We commemorated the Eucharistic miracle in the life of Claret that took place in La Granja on Agust 291856. It has been an occasion to delve into our charismatic heritage which is deeply rooted in the Eucharistic experience of the Lord. Eucharist is the bread of life that nourishes our personal lives as well as our missions.
“Our Father founder was that good shepherd who gives his life. He received the gift of permanent communion with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, which spurred him to fight against the evils of his time and to offer himself as an oblation”. (That They may have life No. 16)
In this year of the Eucharist, it is opportune for us to familiarize ourselves with the way our founder made Eucharist a permanent source of spiritual vitality for his life and mission. The passages below could be used as a key to enter into his rich inner world. Following are a few excerpts from the writings of St. Claret.
1. Ever since I was a small boy I have been attracted to piety and religion. I used to attend Mass on all feasts and holy days. I usually attended two Masses, a Low Mass and a High Mass, always together with my parents. I cannot remember ever playing, looking around, or talking in church. On the contrary, I was always so recollected, modest, and devout that when I compare those early days with the present am ashamed because, to my great embarrassment, I must admit that even now I lack the
2. I attended all our functions of our holy religion with great faith. The services I like best were those connected with the Blessed Sacrament, and I attended these with great devotion and joy. Besides the constant good example of my father, who had great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, I had the good fortune of discovering a book entitled Courtesies of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. How I loved that book! I liked it so much that I learn it by heart. (Auto. 37).
3. When I was ten years old, I was allowed to make my First Communion. Words cannot tell what I felt on that day when I had the unequalled joy of receiving my good Jesus into my heart for the first time. From then on always frequented the sacraments of Penance and Communion, but how fervently and with what devotion and love: more than now -yes, more than now, I must say to my embarrassment and shame. Now that I know so much more than I did then, now that the many benefits I have received since then have accumulated continually, in gratitude I should have become a seraph of love, whereas God knows what I am. I compare my early years with the present, I grow sad and tearfully confess that I am a monster of ingratitude (Auto.38).
4. In addition to attending these morning and afternoon services, I used to enter the church at night all, when hardly anyone was there, and talk alone with our Lord. With great faith, trust, and love, I would speak to God, my good Father. A thousand times over I would offer myself to his service. I wanted to become a priest so that I could dedicate myself to his service day and night. I remembered telling Him, “humanly speaking, I see no hope, but you have the power to make it happen, if you will.” Then, with total confidence, I would leave it all in God’s hands, trusting Him to do whatever had to be done: which He did, as I shall say later (Auto. 40).
5. In the midst of this whirligig of ideas, while I was at Mass one day, I remembered reading as a small boy those words of the Gospel: “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?” This phrase impressed me deeply and went like an arrow to my heart. I tried to think and reason what to do, but to no avail (Auto. 68).
6. After arriving in Vic, I confessed and received Communion every week, but after a while the director had me confess twice a week and receive Communion four times a week. I served Mass daily for Father Bres. Every day I made a half hour of mental prayer, visited the Blessed Sacrament during Forty Hours’ Devotion, and also visited the shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary in the Dominican Church, rain or shine. And even though the streets were filled with snow, I never omitted my visits to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary (Auto. 86).
7. On June 7, 1860, at 11.30 in the morning of the feast of Corpus Christi, after saying Mass and just before I was to lead the procession, I was in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. I was filled with fervour and devotion. Suddenly, to my surprise, Jesus said to me, “It’s good. I like the book you’ve written.” The “book” was the first volume of The Well-Instructed Seminarian, which I had just finished the day before, and I knew quite clearly that this was the book He was telling me about. When I had
8. On August 26, 1861, at 7.00 in the evening while I was at prayer in the church of the Rosary at La Granja, the Lord granted me the great grace of keeping the sacramental species intact within me and of having the Blessed Sacrament always present, day and night, in my breast. Because of this I must always be very recollected and inwardly devout. Furthermore I must pray and confront all the evils of Spain, as the Lord has told me. To help me to do this, I have engraved in my memory a number of things, such as that without any merit, talent, or personal recommendation. He has lifted me up from the lowest of the low to the highest post, at the side of the kings of this earth. And now He has put me at the side of the King of Heaven. “Glorify God and bear him about in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20) (Auto. 694).
9. The Trisagion should be said every day. The Blessed Sacrament should be honoured by hearing Mass, receiving Communion frequently, visiting the Blessed Sacrament, and making spiritual communion. . .(Auto. 696).
10. 1862. On May 11, 1862, at 6.30 in the evening, while I was in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament at the palace of Aranjuez, I offered myself to Jesus and Mary to preach, exhort, labour, and suffer even death itself, and the Lord accepted my offering (Auto. 698).
11. On the morning of May 16, 1862, at 4:15 while I was at prayer, I thought of what I had written down the day before concerning my experience of the Blessed Sacrament the previous August 26, I had been thinking of erasing it and was still thinking of it today, but the Blessed Virgin Mary told me not to erase it. Afterward, while I was saying Mass, Jesus Christ told me that He had indeed granted this grace of remaining within me sacramentally (Auto. 700).
