Saturday, April 21, 2012

Devotion for today: I am The Bread of Life

I Am The Bread Of Life

Suzanne Toolan

I am the Bread of life,
He who comes to Me shall not hunger,
He who believes in Me shall not thirst.
No one can come to Me
Unless the Father draw him.

And I will raise him up,
And I will raise him up,
And I will raise him up on the last day.

The bread that I will give
Is My flesh for the life of the world,
And he who eats of this bread,
He shall live for ever,
He shall live for ever.

And I will raise him up,
And I will raise him up,
And I will raise him up on the last day.

Unless you eat
Of the flesh of the Son of Man
And drink of His blood,
And drink of His blood,
You shall not have life within you.

And I will raise him up,
And I will raise him up,
And I will raise him up on the last day.

I am the Resurrection,
I am the Life,
He who believes in Me
Even if he die,
He shall live for ever.

And I will raise him up,
And I will raise him up,
And I will raise him up on the last day.

Yes, Lord, we believe
That You are the Christ,
The Son of God
Who has come
Into the world.

And I will raise him up,
And I will raise him up,
And I will raise him up on the last day.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Devotion for today: we adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee

Our last aspect of the Eucharist for this week is Eucharistic Adoration.

Scripture for meditation: Revelation 3:20
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

Scripture for reflection: Mark 15:37-38
Jesus breathed a loud cry and breathed his last. The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.

In his book, God is Near Us: The Eucharist, The Heart of Life (Ignatius Press, 2003) Pope Benedict XVI tells us: Communion and Adoration do not stand side by side, or even in opposition, but are indivisibly one. For communicating means entering into fellowship. Communication with Christ means having fellowship with him. That is why Communion and contemplation belong together: a person cannot communicate with another person without knowing him. He must be open for him, see him and hear him. Love or friendship always carries within it an impulse of reverence, of adoration. Communication with Christ therefore demands that we gaze on him, allow him to gaze on us, listen to him, get to know him. Adoration is simply the personal aspect of Communion….This is at the same time a description of the most profound content of Eucharistic piety. True Communion can happen only if we hear the voice of the Lord, if we answer and open the door. Then he will enter in with us and eat with us….Let us be generous with our time in going to meet him in adoration, and let our adoration never cease…. The tearing in two of the Temple veil does not mean that the Temple is now either everywhere or nowhere at all….Rather, (it) means that henceforth the holy tent of God and the cloud of his presence are found wherever the mystery of his Body and Blood is celebrated, wherever men leave off their own activity to enter into fellowship with him….(This) demands that we lead lives directed toward the New Jerusalem, that we bring the world into the presence of Jesus Christ and that we purify it for this: that we take the presence of Jesus Christ into everyday life and thereby transform it.

Prayer: Sweet Sacrament by Father Frederick William Faber
Jesus, my Lord, my God, my all!
How can I love Thee as I ought?
And how revere this wondrous gift,
So far surpassing hope or thought?
Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore!
Oh, make us love Thee more and more.
Oh, make us love Thee more and more.

My thoughts: Spending time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament takes many forms. Maybe you have 5 or 10 minutes to stop into a church and pray before the tabernacle. Some of us have a regular Eucharistic Holy Hour, where we spend one hour every week in a Perpetual Adoration Chapel. Adoration can also mean we take time before receiving communion to praise and adore the host lifted before us as the priest proclaims, “Behold the Lamb of God. Behold Him who takes away the sins of the world.” It doesn’t really matter how you do it; it matters that you do it. If you don’t feel like saying a lot of prayers when you come to spend time with Jesus, that’s fine. The Holy Father tells us we just need to be with Jesus, to see him and hear him in our hearts. St. Jean-Marie Vianney, the Cure of Ars once asked one of his parishioners who spent hours in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, “My good father, what do you say to our Lord in those long visits you pay Him every day?” “I say nothing to Him,” was the man’s moving reply; “I look at Him and He looks at me.”

Our prayer to God: Let’s try to make more time to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. We all pass churches along our way; why not get down on our knees and pray? Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore; O make us love Thee more and more.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Devotion for today: come see the real presence

Today we read about the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano, Italy. The above picture is the Monstrance containing the body and blood of Christ, transformed from the bread and wine at the consecration in the 700's.
Scripture for meditation: John 6:54-55
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.”

