

Thanksgiving after Holy Communion is a small foretaste, while on earth, of the love which will be experienced in Paradise. In Heaven, in fact, how shall we love Jesus if not by being one with Him eternally? Dear Jesus, sweet Jesus, oh how I ought to thank You for every Holy Communion that You grant me! Did not St. Gemma have good reason to say she would thank You in Paradise for the Eucharist more than for anything else? What a miracle of love to be so completely united with You, O Jesus!

Water, Yeast, Wax

St. Cyril of Alexandria, Father of the Church, used three illustrations to show the union of love with Jesus in Holy Communion: "He who receives Communion is made holy and Divinized in soul and body in the same way that water, set over a fire, becomes boiling. ... Communion works like yeast that has been mixed into dough so that it leavens the whole Mass: ... Just as by melting two candles together you get one piece of wax, so, I think, one who receives the Flesh and Blood of Jesus is fused together with Him by this Communion, and the soul finds that he is in Christ and Christ is in him."

For this reason St. Gemma Galgani used to speak in awed wonder of the Eucharistic union between "Jesus Who is All and Gemma who is nothing." In an ecstasy she exclaimed, "What great sweetness there is, O Jesus, in Communion! I want to live in Your embrace and die in Your embrace." And Blessed Contardo Ferrini wrote, "Ah, Holy Communion! unspeakable heights for a human spirit to reach! What does the world have that equals these pure, heavenly joys, these tastes of eternal glory?"

There is another value Holy Communion has that deserves our reflections, and it is in reference to the Blessed Trinity. One day St. Mary Magdalene di Pazzi was kneeling with arms crossed among the novices after Communion. She raised her eyes heavenward and said, "O Sisters, if only we would comprehend the fact that while the Eucharistic Species remain within us, Jesus is there and working in us inseparably with the Father and the Holy Spirit and therefore the whole Holy Trinity is there---" She could not finish speaking because she became wrapt in ecstasy.

Remain at Least Fifteen Minutes

The Saints chose, when it was possible, to set no time limit for thanksgiving after Communion, which would last at least a half hour. St. Teresa of Jesus told her daughters, "Let us detain ourselves lovingly with Jesus and not waste the hour that follows Communion. It is an excellent time to deal with God and put before Him the matters that concern our soul. ... As we know that good Jesus remains within us until our natural warmth has dissolved the bread-like qualities, we should take great care not to lose such a beautiful opportunity to treat with Him and lay our needs before Him."

St. Francis of Assisi, St. Juliana Falconieri, St. Catherine, St. Paschal, St. Veronica, St. Joseph Cupertino, St. Gemma, and many others, used to almost always go into a loving ecstasy immediately after Holy Communion. As for the duration, only the angels measured the time. Also St. Teresa of Avila nearly always went into ecstasy right after receiving Holy Communion, and sometimes it was necessary to carry her away bodily from the Communion grille.

St. John of Avila, St. Ignatius Loyola, and St. Aloysius Gonzaga used to make their thanksgiving on their knees for two hours. St. Mary Magdalene di Pazzi wanted it to continue without interruption. It was necessary to constrain her so that she might take a little nourishment "The minutes that follow Communion," the Saint said, "are the most precious we have in our lives. They are the minutes best suited on our part for treating with God, and on His part for communicating His love to us."

St. Louis Grignon de Montfort used to remain for Thanksgiving after Holy Mass at least a half hour, and he would not let there be any worry or engagement that could make him omit it. He said, "I would not give up this hour of Thanksgiving even for an hour of Paradise."

Let us also then make the following resolutions: That we will so organize our time and our lives that we will remain in Thanksgiving after Holy Communion for at least fifteen minutes; and further resolve to allow nothing to stop us from taking this time for Thanksgiving. These minutes in which Jesus is physically present to our souls and within our bodies are heavenly minutes that we should by no means waste.

Thanksgiving After Holy Communion, Part 2

St. Philip and the Candles

The Apostle, St. Paul, wrote, "Glorify and bear God in your body" (1 Cor. 6:20). There is no time in which these words, taken literally, apply so well, as during the time immediately after receiving Holy Communion. How unfeeling it is, then, for someone to receive Communion and leave the church at once as soon as Mass is over, or as soon as he has received Our Lord! We may remember the example of St. Philip Neri, who had two altar boys with lighted candies go to accompany a man who had left the church right after his Communion. What a beautiful lesson! For the sake of good manners, if for no other reason, when a person receives a guest, he pauses to give his attention to him and takes interest in him. If this guest is Jesus, then we will only have reason to be sorry that His bodily presence within us scarcely lasts fifteen minutes or a little more. In view of this, St. Joseph Cottolengo used to personally oversee the baking of hosts for Mass and Communion. To the sister assigned to this he gave the following instruction: "Make the hosts thick so that I can linger a long time with Jesus. I do not want the Sacred Species to quickly dissolve."
Are we not perhaps acting contrary to the example of the Saints when we regard our period of Thanksgiving as too long and perhaps feel impatient to get it over with? But, oh how we should watch ourselves here! For if it is true that at every Communion Jesus "gives us a hundredfold for the hospitality we show Him," as St. Teresa of Jesus declares, then it is likewise true that we must answer a hundredfold for neglecting this hospitality. A fellow Capuchin of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina told how one day he went to Confession to the holy friar, and among other things, confessed omitting his Thanksgiving after Holy Mass because, he said, some ministry made him unable. While Padre Pio was lenient in judging the other faults when he heard him confess this omission, he grew more serious, and, with a stern look, he said firmly "Let us see to it that our being unable is not just being unwilling. I always have to make my Thanksgiving; otherwise I pay dearly."
Let us give the matter serious thought and attention. When it comes to something so very precious as this Thanksgiving, let us take to heart the Holy Spirit's admonition, "Let not your share of desired good pass you by" (Ecclus. 14:14).