12. “My Father, take this poor heart of mine and devour it as I do you, so that I may be changed totally into you. At the word of consecration the substance of bread and wine are changed into the substance of your body and blood. Almighty Lord, consecrate me; speak over me the words that will change me totally into you” (Auto. 756).
13. When I am before the Blessed Sacrament, I feel such a live by faith that I can’t describe it. Christ in the Eucharist is almost tangible to me; I kiss his wounds continually and embrace Film. When it’s time for me to leave, I have to tear myself away from his sacred presence (Auto. 767).
34. On August 14 of this year, at 9.30 in the morning while I was at prayer in the church of St Dominic in Vic, during the Forty Hours’ Devotion, the Lord spoke to me from the Blessed Sacrament: “You will go to Rome” (Auto. 839).
II. WORKS OF SAINT ANTHONY MARY CLARET
(Selected Spiritual Writings volume III)
14. In order to practice these and other virtues, you will need to receive Holy Communion frequently, for this is why the Lord has chosen to remain in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. These are his decisive words: “Behold, I am with you until the consummation of the world.” “Come to me, all you who labour [at practicing virtue] and are heavily burdened [with sufferings J, and I will refresh you.” “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. . .Finally, He is the Life that enlivens us with the life of grace, not only if we keep his teaching — but also if we receive the Holy Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, the Bread of Life. Jesus Christ Himself has said: “I myself am the living bread come down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread he shall live forever, and the bread I will give is my flesh, for the life [or salvation] of the world.. .In truth, in very truth I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you can have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him. As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eats me shall also live by me [and of my own life].” (SSW.
15. Now just as the body has its food, so the soul has its own proper food, the Eucharist, which is called the bread of angels, since the angels, like our souls, are spirits, and need the same food (SSW. P.155).
16. Against the dark inventions of the genius of error, He (Jesus) has counter posed the sin of Catholic faith, the Blessed Sacrament, which is called the mystery of faith, in which Jesus Christ is ‘really and truly present as the true light which enlightens every man of good will to rise against the vain thoughts of this world and to advance in the knowledge and love of the supreme Good (SSW. P. 156).
17. Over against degrading drunkenness of flesh and blood, he has set up the delicious banquet of His flesh and blood in the Blessed Sacrament, which lifts us up to the fountainhead of divine life (SSW. Pp.l56-157).
18. It can clearly be seen, then, that Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is our moral and physical life. Our moral life consists of knowing and loving. Now the object and nourishment of the understanding is truth, and Jesus Christ is essential truth itself, while the object and nourishment of the will is goodness, and Jesus Christ is goodness and charity by essence. Our physical life consists of the union of the soul
19. Hence the need to receive Communion, and receive it frequently. From what we observe in the body, we may learn what we should do for the soul. The body must eat daily, if it is going to have life and health. The soul should do likewise, receiving Communion frequently, either in reality or in desire. When Jesus taught us how to pray, He charged us to ask for our bodily and spiritual bread for each day, both together. This was the understanding and practice of the early Christians, who daily
20. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel or Sanctuary of a parish, is the most exact thermometer whereby to register the degree of charity or warmth of love and devotion of the parishioners. When a metric thermometer stands at one degree above zero, the weather is bitter cold; when it stand at twelve degrees, Spring is here; and when it stands between twenty-four and thirty degrees, it’s hot. Just so, when the people receive Communion only once a year, the parish is very cold; when they receive it twelve times a year, things are going better and Sp ring has come with flowers of virtue that give hope of ripe fruits to come; but when they receive twice a month, every week or more, then the fire that Jesus brought down from heaven is burning bright — and it is His will that it should so burn (SSW. Pp. 158-159).
