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"And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit".
                                 John 19:30



Summer/Fall 2010



Vol. 25, No. 1

 

The Eucharist, Sacrament of Humility

The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Humility. It teaches us humility by Christ's example, and its grace helps us in the practice of humility.

      The Old Testament sage, Sirach, said that humility is an attractive virtue that wins the favor of God and men. Jesus taught that we must possess the virtue of humility to enter heaven. When Jesus said that the humble will be exalted, He meant that they will be rewarded with eternal life.

      The ancient pagans did not have an appreciation for the virtue of humility. They despised humility in speech and action and considered it a sign of weakness. Even the most noble pagans regarded humility as servile and degrading. But that was not so with the Jews. Enlightened by their faith, they were conscious of their own wretchedness and nothingness. The Old Testament is laced throughout with praise for humility.

The virtue of humility is known by its fruits. Following are four prominent ones:

Humility leads one to see his total dependence on God.

Everything that we have comes from God. Our talents, our intelligence, our looks - everything we take satisfaction in - are not caused by us but come from God. Even our good acts are not completely our own. We could not do them without God's grace. Our sins are the only things that are completely our own. To recognize this fact, and to live according to it, is the first step toward sanctity. Jesus acknowledged our total dependence on the Father when He gave Him thanks while instituting the Eucharist on Holy Thursday night.

Humility inclines one to seek the will of God.

Jesus gave us His example in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He prayed, "Not my will but thine be done." He also carried out the will of the Father when He instituted the Eucharist earlier that evening.

      There are two things that the modern mind scorns: authority and obedience. It's accurate to say that disobedience to God's laws is the source of all the problems in the Church and the world today. The Ten Commandments are not only ignored these days, they are downright hated because they interfere with sinful lifestyles people have chosen for themselves.

      The Ten Commandments give people guilty consciences, which they don't like. Many people today want to sin and not feel guilty about it.

      Disobedience is rooted in pride - the vice opposed to the virtue of humility. Pride is the greatest obstacle to friendship with God. Pride was the sin of Satan and of Adam and Eve. It is the root cause of evil and suffering in the world.

      Pride impoverishes many people and deprives them of grace. St. Peter tells us in his first letter: God gives his grace to the humble. God finds no room for His gifts in a heart that is full of itself.

      Humility is the foundation of the other virtues. It is the soil in which all virtues take root and grow. This is why the word humility was taken from the Latin word meaning 'earth' or 'ground.' When we hear the word humility we should be reminded that from dust we came and to dust we will return. St. John Vianney, a paragon of humility, said that humility is as necessary for salvation as the sacraments of Baptism and Penance.

Humility displays itself in one's attitude toward and relationships with others.

Sirach said that humility makes one lovable. We can't help but admire one who has found his or her proper place in relationship to God and others. Even the pagans admired this, despite their disdain for humility. The Greeks had a story of a Spartan named Paedaretos. He was on a long list of men from which three hundred were to be chosen to govern Sparta. He was not chosen, although he was eminently qualified. When his friends expressed their dismay that he was not chosen, he said to them, "I am glad that in Sparta there are three hundred men better than I am." His name was remembered and he became a legend because he was willing to have others put ahead of him.

      A humble person is also peaceful because he does not dispute with others. Rather he yields to them in everything that is not contrary to his conscience. He puts his own tastes and opinions aside.

      A humble person is not overbearing because he has overcome the desire to be loved. Humility empties a person of self-love, leaving room to love God and others. And being loved in return is its unsought reward.

      In the Eucharist Jesus gives us the greatest example of self-effacing love. He gives Himself freely and completely to His friends. He hides His glory and power and splendor in the Eucharist so that He does not overwhelm our senses. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta once said, "The God whom the whole universe cannot contain, contains Himself in the small Host."

Humility frees one from fears, anxieties, and vain ambitions and brings contentment.

A humble person does not fear being despised by others or being ridiculed, suspected, forgotten, wronged, slandered, or having his faults revealed. True humility makes one think that he could never be treated as badly as he deserves for his sins.

      The humble person is quite content with his station in life, as long as it conforms to God's will. He does not resent that others surpass him or her in wealth, honors, prestige, intelligence, physical beauty, virtue and other things. Saints like Theresa of Lisieux, who were perfected in the virtue of humility, actually desired that others be preferred to them. They even wished that others be holier than they, provided they became as holy as they should.