Thanksgiving with the Madonna

There is a special beauty in a Thanksgiving made in Mary's company in honour of Her Annunciation. Right after Holy Communion we carry Jesus within our souls and bodies, just as the Blessed Virgin Mary did when She had received the message of the Angel. We cannot find a better way to adore and love Jesus at that time than by making our dispositions agree with those of the Mother of God, making our own the same sentiments of adoration and love that She had toward Her Divine Son Jesus enclosed under Her Immaculate Heart. It can be helpful in achieving this, to recite meditatively the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. Let us try it. We cannot fail to profit by becoming united this way with the Madonna in order to love Jesus with Her Heavenly Heart.

The Bread of the Strong and Viaticum for Heaven

It ought not to be necessary to say that for everybody, Christ in the Eucharist is the true Bread to make them strong. It is the nourishment to make men heroic, to sustain Martyrs, and to bring strength and peace to souls in their last agony.

In the Eucharist, Jesus repeats to us, who suffer and moan in this valley of tears, this affectionate summons, "Come to Me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you" (Matt. 11:28).
For certainly, "The life of man upon earth is a warfare" (Job 7:1). Moreover, Jesus' followers "shall suffer persecution" (cf. 2 Tim. 3:12; Matt. 5:10); and it is true that they that are Christ's "have crucified their flesh with its passions and concupiscences" (Gal. 5:24), and that we ought to live as dead "with Christ to the elements of the world" (Col. 2:20).

It is also true that with Jesus "I can do all things in Him Who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13), for Jesus is "all" (cf. John 1:3; Col. 1:17). In Holy Communion He makes Himself "all mine." I can, then, say with the Servant of God, Luisa M. Claret de la Touche, "What need I fear? He Who sustains the world is within me. The Blood of a God circulates within my veins: Have no fear, O my soul. The Lord of the Universe has taken you up into His Arms and wants you to find rest in Him."

Hence, St. Vincent de Paul was able to ask his missionaries, "When you have received Jesus into your hearts, can any sacrifice be impossible for you?" And St. Vincent, during the two years he had to suffer in prison as a victim of persecution, exceedingly abounded with joy in all his tribulations (cf. 2 Cor. 7:4), because he managed to be able to celebrate Holy Mass every day in spite of his fetters and chains and the darkness of his dungeon. The same fortitude and joy was given to St. Joan of Arc when she was allowed to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist before going to her execution at the stake. When Jesus entered her dark prison, the Saint fell on her knees, and, wearing her chains, received Jesus, and became absorbed in prayer. As soon as she was bidden to go forth to her death, she rose and made her journey without interrupting her prayer. She proceeded to the stake and died amid the flames, ever in union with Jesus, Who remained in her soul and in that body which was sacrificed.

Strength of the Martyrs

The whole history of the Martyrs, from St. Stephen, the protoMartyr, to the angelic Martyr, St. Tarcisus, and the more recent Martyrs, is a story of the super-human strength which the Eucharist bestows on them as they do battle against the devil and against all the hellish powers that operate in the world (cf. 1 Pet. 5:9).

Remember, also, the heavenly comfort and help which Holy Communion brings to the sick, and not merely to their souls, but to their bodies also, which sometimes become wonderfully healed. It used to happen, for example, to St. Lidwina and to Alexandria Da Costa, that during the whole time the Sacred Species remained within their bodies, their terrible physical sufferings would marvelously cease. It likewise happened to St. Lawrence of Brindisi and St. Peter Claver, that all the pains of the serious ailments that had been tormenting them, would cease when they were celebrating Holy Mass.

Thanksgiving After Holy Communion, Part 3

Take Care of the Soul First

But most consoling of all is the Christian's final Holy Communion, which is called Viaticum; that is, food for the journey from this life to the next. Oh, what great importance the Saints attached to our receiving It in good time and with the best dispositions!

When St. Dominic Savio was sent home because of a grave illness, the doctor held out good hopes of his recovery. But the holy youth called his father and said, "Father, it will be a good thing if I deal with the heavenly Doctor. I want to go to Confession and receive Holy Communion."
When St. Anthony Claret's declining health began to cause serious concern, two physicians were called in for advice. Noticing this, the Saint realized the gravity of his illness and said, "I understand, but first let us think about the soul and then the body." And he wanted to receive the Sacraments at once. after that was done, he sent for the two physicians and told them, "Now do what you want to do."
First the soul, and then the body. Is it possible that we do not appreciate this? Often we are so unthinking that we concern ourselves a great deal about getting the doctor in to tend to the sick person, whereas we get around to summoning the priest only at the last minute when the patient is, perhaps, too far gone to receive the Sacraments with full awareness, or cannot even receive them at all. Oh how foolish, how unwise we are! How can we escape being answerable, if, by failing to call the priest on time, we put a dying person's salvation in jeopardy and deprive him of the support and great help that he could receive in his last moments?

The Eucharist is the highest guarantee pledging true life to the Christian who dwells in this poor land of exile. "Our bodies," writes St. Gregory of Nyassa, "when united to Christ's Body, gain a beginning of immortality, because they are united to Immortality." When the body's short life is failing, we look to Jesus, Who is eternal Life. He is given to us in Holy Communion in order to be the true and enduring Life of our immortal souls and to be the Resurrection of our mortal bodies: "He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has life everlasting" (John 6:55). "He who eats this Bread shall live forever" (John 6:59), because "I am the Resurrection and the Life" (John 11: 25) .

