Father Victor Participates in U.K. Eucharistic Congress
The archdiocese of Birmingham and the dioceses of Nottingham and Northampton sponsored a Eucharistic Congress for England and Wales to celebrate the Year of the Eucharist. The theme of the Congress was "Behold the Lamb." The Congress was held at Newman College in Birmingham July 14-17. (Birmingham was the home of Cardinal John Henry Newman.) The Congress began with a opening Mass celebrated by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor of Westminister celebrated another of the Masses. Many fine presentations were made at the Congress, including one by Fr. John Edwards, a prominent British Jesuit, and several by the Franciscan friar Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, 'Preacher to the Pontifical Household.' A number of workshops were offered on a variety of topics concerning the Eucharist. The Congress closed with an outdoor Mass and procession on the grounds of Oscott, the archdiocesan seminary, with participation by an impressive number of bishops, priests, deacons and laity.
Mary and the Eucharist
In this Year of the Eucharist it is appropriate to reflect on the relationship of Mary with her divine Son in the Eucharist. For our guide we have St. Peter Julian Eymard, the founder of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers, who wrote with piety and eloquence on the subject.
Mary the Perfect Eucharistic Adorer
Mary is the perfect adorer of Jesus in the Eucharist. After His ascension into heaven, according to St. Eymard, Mary spent her whole life before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. She enjoyed Him in the Blessed Sacrament even more than during His mortal life on earth, because in the Eucharist she had Him all to herself, with no limit to the depth of divine intimacy she enjoyed.
Mary in the Cenacle
St. Peter Julian Eymard taught that Eucharistic adoration began with Mary in the Cenacle, where she adored Jesus in the Eucharist for twenty-four years. The Cenacle was the upper room where Jesus celebrated the first Mass, where He instituted the Sacrament of Penance, and where the Holy Spirit descended on our Lady and the Apostles on Pentecost Sunday. Apparently St. Eymard was recalling a tradition that the Apostles celebrated Mass and reserved the Blessed Sacrament in the Cenacle after Pentecost. The Cenacle would then have been the first church in Christendom. St Eymard said: "In the Cenacle, Mary devoted herself entirely to the Eucharistic glory of Jesus. ... Mary's one desire was then to glorify Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, to make Him known, loved and served by all." (A Eucharistic Handbook, p. 131)
Mary's Perpetual Adoration
St. Eymard goes on to speak of Mary's perpetual mission in the presence of her Eucharistic Son: "Moreover, on Calvary, men had become her children; she loved them with all the tenderness of a mother, and wanted their sovereign good as much as her own. That is why she was so eager to make Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament known to all, to enkindle all hearts with His love, to see them all bound and chained at His loving service, to group them into a Eucharistic Guard of Honor, a court of faithful and devoted adorers. To obtain that grace, Mary carried out a perpetual mission of prayer and of penance in the presence of the Most Holy and Adorable Eucharist, pleading for the salvation of a world redeemed by divine Blood and, in her boundless zeal, including the needs of the faithful of every age and place who would ever share in the heritage of the Divine Eucharist." (A Eucharistic Handbook, pp. 131-32)
Adoring with Mary
Let us go before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in imitation of Mary in the Cenacle, who now adores Him in heaven. And when we do so we should pray with her and through her. When we go to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and pray with Mary, she prays with us and unites our prayers with hers. Jesus then receives our prayer as coming directly from the heart of His own mother.
Mary has the wonderful gift of being able to perfect our prayers, of being able to make up for deficiencies in our faith and our love. The Immaculate Heart of Mary makes up for what is lacking in our own hearts.
The Farmer and the Queen
There's a lovely little story that illustrates this. It's a parable like one of Jesus' parables. It goes like this: Once there was a kingdom whose king was warmly loved by all his subjects. There was a farmer in the kingdom who had an apple orchard. Every year the farmer selected the biggest, the reddest, and the juiciest apples from his harvest and presented them as a gift to his king. The king always praised the farmer for his beautiful and tasty apples and for his generosity.
It came to pass that one year was very hot and dry, and pests infested the farmer's orchard. Even the best apples were small, and their skins were wrinkled and cracked. The farmer could not find one apple that did not have a worm. He was very disappointed because he could not give the king such poor apples.
Then the farmer had an idea. He took his gift of apples to the queen and explained his problem. The queen graciously accepted the apples on behalf of the king. She carefully cut out every spot and blemish from them and then cut the apples into thin wedges, just the way the king liked them for dessert. When the time was right, the queen presented the gift to the king on behalf of the farmer. When the king ate one of the wedges, he said, "By far, these are the best apples I've ever tasted. May that kind farmer be forever blessed."
In the same way, Mary takes our imperfect prayers and presents them to her Son, not as we presented them, but cleaned and perfected.
