Category Archives: Eucharist

Saint Peter Julian Eymard

Relics of EymardSaint Peter Julian Eymard (feastday today), whom Saint John Paul II called the “Apostle of the Eucharist.”

The prayer of the Church says:

O God, who adorned Saint Peter Julian Eymard with a wonderful love for the sacred mysteries of the Body and Blood of your Son, graciously grant, that we, too, may be worthy to receive the delights he drew from this divine banquet.

Saints are friends of saints, and saints beget saints: Eymard was a friend and contemporary of saints Peter Chanel, Marcellin Champagnat, and Blessed Basil Moreau. He died at the age of fifty-seven in La Mure on 1 August 1868.

At his canonization, Saint John XXIII said this of Saint Peter Julian:

It is also very fitting that the sacred ceremony occurs during the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council which has as its special purpose to see to it that the pearls of holiness belonging to the crown which encircles the head of the Church should sparkle and shine ever more and more. This extensive gathering of her holy shepherds united with the infallible successor of St Peter not only proposes and reaffirms once again the unchangeable truths left by the divine Master, but also clearly urges that daily, more and more, there be used those holy helps which make us possessors and sharers of divine grace. Furthermore, she enjoins on her children precepts designed to make the Christian way of life better lived.

The Council can therefore be said to have no other purpose than to show that here below, the Spouse of Christ possesses every kind of holiness both in deeds, in words, and in spiritual gifts of every kind; that here below she inspires her sons with that holy purpose of the Church expressed so clearly by the Redeemer of the human race: ‘Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect’ (Matt., 5: 48).

Once these things are understood, it is easy to see that Christians should glory in having such a mother whom everyone ought to admire because of her incredible beauty, divinely infused. Her grandeur does not shine because of gems or pearls that can be seen by human eyes, but rather glows in the splendour and grace which derive from the blood of her Founder and the marvellous virtue of many of her children. As a result, whoever calls himself a Christian ought to observe a way of life which in no way detracts from the supreme honour of their mother and which is not foreign to her precepts and teachings. No one can truly say that he loves his mother who is not afraid of dishonouring her beauty, even a little, by his way of life.

The Eucharist, Source of Sanctity

Eucharistic life: The Holy Eucharist is the source and the nourishment of all sanctity. Our Predecessor, St Leo the Great, expressed this when he said: ‘The participation in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ has no other effect than to transform us into Him whom we receive.’

How visible is this progressive transformation into the very life of the divine Saviour, in the admirable development of the virtues of the saints canonised today! And what dealings of particular intimacy with Jesus Eucharistic do we not discover in their ascent to sanctity! The name of Peter Julian suffices to unveil to our eyes the splendid eucharistic triumphs to which, in spite of trials and difficulties of all kinds, he wanted to consecrate his life which prolongs itself in the family founded by him. This little child of five who was found on the altar, his forehead resting on the little door, was the same person who in time would found the Congregation of the Fathers of the Blessed Sacrament and that of the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, and who would radiate into innumerable armies of priest adorers, his love and tenderness for Christ living in the Eucharist…

Marian Piety: At the side of Jesus there stands His Mother, the Queen of all the Saints, the source of sanctity in the Church of God and the first flower of its grace. Intimately associated with the redemption in the eternal plans of the Most High, the Blessed Virgin, as Severiano di Gabala expressed it in song, ‘is the Mother of salvation, the source of light become visible’. Hence filial piety is pleased to consider her at the beginning of all Christian life to ensure its harmonious development and to crown its fullness by her maternal presence.

Thus it is not surprising to meet the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the three new confessors whom she accompanies step by step. Saint Julian Eymard proposes her as a model to adorers, invoking her as ‘Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament’…….

….pastoral radiance – the new saints prove it – can be described as the formation of good priests, with fervent souls of adorers, whose ranks have multiplied throughout the world… a

Perfect Adorer of the Blessed Sacrament

We now desire to add a word for the French pilgrims who have come to assist at the glorification of St Peter Julian Eymard, priest, confessor, founder of two religious families consecrated to the worship of the Blessed Sacrament.

He is a saint with whom We have been familiar for many years, as We said above, when as Apostolic Nuncio to France, Providence granted Us the happy opportunity to visit his native land, La Mure d’Isère, near Grenoble.