Ah! What a great grace Holy Viaticum is! When the holy Cure of Ars was dying and heard the ringing of the bell that announced the arrival of Holy Viaticum, he was moved to tears, and said, "How can we not weep when Jesus is coming for the last time to us with so much love?"

Yes, Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is Love that has become my food, my strength, my life, my heart's craving. Every time I receive Him, during life or at the time of death, He makes Himself mine in order to make me His. Yes, He is all mine and I am all His --- the one in the other, the one belonging to the other (cf. John 6:57). This is the fullness of Love for the soul and for the body, on earth and in Heaven.

Every Day With Him, Part 1

Jesus is in the tabernacle for my sake. He is the Food of my soul. "My Flesh is food indeed and My Blood is drink indeed" (John 6:56). If I want to nourish myself spiritually and be fully supplied with life, I must receive Him, "Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you shall not have life in you" (John 6:54). St. Augustine informs us that the Catholic people in his diocese in Africa called the Eucharist by the word "Life." When they were to go to Holy Communion, they would say, "We are going to the Life." What a wonderful way of expressing it!

To keep my supernatural powers and energies --- my supernatural life --- in good health, I must nourish them. The Holy Eucharist is exactly what is needed for this, for It is the "Bread of Life" (John 6:35), the "Bread that has come down from Heaven" (John 6:59), which bestows, replenishes, preserves and increases the spiritual energies of the soul. St. Peter J. Eymard ventured to say, "Communion is as necessary for us to sustain our Christian vitality, as the vision of God is necessary to the Angels, to maintain their fife of glory."

Every day I ought to nourish my soul, just as every day I feed my body in order to give it physical vitality. St. Augustine teaches, "The Eucharist is a daily Bread that we take as a remedy for the frailty we suffer from daily." And St. Peter J. Eymard adds, "Jesus has prepared not just one Host, but One for every day of our life. The Hosts for us are ready. Let us not forfeit even One of Them."

Jesus is that Host, that Victim of love, Who is so sweet and so healthful to the soul, as to move St. Gemma Galgani to say, "I feel a great need to be strengthened anew by that Food so sweet, which Jesus offers me; This affectionate therapy that Jesus gives me every morning unstiffens me and draws to Him every affection of my heart."
For the Saints, daily Communion fulfills an imperative need for Life and Love, corresponding to Jesus' Divine desire to give Himself to be every soul's Life and Love. We should not forget that Holy Thursday was the day for which Jesus had "longed" (cf. Luke 22:15). Hence, the holy Cure of Ars said emphatically, "Every Consecrated Host is made to burn Itself up with love in a human heart." And St. Therese of Lisieux wrote to another Sister, "It is not in order to occupy a golden ciborium that Jesus every day comes down from Heaven, but it is to find another heaven, namely, our soul, in which He takes His delight; and when a soul well able to do so does not want to receive Jesus into its heart, Jesus weeps." "Therefore, continues St. Therese, "when the devil cannot enter with sin into a soul's sanctuary, he wants the soul to be at least unoccupied, with no Master, and well removed from Holy Communion." It should surely be evident that we are here concerned with a snare of the devil; for only the devil can be interested in keeping us away from Jesus. May we be on our guard, then. We should try not to fall victim to the devil's deceptions. "Endeavor not to miss any Holy Communion," St. Margaret Mary Alacoque advises; "We can scarcely give our enemy, the devil, greater joy than when we withdraw from Jesus, Who takes away the power the enemy has over us."

Daily Communion is a daily wellspring of love, of strength, of light, of joy, of courage, of every virtue and every good. "If anyone thirst, let him come toMe and drink,"' Jesus said (John 7 :37). He alone is the "Fountain of water springing up unto life everlasting" (John 4:14). How can there be anyone who is in the state of Sanctifying Grace not want, or who finds it hard, to go to this Divine "table of the Lord" (1 Cor. 10:21)?

The great Lord Chancellor of England, St. Thomas More, who died a Martyr because of his resistance to schism, used to hear Mass every morning and receive Holy Communion. Some friends tried to persuade him that this care was not suitable for a layman heavily engaged in so many affairs of state. "You present all your reasons, and they rather convince me the more that I should receive Holy Communion every day,"' he said. "My distractions are numerous, and with Jesus I learn to recollect myself. The occasions of offending God are frequent, and I receive strength every day from Him to flee from them. I need light and prudence to manage very difficult affairs, and every day I can consult Jesus in Holy Communion. He is my great Teacher."
Someone once asked the celebrated biologist, Banting, why he cared so much about daily Communion. "Have you ever reflected," he answered, "what would happen if the dew did not fall every night? No plant could develop. The grass and flowers could not survive the evaporations and the dryness that the day's heat brings in one way or another. Their cycle of energies, their natural renewal, the balance of their lymphatic fluids, the very life of plants requires this dew."' After a pause, he continued: "Now my soul is like a little plant. It is something rather frail that the winds and heat do battle with every day. So it is necessary that every morning I go get my fresh stock of spiritual dew, by going to Holy Communion."

