January/February/March 2014 Newsletter No. 135
“On entering the house, they found the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage” (Mt 2:11).
“Without prolonged moments of adoration, of prayerful encounter with the word, of sincere conversation with the Lord, our work easily becomes meaningless; we lose energy as a result of weariness and difficulties, and our fervour dies out. The Church urgently needs the deep breath of prayer, and to my great joy groups devoted to prayer and intercession, the prayerful reading of God’s word and the perpetual adoration of the Eucharist are growing at every level of ecclesial life.” (Pope Francis, first apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” 262)
A meditation from St. Padre Pio
Far into the night, at the coldest time of year, in a chilly grotto, more suitable for a flock of beasts than for humans, the promised Messiah – Jesus – the savior of mankind, comes into the world in the fullness of time.
There are none who clamor around Him: only an ox and an ass lending their warmth to the newborn infant; with a humble woman, and a poor and tired man, in adoration beside Him.
Nothing can be heard except the sobs and whimpers of the infant God. And by means of His crying and weeping He offers to the Divine justice the first ransom for our redemption.
He had been expected for forty centuries; with longing sighs the ancient Fathers had implored his arrival. The sacred scriptures clearly prophesy the time and the place of his birth, and yet the world is silent and no one seems aware of the great event. Only some shepherds, who had been busy watching over their sheep in the meadows, come to visit him. Heavenly visitors had alerted them to the wondrous event, inviting them to approach his cave.
So plentiful, O Christians, are the lessons that shine forth from the grotto of Bethlehem! Oh how our hearts should be on fire with love for the one who with such tenderness was made flesh for our sakes! Oh how we should burn with desire to lead the whole world to this lowly cave, refuge of the King of kings, greater than any worldly palace, because it is the throne and dwelling place of God! Let us ask this Divine child to clothe us with humility, because only by means of this virtue can we taste the fullness of this mystery of Divine tenderness.
Glittering were the palaces of the proud Hebrews. Yet, the light of the world did not appear in one of them. Ostentatious with worldly grandeur, swimming in gold and in delights, were the great ones of the Hebrew nation; filled with vain knowledge and pride were the priests of the sanctuary. In opposition to the true meaning of Divine revelation, they awaited an officious savoir, who would come into the world with human renown and power.
But God, always ready to confound the wisdom of the world, shatters their plans. Contrary to the expectations of those lacking in Divine wisdom, he appears among us in the greatest abjection, renouncing even birth in St. Joseph’s humble home, denying himself a modest abode among relatives and friends in a city of Palestine. Refused lodging among men, he seeks refuge and comfort among mere animals, choosing their habitation as the place of his birth, allowing their breath to give warmth to his tender body. He permits simple and rustic shepherds to be the first to pay their respects to him, after he himself informed them, by means of his angels, of the wonderful mystery.
Oh wisdom and power of God, we are constrained to exclaim – enraptured along with your Apostle – how incomprehensible are your judgments and unsearchable your ways! Poverty, humility, abjection, contempt, all surround the Word made flesh. But we, out of the darkness that envelops the incarnate Word, understand one thing, hear one voice, perceive one sublime truth: you have done everything out of love, you invite us to nothing else but love, speak of nothing except love, give us naught except proofs of love.
The heavenly babe suffers and cries in the crib so that for us suffering would be sweet, meritorious and accepted. He deprives himself of everything, in order that we may learn from him the renunciation of worldly goods and comforts. He is satisfied with humble and poor adorers, to encourage us to love poverty, and to prefer the company of the little and simple rather than the great ones of the world.
This celestial child, all meekness and sweetness, wishes to impress in our hearts by his example these sublime virtues, so that from a world that is torn and devastated an era of peace and love may spring forth. Even from the moment of his birth he reveals to us our mission, which is to scorn that which the world loves and seeks.
Oh let us prostrate ourselves before the manger, and along with the great St. Jerome, who was enflamed with the love of the infant Jesus, let us offer him all our hearts without reserve. Let us promise to follow the precepts which come to us from the grotto of Bethlehem, which teach us that everything here below is vanity of vanities, nothing but vanity.
Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God & World Day of Peace—Feast, Jan. 1:
St. Augustine wrote: “Jesus took His Flesh from the flesh of Mary,” and in the Eucharist “Mary extends and perpetuates Her Divine Maternity.” Through Eucharistic Adoration we are united “in faith and love with the Source of grace himself … (and) His mother co-adores with us, interceding at the same time for us to come ever closer to the God hidden in the Host.” (Mary and the Eucharist, Fr. Richard Foley)
Sts. Basil the Great & Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops, Doctors, Cappadocia (4th c.)—Feast, Jan. 2:
“Let us remain in adoration and to Him, who, in order to save us, humbled Himself to such a degree of poverty as to receive our body, let us offer not only incense, gold and myrrh, the first as God, the second as king, and the third as one who sought death for our sake, but also spiritual gifts more sublime.” (St. Gregory)
Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus: Blessed be the most holy Name of Jesus without end!—Feast, Jan. 3:
Act of Reparation for Blasphemies Uttered Against the Holy Name
O Jesus, my Savior and Redeemer, Son of the living God, behold, we kneel before Thee and offer Thee our reparation; we would make amends for all the blasphemies uttered against Thy holy name, for all the injuries done to Thee in the Blessed Sacrament, for all the irreverence shown toward Thine immaculate Virgin Mother, for all the calumnies and slanders spoken against Thy spouse, the holy Catholic and Roman Church. O Jesus, who has said: “If you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it to you,” we pray and beseech Thee for all our brethren who are in danger of sin; shield them from every temptation to fall away from the true faith; save those who are even now standing on the brink of the abyss; to all of them give light and knowledge of the truth, courage and strength for the conflict with evil, perseverance in faith and active charity! For this do we pray, most merciful Jesus, in Thy name, unto God the Father, with whom Thou livest and reignest in the unity of the Holy Ghost world without end.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Widow, Mother, Convert, Religious, U.S. (1774-1821)—Feast, Jan. 4:
Following her husband’s death, St. Elizabeth and her small children stayed with
the Filicchi family in Italy. Although Elizabeth was not yet Catholic, she found
solace praying in the family’s chapel where the Blessed Sacrament was reserved.
She later came to believe in the true presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist
and converted. St. Elizabeth prayed that Jesus might take her heart and “lock it
up forever in His little Tabernacle.”
Solemnity of the Epiphany of Our Lord—Feast, Jan. 5:
“We have come to do him homage.” These words of the magi, during their journey to find the baby Jesus, compel us to adore Him today in the Holy Eucharist. Pope Bl. John Paul II reminds us that the real presence of Jesus is with us today, “the gaze of the Church is constantly turned to her Lord, present in the Sacrament of the Altar, in which she discovers the full manifestation of his boundless love.” (The Church and the Eucharist, l)
Feast of the Baptism of the Lord—Feast, Jan. 12:
St. Peter Julian wrote of the Blessed Sacrament: “Behold the Lamb of God, Behold God Himself! Adore Him!”
Day of Prayer for the Protection of Unborn Children—Feast, Jan. 22:
Lord Jesus, I firmly believe that the Blessed Sacrament is Your very Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. Senses cannot grasp this marvel. Faith, however, reaches beyond what the eyes can see and assures us that You are present.
Grant, O Lord, that our faith in the Eucharist may also strengthen our ability to recognize the dignity of every human life. We know that the senses can fool us there as well. Some may not be attractive, others may seem too small, some may appear as less than human. But we, who can see You in the Sacred Host, can certainly see you in our brothers and sisters. We can also see You, O Lord, in the children in the womb. In a day when so many have forgotten these children, and dismiss them as less valuable than those who are born, grant that we may grow all the more convinced of their dignity and worth. Then grant, O Lord, that we may act accordingly. Amen. (Priests for Life)
St. Francis de Sales, Priest, Bishop, France (1567-1622)—Jan. 24:
“This Sacrament . . . is worthy of adoration and that we must adore him. For truly, since it is Jesus Christ and
Jesus Christ is God, who will not adore him, I beg you, as well there as in heaven, since it is written I will worship the Lord God and only him will I serve (Matt 4:10). For our Lord wants to be adored wherever he is. Thus he was adored on the cross by the thief (Luke 23:42), walking in Jerusalem among the people who cried out, Hosanna (Matt 21:9) and in the crib by the three kings (Matt 2:11). He is hidden in the Eucharist, but that does not prevent him from being adored, for thus the kings adored him, hidden and wrapped in swaddling clothes.” (Sermons on the Eucharist)
St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest, Doctor of the Church, Italy (c. 1225-1274)—Feast, Jan. 28:
other sacrament (except the Holy Eucharist) has greater healing power; through
it sins are purged away, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an
abundance of every spiritual gift.”