We saw with Our own eyes the poor bed, the humble dwelling where this faithful imitator of Christ gave up his beautiful soul to God. You can surmise, beloved Sons, with what emotion We recall that memory on this day when it is given Us to confer upon him the honours of canonisation.

The body of St Peter Julian Eymard is preserved in Paris: but the saint is also somehow present at Rome, in the person of his sons, the Priests of the Blessed Sacrament; it is also a sweet memory for Us to recall visits that We used to make to their Church of St Claude-des-Bourguignons (San Claudio), to unite Ourselves for a few moments to their silent adorations.

Besides St Vincent de Paul, St John Eudes, the Curé of Ars, Peter Julian Eymard takes his place in the ranks of the incomparable glory and honour of the country that witnessed their birth, but whose beneficial influence extends far beyond, namely, to the whole Church.

His characteristic distinction, the guiding thought of all his priestly activities, one may say, was the Eucharist: eucharistic worship and apostolate. Here, We would like to stress this fact in the presence of the Priests and of the Servants of the Most Blessed Sacrament, in presence also of the members of an Association which is dear to the heart of the Pope, that of the Priest Adorers assembled at this time in Rome, who have come in great numbers to honour this great friend of the Eucharist.

Yes, dear Sons, honour and celebrate with Us him who was so perfect an adorer of the Blessed Sacrament; after his example, always place at the centre of your thoughts, of your affections, of the undertakings of your zeal this incomparable source of all grace: the Mystery of Faith, which hides under its veils the Author Himself of grace, Jesus the Incarnate Word.

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Eymard is a great teacher for those who want to know more about the Eucharist and to have devotion to the Eucharist. It is this Mystery of the Faith which the Church infallibly teaches us is the center, summit and source of All.

 

Thomas doubt exists today

communion byzantineThe Second Sunday of Easter presents to us the gospel reading of the Thomas doubting the existence of the risen Lord. The day has many names.

This gospel is proclaimed in the Novus Ordo, the Traditional and Byzantine Liturgies. In the Novus Ordo Liturgy today’s Mass can be referred to as Divine Mercy Sunday. The Latin Mass calls today Low Sunday (after the great solemn feast of Easter), or today is called dominica in albis depositis or “the Sunday in which the white clothes are put away”.  Yet another way of referring to today is “Quasimodo Sunday”, because of the first words of the entrance antiphon sung for the Latin Mass which uses the words taken from Peter, Quasi modo geniti infantes, Halleluja, rationabile, sine dolo lac concupiscite (“yearn for the pure spiritual milk as if you were newborn children”).

In all these names, what can we say about this portion of the mystery of the faith in Christian today? If you think about the truth Jesus presented to the Apostles about Himself, it seems that truth is not as convincing as the doubt some put forward as reasonable. I am not quite sure I understand the penchant we have for doubting reasonableness of truth, but doubt exists and I have come to believe that God uses doubt to teach us the meaning of beauty, goodness and truth. Thomas, later revered as a saint and founder of the Church in India, tells us with certitude that the Lord is alive after death on the cross but only after verifying the physicality of the person Jesus when he says, My Lord and my God. He is said by Jesus that he blessed for what he has seen.

Doubting ThomasIn the Byzantine Liturgy the Troparion of St Thomas is sung: While the tomb was sealed You shone forth from it, O Christ our Life, and while the doors remained closed, You stood among your Disciples, O Resurrection of all, and through them You restored a new spirit in us according to your great Mercy.

Today, we are faced with some similar doubts about Jesus, the sacraments and Christian  life. Doubt is not new. And, perhaps Saint Thomas did us a favor in recognizing the concrete facts of our faith. Coming to Catholic faith means that we proclaim from whom salvation comes. It means that we are to be missionary so that all people come before the Lord.

One piece of our Catholic life is faith in the Holy Eucharist: faith in the Divine Presence here and now in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Teaching adults about First Holy Communion is difficult –think of the difficulty there is teaching third graders about the Presence of Jesus in Holy Communion. I recall what is called a Eucharistic miracle where a priest doubted the presence of Jesus in the sacred Host and the Lord gave the priest the a sign of Divine Presence by turing the host in heart muscle and the wine into blood.