      Humility leads one to refrain from boasting. St. Paul said of Jesus: "Though he was in the form of God, he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at." In the Eucharist, Jesus hides His divinity under the appearances of mere bread and wine, a magnificent act of humility. In recognition of this, Pope John Paul II said, "Eucharistic worship is not so much worship of the inaccessible transcendence as worship of the divine condescension."

      Frequent and worthy reception of Jesus in Holy Communion and worship of Him in the Blessed Sacrament gives peace of mind, self-knowledge, and contentment.

***

The Eucharist teaches us humility. St. Cyril of Alexandria pointed this out saying: "If the power 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."

      We should do all we can to avoid the sin of pride. But we should also keep in mind that each one of us is a very important person. We are important because God loves us. This is what makes every human person very special.

      And each of us was given special talents to help build up God's kingdom, talents tailored to the unique mission God has planned for each human person. Reflection on this should help us see both our importance and our nothingness in contrast.

      Just as God created the universe from nothing, He can accomplish great things with our nothingness. We need only cooperate with Him. The virtue of humility enables us to do so.

      Finally, the Roman Missal succinctly connects the humility of Christ with mystery of the Eucharist. When the priest pours water into the wine at Mass he says, "By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity."

Paradoxes of Catholicism


A review of Paradoxes of Catholicism
by Robert Hugh Benson

This book is a collection of abbreviated sermons given by Fr. Robert Hugh Benson during Lent of 1912. Robert Hugh Benson (1871-1914) was the youngest son of the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was ordained as a priest of the Church of England but later converted to the Catholic faith and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1904. He wrote a number of books, the most popular being Lord of the World, which is an apocalyptic novel set several generations in the future. 
      In Paradoxes of Catholicism Fr. Benson explains paradoxical manifestations in Catholic life. A paradox is an apparent contradiction. Paradoxes occur when one tries to explain the infinite in terms of the finite. For example, in mathematics there is the paradox of the infinite circle. A circle is defined as the locus of points equidistant from a point. In finite circles there is only one such point, which is located inside the circle. For an infinitely big circle, every point within it is its center. Thus there is an apparent contradiction when one compares a finite circle with an infinite circle. The center of the former is unique whereas the center of the latter is not unique.
      Benson explains that the "Paradox of the Incarnation," the dual nature of Christ, is the key to other paradoxes of Catholicism. Christ has an infinite divine nature perfectly united with a finite human nature in one divine Person. Thus He says in the Gospels both "I and the Father are one" (Jn 10:30) and "the Father is greater than I" (Jn 14:28). "[T]he Catholic Church is the extension of Christ's Life on earth; the Catholic Church, therefore, that strange mingling of mystery and commonsense, that union of heaven and earth, of clay and fire, can alone be understood by him who accepts her as both Divine and Human, since she is nothing else but the mystical presentment, in human terms, of Him Who, though the Infinite God and the Eternal Creator, was found in the form of a servant, of Him Who, dwelling always in the Bosom of the Father, for our sakes came down from heaven."
      Benson proceeds in nine chapters to identify nine paradoxes of Catholicism.
      Peace and War: Jesus Christ is called the Prince of Peace. He blessed peacemakers (Mt 5:9), yet He said of Himself: "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Mt 10:34). Those who stand outside the Church see nothing within except war and strife. This is the human condition brought about by Adam's fall from grace. But those within the Church know the inner and social harmony enjoyed by those who seek to do the will of God, a harmony won for us by Christ.
      Wealth and Poverty: Those outside the Church see wealth and opulence inside, despite the fact that her founder had nowhere to lay his head. Yet even our Lord allowed precious ointment to be poured on His feet. The Church does not condemn wealth, but she condemns attachment to it. Wealth is used to carry out her mission of saving souls and of feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. Poverty, freely chosen, allows one to focus his affections on God.
      Sanctity and Sin: Christ came into the world to save sinners, that is, to sanctify them. So sanctity and sin coexist in the Church just as health and illness coexist in a hospital. The Church is a hospital for sinners, not a country club for saints.
      Joy and Sorrow: Catholics recognize that sorrow is one of the consequences of the sin of Adam and that the greatest joy we have is the good news of salvation wrought by Jesus Christ.
      The remaining five paradoxes of Catholicism to which Benson devotes chapters are Love of God and Love of Man, Faith and Reason, Authority and Liberty, Corporateness and Individualism, and Meekness and Violence. He shows how all these pairs of opposites are reconciled in the mystery of the Incarnation.