St. John Bosco, Priest, Salesian Founder, Italy (1815-1888)—Feast, Jan. 31:
We envy the shepherds who went to visit the grotto of Bethlehem to see Him, kissed His little hand, and offered Him their gifts …. And yet there is no reason to envy them, for their fortune is ours, too. The same Jesus they visited in the grotto is in our tabernacle. The only difference is that the shepherds saw Him with the eyes of the body, whereas we see Him with the eyes of faith. Nothing will please Him more than our frequent visits to Him.
Presentation of the Lord—Feast, February 2:
The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord occurs forty days after Christmas. It is also known as Candlemas day because the blessing and procession of candles in included in today’s liturgy. Upon beholding the baby Jesus, Simeon declared: “My eyes have seen the salvation...for all peoples to see.” (Lk 2:30-32) Praised be Jesus, Our Eucharistic Savior, now and forever!
Bishop, Martyr, Patron of Throat Diseases, Armenia (316)—Feast, Feb. 3:
St. Blaise was martyred under Licinius. He is remembered for healing a choking child, which is why there is a “Blessing of the Throats” in the church today. St. Blaise’s intercession is sought by the sick, especially those with illnesses of the throat. St. Blaise intercede for us that we may know the healing Presence of Jesus!
Virgin, Martyr, Patroness of Nurses, Breast Cancer, Italy (251)—Feast, Feb. 5
Consecrated to Jesus at a young age, St. Agatha refused the advances of the Roman Governor. She was brutally tortured, then left to die. Miraculously healed, the Governor sentenced her to death by burning. St. Agatha prayed to be faithful to Jesus to the end. Dear Virgin and Martyr, whom the Church recalls in her liturgy, you heroically resisted the temptation of an evil ruler. Subjected to long and horrible tortures, you remained faithful to your heavenly Spouse. Encourage nurses, those suffering from cancer, victims of sexual violence and natural disaster. Help them to find hope, peace and strength in Jesus, like you.
St. Paul Miki, Jesuit Religious, & Companions, Martyrs, Japan (d. 1597)—Feast, Feb. 6:
St. Paul was the first Japanese religious and martyr. Following the missionary life and death of St. Francis Xavier, Christians in Japan numbered 200,000. Missionaries were ordered to leave the country. St. Paul, the son of an affluent Japanese military chief, and the majority of Jesuit missionaries remained clandestinely. The Jesuits did not want to leave the faithful without the Holy Eucharist and Sacraments. St. Paul was a gifted speaker and defended the faith against Buddhists, while preparing for the priesthood. St. Paul was crucified along with two other Jesuits and 23 other Christians.
St. Josephine Bakhita, Religious, Africa (1869-1947)—Feast, February 8:
“Seeing the sun, the moon and the stars, I said to myself, ‘Who could be the Master of these beautiful things?’ I felt a great desire to see him, to know him and to pay him homage.” Following her release from slavery, St. Josephine became a Catholic and Religious, spending many hours in Eucharistic Adoration. She prayed for the conversion of souls and helped all in need. St. Josephine pray for the people of Africa!
St. Scholastica, Benedictine, Abbess, Miracle Worker, Italy (480-547)—Feast,
St. Scholastica was a great prayer warrior. Her life was centered on the Holy Eucharist and the recitation of the psalms. Prayer asking St. Scholastica’s help: O God, to show us where innocence leads, you made the soul of your virgin Saint Scholastica soar to heaven like a dove in flight. Grant through her merits and her prayers that we may so live in innocence as to attain to joys everlasting. This we ask through our Lord.
Our Lady of Lourdes, France—Feast, February 11:
Countless pilgrims have visited Lourdes since 1858. Numerous people seek and receive miraculous spiritual and physical healings. Some are healed in the waters of the fountain but most the miraculous healings occur when Jesus is exposed in the Sacred Host within a monstrance and carried among the sick by a priest! A miraculous cure at Lourdes: Mary Tessier was desperately ill with tuberculosis peritonitis. When she visited Lourdes, she had been confined to bed for three years. Mary was in constant pain and hemorrhaging; the doctors gave her no hope of recovery. She was cured during the procession of the Blessed Sacrament, and her cure has been accepted by the Medical Bureau in Lourdes.
St. Valentine, Martyr, Italy, (c. 269)—Feast, February 14:
While imprisoned for his faith, St. Valentine sent his friends notes to remind them that God, Who is Love, is always with us. “The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white Host.” (Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen)
Damian, Bishop and Cardinal, Italy, (1007-1072)--Feast, February 21:
“Christ cannot be accused of forgetfulness: Christ does not enjoin things contrary to His commands. He is the Bread that came down from heaven, which is daily brought to the table of the Church, as a heavenly food, which is broken for the forgiveness of sins, which feeds and nourishes unto life everlasting them that eat the same.” (St. Peter Damian)
Possenti, Passionist, Patron of Clerics & Youth, Italy (1838-1862)—Feast, Feb.