Scripture for reflection: John 20: 28-29
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Physician Tells of Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano
Edoardo Linoli Verified Authenticity of the Phenomenon
ROME, MAY 5, 2005 ( Dr. Edoardo Linoli says he held real cardiac tissue in his hands, when some years ago he analyzed the relics of the Eucharistic miracle of Lanciano, Italy. The phenomenon dates back to the eighth century. A Basilian monk, who had doubts about the real presence of Christ in the sacred species, was offering Mass, in a church dedicated to St. Legontian (the Roman soldier who pierced the side of Jesus) in the town of Lanciano(the word means lance), Italy.
When he pronounced the words of the consecration, the host was miraculously changed into physical flesh and the wine into physical blood. Later the blood coagulated and the flesh remained the same. These relics were kept in the cathedral.
 Linoli, a professor of anatomy and pathological histology, and of chemistry and clinical microscopy, and former head of the Laboratory of Pathological Anatomy at the Hospital of Arezzo, is the only doctor who has analyzed the relics of the miracle of Lanciano. His findings have stirred interest in the scientific world. At the initiative of Archbishop Pacifico Perantoni of Lanciano, and of the provincial minister of the Franciscan Conventuals of Abruzzo, and with authorization from Rome, in November 1970 the Franciscans of Lanciano decided to have the relics examined scientifically.
Linoli was entrusted with the study. He was assisted by Dr. Ruggero Bertelli, retired professor of human anatomy at the University of Siena. Linoli extracted parts of the relics with great care and then analyzed the remains of "miraculous flesh and blood." He presented his findings on March 4, 1971.
His study confirmed that the flesh and blood were of human origin. The flesh was unequivocally cardiac tissue, and the blood was of type AB. Consulted by ZENIT, Linoli explained that "as regards the flesh, I had in my hand the endocardium. Therefore, there is no doubt at all that it is cardiac tissue."
In regard to the blood, the scientist emphasized that "the blood group is the same as that of the man of the holy Shroud of Turin, and it is particular because it has the characteristics of a man who was born and lived in the Middle East regions."
"The AB blood group of the inhabitants of the area in fact has a percentage that extends from 0.5% to 1%, while in Palestine and the regions of the Middle East it is 14-15%," Linoli said. Linoli's analysis revealed no traces of preservatives in the elements, meaning that the blood could not have been extracted from a corpse, because it would have been rapidly altered. Linoli's report was published in "Quaderni Sclavo di Diagnostica Clinica e di Laboratori" in 1971. In 1973, the Higher Council of the World Health Organization (WHO) appointed a scientific commission to verify the Italian doctor's conclusions. The work was carried out over 15 months with a total of 500 examinations. The conclusions of all the researches confirmed what had been stated and published in Italy. The extract of the scientific research of WHO's medical commission was published in New York and Geneva in 1976, confirming science's inability to explain the phenomenon. Today, Linoli participated in a congress on Eucharistic miracles organized by the Science and Faith master's program of Rome's Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, in cooperation with the St. Clement I Pope and Martyr Institute, on the occasion of the Year of the Eucharist under way.
"Eucharistic miracles are extraordinary phenomena of a different type," Legionary Father Rafael Pascual, director of the congress, told Vatican Radio. "For example, there is the transformation of the species of bread and wine into flesh and blood, the miraculous preservation of consecrated Hosts, and some Hosts that shed blood." "In Italy, these miracles have occurred in several places," he said, "but we also find them in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain " and some in North America.

