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I’d like to start off this essay with a short prayer:
Dear Lord, in the difficult days ahead, help me to partake of the graces you wish to give me in Communion wisely for my good and Your glory. May Your heavenly food supply me with the heavenly fuel and spiritual nourishment for me to persevere in trials, and strengthen my desire to unite my will to Your Divine Will. Help me to be who you meant for me to be for all eternity.
In these troubled times, so many people find themselves trying to balance the cost of food and fuel in a way they’ve never had to before. As inflation persists they have to make decisions on how much they can drive versus how much they can heat or cool their homes.
Given the stress this might entail, the temptation for those of us going through all this is to want to shut God out of our day-to-day lives.
Yet now is an especially good time to remember Peter’s words to Jesus after so many of our Lord's disciples left Him after His Bread of Life discourse in John’s Gospel Ch. 6:35-59. When so many deserted Him then, what did Jesus ask His apostles? “Will you also go away”? And what was Peter’s inspiring answer? Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of Eternal Life.” (Jn 6:67-68)
In Communion we ingest Christ’s Precious Blood that He shed so copiously in His Passion, because after all His body includes His Blood.
As our Lord Himself told Sister Josefa Menendez, a Spanish nun to whom He appeared frequently in the early 1920’s, in church approved private revelations, “Under the species of bread and wine the real presence of God lies concealed. Under this veil, I am there whole and entire, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity”.
Our Lord’s Heavenly food can give you Heavenly fuel for your journey with Him! And with His aid you can traverse the roadblocks and treacherous paths on that journey towards Eternal Life in heaven!
Christ's Blood can itself nourish us, even inebriate us as we read in the Anima Christi prayer, if we’re in a state of grace, in ways that no licit or tragically illicit forms of escape from this valley of tears, as our Earthly existence is called in the prayer known as the Hail Holy Queen, can.
If nothing else, think of Jesus' Bread from heaven (John 6:32-35), His heavenly food containing His graces, as fuel for you in your spiritual journey, which after all is a marathon not a sprint!
Speaking of the concept of a spiritual journey as a marathon, not a sprint, St. Paul wrote in his second letter to Timothy, as he neared the time of his martyrdom at the hands of the despotic Emperor Nero wrote, as if reviewing his 30 years of ministry, that “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7).
In the Eucharist, through His graces, Jesus can give us valuable guidance and can help us fight sinful impulses. Receiving Communion regularly in a state of grace free from Mortal Sin can be a powerful component of the Armor of God that St. Paul spoke of in his letter to the Ephesians Chapter 6, verses 10-17.
Jesus once told Sister Menendez, that souls otherwise reluctant to receive Him should, as He put it, “Open your soul wide to grace, and it will inspire you. Gradually it will teach you how to act in a given circumstance, how to treat your family, what to do in regard to your business, how to bring up your children, love those you depend on you, and honor those in authority over you. It may make you feel that such and such a concern must be given up, such a friendship relinquished, or such a meeting avoided…
Give grace a chance and gradually its power will grow stronger in you, for just as evil increases insensibly, once it is given into so will each new grace prepare your soul for a still greater one. If today you listen to My voice and let grace act, tomorrow its influence will be stronger and so steadily increase as time goes on; light will grow in your soul, peace envelop you, and the reward will be eternal bliss”
Regarding the graces our Lord refers to here, it might help also to think about the well-known Parable of the Sower found in Matt 13:1-9, Luke 8:4-8, and Mark 4:3-9. In this parable, Jesus illustrates the best way to respond to the Word of God, as He calls the seeds planted by the sower in Luke’s Gospel.
As you may remember, the sower’s seeds only take root in rich soil, producing grain 30, or 60, or a hundredfold. So it is with God’s graces. For those times they seem to be like those seeds that get consumed by birds, wither away, or otherwise get entangled in the thorns of everyday life, ask our Lord through His Holy Spirit to till the soil of your soul so that the graces he gives you in the Eucharist may produce a good fruit, a good harvest, as it were!
At every Mass and Eucharistic Adoration our Lord provides us with a wonderful antidote to despair about all the diabolical disorientation we see all around us!
Remember that Jesus is present in the tabernacles in churches all around the world, waiting and hoping we will spend time with Him, both in Holy Communion and otherwise, wanting to know, as He asked Peter, James and John, in the midst of His Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane“ could you not watch one hour with me” (Matt:26:40)?
However, if you find you can’t make such frequent visits to Jesus there, you can always set aside time, perhaps after Mass or otherwise, just to sit and meditate over scripture or other readings, in our Lord's company in the tabernacle.
And if nothing else, your time with Jesus can be just like that of one parishioner who told Saint Jean-Marie Vianney, the famous Curé of Ars in France in the 19th century, about his particular way of spending time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. He said “I look at Him and he looks at me”!
Thomas Paine wrote in the early days of the American Revolutionary War, in 1776, that “These are the times that try men’s souls.” That famous quotation rings just as true now as it did then, but in a different sort of way. The blood being shed in our streets through criminals and gang members alike run amok may not have reached that level of casualties but the sense of lawlessness only adds to the chaos and disorder so prevalent these days!
And in the midst of all this depravity and despair, is it not possible that a number of the seemingly faithful Christians cry out to Jesus in prayer, or just in sorrow saying “Where are you Lord?” And yet, is He not with us at every Mass? And in tabernacles all over the world? Or in Eucharistic Adoration?
From there He May well wish to know: are we acting like the scribes and Pharisees so often mentioned in the Gospels whom He frequently called out for their hypocrisy concerning religious matters such as in Matt 23:1-36? Are we so distracted by worldly concerns that we can’t receive Jesus’ grace in the Eucharist, and perhaps even risk damnation when partaking of Him unworthily in a state of mortal sin, as St. Paul warned us about in his letter to the Corinthians 11:27-30?
Jesus once spoke to Sister Menendez, in a church approved private revelation, of His frustrations over indifferent souls. He refers to Himself in this passage as a Prisoner of Love!
“The Holy Eucharist is the invention of Love..yet how few souls respond to that love which spends and consumes itself for them! I live in the midst of sinners that I may be their life, their physician, and the remedy of the diseases bred by corrupt nature. And in return they forsake, insult and despise Me! Poor pitiable sinners, do not turn away from Me. Day and night I am on the watch for you in the tabernacle. I will not reproach you. I will not cast your sins in your face. But I will wash them in My Blood and in My Wounds. No need to be afraid, come to Me. If you but knew how dearly I love you.
And you, dear souls, why this coldness and indifference on your part? Do I not know that family cares, household concerns, and the requirements of your position in life, make continual calls upon you? But cannot you spare a few minutes in which to come and prove your affection and gratitude? Do not allow yourselves to be involved in useless and incessant cares, but spare a few moments to visit the Prisoner of Love. Were you weak or ill in body surely you would find time to see a doctor who would cure you? Come, then to One who is able to give both strength and health to your soul, and bestow the alms of love on this divine Prisoner who watches for you, calls for you and longs to see you at His side.”
Now more than ever when we feel like we’re running on empty let us never forget that Jesus emptied Himself taking the form of a servant (Phil 2:7). And He did this to redeem us from slavery to sin, and He has not abandoned those of us who love Him and seek to serve Him faithfully.
He may not be calming the storms we face in this world nowadays instantaneously as he did in Mark 4:39, Matt 8:26, and Luke 8:24, but He is by no means inattentive through it all. Christ wishes us to strive, in following Him, to be as good as we can in the midst of all the evil surrounding us. While this might very well seem impossible for us, as we read in Matthew's Gospel Chapter 19, Verse 26, with God all things are possible!