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Living in the Light
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Catholic Faith Corner

Living in the Light
of Jesus Christ

The Greatest Love: The Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart

This week I aim to finish writing a book for a publisher by Friday. Therefore to save time and since it’s June again, I’m reprising (mostly)a previous post about the Sacred Heart. 

Last week I spoke to catechetical leaders in our diocese about the love of Christ. I wanted a statue of the Sacred Heart for the prayer table that day. One of our kind Sisters found a beige one and added red paint for me so it resembled the one pictured here.

The month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Not so long ago I was in line in the library. When the man in front of me opened his wallet, I glimpsed a Sacred Heart badge. Today some people consider this devotion passé or sentimental, and children may think the art is morbid. Still, the heart of Jesus is a powerful symbol. What does the heart mean in our culture? Life, love, our whole being. (Hebrews thought kidneys had this role!) The heart of Jesus stands for his total, tremendous love for us. And that is the heart of the matter!

When we say, “I love you with my whole heart,” we mean “with all that I am.” God’s love for us compelled him to hide his divinity and become human. Almighty God became one of his creatures. He showed with all his being that he cared for us. His life on earth culminated in the greatest act of love: dying for the sake of the beloved. What’s more, after Jesus died on the cross to save us, a soldier thrust a lance into his heart to make sure he was dead. Yes, a heart is a very fitting symbol for the love of Jesus.

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A Young Saint-to-Be

Does technology give you headaches?  Does your computer act up? Luckily we have a new expert to call on for help. As of May 24, Blessed Carlo Acutis is closer to being canonized. A second miracle through his intercession has occurred, so Pope Francis approved his canonization. Because Carlo died when he was just fifteen years old, he will be the first millennial saint. He is the patron of youth and computer programmers.

                  So how did Carlo attain holiness in such a short time and when neither of his parents were religious? After he was born in London in 1991, the family moved to Italy. He was in the care of nannies, one of whom shared the Catholic faith with him. At a daycare children bullied him and took his toys. When a nanny tried to teach him to defend himself, he said, “Jesus would not be happy if I lost my temper.”

                  In the summer he lived with his grandparents. After each spending each day at the beach, he prayed the Rosary with older women at the church. He started school in 1997. On his walk there each morning as he passed home caretakers, he greeted them by name. At age twelve, he became a catechist. Graduating from the Catholic grade school, he went on to a Jesuit high school.

                  An average student, Carlo had a tutor who began going to church with him. He studied computer science on his own and taught himself to play the saxophone. A typical teenager, he enjoyed movies and video games. But uniquely, he sacrificed sweets and films, tried to practice poverty, and volunteered to help the homeless and poor. In the evening he brought a beggar in the park food from his grandmother and gave him pocket money for coffee. He donated games he received on his birthday to children who had none.

                  Carlo cared for the world. He picked up litter on his hikes and removed rubbish from the ocean. He had pets —cats, dogs, and fish—but also asked his parents to take in stray animals.

                  At school he defended classmates who were bullied, especially those with disabilities, and girls that boys harassed. He supported friends whose parents were divorcing or separating and invited them to his home. When two classmates were fighting he helped them reconcile.

                  Carlo’s faith brought both his parents back to the Church and led them and others to go to daily Mass. By speaking about the faith, he influenced a servant from India, as well as the servant’s friend and mother to be baptized. He was nicknamed “God’s influencer.”

Websites

Carlo was skillful in using the computer and Internet and helped others who had problems with them. He created a website for his parish and another to promote volunteering. His most outstanding work was cataloguing Eucharistic miracles. Carlo saw this as a way to use media to evangelize.

Death

On October 1, 2006, Carlo had a sore throat and was diagnosed with leukemia. He offered his sufferings for the pope and the Church. Eleven days later he had a cerebral hemorrhage and died. Because of his love for St. Francis, he asked to be buried in Assisi. His body lies in a glass tomb there, clothed in jeans and Nike sneakers.

                  His work inspired a traveling photo exhibition of 158 Eucharistic miracle sites. This has appeared all over the world.

Wise Words from Carlo

• “We are all born originals, but many of us die as photocopies.”

• “Let us prepare ourselves to experience something extraordinary in the eternal life.”

• “By standing before the Eucharistic Christ, we become holy.”

• “Continuously ask your guardian angel for help. Your guardian angel has to become your best friend.”

• “The Eucharist is the highway to heaven.”

• “Our soul is like a hot air balloon. If by chance there is a mortal sin, the soul falls to the ground. Confession is like the fire underneath the balloon enabling the soul to rise again. . . It is important to go to confession often.”

