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"They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial clothes along with the spices".           John 19:40



Summer/Fall 2018



Vol. 33, No. 1

The Eucharist and the Theological Virtues

Chapter 6 of St. John’s Gospel, if you recall, is the famous chapter in which Jesus gives a long discourse on the Eucharist in the synagogue at Capernaum.  It begins with one of the two miracles of the loaves and fishes.  With that miracle Jesus established his credentials.  He showed His disciples that He is able to provide food for their natural lives, their bodies.  He then goes on to tell them that He will provide food for their supernatural lives, their souls.  That food will be His very own Body and Blood.  But that teaching will greatly test the faith of His disciples.  Many of them failed the test.  They found His words unbelievable.  At the end of the chapter they leave Him.

      Throughout all the Gospels Jesus continually asserts the importance of having faith in Him.  This faith is especially necessary for accepting His teaching on the Eucharist because it is such a difficult teaching.  That is why the Church calls the Eucharist the Mystery of Faith.

      The Eucharist has strong connections not only with faith but with all three theological virtues, faith, hope and love or charity.  For it requires us to exercise all those virtues.  And, in turn, it strengthens them.  To see how and why, let’s first look at the natural virtues of faith, hope and love.

      The natural virtues of faith, hope and love are the great motivators in our day-to-day lives.  They move people to action.  For example, a scientist will spend years of meticulous and painstaking research on a project, moved only by a strong belief that the hypothesis he is testing is true.  An athlete will spend years in difficult physical training, moved on only by the hope of winning a gold medal in the Olympic games.  And a young man will give up a carefree life for a life of responsibility to marry his sweetheart whom he loves so much.

      The supernatural virtues of faith, hope and love, which we first received at baptism, move us toward our supernatural goal, eternal life with Jesus Christ in heaven.  The Eucharist strengthens faith by testing it.  Jesus hides under the appearances of bread and wine because He wants us to come to Him in faith.  He wants us to trust Him when He says that in the Eucharist He gives us is His Body to eat and His Blood to drink.  And that His Body and Blood will nourish our supernatural lives and prepare us for heaven.

      The virtue of faith in a way contains the virtues of hope and love.  Venerable Bede put it this way: "Believe God, that’s faith; believe in God, that’s hope; believe towards God, that’s love."

      The Eucharist strengthens hope by giving us reason for it and by encouraging us.  St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans tells us about hope.  He says: “For in this hope we are saved.  Now hope that is seen is not hope.  For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”  We wait with patience to see Jesus, now hidden under the appearances of bread and wine.

      St. Paul also connected the virtues of faith and hope.  He said: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for.”  In other words, hope is faith directed toward the future.  It is faith directed toward those things hoped for, which are contained completely in the Eucharist.  Those things hoped for proceed from Our Lord’s desire for us to be with Him and see Him in His glory.  This He asked of the Father at the last Supper.  He prayed saying: “Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may also be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world.”

      The Eucharist is indeed the Sacrament of Hope. For Jesus says in chapter 6: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  Whoever eats this bread will live forever.  And the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

      And third, the Eucharist strengthens love by communicating it to us.  Love is the last mentioned but the first and foremost of all the theological virtues.  St. Paul said in his Epistle to the Colossians: “Over all the virtues put on love, which binds the rest together and makes them perfect.”  And to the Corinthians he said: “So faith, hope and love abide, these three.  But the greatest of these is love.”

      Love gives life to the virtues of faith and hope.  Faith is the beginning, and love is the end.  If we did not love Christ and want to live with Him forever, there would be no need for the virtues of faith and hope. Love is the only one of the three theological virtues that we will possess in heaven.  Faith will no longer be needed because we will see there with the eyes of our glorified bodies what we could only see here with the eyes of faith.  And hope will not be needed because we will possess there that which we could only hope for here.  But love will be perfected there and live on for eternity.

      The virtue of love proceeds from God’s love for us.  We love God because God first loves us.  And God’s love for us is most fully expressed in the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is called the Sacrament of Love because it is Jesus’ greatest expression of His love for us.  It is Our Lord’s greatest gift to us because it is the gift of Himself.  In the Eucharist Jesus gives us Himself completely - Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

      The Eucharist is Jesus and Jesus is God, and, St. John tells us, “God is love.”  Therefore the Eucharist is Love, Love Himself, Love in Person.  St. Thomas Aquinas wrote: “The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Love. It signifies love it produces love.”  Jesus can give us no greater gift than the Eucharist.  St. Augustine said of the Eucharist: “Although God is all-powerful, He is unable to give more.  Though supremely wise, He knows not how to give more.  And though vastly rich, He has nothing more to give.”

      In the Eucharist God has given us everything He can!  So let exercise the virtues of faith, hope and love by believing all His words, by hoping to live with Him for all eternity, and by loving Him, hidden in the Eucharist, with all our hearts.