St. Joseph Cottolengo recommended to the physicians of his House of Divine Providence that they hear Mass and go to Communion before undertaking their difficult surgeries. This was because, as he said, "Medicine is a great science, but God is the great Physician." Blessed Joseph Moscati, the celebrated physician of Naples, used to be very regular about this, and go to unbelievable lengths (at the cost of enormous inconvenience, especially in view of the frequent trips he had to make) to avoid missing daily Communion. If on any day it was quite impossible to receive Communion, he had not the courage that day to make his doctor's calls; for he said, "Without Jesus I do not have enough light to save my poor patients."
Oh, the ardent love the Saints have for daily Holy Communion! And who can properly describe it? St. Joseph Cupertino, who did not fail to receive his beloved Lord every day, once ventured to say to his brothers in religious life, "Be sure that I will depart into the next life on the day that I cannot receive the Pecoriello (the Great Lamb)" as he affectionately and devotedly called the Divine Lamb. And, in fact, it took a severe illness to prevent him from receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist one day; and that was the day of his death!

When St. Gemma Galgani's father was worried about his daughter's health, he criticized her for setting out too early every morning to go to Mass. His criticism drew this answer from the Saint: "But Father, as for me, I become ill if I don't receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist."

When St. Catherine of Genoa learned of the interdict put on her city, carrying a prohibition against Mass and Holy Communion, she went on foot every day to a remote Sanctuary outside Genoa in order to go to Communion. When she was told that she was overdoing things, the Saint replied, "If I had to go miles and miles over burning coals in order to receive Jesus, I would say dIe way was easy, as if I were walking on a carpet of roses."

This should teach a lesson to us who may have a Church within a short walk, where we can go at our convenience to receive Jesus into our hearts. And even if this should cost us some sacrifice, would it not be worth it?

But there is yet more to this, if we reflect that the Saints would have wanted to receive Communion not just once, but several times a day.

Every Day With Him, Part 2

Full Ciborium, Empty Bread Boxes

Let us go forward! We should not apologize for doing something so holy as receiving daily Communion, to which every blessing for soul and body is attached.

Blessings for the Soul

As for blessings for the soul, St. Cyril of Alexandria, Father and Doctor of the Church, wrote: "If the poison of pride is swelling up in you, turn to the Eucharist; and that Bread, Which is your God humbling and disguising Himself, will teach you humility. If the fever of selfish greed rages in you, feed on this Bread; and you will learn generosity. If the cold wind of coveting withers you, hasten to the Bread of Angels; and charity will come to blossom in your heart. If you feel the itch of intemperance, nourish yourself with the Flesh and Blood of Christ, Who practiced heroic self-control during His earthly life; and you will become temperate. If you are lazy and sluggish about spiritual things, strengthen yourself with this heavenly Food; and you will grow fervent. Lastly, if you feel scorched by the fever of impurity, go to the banquet of the Angels; and the spotless Flesh of Christ will make you pure and chaste."

When people wanted to know how it came about that St. Charles Borromeo kept chaste and upright in the midst of other youths who were loose and frivolous, this was his secret: frequent Holy Communion. It was this same St. Charles who recommended frequent Communion to the young St. Aloysius Gonzaga, who became the Saint of angelic purity. Assuredly, the Eucharist proves to be "the wheat of the elect and wine which sprouts forth virgins" (Zach. 9:17). And St. Philip Neri, a priest thoroughly familiar with young people, remarked, "Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and devotion to the Blessed Virgin are not simply the best way, but in fact the only way to keep purity. At the age of twenty nothing but Communion can keep one's heart pure ... Chastity is not possible without the Eucharist." This is most true.

Blessings for the Body

And what of the blessings that the Holy Eucharist brings for the body? St. Luke said of Our Lord, "Power went forth from Him and healed all" (Luke 6:19). How many times at Lourdes has this not again proved true of Our Savior in the Eucharist? How many bodies have been healed by this kind Lord, veiled within the white Host? How many people, who were suffering from sickness or from poverty, have there not been who have received, with the Eucharistic Bread, the bread of health, of strength, and aid for other needs?

One day St. Joseph Cottolengo noticed that a number of patients in his House of Providence had not chosen to receive Holy Communion. The ciborium remained full. Now that same day the pantry ran out of bread for the forthcoming meal. The Saint, setting the ciborium on the altar, turned and very animatedly made this expressive statement: "Full ciborium, empty bread boxes!"
This bore out a truth. Jesus is the fullness of life and love for my soul. Without Him, all else is empty and arid. With Him I have limitless reserves every day for every good, purity and joy.

Spiritual Communion, Part 1

Spiritual Communion is the reserve of Eucharistic Life and Love always available for lovers of the Eucharistic Jesus. By means of Spiritual Communion the loving desires are satisfied of the soul that wants to be united with Jesus, its dear Bridegroom. Spiritual Communion is a union of love between the soul and Jesus in the Host. This union is spiritual but none-the-less real, more real than the union between the soul and the body, "because the soul lives more where it loves than where it lives," says St. John of the Cross.

Faith, Love and Desire
As is evident, Spiritual Communion assumes that we have faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Tabernacle. It implies that we would like Sacramental Communion, and it demands a gratitude for Jesus' gift of this Sacrament. All this is expressed simply and briefly in the formula of St. Alphonsus:

"My Jesus, I believe that You are really present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all things, and I desire to possess Thee within my soul. Since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. --- (pause) I embrace Thee as being already there and unite myself wholly to Thee. Never, never permit me to be separated from Thee. Amen."
Spiritual Communion, as St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Alphonsus Liguori teach, produces effects similar to Sacramental Communion, according to the dispositions with which it is made, the greater or less earnestness with which Jesus is desired, and the greater or less love with which Jesus is welcomed and given due attention.
A special advantage of Spiritual Communion is that we can make it as often as we like --- even hundreds of times a day --- when we like --- even late at night --- and wherever we like --- even in a desert, or up in an airplane.