• “There are queues in front of a concert, in front of a football match, but I don’t see these queues in front of the Blessed Sacrament.”

Dominic

Dominic is on the other end of the age spectrum and probably won’t be canonized; he’s one of those ordinary saints. This precious member of our Notre Dame Village family went home to God last week. He was a proud marine, one of the older marines who led the young guys into Vietnam. He earned purple hearts. If you met him sitting in his wheelchair, he would tip his cap to you and greet you with a smile. If the weather was nice, you would see him outside basking in the sun.

The VA nurse who cared for Dominic told me that they wished all their patients were like Dominic. As I played the piano, he came and talked to me, sharing his wisdom. I was the recipient of Dominic’s kindness after I told him that as a kid I had the piano music for Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” A few days later, a Sister handed me a 26-page book of that music, compliments of Dominic, who had ordered it from the Internet.

This is from Dominic’s obituary:

“Dominic was a proud Marine until the day he died. He drew strength from his service and from his upbringing, which allowed him to maintain incredible strength and stoicism until the very end.

Dominic was also an avid reader and historian, and was remarkably intelligent, often captivating his loved ones with facts and anecdotes on subjects ranging from World War II to the Guardians of Traffic. But Dominic’s favorite stories to tell were those about his family, especially those regarding his parents and Italian heritage, how he met and fell in love with his beloved wife, Eunice, and cherished experiences he had with his children and grandchildren.”

We will miss Dominic at our patriotic sing-along this year. I’ll be thinking of him as we sing the last stanza of the “U.S. Marine Corps Hymn”:  “If the Army and the Navy ever look on Heaven’s scenes, /  They will find the streets are guarded by United States Marines.”

For your enjoyment, here is a rousing rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In” from a Billy Graham revival.

•  Who is your favorite saint? What do you like about him or her?

•  Who do you know that is an ordinary saint like Dominic?

Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament

St. Pope Pius X said that Mary’s title Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament is perhaps the most meaningful of all. In this second part of my talk last week, you will see why.

             “Mary can guide us toward this most holy sacrament because she herself has a profound relationship with it,” St. Pope John Paul II claimed. He further connected this sacrament to Mary by making the Eucharist the fifth mystery of her Rosary in his new set of Luminous Mysteries.

            When Gabriel proposed that Mary be God’s Mother and she said, “Let it be,” instantly Jesus took up residence in her womb. She became a walking tabernacle. One of her titles is Ark of the Covenant. In the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant was the chest where the Israelites believed God was present. They carried it with them. Inside the Ark was the Word, the Ten Commandment tablets. Within Mary was the eternal Word of God, Jesus. The Ark also contained some manna from the Exodus. Within Mary was the Bread of the world. So we call Mary spiritual vessel, house of God, and seat of wisdom because eternal wisdom made her lap his throne.

            Because no man was involved in this miraculous conception, there must have been an extraordinary resemblance between mother and son: looks, mannerisms. The flesh and blood of the Son of God was taken from Mary. After his birth, he walked the earth with flesh and blood drawn from her. This also means that at every Eucharist, Mary is present in a sense in the sacred bread and wine. She provided the matter of this sacrament.

            Mary was Jesus’s first adorer when she placed him in the manger, a feeding trough, in Bethlehem, a town which means “house of bread.” Mary brought Jesus to people. While pregnant, she brought him to her relative Elizabeth. (Pope Benedict called that “the first Eucharistic procession.”) After Jesus was born, she showed him to the shepherds and kings. Mary brought Jesus to Simeon and Anna in the Temple and offered him to God. (We offer ourselves with Jesus at Mass.) And at the wedding of Cana, Mary brought the waiters to him when the wine ran out. There Jesus changed water into wine at her request.

            Today Mary wants to intercede for us too. Saints and popes have taught that all graces come through Mary. Dante’s “Hymn to the Virgin” (Paradiso – Canto XXXIII) celebrates this:

Virgin Mother, daughter of your Son, / humbler and higher than any creature, / fixed term of the Eternal Counsel.

You are she who did so ennoble / our human nature that its Creator / did not disdain to be His creature’s creation.

Within your womb was rekindled the Love / by whose warmth this celestial flower / has blossomed in the eternal peace.

You are for us here the noonday light / of charity, and among mortals below / you are the living fountain of hope.

Lady so powerful and so great, / whoever seeks grace without turning to you / wishes to fly without having wings.

Your compassionate aid is not only given / to those who ask, but oftentimes also / is freely given before being sought.