Mary Adores the Eucharist in Us
Mary still desires to honor and adore Jesus in the Eucharist, even though she is now with Him in heaven. This she does through us. St. Eymard said that Mary adores the Eucharist in us: "She shares her dispositions with us. She teaches us her own way of adoring her Son." She adores in us ... Adorers need Mary ... Their adoration must be one with hers. She then says: "See, I relive and adore through that soul." (Month of Our Lady, chapter. 19)
Blessed Sacrament Father Roland Huot further explains: "Today Christ is present in the Eucharist to continue the work inaugurated 2000 years ago. But Mary wishes to be present wherever her Son is. Body and soul she is with Him in heaven. However according to the plan of God she is not like Christ who prolongs his existence on earth through transubstantiation. In spite of the different mode of being He is really present in the Eucharist. And Mary longs to be with him in this state. This she will do through our collaboration. She is our mother in the spiritual order. Like other mothers, she cannot be forever in this world. But like them she can live on, she can continue to be here through her children."
Fr. Huot continues: "Mary's longing to be present to her Son in the Eucharist is illustrated in the life of the Servant of God, Mother Mary of Jesus, Foundress of the Society of Marie Reparatrice. On the 8th of December 1854, the very day when Pius IX defined the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the future Foundress was paying a visit to a relative in the castle of Bauffe. She was praying in the chapel when our Blessed Mother appeared to her. "Mary," she was to say later, "pointed out to me that Jesus in ascending to heaven had not left the world but that in her case it was not the same; that it grieved her mother's heart not to be there to surround Him and see Him surrounded with adoration and respect, tenderness and love ... Then her mother's heart told me of her desire to see herself replaced on earth by souls who would have a deep respect for her Son.""
Mary and Our Eucharistic Lord Inseparable
St. Augustine said; "The flesh of Jesus is the flesh of Mary, the blood of Jesus is the blood of Mary." Fr. Stephano Minelli explains that in the Eucharist Mary is also present in a way because Jesus took His flesh from the flesh of Mary: "We know, too, that united to the Divinity in the Eucharist there is Jesus - Body and Blood taken from the body and blood of the Blessed Virgin. Therefore at every Holy Communion we receive, it would he quite correct, and a very beautiful thing, to take notice of our Holy Mother's sweet and mysterious presence, inseparably united with Jesus in the Host. Jesus is always the Son She adores. He is Flesh of Her flesh and Blood of Her blood. If Adam could call Eve when she had been taken from his rib, "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh," (Gen. 2:23), cannot the holy Virgin Mary even more rightly call Jesus "Flesh of my flesh and Blood of my blood"? Taken from the "intact Virgin" as says St. Thomas Aquinas, the flesh of Jesus is the maternal flesh of Mary, the blood of Jesus is the maternal blood of Mary. Therefore it will never be possible to separate Jesus from Mary." (Jesus, Our Eucharistic Love)
The more we love the Eucharist, the more we love Mary; and the more we love Mary, the more we love the Eucharist, because Jesus and Mary are so united in love that they are as one. Their Sacred Hearts beat together as if they were one heart.
Mary and the Eucharistic Reign of Christ
It is fitting and proper to praise Mary during Eucharistic adoration because it is fitting and proper to praise a queen in the presence of her king. Just as Mary reflects His graces onto us, so she reflects our praises onto Him. Mary our Queen is our hope in these difficult times. She promised us at Fatima that her Immaculate Heart will triumph and that there will be an era of peace. She will crush the Serpent's head and usher in the era of our Eucharistic Lord, in which Jesus in the Eucharist will be universally recognized as our King present with us here on earth. Perpetual adoration is the spearhead of that reign. And there is good reason believe that that reign will be so extensive that every church throughout the world will have perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. It will be the full flowering of the kingdom of heaven on earth. So let us pray with fervor, hope, and deep anticipation: "THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN!"
A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist
This is a reprint of a 1925 work by a popular British author of the 1920s. That was the golden age of Catholic literature in England. Abbot Vonier shared the limelight with such notables as G. K. Chesterton, Ronald Knox and Hilaire Belloc. This book was written to give Catholics a better understanding of the Eucharist. It is clearly written in simple language, but that does not mean that it reads like a novel. It requires careful reading and rewards diligent readers with valuable insights into the deep mysteries of the Eucharist. The work provides a complete theology of the Eucharist and clarifies the meaning of Eucharistic concepts such as sacrifice, sacrament, transubstantiation and concomitance. It is a rich book that will deepen one's appreciation for the Eucharist with each reading.
Missionary Priests of the Blessed Sacrament
P.O. Box 1428 • Bensalem, Pa 19020
Tel: 215.244.9211 Fax: 215.244.9211