It is fitting to make a Spiritual Communion especially when we are attending Holy Mass and cannot receive Our Lord sacramentally. While the priest is receiving his Holy Communion, our soul should share in it by inviting Jesus into our heart. In this way every Holy Mass we hear is a complete one, with the Offertory, the sacrificial Consecration, and Holy Communion.

The Two Chalices

Jesus Himself told St. Catherine of Siena in a vision how precious a Spiritual Communion is. The Saint was afraid that a Spiritual Communion was nothing compared to a Sacramental Communion. In the vision, Our Lord held up two ciboriums, and said, "In this golden ciborium I put your Sacramental Communions. In this silver ciborium 1 put your Spiritual Communions. Both ciboriums are quite pleasing to Me."

And once Jesus said to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, when she was absorbed in addressing yearning sighs to Him in the tabernacle, "I love so much a soul's desire to receive Me, that I hasten to it each time it summons Me by its yearnings."
It is not hard to see how much Spiritual Communion has been loved by the Saints. Spiritual Communion at least partly satisfied that ardent desire to be united to their Beloved. Jesus Himself said, "Abide in Me and I in you" (John 15:4). And Spiritual Communion helps us stay united to Jesus, even when we are far from a Church. There was no other way to appease the fond yearning that burned in the hearts of the Saints. "O God, my whole soul longs for You. As a deer for running water, my whole soul thirsts for God" (Ps. 41:2).

This is the loving sigh of the Saints. St. Catherine of Genoa exclaimed, "O dear Spouse (of my soul), I so strongly crave the joy of being with Thee, that it seems to me that if I were dead, I would come to life in order to receive Thee in Holy Communion." Blessed Agatha of the Cross felt such an acute yearning to live always united to Jesus in the Eucharist, that she remarked, "If the Confessor had not taught me to make Spiritual Communion, I could not have lived."

For St. Mary Frances of the Five Wounds, likewise, Spiritual Communion was the only relief from the acute pain she felt when shut up at home far from her beloved Lord, especially when she was not allowed to receive Sacramental Communion. At such a time she went out on the terrace of her home and, looking at the Church, she tearfully sighed, "Happy are they who have received Thee today in the Blessed Sacrament, O Jesus. Blessed are the walls of the Church that guard my Jesus. Blessed are the priests, who are always near the most lovable Jesus." Spiritual Communion alone was able to satisfy her a little.

Spiritual Communion, Part 2

During the day

Here is one of the counsels which Padre Pio of Pietrelcina gave to one of his spiritual daughters: "In the course of the day, when it is not permitted to you to do otherwise, call Jesus, even in the midst of all your occupations, with a resigned sigh of the soul and He will come and will remain always united with your soul by means of His grace and His holy love. Make a spiritual flight before the Tabernacle, when you cannot go there with your body, and there pour out the ardent desires of your spirit and embrace the Beloved of souls, better than if it had been permitted to you to receive Him sacramentally.

Let us, too, profit by this great gift. During the times that we suffer trial or feel abandoned, for example, what can be more valuable to us than the company of our Sacramental Lord by means of Spiritual Communion? This holy practice can work with ease to fill our days with acts and sentiments of love, and can make us live in an embrace of love that depends just on our often renewing it so that we scarcely ever interrupt it.

St. Angela Merici was extremely fond of Spiritual Communion. Not only did she make it often and exhort others to do it, but she chose to leave it as an inheritance to her daughters, so that they might practice it ever afterwards.
What shall we say of St. Francis de Sales? Does not his whole life seem like a chain of Spiritual Communions? He made a resolution to make a Spiritual Communion at least every quarter of an hour. Saint Maximilian M. Kolbe had the same resolve from the time of his youth. The Servant of God, Andrew Baltrami, has left us a short page of his personal diary, which is a little program for a life lived in uninterrupted Spiritual Communion with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. These are his words: "Wherever I maybe I will often think of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I will fix my thoughts on the holy Tabernacle --- even when I happen to wake up at night --- adoring Him from where I am, calling to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, offering up to Him the action I am performing. I will install one telegraph cable from my study to the Church, another from my bedroom, and a third from our refectory; and as often as I can, I will send messages of love to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament." What a stream of divine affections must have passed over those precious cables!

Also During the Night

The Saints were eager to make use of these and similar holy means in order to find outlet for their overflowing hearts; for they never felt they had gone far enough in their endeavor to love. "The more I love Thee, the less I love Thee," exclaimed St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, "because I would like to love Thee more, but I cannot. Oh enlarge, enlarge my heart."

When St. Roch spent five years in prison because he had been judged to be a dangerous vagabond, in his cell he kept his eyes ever fixed at the window, praying in the meantime. The guard asked, "What are you looking at?" The Saint answered, "I am looking at the tower of the parish church." The tower reminded him of a church, a tabernacle, and the Eucharistic Jesus, inseparably joined to his heart.

The holy Cure of Ars said to his flock, "that the sight of a church tower you can say: Jesus is there, for there a priest has celebrated Mass." Blessed Louis Guanella, when he was traveling by train with pilgrimages to the various shrines, used to always advise pilgrims to turn their minds and hearts to Jesus every time they saw a church tower from the carriage window, "Every bell tower," he would say, " indicates a church, where there is a Tabernacle, where Mass is said, and where Jesus stays."

Let Us Take a Lesson from the Saints

 They would like to pass on some spark of the love burning in their hearts. Let us undertake to make many Spiritual Communions, especially during the busiest moments of the day. Then soon the fire of love will enter us. For something very consoling that St. Leonard of Port Maurice assures us of, is this: "If you practice the holy exercise of Spiritual Communion a good many times each day, within a month you will see yourself completely changed." Hardly a month --- clear enough, is it not?

