Loving the Eucharist

To explore the riches of the Eucharist, we use the heart.  If every Christian must love Jesus Christ: “If any man love not Our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.” (1 Cor. 16:22), love for the Eucharist must spring from the heart and be ever alive in us all.

Among all the saints, perhaps one of the greatest models is St. Peter Julian Eymard, in whom love for the Eucharist reached such an intensity as to transform itself into a love of madness.  It is for this reason that he was called “the fool of the Blessed Sacrament.”

Now even love needs exercise.  The heart needs to be exercised to love the true God, to long for “The Author of Life”  (Acts 3:15).

Holy Communion represents the loftiest point of this exercise of love, whose consuming flames unite the heart of a creature and Jesus.  St. Gemma Galgani could exclaim in this regard, “I can no longer avoid thinking of how, in the wonderful greatness of His Love, Jesus makes Himself perceptible and shows Himself to His lowliest creature in all the splendors of His Heart.”  And what may we say about the exercises of the heart of St. Gemma, who desired to be a “tent of love” in which she would keep Jesus always with her?  She longed to have a “little place in the ciborium” to be able to stay always with Jesus.  She asked to become “a flaming ball afire with love” for Jesus.

When St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus had become quite ill, she dragged herself with great effort to Church to receive Jesus.  One morning, after Holy Communion, she was in her cell, exhausted.  One of the sisters remarked that she should not exert herself so much.  The Saint replied, “Oh, what are these sufferings to me in comparison with one daily Holy Communion!”—Something not permitted everywhere in her times.  She ardently pleaded with Jesus:  “Remain within me, as You do in the tabernacle.  Do not ever withdraw Your presence from Your little host.”

When St. Margaret Mary Alacoque left the world and consecrated herself to God in the cloister, she made a private vow and wrote it in her blood, “All for the Eucharist; nothing for me.”  It is useless to attempt to describe the Saint’s burning love for the Eucharist.  When she was not able to receive Holy Communion, she broke out in ardent expressions of love like these:  “I have such a desire for Holy Communion that if I had to walk barefoot along a path of fire to obtain It, I would do so with unspeakable joy.”

St. Catherine of Siena often said to her confessor:  “Father, I am hungry. For the love of God give this soul her Food, her Lord in the Eucharist.”  She also confided:  “When I am not able to receive my Lord, I go into the Church, and there I look at Him…I look at Him again…and this satisfies me.”

During her long and painful illness, St. Bernadette one time expressed the happiness that she felt in times of sleeplessness, because then she was able to unite herself to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Referring to a little golden monstrance that was depicted on the curtain about her bed, she said, “His visit gives me the desire and strength to offer myself as a sacrifice, when I feel all alone and in pain.”

This is called the “exercise of the heart.”

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

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