 

APEA Activity in 2009

In 2009 the priests of the Apostolate for Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration visited the following parishes to help start or maintain perpetual Eucharistic adoration (or as close to it as possible):

St. Timothy, Chantilly, VA; St. Veronica, Chantilly, VA; St. Catherine Laboure, Chino Valley, AZ; St. Joseph, Macon, GA; Holy Spirit, Macon, GA; St. Peter Claver, Macon, GA; St. James, Savannah, GA; St. John Vianney, Northlake, IL; Holy Family, Peoria, IL; St. Patrick, Dallas, TX; Holy Trinity, Gainesville, VA; St. Veronica, Thibodaux, LA; St. Helen, Glendale, AZ; Our Lady of the Holy Trinity, Capulin, CO; Sacred Heart, Alamosa, CO: St. Mary Magdalene, Simpsonville, SC; St. Hilary, Raceland, VA; St. Genevieve, Thibodaux, LA; Christ the Redeemer, Thibodaux, LA; St. Patrick, Dallas, TX; St. Matthew, Peoria, IL; Queen of Apostles, Alexandria, VA; St. Joseph, Devils Lake, ND; San Jose, Carlsbad, NM; St. Edward, Carlsbad, NM; St. Matthew, Champagne, IL; St. Joseph, Monte Vista, CO; Immaculate Heart of Mary, Grasberg, IL; Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Glendale, AZ; Sacred Heart, Prescott, AZ; St. Mary, Pontiac, IL; Prince of Peace, Olathe, KS; St. Patrick, Oak Grove (Cedar), MN; St. Francis Xavier, Buffalo, MN; Sacred Heart, Aberdeen, SD; Stella Maris, Philadelphia, PA; St. Henry, Monticello, MN; St. Thomas Becket, Eagan, MN; Corpus Christi, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ; St. Mary, Aberdeen, ND; St. Charles Borromeo, Bensalem, PA; Holy Spirit, Philadelphia, PA; Our Lady of the Assumption, Wood Ridge, NJ; St. Mary, Schwenksville, PA; Holy Family, Glendale, CA; St. Thomas Aquinas, Camas, WA; Presentation BVM, Cheltenham, PA; St. Patrick, Kingman, KS; Immaculate Heart of Mary, Scarsdale, NY; Our Lady of Fatima, Bensalem, PA; St. Agnes, Walker, MN; Sacred Heart, Hackensack, MN; Mary, Mother of God, Harrison, AR; St. Andrew, Yellville, AR; Holy Rosary, Jersey City, NJ; St. Eleanor, Collegeville, PA; St. Francis de Sales, Philadelphia, PA.

 

Changing of the Guard

We would like to extend our sincere thanks and good wishes to Mrs. Angeline Sgro, who has retired as mission coordinator for Fr. Joseph De Luca, M.S.S. She has been serving the apostolate admirably in that position for the past nine years and has also served as co-head coordinator and division leader for perpetual adoration in her parish, Saint Casimir in Elmira, NY. She will be sorely missed. Angie is being succeeded by Mr. Pratt Landry of Slidell, LA. Welcome aboard Pratt. Fr Joseph can still be reached at his apostolate telephone, (607) 737-7022.

 

Pope Benedict XVI on Belief in the Lord's Eucharistic Presence

The more lively the Eucharistic faith of the People of God, the deeper is its sharing in ecclesial life in steadfast commitment to the mission entrusted by Christ to his disciples. The Church's very history bears witness to this. Every great reform has in some way been linked to the rediscovery of belief in the Lord's Eucharistic presence among his people.
                                                            The Eucharist, Sacrament of Charity



Missionary Priests of the Blessed Sacrament
P.O. Box 1428 • Bensalem, Pa 19020
Tel: 215.244.9211 • Fax: 215.244.9211
Email: apea@webtv.net