The Real Presence

The Real Presence of Jesus in our tabernacles is God's mystery, God's Gift, God's Love. During the Holy Mass at the time of the Consecration, when the priest pronounces Jesus' Divine words, "This is My Body. ..This is the chalice of My Blood" (Matt. 26:26-27), the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus. The substance of the bread and of the wine are no longer there, because they have been transformed --- "transubstantiated" --- into the Divine Body and Blood of Jesus. The bread and wine keep only their appearances, to express the reality of food and drink, according to Jesus' words, "My Flesh is real food and My Blood is real drink" (John 6:56).

Behind the veil, the disguise, of the Host, and within the Chalice, there is the Divine Person of Jesus with His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. This is what is given to whoever receives Holy Communion, and is what continually remains in the consecrated Hosts placed in the tabernacle.

St. Ambrose wrote: "How is the change of bread into the Body of Christ brought about? It is by means of the Consecration. With what words is the Consecration accomplished? It is with the words of Jesus. When the moment arrives for accomplishing this sacred wonder, the priest ceases to speak as himself; he speaks in the person of Jesus."
The words of Consecration are the most wonderful and awesome words that God has given to the Church. They have the power, through the priest, to transform a bit of bread and wine into our crucified God, Jesus! They achieve this wonderful, mysterious feat by a supreme power which surpasses the power of the Seraphim and belongs only to God and to His priests. We should not wonder that there have been holy priests who suffered a great deal when they pronounced those Divine words. St. Joseph of Cupertino, and in our time, Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, appeared visibly weighed down with distress, and they managed only with difficulty and with pauses to complete the two formulas of Consecration.

The Father Guardian ventured to ask St. Joseph of Cupertino, "How is it you recite the whole Mass so well, and stammer at each syllable of the Consecration?"

The Saint answered, "The sacred words of the Consecration are like burning coals on my lips. When I pronounce them, I have to do it like one who has to swallow boiling hot food."

It is through these Divine words of Consecration that Jesus is on our altars, in our tabernacles, and in the Hosts. But how is it that all this comes about?

"How is it possible," an educated Mohammedan asked a missionary bishop, "that bread and wine should become the flesh and Blood of Christ?"

The bishop answered, "You were small when you were born. You grew big because your body changed the food you took into flesh and blood. If a man's body is able to transform bread and wine into flesh and blood, then God can do it far more easily."

The Mohammedan then asked: "How is it possible for Jesus to be wholly and entirely present in a little Host?"

The bishop answered, "Look at the landscape before you and consider how much smaller your eye is in comparison to it. Now within your little eye there is an image of this vast countryside. Can God not do in reality, in His Person, what is done in us by way of a likeness or image?"

Then the Mohammedan asked, "How is it possible for the same Body to be present at the same time in all your churches and in all the consecrated Hosts?"

The bishop said, "Nothing is impossible with God and this answer ought to be enough. But nature also answers this question. Let us take a mirror, throw it down on the floor and let it break into pieces. Every piece can carry the same image that the whole mirror formerly reproduced. Likewise, the self-same Jesus reproduces Himself; not as a mere likeness, but as a reality, in every consecrated Host. He is truly present in each One of Them."
Eucharistic wonders are recorded in the lives of St. Rose of Lima, Blessed Angela of Foligno, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Philip Neri, St. Francis Borgia, St. Joseph of Cupertino and many other Saints, whose senses perceived the Real Presence of Jesus in the tabernacle and in the consecrated Hosts, as they saw Jesus with their own eyes or experienced His ineffable fragrance. We have also accounts of how St. Anthony of Padua once proved to an unbeliever the Real Presence by showing him a hungry mule kneeling before a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament, in preference to devouring the basket of oats placed beside the monstrance. Also remarkable was an episode concerning St. Alphonsus M. Liguori when he received Holy Communion in his sickbed. One morning, as soon as he had received the host, he sighed aloud with tears, "What have you done: You have brought me a host without Jesus, an unconsecrated host!" The matter was investigated and it was learned that the priest who had said the Mass that morning had been so distracted that he had left out everything from the Memento for the Living to the Memento for the Dead in the Roman Canon, and had thereby completely omitted the consecration of the bread and wine. The Saint had detected the absence of Our Lord from the unconsecrated host!

Many other episodes taken from the lives of Saints could be mentioned. Likewise, instances of exorcism could be told where obsessed persons were delivered from the demon by means of the Eucharist. Also, one could cite those great witnesses of faith and love which are the Eucharistic Congresses and the celebrated Eucharistic shrines (such as those at Turin, Lanciano, Siena, Orvieto, and the shrine of St. Peter of Patierno), shrines that even today offer worthy, up-to-date testimony of astonishing events of the past confirming the Real Presence.

But outweighing all these factual histories and evidences, is the faith by which the truth of the Real Presence is assured and on which we must base our unwavering certainty that it is the truth. "Jesus is the Truth" (John 14:6), and He has left us the Eucharist as a mystery of faith for us to believe with our whole mind and our whole heart.

When the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, was brought Holy Viaticum, he rose up out of the ashes where he had been laid, got on his knees, and said, "I would not believe with greater assurance that He Whom I am to receive is the Son of the Eternal God, even if I had a clear enlightenment about it a thousand times clearer than that of faith."