In you is mercy, in you tender pity, / in you great generosity.  In you is joined / all the goodness found in any creature.

            Mary’s last recorded words in Scripture are her directions to the waiters at Cana: “Do whatever he tells you.” (Mary’s commandment) Well, at the Last Supper Jesus tells us, “Do this in memory of me.” Whenever we offer the Eucharist, we obey both Jesus and our heavenly Mother. Eve urged Adam to eat of the forbidden fruit which brought death upon us, Mary prompts us to eat the Bread which gives us life.

            Mary was probably at the Last Supper. We know that on Calvary, Mary stood at the foot of the cross, united with Jesus in his sacrifice to set us free. She joined her pain to his. She witnessed the piercing of his side when blood and water poured out, the blood that symbolized the Eucharist.

            At Mass, when the sacrifice of Jesus is re-presented in an unbloody way, Mary is there too. She stands by us. She has provided our daily bread. Because Mary is essential to the Eucharist, every Mass mentions her.

            After Jesus ascended, Mary prayed in the Upper Room with the apostles, the Church. So she was with them on Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended. For the second time the Spirit came upon Mary. She was with the Christian community at the first Eucharists. Imagine her joy when she received her son in St. John’s home —the same Jesus she received at the Incarnation. How consoling for her! She believed in the reality of Christ’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament. She had faith.

Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament

            St. Peter Julian Eymard said, “Let us never forget that an age prospers or dwindles in proportion to its devotion to the Holy Eucharist. This is the measure of its spiritual life and its faith, of its charity and its virtue.” He joined the Society of Mary, the Marist Fathers. In 1851, Mary led him to know that all the mysteries of Jesus had a religious order of men to honor them but the Eucharist. So he founded the Congregation of the Most Blessed Sacrament. This community is present in Ohio at St. Pascal Baylon Church on Wilson Mills.

            Speaking to his novices, St. Peter Julian called Mary Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament. He encouraged them to pray, “Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” St. Peter Julian described what her statue should look like: Mary holds the infant Jesus who holds a chalice in one hand and a host in the other.

            The feast of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament is May 13, the day St. Peter Julian founded his community. This is the day of the first apparition of Fatima. Then too it is the day of the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II.  He credits Mary for saving his life. The doctors were amazed that the bullet’s path zigzagged, avoiding major organs. The pope had that bullet inserted in the crown of Mary’s statue in Fatima. The Angel of Peace appeared to the Fatima children three times before Mary appeared. The last time he came, a host and chalice were suspended in the sky, and he gave the children Communion.

            Whenever Mary appeared on earth, she asked for a church built where the Eucharist could be offered: Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe. When she appeared as Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico she wore a black belt, the Aztec sign of pregnancy. She sent St. Juan Diego to ask the bishop to have a church built.

            St. Teresa of Calcutta wrote; “When we recite the Rosary in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, we love Jesus with the Heart of Mary. … we offer Jesus the perfect Adoration of Mary. We join our own love for Jesus to Mary’s worship and perfect love.  Jesus welcomes our time of adoration as if it were Mary’s own prayer. No matter how weak our faith or how poor our love, Mary receives us into her Heart, and Jesus acknowledges our time of prayer as if it came directly from the Heart of his Mother. The Immaculate Heart of Mary makes up for what is lacking in our hearts.”

Marian Tabernacles

Marian tabernacle in Poland
Marian tabernacle in Ivory Coast

            After a miraculous healing, Polish artisan Drapikowski is creating 12 altars for perpetual adoration for peace. They represent the crown of 12 stars around Mary’s head in the book of Revelation. The tabernacles feature Mary embracing the host in her arms as she would Baby Jesus. They are planned to be in troubled spots of the world. The first one appeared in Jerusalem but moved to Bethlehem.

            Likewise at St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in Chicago, where there is perpetual adoration, the tabernacle is within a statue of Mary. She is called “Our Lady of the Sign—Ark of Mercy.”

Our Lady of the Sign, Chicago

Prayer

Virgin Immaculate, perfect lover of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, we ask you to obtain for us the graces we need to become true adorers of our Eucharistic God.  Grant us, we beg of you, to know Him better, to love Him more, and to center our lives around the Eucharist, that is, to make our whole life a constant prayer of adoration, thanksgiving, reparation, and petition to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  Amen.