The Eucharist, Crime Fighter

The following is reprinted from a Catholic News Agency article dated January 26, 2017 by Bárbara Bustamante.  It illustrates the awesome power of Eucharistic adoration:

Juarez, located in the state of Chihuahua in northern Mexico, was considered from 2008 to 2010 to be one of the most dangerous cities in the world, due to drug trafficking violence and the constant struggles for power and territory between the cartels.

       However, the city of 1.3 million inhabitants dropped off this list thanks to a significant decrease in the number of homicides: from 3,766 in 2010 to 256 in 2015.game.

       Although this drop can be credited to an improvement in the work of local authorities, for Fr. Patricio Hileman - a priest responsible for establishing Perpetual Adoration chapels in Latin America - there is a much deeper reason: Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

       “When a parish adores God day and night, the city is transformed,” Fr. Hileman said.

       The priest told Radio Maria Argentina that in 2013 the missionaries opened the first Perpetual Adoration chapel in Juarez. At that time “40 people a day were dying because two drug gangs were fighting over the city to move drugs into the United States.”

       It was the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels, whose former leader Joaquin “el Chapo” Guzmán Loera was recently extradited from Mexico to the United States.

       Fr. Hileman recalled that “the parishes were saying that the war wasn’t ending because of a group of soldiers were with one gang and the police were with the other one. They were killing people, burning down houses so they would leave, fighting over the city.”

       One of the parishes that was “desperate” asked the missionaries to open a Perpetual Adoration chapel because they assured that “only Jesus is going to save us from this, only Jesus can give us security.”

       The missionaries only took three days to establish the first Perpetual Adoration chapel in Juarez.

       Fr. Hileman told how one day, when the city was under a a state of siege, a lady was on her way to the chapel to do her Holy Hour at 3:00 in the morning, when she was intercepted by six soldiers who asked her where she was heading.

       When the woman told them that she was going to “the little chapel” the uniformed men asked her what place, because everything was closed at that hour.  Then the woman proposed they accompany her to see for themselves.

       When they got to the chapel, the soldiers found “six women making the Holy Hour at 3:00 in the morning,” Fr. Hileman said.

       At that moment the lady said to the soldiers: “Do you think you’re protecting us? We’re praying for you 24 hours a day.”

       One of the uniformed men fell down holding his weapon, “crying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The next day at 3:00 in the morning they saw him in civilian clothes doing a Holy Hour, crying oceans of tears,” he said.

       Two months after the chapel was opened, the pastor “calls us and says to us: ‘Father, since the chapel was opened there has not been one [drug gang related] death in Juarez, it’s been two months since anyone had died.’"

       “We put up ten little chapels in a year,” Fr. Hileman said.

       As if that were not enough, “at that time they were going to close the seminary because there were only eight seminarians and now there are 88. The bishop told me that these seminarians had participated in the Holy Hours.”

       Fr. Hileman pointed out that “that is what Jesus does in a parish” when people understand that “we find security in Christ.”

       He also noted that “the greatest miracles occur in the early hours of the morning.”

       The early morning “is when you’re most at peace, when you hear God better, your mind, your heart is more tranquil, you’re there alone for God. If you are generous with Jesus, he is a thousand times more generous with you," Fr. Hileman said.

 

APEA Activity in 2017

In 2017 the Apostolate for Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration help start or maintain perpetual or daily Eucharistic adoration at the following churches:

Mary Mother of the Church, Burnsville, MN; Most Blessed Sacrament, Savannah, GA; Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, New Ulm, MN; St. Adalbert, Omaha, NE; St. Boniface, Hutchison, MN; St. Peter, Lincoln, NE; St. Teresa of the Child Jesus, Belleville, IL; North American Martyrs, Lincoln, NE; St. Mary, New Ulm, MN; Cathedral of the Risen Christ, Lincoln, NE; Star of the Sea, San Francisco, CA; Our Lady Star of the Sea, Bremerton, WA; St. Peter, Marshall, MO; Our Lady of Lourdes, Omaha, NE; St. Anastasia, Hutchison, MN; St. Jerome, Oconomowoc, WI; Visitation BVM, Norristown, PA; Ascension, Hurricane, WV; St. Patrick, Imogene, IA; St. Mary, Red Oak, IA.


In Memoriam

The Missionary Priests of the Blessed Sacrament mourn the passing of Mrs. Angeline Sgro, who died this year on April 25.  Angeline greatly loved Our Eucharistic Lord.  She served as co-head coordinator and division leader for the Divine Mercy Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel at her parish, Saint Casimir in Elmira, NY, since its founding on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1992.  She also served admirably for twelve years as mission coordinator to Fr. Joseph De Luca, M.S.S.  She is sorely missed.  May her soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.  Amen.


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