Mysterium fidei (Mystery of faith)

With these words Pope Paul VI chose to caption his encyclical on the Eucharist, simply because the Divine realities have no source of truth and of certainty that ranks higher than theological faith. It was due to this faith that Saints merited to see Jesus in the Host, though they had wanted no further proof than what they had; namely, God's word. Pope Gregory XV declared that St. Teresa of Jesus (whom he canonized) "saw Our Lord Jesus Christ, present in the Host so distinctly with the eyes of her spirit, that she said she did not begrudge the happy lot of the Blessed who behold the Lord face to face in Heaven." And St. Dominic Savio once wrote in his diary, "I need nothing in this world in order to be happy. I only need to see Jesus in Heaven, Whom I now see and adore on the altar with the eyes of faith."

It is with this faith that we ought to approach the Holy Eucharist and keep ourselves in that Divine Presence, loving Jesus in this Sacrament and making others love Him.

Visits to Jesus, Part 1

Jesus is in our tabernacles, and this fact we call the Real Presence. The same Jesus Who was sheltered by Mary Immaculate within her virginal body, is in the little body of a white Host. The same Jesus Who was whipped, crowned with thorns, and crucified as a Victim for the sins of the world, remains in the ciborium in the Host as a Victim sacrificed for our salvation. The same Jesus Who rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven, where He now is gloriously reigning at the right hand of the Father, resides on our altars, surrounded by a multitude of countless adoring Angels --- a sight that Blessed Angela of Foligno beheld in a vision.

Thus Jesus is truly with us. "Jesus is there!" --- The holy Cure of Ars could not finish repeating these three words without shedding tears. And St. Peter Julian Eymard exclaimed with joyful fervor, "There Jesus is! Therefore all of us should go visit Him!" And when St. Teresa of Jesus heard someone say, "If only I had lived at the time of Jesus ... If only I had seen Jesus ... If only I had talked with Jesus ...," she responded in her spirited way, "But do we not have in the Eucharist the living, true and real Jesus present before us? Why look for more?"

The Saints certainly did not seek for more. They knew where Jesus was, and they desired no more than the privilege of keeping inseparable company with Him, both in their affections, and by bodily presence. Being ever with our beloved --- is this not one of the primary things true love calls for? Indeed it is; and, therefore, we know that visits to the Blessed Sacrament and the Eucharistic Benediction were the secret yet evident loves of the Saints. The time of paying a visit to Jesus is wholly the time of love --- a love we will resume practicing in Paradise, since love alone "does not come to an end" (1 Cor. 13:8). St. Catherine of Genoa made no blunder in saying, "The time I have spent before the tabernacle is the best spent time of my life."

Visits to Jesus, Part 2
Let Us See Some Examples from the Saints

 Saint Maximilan M. Kolbe, apostle of the Immaculate Virgin, used to make an average of ten visits a day to the Blessed Sacrament --- a practice he began as a young student. During the school year, during the intervals between classes, he would hasten to the chapel so that in the mornings he managed to make five visits to Jesus. During the rest of the day he made five more visits. Among these, one was what he considered always a compulsory stop during the afternoon walk. It was in a church (in Rome) where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed.

Also, St. Robert Bellarmine during his youth, when on his way to and from school, used to pass a church four times. Thus, four times a day he would stop and pay a visit to Jesus.

How often does it happen that we pass by a church? Are we perhaps rather thoughtless and callous? The Saints hoped they would meet a church along the road they were taking; whereas, we are quite indifferent, even if we find churches before us. Ven. J.J. Olier wrote: "When there are two routes to get me to a certain place, I take the one on which I meet more churches, in order to be nearer the Blessed Sacrament. When I see a place where my Jesus is, I am so happy, and I say, 'You are here, my God and my All.' "

St. Alphonsus Rodrigues was a door-keeper. His duties often took him by the chapel door; and then he would never fail to at least look in to give Our Lord a loving glance. When he left the house and when he returned, he always visited Jesus to ask His blessing.
The angelic youth, St. Stanislaus Kostka, took advantage of every free moment to hurry off to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. When he simply could not make it, he would turn to his Guardian Angel and tell him quietly, "My dear Angel, go there for me." And what a truly angelic assignment! Why can we not make such a request? Our Guardian Angel would be quite glad to comply. In fact, we could not ask him to do us a nobler and more agreeable favour.
St. Augustine has left us an account about his mother, St. Monica, which tells how, every day, besides attending Mass, she went twice to visit Our Lord, once in the morning and once in the evening. Another holy mother of seven children used to do the same, Blessed Anna Maria Taigi. And St. Wenceslaus, King of Bohemia, used to make frequent trips, day and night, even in the rigors of winter, to visit the Blessed Sacrament in churches.

Here is another happy example in a royal family. When St. Elizabeth of Hungary was a little girl and used to play about the palace with her companions, she would always pick a spot near the chapel so that every now and then, without being noticed, she might stop by the chapel door, kiss the lock, and say to Jesus, "My Jesus, I am playing, but I am not forgetting You. Bless me and my companions. I will see You again." What simple devotion!

Francisco, one of the three little shepherds of Fatima, was a little contemplative, and he had an ardent love for visiting the Blessed Sacrament. He wanted to go often and stay in church as long as he could in order to be near the tabernacle close to the "hidden Jesus," as he called the Eucharist in his childlike, profound way of speaking. When sickness confined him to bed, he confided to his cousin, Lucy, that his greatest pain was not being able to go visit the "hidden Jesus" to take Him all his kisses and his love. Here we have a little boy teaching us how to love!