The English theologian Monsignor Ronald Knox this about the Holy Eucharist: “We have never, as Christians, been truly faithful to Jesus, no matter our denomination. In the end none of us have truly followed those teachings which most characterize Jesus- We have not turned the other cheek. We have not forgiven our enemies. We have not purified our thoughts. We have not seen God in the poor. We have not kept our hearts pure and free from the things of this world. But we have been faithful in one very important way- we have kept the Eucharist going.”

Eucharistic Box or Reliquary

Eucharistic Box or Reliquary, silver, traces of niello; early 5th century; Kurin, SyriaI saw this post on FB today and thought about the various ways in which the Church “houses” the Eucharistic species of the Lord. To say that there is but one way to think liturgically and theologically is limited.

What you is an “Eucharistic Box or Reliquary,” made of silver, traces of niello in the early 5th century in Kurin, Syria.

“The celebration of the Divine Liturgy is one of the most important ceremonies in the Christian Church. This reliquary is part of a silver service, that is one of only four to survive from the first “golden age” of Byzantium (6th century). This silver service was found in Syria in 1910, in the village of Kurin. The Greek form of its name, Kaper Koraon, is inscribed on several pieces in the treasure, including a chalice, which reads: “…treasure of the Church of St. Sergios of the village of Kaper Koraon.” Almost all of the vessels record the names of donors who gave pieces from their private dinner services in fulfillment of a vow, to gain divine blessing, or in prayer for salvation.”

Saint Justin, martyr

justin martyrAmong the many saints honored today, Justin the martyr is one that needs to be invoked due to his reasonableness in the approach he took regarding the faith on all levels. He met his destiny in being beheaded in AD 165 at Rome. This second century saint and philosopher is know for his defense of the faith by using the gift of reason. Today we could use a good dose of Justin in making the reasons for being Christian known and understandable. One of the famous interchanges he had went like this: “Rusticus said: ‘What system of teaching do you profess?’ Justin said: ‘I have tried to learn about every system, but I have accepted the true doctrines of the Christians, though these are not approved by those who are held fast by error.'”

In Justin’s First Apology sacramental and liturgical theologians look to Justin because of the rigor he had for being consistent with divine revelation; in the work just named Justin takes on the followers of Mithras for the mimicking of the Eucharist and confusing the faithful and distracting the proper defense of the faith. Justin’s eucharistic faith is something for us today to understand. Justin’s use of language is stunning:

But we, after we have thus washed him who has been convinced and has assented to our teaching, bring him to the place where those who are called brethren are assembled, in order that we may offer hearty prayers in common for ourselves and for the baptized [illuminated] person, and for all others in every place, that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation.

Having ended the prayers, we salute one another with a kiss. There is then brought to the president of the brethren bread and a cup of wine mixed with water; and he taking them, gives praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and offers thanks at considerable length for our being counted worthy to receive these things at His hands.

And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the people present express their assent by saying Amen. This word Amen answers in the Hebrew language to ge’noito [so be it].

And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, those who are called by us deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced, and to those who are absent they carry away a portion (ch. 65).

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“And this food is called among us Eucharistia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined.

For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.” – (First Apology, 66)

Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it, Flannery O’Connor’s insight into eucharistic coherence

Flannery O'Connor2.jpg

One of the authors that I believe we have to look to for insight when it comes to sacramentality is the great southern woman, Flannery O’Connor. The great feast of Corpus Christi is this weekend. 


Here is a reflection for us on the Vigil of Corpus et Sanguis Christi:

“I was once, five or six years ago, taken by some friends to have dinner with Mary McCarthy and her husband, Mr. Broadwater. (She just wrote that book, A Charmed Life). She departed the Church at the age of 15 and is a Big Intellectual. 

We went at eight and at one, I hadn’t opened my mouth once, there being nothing for me in such company to say. The people who took me were Robert Lowell and his now wife, Elizabeth Hardwick. Having me there was like having a dog present who had been trained to say a few words but overcome with inadequacy had forgotten them. 

Well, toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend. Mrs. Broadwater said when she was a child and received the Host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the ‘most portable’ person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. 

I then said, in a very shaky voice, ‘Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.’ That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest of life is expendable.”

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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