Stories

An entertaining legend about St. Hyacinth, a Polish Dominican, combines Mary and the Eucharist. When the Tartars invaded, he went forth to meet them, carrying the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance. As he passed a statue of Mary, she called out, “Take me with you.” Hyacinth replied, “The statue is too heavy.” Mary said, “My Son will make it light.” And so Hyacinth was able to carry it: the monstrance in one arm, the statue in the other. Leading his novices, he walked through the Tartars unharmed. Interestingly, in Poland a mild oath is “Hyacinth pierogis!” Hyacinth is the patron saint of pierogis and of weightlifters.

            A similar thing happened to St. Clare. When Saracens were invading Assisi and her convent, she also bravely confronted them with the Blessed Sacrament although she was sick. The invaders turned around and went home.

St. Don Bosco had a vision of a naval battle prophesying conflicts the Church would have with evil forces. In the vision he saw the Church under the image of a ship, tossed about by storms and attacked by enemy ships. Two pillars arose from the sea. Atop one of these columns was the statue of Mary, and inscribed below it were the words, “Help of Christians.” Atop the other column was a large host with the inscription below it, “Salvation of Believers.”  The Church, called the bark of Peter, anchored itself between the two pillars and was safe from the attacking ships.

• What ideas were new to you?

• How does your parish honor the Blessed Sacrament?

Here is the song “The Baker Woman,” which celebrates Mary as the one who gives us Jesus, bread for the world.

A Eucharistic Revival in Your Heart

A strong tie exists between Mary and the Blessed Sacrament. In preparing my talk about this to parishioners at St. John of the Cross parish on May 20, I reviewed a lot but I also learned a lot. This week I’ll share some of these thoughts pertaining to the Eucharist. Next week will be about Mary and her connection to the Eucharist.

This talk was timely because we are in the midst of a three-year Eucharistic revival; it’s May, Mary’s month; and the day happened to be the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church, that Pope Francis proclaimed in 2018.

The National Eucharistic Pilgrimage

The Eucharistic pilgrimage began Pentecost weekend. The pilgrims process with the Blessed Sacrament follow one of four routes: north, south, east, and west across the United States. The routes culminate in Indianapolis for the 10th Eucharistic Congress, July 17–21.

Facts about the Eucharist

 • When we receive Communion, our sins are forgiven.

• The daily bread we pray for in the Our Father is Communion.

• Partaking in the Eucharist is a matter of life and death. Jesus said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the son of Man and drink his blood you have no life in you.” When some followers walked away at that (Jews drained blood from meat), Jesus didn’t call out, “Come back. I was only speaking figuratively.”

• In a poll 70% of Catholics said they did not believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the sacred bread and wine.

• A Protestant said, “If I believed what you believe, I would go down the aisle of church on my knees.

• It’s easy to get used to Communion. We need to reclaim our “Eucharistic amazement.”

• Jesus became a human being in Mary. Then what’s more preposterous, he comes in the form of bread and wine.

• Ordinary food becomes our body, but when we consume the Eucharist the opposite happens: we become more like God, another Christ.

• St. Augustine said of the Eucharist, “Behold what you are, become what you receive.” 

• Jesus remains with us in the tabernacle: “a prisoner of love.” The closer we are to the tabernacle, the closer we are to Jesus.

• Being in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament changes us. It’s like how sitting in the sun tans or burns our skin.

• The miracle of the Real Presence allows us to hold God in our hand.

• Jesus asks that we perform a similar miracle and become bread for others. St. Teresa of Kolkata told her Sisters, “Let the people eat you up.”

• A story about St. Clare, St. Francis of Assisi’s friend: When Saracens were invading Assisi and St. Clare’s convent, she also bravely confronted them with the Blessed Sacrament although she was sick. The invaders turned around and went home.

• Carlo Acutis who died in 2006 at the age of 16, built a website about Eucharistic miracles. He documented 150 of them. He is on the way to becoming a canonized saint. His research resulted in a Eucharistic Miracles Exhibition that has appeared in various parishes. Have you seen it?  Here is its official website: http://www.carloacutis.com/en/association/mostra-miracoli-eucaristici

A Reflection

In the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus says, “I am with you always. Come to me. 

            When you are tired and your spirits droop,

come to me, I will renew you.

            When you need courage to carry out your tasks,

come to me, I will embolden you.

            When you face change, a new situation, growing older,

come to me, I will be with you.

            When you are sad,

come to me, I will cheer you up.

            When you are distressed by the state of the world,

come to me, I will give you hope.

            When you are lonely, come to me,

I will be your unfailing companion.

            When you face difficulties, come to me,

I will give you strength.

            When you feel remorseful, come to me,

I will forgive you.