21. When Satan tempted our first parents, Adam and Eve, he told them: “Eat, and you will become as gods.” It was a snare of the father of lies. They did not become gods, but rather slaves of Satan and guilty of hellfire. . .But Jesus Christ availed Himself of the same means to do us good, as Satan use to do us ill. He instituted the august Sacrament under the form of food, and He tells us in full truth: “Eat, and you will become as gods. You will be like me, who am God and man.” In effect, those who receive Communion well, will be like an iron bar placed in a furnace, where it turns to fire. Yes, in this same way the soul that received Communion well, will be divinised. The fire rids the iron of its dross, its natural coldness and hardness, making it so soft that it may be shaped to the liking of the smith. The fire of divine love in the
22. To those who approach Holy Communion, Jesus says: “Take and eat; this is my body, broken for you. Take and drink; this is my blood, poured out for you” Take and eat, and learn from me to empty yourself of self, to make room for the glory of God and for the love of your brothers and sisters, as I emptied myself. Take and eat, and learn from me, for I was obedient even to death on the cross, and even beyond death on a cross, since everyday I most promptly and gladly obey the words of consecration, and I shall obey them until the consummation of the ages. Take and eat, for I am meek and humble of heart. See how humbled I am in this Sacrament. I am a hidden God, hidden in my divinity and hidden in my humanity, that I might teach you this most necessary virtue. Imitate my meekness; see how for love of you I suffer irreverence, sacrilege, profanation, contempt and insults. Take and eat, learn from me to love one another as I have loved you. For you I have done much, I have suffered infinitely, and I have given myself so that I could do still more; imitate me. Those who approach Communion with fervour and devotion will hear such words. This, in fact, is how the world was converted: it was converted through the preaching of Christ crucified and through the frequent reception of Holy Communion. The pagans, observing how fervent the Christians were, said to one another: “See how they love one another!” What peace, serenity and sweetness! What chastity, charity and other virtues combined! And the sight of this moved them above all to embrace the
23. When we receive Communion, we all receive the same Lord Jesus Christ, but we do not all receive the same graces, and the Lord does not produce the same effects in all who receive. This comes from our being more or less well disposed. . . To explain this phenomenon, I shall use a comparison from nature, namely, the process of inserting grafts in trees (grafting) We know from experience that a wild tree yields little fruit, and that the little it yields is bad. Nevertheless, if we insert into this wild tree a graft of high quality, it yields much good fruit. To some extent, this is what happens to lazy and careless Christians, who yield little of the fruit of good works, and the little ‘they yield is shot through with imperfections. But if the same Christians receive Communion well, they will, like wild trees engrafted with good shoots, begin to yield admirable fruits. This is why Saint Mary Magdalene of Pazzi used to say that one well-made Communion is capable of making a great saint. . .there has to be some likeness between the graft and the tree into which it is inserted: the greater the likeness, the better the results will be. In like manner, the greater the likeness in humility, meekness, charity and other virtues that exists between Jesus and the communicant, the greater will be the results that Holy Communion yields.
Trees that are to receive grafts are divided into oily, gummy and watery, and the grafts they receive should belong to the same family, so that a graft from an oily tree will not take hold in a gummy or watery tree, and vice versa. Jesus is of an oily stock, for his name is like oil poured out, and this is why Communion, which is the precious graft, does not take hold, either in those Christians who because of their avarice are like gummy trees, or in those others who because of their lust are like watery trees. Hence it is indispensable that both of these become only oily through meekness, mercy, charity and other virtues (SSW. Pp. 160-161).
24. But as it is not enough that there be a likeness between the tree and the graft, but moreover that the one engrafting them should take proper care and have the requisite skills, so also I must tell you that it is not enough that regular communicants simply have the necessary requisites for Communion. Besides these -if Holy Communion is to produce great graces in them- it is indispensable that whenever communicants approach the holy table they do so each time with ever-greater attention, care’ and humility, and more lively desires, like the hart athirst, with more hunger, more thirst and more love. Happy the soul that communicates frequently and with ever-renewed dispositions! It shall be like a tree planted near running waters, that gives fruit in due season. It will be able to say with the Apostles, “I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me.” In the same way, if the engrafted tree could speak, it would tell us: “I live, and in my trunk I am what I was before, but in me lives the graft, the shoot that has been placed in me and lives in me, and the fruit that I bear is not according to the old tree, but according to the new one.” Thus, then, the Christian who communicates well and often can say, “I live because I am a human being as before; but now .
I am not what I was before. Now I am according to the new man that has been engrafted unto me through Communion. I am what is in me.” As Jesus Himself says: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood, abides in me and I in him. As the living Father has sent me, and I live in the Father, so he who eats me shall also live by me”. For this reason, those who receive Communion well and frequently can say with the Apostle that nothing can separate them from the love of Jesus Christ, and that they can do all things in Him who strengthens them (SSW: pp. 161-162).
25. Let us then attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass not only on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, as is our duty, but also on other days, out of devotion. We must offer the Holy Sacrifice to God not only to make satisfaction far our failings, faults arid sins, but also to acknowledge His supreme dominion over us and to witness to the benefits and graces He has given us arid continue s giving us; far all that we have, we have received from Him. We must offer this Holy Sacrifice in thanksgiving for His many mercies to us, or rather, we must attend this Sacrifice which Jesus Christ Himself offer to the eternal Father on our behalf. He is both the principal Offerer and the Victim offered. Christ is the one who speaks far us and is our Advocate in heaven with the Father, as Saint John says. And on the Altar we have the One who makes intercession far us, as Saint Paul assures us (SSW. P. 166).
26. .. .the expositors tell us that the merits of Jesus Christ are of infinite worth in themselves and fully sufficient to redeem thousands of worlds, but that the eternal Father accepted them only on the condition that adults should take their part in this passion in order to be able to enjoy its fruit; that is, we must cooperate, now by hearing Holy Mass, now by receiving Holy Communion, now by praying, now by meekly and patiently bearing slanders, sufferings and labours, now by mortifying our passions and senses, which we must sacrifice and offer to God (SWW. P. 167-168).
– Compiled by Fr. Charles Amadi cmf