The hidden bell

St. Augustine has left us this praise of his mother, St. Monica:  “She did not let a day pass without being present at the Divine Sacrifice before Your altar, O Lord.”  St. Francis of Assisi usually attended two Masses each day, and when he was sick he asked a friar who was a priest to celebrate Mass for him in his cell so that he would not be without Holy Mass.  Every morning after celebrating Holy Mass, St. Thomas Aquinas served another Mass in thanksgiving.

The shepherd boy, St. Paschal Baylon, could not go to church to attend all the Masses he would have liked because he had to take the sheep to pasture. But every time he heard the church bells give the signal for Mass, he knelt on the grass among the sheep before a wooden cross he had made, and in this way he would, from afar, follow the priest as he offered the Divine Sacrifice.  What an affectionate Saint, a true seraph of love for the Eucharist!  On his deathbed he heard the bell for Holy Mass and had the strength to whisper to his brethren, “I am happy to unite to the Sacrifice of Jesus the sacrifice of my poor life.”  And he died at the moment of the Consecration in the Mass!

When St. John Berchmanns was still a young boy, he would leave his house every day to go to church at the first break of dawn.  Once his grandmother asked him why he would always leave so early.  The holy youth responded, “To win blessings from God I serve three Masses before going to school.”

St. Peter Julian Eymard, even while very young, found delight in serving Holy Mass. At that time his town had this custom:  the boy who would serve Mass would be the one who, in the early morning, would pass through the town ringing a small bell for a quarter of an hour to alert the faithful. How many times little Peter Julian hid the small bell the evening before to make sure of being the one to serve Mass the next morning!

A mother of eight, St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland, went to Mass every day and brought her children with her. With motherly care she taught them to treasure a little missal which she chose to adorn with precious stones.

First, with the mind one meditates in an attentive, orderly way on the Eucharist.  This may be done with books which lead us to personally uncover and deeply ponder this Mystery of Love.  A simple little work rich in content is St. Alphonsus M. de’ Liguori’s Visits to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  In addition, there are the two precious little works by St. Peter Julian Eymard entitled, The Real Presence and Holy Communion.

We should, above all, turn to the school of St. Peter Julian Eymard, who was unequalled as an Apostle of the Eucharist.  His vocation and mission was to lead all Christians to the Eucharist, to such an extent that people finally called him “the Priest of the Blessed Sacrament!”

When he founded the Congregation of Priests of the Blessed Sacrament, he offered his life for the eucharistic reign of Jesus.  At that time he wrote these ardent words:  “Here, dear Jesus, is my life.  Behold me ready to eat stones and to die abandoned, just so that I may succeed in erecting a throne for Thee and give Thee a family of friends, a nation of adorers.”

If we but knew the gift of a God who is Love and who gives Himself to us as a Gift full of Love!  “The Eucharist,” said St. Bernard, “is that Love which surpasses all loves in Heaven and on earth.”  And St. Thomas Aquinas wrote:  “The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Love:  It signifies Love, It produces love.”

A concrete instance which rivets our attention on this Love is the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano (in the province of Abruzzi, Italy). There one venerates a consecrated Host which was transformed into living Flesh and which has been preserved in this state for more than a thousand years.  The most recent chemical analyses of a particle of this Host verified the fact:  it is indeed a piece of flesh which is still living and which is a part of a human heart. The Eucharist is indeed all one Heart!

One day an Arabian prince, Abd-ed-Kader, while passing through a street of Marseille with a French official, saw a priest who was carrying Holy Viaticum to a dying man.  The French official stopped, uncovered his head, and knelt.  His friend asked him the reason for this gesture.

“I adore my God, whom the priest is carrying to a sick person,” replied the good official.

“How is it possible,” the prince said, “for you to believe that God who is so great, makes Himself so little and lets Himself go even to the homes of the poor?  We Mohammedans have a much higher idea of God.”

The official answered, “It is because you have only an idea of the greatness of God; but you do not know His Love.”

That is the answer.  In confirmation of this, St. Peter Eymard declares: “The Eucharist is the supreme proof of the love of Jesus.  After this, there is nothing more but Heaven itself.”  Yet, how many of us Christians do not know the vast extent of the love contained in the Eucharist!

From the Jesus Our Eucharistic Love by Fr. Stefano Manelli, FI

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