We may add that St. Francis Borgia used to make at least seven visits to the Blessed Sacrament every day. St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi was making thirty-three visits a day during one period of her life. Blessed Mary Fortunata Viti, a humble Benedictine nun of our times, used to do the same. Blessed Agatha of the Cross, a Dominican tertiary, succeeded in making a hundred visits a day, going from her residence to a church. Finally, what shall we say of Alexandria da Costa, who, when bed-ridden for many years, was continually making flights in her heart to visit all the "Holy Tabernacles" in the world?
Perhaps these examples astonish us and might seem to us exceptional, even among Saints. But that is not the case. Visits to the Blessed Sacrament are acts of faith and love. Whoever has the greater faith and love, feels more strongly the need of being with Jesus. And what did the Saints live by if not by faith and love?

One day a resourceful catechist said to his young pupils, "If an Angel were to come to you from heaven and tell you, 'Jesus in person is in such and such a house and is waiting for you,' would you not at once leave everything in order to hasten to Him? You would interrupt any amusement or anything that occupied you; you would count yourself fortunate to be able to make a little sacrifice in order to go and be with Jesus. Now be sure, and do not forget, that Jesus is in the tabernacle, and He is always waiting for you, because He wants to have you near and desires to greatly enrich you with His graces."

How greatly, how highly, have the Saints valued the physical presence of Jesus in person in the tabernacle and Jesus' desire to have us near Him? So greatly, so highly, as to make St. Francis de Sales say, "We must visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament a hundred thousand times a day."

Let us learn from the Saints to love our visits to Jesus in the Eucharist. Let us make these visits. Let us linger with Him, talking with Him affectionately about what is in our heart. He will fondly look upon us and draw us to His Heart. "When we speak to Jesus with simplicity and with all our heart," said the holy Cure of Ars, "He does like a mother who holds her child's head with her hands and covers it with kisses and caresses."

If we do not know how to make visits to the tabernacle which include heart-to-heart talks, we should obtain the beautiful, matchless booklet of St. Alphonsus entitled Visits to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Something unforgettable is the way Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, every evening, used to read with a tearful voice one of St. Alphonsus' Visits during the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament just before the Eucharistic Benediction.

Let us get started and be faithful in making at least one visit a day to Our Lord Who is fondly waiting. Then let us try to increase these visits according to our ability. And, if we have no time to make long visits, let us make "stop-ins," that is, let us enter the church every time we can and kneel down for a few moments before the Blessed Sacrament, saying affectionately, 'Jesus, Thou art here. I adore Thee. I love Thee. Come into my heart." This is something simple and short, but, oh, so profitable! Let us always remember these consoling words of St. Alphonsus: "You may be sure that of all the moments of your life, the time you spend before the Divine Sacrament will be that which will give you more strength during life and more consolation at the hour of your death and during eternity."


When there is true love, and it mounts to a certain point, there is adoration. Great love and adoration are two distinct things; but, they form one whole. They become adoring love and loving adoration. Jesus in the tabernacle is adored only by those who truly love Him, and He is loved in the highest manner by whoever adores Him.

The Saints, being far advanced in the practice of love, were faithful and ardent adorers of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Importantly, Eucharistic adoration has always been considered as the closest likeness we have to the eternal adoration which will make up our whole Paradise. The difference lies only in the veil which hides the sight of that Divine Reality of which faith gives us unwavering certainty.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament has been the fervent devotion of the Saints. Their adoration lasted hours and hours, sometimes whole days or nights. There "at Jesus' feet" like Mary of Bethany (Luke 10:39), keeping Him fond and intimate company, absorbed in contemplating Him, they surrendered their hearts in a pure and fragrant offering of adoring love. Hear what Brother Charles de Foucauld wrote before the tabernacle: "What a tremendous delight, my God! To spend over fifteen hours without anything else to do but look at You and tell You, 'Lord, I love You!' Oh, what sweet delight!"

All the Saints have been ardent adorers of the Holy Eucharist, from the great Doctors of the Church like St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure, to Popes like St. Pius V and St. Pius X, priests like the holy Cure of Ars and St. Peter Julian Eymard, down to humble souls like St. Rita, St. Paschal Baylon, St. Bernadette Soubirous, St. Gerard, St. Dominic Savio and St. Gemma Galgani. These chosen ones, whose love was true, kept no count of the hours of fond adoration that they spent day and night before Jesus in the tabernacle.

Consider how St. Francis of Assisi spent so much time, often entire nights, before the altar, and remained there so devoutly and humbly that he deeply moved anyone who stopped to watch him. Consider how St. Benethct Labre, called the "Poor man of the Forty Hours," spent days in churches in which the Blessed Sacrament was solemnly exposed. For years and years this Saint was seen in Rome making pilgrimages from church to church where the Forty Hours was being held, and remaining there before Jesus, always on his knees absorbed in adoring prayer, motionless for eight hours, even when his friends, the insects, were crawling on him and stinging him all over.

When someone wanted to do a portrait of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, there was a thscussion about what posture to give him. The decision reached was to portray the Saint in adoration before the altar, because Eucharistic adoration was characteristic of him and was most expressive of his holiness.

That favorite of the Sacred Heart, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, on one Holy Thursday, spent fourteen hours without interruption prostrate in adoration.

"My heart feels as if it were being drawn by a superior force each morning just before uniting with Him in the Blessed Sacrament. I have such
a thirst and hunger before receiving Him that it's a wonder I don't the of anxiety. I was hardly able to reach the Divine Prisoner in order to
celebrate Mass. When Mass ended I remained with Jesus to render Him thanks. My thirst and hunger do not diminish after I have received
 Him in the Blessed Sacrament, but rather, increase steadily. Oh, how sweet was the conversation I held with Paradise this morning.
The heart of Jesus and my own, if you will pardon the expression, fused. They were no longer two hearts beating but only one.
My heart disappeared as if it were a drop in the ocean."

Padre Pio