St. Gabriel said, “There is more sweetness in one hour of prayer before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament than in all the world's crowded theaters, and brilliant drawing rooms, and giddy diversions, and social gatherings.” St. Gabriel interceded for the spiritual healing and religious vocation of St. Gemma Galgani; his intercession is known for numerous other cures.
Katharine Drexel, Religious, America (1858-1955)—Feast, March 3:
St. Katharine was a wealthy Philadelphia heiress. She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, who worked for the advancement and education of African and Native Americans. She used her 20 million dollar fortune to achieve this goal. “My sweetest Joy is to be in the presence of Jesus in the holy Sacrament. I beg that when obliged to withdraw in body, I may leave my heart before the holy Sacrament. How I would miss Our Lord if He were to be away from me by His presence in the Blessed Sacrament!” (St. Katharine)
Ash Wednesday: “Return to me with all your heart.” (Joel 2:12)—March 5:
The following meditation is from Hermann Cohen, a Jewish atheist and concert pianist, who fell in love with the Blessed Sacrament and converted to Catholicism. He later became a Carmelite monk.
“Jesus Christ today! Today I am weak. I need strength from above to brace me. Jesus Christ comes down from Heaven and becomes the Eucharist, the Bread of the strong. Today I am poor. I need a roof to shelter my head. Jesus becomes a House, the House of God and the Gate of Heaven, the Most Holy Eucharist. Today I am hungry and thirsty. I need food to fill my soul and heart, drink to slake my burning thirst. Jesus becomes the bread and wine of the Eucharist! The grain of the elect and the wine that begets virgins. Today I am sick. I need a soothing balm to heal my soul’s wounds. Jesus pours Himself out over my soul, like a costly ointment, offering Himself to me in the Eucharist. Thou hast anointed my head with oil; God…hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. Today I must offer a pleasing sacrifice to God. Jesus Himself becomes that sacrifice. He is the Eucharist. Today, I am persecuted. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation. I shall become terrible to my enemies. I have lost my way. He is my guiding star. I lack courage. He lifts me up. I am sorrowful. He consoles me. I am abandoned. He remains with me to the end of time. I stand in ignorance. He teaches and enlightens me. But, above all, I need love. No earthly love will soothe my heart. For this reason, Jesus conceals Himself in the Eucharist. Jesus loves me. His love is sufficient to me. He satisfies me and bathes me in an ocean of love.”
Savio, Patron of Children, Italy (1842-1857)—March 9:
St. Dominic loved the Blessed Sacrament so much that, as a child, he would kneel in front of the Church if it was locked. He became an altar server at the age of 5 and attended Mass daily whenever possible. Due to his virtue and longing to receive the Holy Eucharist, St. Dominic was permitted to receive Holy Communion early.
Patrick, Bishop and Patron of Ireland (d. 461)—Feast, March 17:
St. Patrick’s intercession is known for multitudinous conversions and miracles. Through the Holy Eucharist, St. Patrick received the graces to bring Ireland faith in the true presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. St. Patrick wrote: “May Christ be with us! May Christ be before us! May Christ be in us, Christ be over all!”
Joseph, Patron of Universal Church, Spouse of B.V.M.—Feast, March 19:
“St. Joseph joined with Mary in adoration and united himself to Christ, Whose heart surged with sentiments of adoration, love and praise for the Father and of charity for men. St. Joseph’s adoration kept pace with every stage of our Lord’s life, drawing upon the grace, the spirit, and the virtue of each mystery. In the Incarnation he adored the self-annihilation of the Son of God; at Bethlehem, the poverty; at Nazareth, the silence, the apparent weakness, the obedience, and all the other virtues of Christ.… Because his faith was so strong, Joseph’s mind and heart bowed in perfect adoration. Imitate his faith as you kneel before the humble Christ annihilated in the Eucharist. Pierce the veil which covers this furnace of love and adore the hidden God. ” (St. Peter Julian Eymard)
Feast of the
Annunciation of the Lord—March 25:
“At the Annunciation Mary conceived the Son of God in the physical reality of his body and blood, thus anticipating within herself what to some degree happens sacramentally in every believer who receives, under the signs of bread and wine, the Lord’s body and blood.” (Pope Bl. John Paul II)