            When you are in pain, come to me,

I will comfort you.

            When you are worried,

come to me, I will remind you of my love for you and your loved ones.

            When you are happy or successful,

come to me, I will rejoice with you.”

Here is a favorite Eucharistic hymn sung by a favorite tenor:

• The apostles’ first Holy Communion was at the Last Supper. Do you remember yours?

• What was the most impressive Mass you ever participated in?

Mindful Living for Presence and Purpose

Today I offer a guest blog for the first time: “Mindful Living: Infuse Your Daily Routine with Presence and Purpose.” I’m grateful to its author, Jill Palmer. You might wonder what mindfulness is doing on a Catholic blog. Actually, awareness of the present moment is a fundamental feature of spirituality. It leads to trusting God and being filled with peace. Read on….

Incorporating mindfulness into your daily life can lead to profound changes, enhancing your well-being and bringing a deeper sense of fulfillment. This practice, centered on being fully present and engaged in the moment, transforms ordinary activities into opportunities for increased awareness and connection. In this article, courtesy of Catholic Faith Corner, we’ll explore effective ways to integrate mindfulness into your daily life, ensuring each day is imbued with intention and purpose.

Mindfulness Enhances Positivity

Mindfulness can contribute to a more positive outlook on life. By living in the moment and being aware of the present without judgment, mindfulness helps lower stress and fosters a more optimistic attitude. This practice enhances one’s ability to appreciate the small joys of life, leading to a more positive mindset. Practicing mindfulness not only cultivates a deeper relationship with oneself but also improves resilience, enabling individuals to thrive in various aspects of their lives.

Mindful Walking

Turn your daily walks into a mindfulness practice by focusing intently on the sensations you experience. Notice the feel of the ground under your feet, the sounds surrounding you, and the touch of the breeze on your skin. Concentrating on these sensory experiences anchors you in the present, transforming a routine walk into a rich, mindful journey.

Create Inspirational Reminders

Design an inspirational poster to keep your mindfulness practice front and center in your daily life. Utilize online resources to create a design that speaks to you, allowing you to add your own text and photos that align with your mindfulness goals. This custom reminder acts as a source of daily affirmations, encouraging you to maintain your mindfulness practice. Here is a sample:

Mindful Commuting

Use your daily commute as a chance to practice mindfulness. Rather than dwelling on past or future concerns, center your attention on the now. Observe your environment with curiosity, tuning into the present moment’s sights, sounds, and sensations. This change in perspective can turn your commute into a tranquil escape from the day’s busyness.

Try Yoga or Tai Chi

Integrating mindful practices such as yoga and tai chi into your daily routine offers a holistic approach to nurturing your physical and mental health. By engaging in these activities, you not only improve your flexibility but also significantly lower your stress levels and enhance mental clarity. The benefits of adopting yoga and tai chi extend beyond mere physical well-being, contributing to increased productivity and an improved sense of overall health.

Connect with Nature

Take time to connect with nature, absorbing its beauty and serenity. Pay close attention to the intricate details around you, such as the patterns of leaves or the formation of clouds. This focused observation strengthens your present-moment awareness, providing a grounding and peaceful experience.

Engage with Art

Dive into the world of art to foster mindfulness. Fully immerse yourself in the examination of artworks, noticing the play of colors, textures, and the emotions they evoke, whether at home, in a gallery, or online. This deep engagement with art opens up new avenues of thought and inspiration.

Music Appreciation

Immerse yourself in the world of music by mindfully listening to its intricate layers of instruments, rhythms, and melodies. Let each note capture your attention fully, allowing yourself to be swept away by the emotions it evokes. This attentive listening not only enhances your musical appreciation but also connects you deeply to the essence of the music.

Listen to Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” sometimes called the most beautiful piece of music:

Intentional Reading

Embrace a mindful approach to reading, where each word is savored and appreciated for its contribution to the narrative. Take your time to engage with the story on a profound level, allowing it to unfold in its full richness. Through this deliberate reading practice, you cultivate deeper reflection and forge a stronger bond with the material, enriching your overall reading experience.

Living mindfully means discovering significance in everyday moments, turning routine tasks into chances for presence and connection. By weaving mindfulness into the above activities, you unlock the transformative potential of mindfulness. These accessible yet impactful practices profoundly boost your sense of peace, presence, and fulfillment, enhancing every aspect of your daily life.

Remember: “The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.”

•  Which mindfulness practice do you already incorporate in your life? With what results?

•  Which mindfulness practice tempts you to begin adopting today?

•  Why would mindfulness appeal to you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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