Prayer: Jesus Christ, my Lord and my God, whom I believe to be really present in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, receive this most profound act of adoration to supply for the desire I have to adore Thee unceasingly, and in thanksgiving for the sentiments of love which Thy sacred Heart has for me in this sacrament. I cannot better acknowledge them than by offering Thee all the acts of adoration, resignation, patience, and love which this same Heart has made during its mortal life, and which it makes still and which it shall make eternally in heaven, in order that through it I may love Thee, praise Thee, and adore Thee worthily as much as it is possible for me. I unite myself to this divine offering which Thou dost make to Thy divine Father, and I consecrate to Thee my whole being praying Thee to destroy in me all sin and not to permit that I should be separated from Thee eternally. Amen. Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque

My thoughts: Seeing is believing, many people say. Not seeing and believing, Jesus tells us, is a gift. There have been many miracles like the one sighted above, in order to assist people in their unbelief of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. For those who truly believe that Jesus wishes to be present in the consecrated bread and wine, however, His words are enough.  I have heard from people who have traveled to Lanciano, Italy to see this miraculous flesh and blood that it was life-changing for them, and I would love to visit there someday. For now, however, let every gaze we cast upon the sacred Host be filled with belief and trust, for we are truly in the presence of God.

Our prayer to God: Let us pray in the words of St. Augustine: O Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Devotion for today: come to me, O my Jesus

When you cannot get to church, make a Spiritual Communion

Scripture for meditation: John 6:30-37
So they said to him, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:  ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven: my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life: whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen [me], you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me.”

 Scripture for reflection: Ephesians 6:18
With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the spirit.

 What is Spiritual Communion?
 We are obliged to attend Mass each Sunday and every other Holy Day of Obligation. Sometimes, though, we just can't be there....Sometimes, too, we just crave Communion with our Eucharistic Lord but have already received Him sacramentally that day. In all these instances, we are encouraged to make what is known as a "spiritual Communion," an act expressing what was described by St. Thomas Aquinas as "an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament and in lovingly embracing Him." In a spiritual Communion, we, with contrite, humble hearts, ask our Lord to come to us in the same way He would if we were able to receive the Sacrament. This can be done as often as one likes, informally in one's own words or through one of the traditional prayers which appear below. What is the value of this practice? The graces received may be as great as -- or greater than -- those received by some people in the actual Sacrament. Though, of course, the Sacrament itself is inherently greater, our disposition toward the Sacrament affects whether and how we receive its fruits. For example, imagine a woman who is unable to be with her husband but who desires him as contrasted with a woman who has her husband's presence but doesn't care for him. Which husband would be more apt to pour out his love for his wife?

How to Receive Spiritual Communion
St. Leonard of Port-Maurice offers this advice for receiving Spiritual Communion:
In order to facilitate a practice of such great excellence, ponder what I have to say. When the priest is about to give himself Communion in holy Mass, do you, keeping composed externally and internally, excite in your heart an act of true contrition, make all those acts of love, of self-surrender, of humility, and the rest, which you are accustomed to make when you communicate sacramentally, and then desire with a lively longing to receive your good Jesus, veiled in the sacrament for your benefit. And to kindle your devotion, imagine that most holy Mary, or some saint, your holy advocate, is holding forth to you the sacred particle; figure yourself receiving it, and then, embracing Jesus in your heart, reply to Him, over and over again, with interior words prompted by love: “Come, Jesus, my Beloved, come within this my poor heart; come and satiate my desires; come and sanctify my soul; come, most sweet Jesus, come!” This said, be still; contemplate your good God within you, and, as if you really had communicated, adore Him, thank Him, and perform all those interior acts to which you are accustomed after sacramental Communion. (

Prayer: Act of Spiritual Communion
by St. Alphonsus Liguori (A.D. 1696-1787)

My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all things and I desire you in my soul. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though you were already there, I embrace you and unite myself wholly to you; never permit me to be separated from you.

My thoughts: I recently had surgery to remove cancer from my eye rim, and this resulted in my eye being sewn shut for three long months. I could not drive safely, and therefore watched daily Mass on EWTN. I longed to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, but could not physically do so. I can tell you first hand that a Spiritual Communion, done as described above, is a moving and loving experience. I now find myself uttering the prayer of St. Alphonsus during the day, making Spiritual Communions when my cross feels to heavy, when loneliness or self-pity envelop me, or when life just seems unfair. I receive immediate relief.  In the words of Jesus, “Whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

Our prayer to God: Memorize the above prayer and recite it when you are driving the kids to school, visiting the sick or helping a friend in need. They will appreciate the gift of God’s presence to them, and you will be richly blessed!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Devotion for today: Great Saints on the Great Gift

Today we read the words of great saints concerning the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Scripture for meditation: John 6:58
“This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and died nonetheless, the man who feeds on this bread shall live forever.

Scripture for reflection: 1Corinthians:11:27-29
This means that whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily sins against the body and blood of the Lord. A man should examine himself first; only then should he eat of the bread and drink of the cup. He who eats and drinks without recognizing the body eats and drinks a judgment on himself.
Joan Carroll Cruz tells us in her book Eucharistic Miracles, Tan Books, 1987: …And St. Justin (d. 165) declared: We call this food “Eucharist,” of which no one should partake who does not believe in the truth of our doctrine, who has not been cleansed by the regeneration and remission of his sins and whose life is not in conformity with the precepts of Jesus Christ. Because we do not partake of this as ordinary food and drink, and since in virtue of the word of God, Jesus Christ incarnate takes flesh and blood for our redemption. We know also that this food which in the natural order would become our flesh and blood, being consecrated in the prayer which contains His own divine words, is the flesh and blood of the same Jesus made man.… St. Anthony of Padua (11-05-1231) affirmed: We must firmly believe and declare openly that the same body that was born of the Virgin, which was hung on the Cross, lay in the tomb, rose on the third day and ascended to the right hand of the Father, was given in food to the Apostles, and now the Church truly consecrates and distributes it to the faithful…. St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) has been called the “Eucharistic Doctor”… declared on his deathbed: If in this world there by any knowledge of this Mystery keener than that of faith, I wish now to affirm that I believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in this Sacrament, truly God and truly man, the Son of God, the Son of the Virgin Mary. This I believe and hold for true and certain.

Prayer: I believe that Thou, O Jesus, art in the Most Holy Sacrament! I love Thee and desire Thee! Come into my heart. I embrace Thee: oh, never leave me! (St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Holy Eucharist)

 My thoughts: The great Saints make it quite clear that several considerations must be made before receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. First, do we truly believe this is Christ? As Catholics, we hold firm to Christ’s words that this truly is His body and blood. That is why Holy Communion is not offered to anyone who does not believe in the Real Presence. It is not being exclusive: it is simply stating that this is no ordinary food. This is Christ to be given to those who believe it is Christ. Otherwise, there is no logic in receiving it. Second: are we spiritually prepared to receive the Eucharist? We do not come to the dinner table in dirty clothes to eat with dirty hands: neither, then should we approach the Banquet table with dirty souls.  We must examine our consciences, be repentant and ask God to forgive our sins, and make a good Act of Contrition. If we have mortal sin on our souls, we must go to confession before receiving Our Lord. Third, we really must want to live our lives as good Christians. It is unthinkable that we would take Christ into our bodies and souls and then treat our neighbors with contempt or without mercy. If we have asked for forgiveness, we must extend it; if we have asked God to feed our souls, we must feed our brothers. Christ in us means we are Christ to others.
Our prayer to God:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Devotion for today: This is My Body; This is My Blood

Scripture for meditation: Corinthians 11:23-26
Brothers and Sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

Scripture for reflection: John 15:4
“Live in me, and I will live in you.”

Joan Carroll Cruz tells us in her book Eucharistic Miracles, Tan Books, 1987): The holy Catholic Church teaches that at the moment of the Consecration of the Mass, the bread and wine on the altar truly become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The bread and wine cease to exist, though the appearances and properties…of bread and wine remain. This momentous change is known as transubstantiation – change of substance. The consecrated Host and the Precious Blood under the form of wine are given the adoration that is reserved for God alone, since they are, indeed, Almighty God Himself…. The opinions that Christ is only in the Eucharistic elements as in a sign, or that Christ is received only spiritually, were condemned by the Council of Trent. (Trent, Session XIII, canons 1, 6, 8, Oct. 11, 1551). Our Lord is present as long as the appearances of bread and wine remain…. Thus Our Lord is present in a communicant for about 15 minutes, and one should adore Him within oneself as long as He is sacramentally present. A famous story is told about St. Philip Neri, who saw a woman who had received Holy Communion leave the church right after Mass, disregarding Christ within her. The saint sent two altar boys with lighted candles to accompany her, as she was still a living tabernacle of the All-Holy God.

Prayer: God our Father, let us not be gripped in the fear of our own imaginations, let us not be attached to our own ideas of how things are supposed to be. Let us face the reality of our lives with the certainty that all reality and all of our lives belong to you. Let the Real Presence of the Eucharist be the beginning of our welcoming your real presence in all of reality. (Magnificat, Holy Week, 2012).

My thoughts: Many Catholics do not believe in the real presence of God in the Eucharist. Not possible, they say. I guess if one had the concept of a physical God, or even of a definable God, or a limited God, then one would be right about this. I marvel, however, that anyone is bold enough to think that God can be accurately defined by man, limited in size and space by man, or subjected to the same rules of physics that confine man. God is beyond our imaginations. He can do and does what no mere man can explain. That is why He was able to give us Himself in the Eucharist. That is why, too, we must venerate the Body of Christ in us when we receive Him in Holy Communion. We must listen to St. Philip Neri, mentioned in the commentary above, and spend time after Communion praising, thanking, petitioning and begging forgiveness. God physically dwells in us for about 15 minutes. That is not too long to spend with Him. His spiritual presence, however, remains in us forever. We truly are never alone when we become frequent communicants.  

Our prayer to God: Let us end our practice of leaving Mass as soon as the final blessing is given and the last verse of the hymn is sung, and begin to remain in the church for a few more minutes just talking to God. I have a feeling we will begin to live a new life, one more conscious of the presence of God in our hearts, minds, souls and bodies. As we come to realize more and more that He lives in us, we will then be able to live more easily in Him.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Feast Of Mercy
During the course of Jesus' revelations to Saint Faustina on the Divine Mercy He asked on numerous occasions that a feast day be dedicated to the Divine Mercy and that this feast be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. The liturgical texts of that day, the 2nd Sunday of Easter, concern the institution of the Sacrament of Penance, the Tribunal of the Divine Mercy, and are thus already suited to the request of Our Lord. This Feast, which had already been granted to the nation of Poland and been celebrated within Vatican City, was granted to the Universal Church by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the canonization of Sr. Faustina on 30 April 2000. In a decree dated 23 May 2000, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated that "throughout the world the Second Sunday of Easter will receive the name Divine Mercy Sunday, a perennial invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come." These papal acts represent the highest endorsement that the Church can give to a private revelation, an act of papal infallibility proclaiming the certain sanctity of the mystic, and the granting of a universal feast, as requested by Our Lord to St. Faustina.
Concerning the Feast of Mercy Jesus said:
Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. (Diary 300)
I want the image solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter, and I want it to be venerated publicly so that every soul may know about it. (Diary 341)
This Feast emerged from the very depths of My mercy, and it is confirmed in the vast depths of my tender mercies. (Diary 420)
On one occasion, I heard these words: My daughter, tell the whole world about My Inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.* [our emphasis] On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet. My mercy is so great that no mind, be it of man or of angel, will be able to fathom it throughout all eternity. Everything that exists has come forth from the very depths of My most tender mercy. Every soul in its relation to Me will I contemplate My love and mercy throughout eternity. The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy. (Diary 699)
Yes, the first Sunday after Easter is the Feast of Mercy, but there must also be deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to our neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to absolve yourself from it. (Diary 742)
I want to grant complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy. (Diary 1109)
As you can see the Lord's desire for the Feast includes the solemn, public veneration of the Image of Divine Mercy by the Church, as well as personal acts of veneration and mercy. The great promise for the individual soul is that a devotional act of sacramental penance and Communion will obtain for that soul the plenitude of the divine mercy on the Feast.

*The Cardinal of Krakow, Cardinal Macharski, whose diocese is the center of the spread of the devotion and the sponsor of the Cause of Sr. Faustina, has written that we should use Lent as preparation for the Feast and confess even before Holy Week! So, it is clear that the confessional requirement does not have to be met on the Feast itself. That would be an impossible burden for the clergy if it did. The Communion requirement is easily met that day, however, since it is a day of obligation, being Sunday. We would only need confession again, if received earlier in Lenten or Easter Season, if we were in the state of mortal sin on the Feast.