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Archive for the ‘Eucharist’ Category

Fasting is one of the principle means of making satisfaction for sins. By abstaining from eating all that is available to eat, one can do penance for sins, making reparation for them. Also one can gain strength against future sins by this self-imposed penance. Fasting is a way to chastise the body for the sins the body has committed. Additionally denying oneself the pleasure of eating helps to bring the body into control and subject to the soul.

St. John of the Cross tells us to keep in mind the value of our good works, fasts, alms and penances. Firstly the value of these is “not based on quantity and quality so much as on the love of God practiced in them”. (Ascent Book 3 Chap. 27) So our good works, fasts, almsgiving and penances should be done for the love of God, and we “should not set (our) heart on the pleasure, comfort, savor and other elements of self-interest (like trying to lose weight) these good works and practices usually entail, but recollect (our) joy in God and desire to serve him through these means.”

As always regarding fasting we have Christ for our example. He is perfect, so we do not see any extremes to the virtue he models for us. He did practice fasting and abstinence, though he did not need to do this. He had perfect control over his desires and the appetites. In gaining control over the sense appetites prudent discretion is in order. We are not to “kill (ourselves) with penances” and “weaken (ourselves) by fasts”. (Dark Night, Book 1, Chap 6) The idea is virtue, which is the mean between extremes. We should be doing our fasting with the proper motivation which is to repair the damage done by our sinfulness and to gain strength for future temptations to sin.

Fasting is also good because the mind is dulled when the body overeats. When one indulges in  too much, the mind becomes sleepy and unable to meditate or pray with attentiveness.

The Church has us fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. These are the days Catholics usually associate with fasting. Fasting during these penitential days of Lent is defined as one normal meal and two smaller meals that together do not equal a full meal. Snacking in between meals would also be excluded as part of the fast. The Church additionally ask us to fast before receiving Holy Communion. We are to fast from food and drink, with the exception of water, for one hour before receiving the Eucharist. It is good to be reminded as to why we are obliged to do this. We do the Eucharistic fast out of respect for the sacrament. We are about to received Jesus, and therefore it is fitting that we should not eat or drink other substances prior to receiving the Lord’s Body and Blood.

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The duties and cares of the day ahead crowd about us when we awake in the morning (if they have not already dispelled our night’s rest). Now arises the uneasy question: How can all this be accommodated in one day? When will I do this, when that? How shall I start on this and that? Thus agitated, we would like to run around and rush forth. We must then take the reins in hand and say, “Take it easy! Not any of this may touch me now. My first morning’s hour belongs to the Lord. I will tackle the day’s work which He charges me with, and He will give me the power to accomplish it.”

(Edith Stein Collected Works, ICS Publications p. 143)

How often I have begun my day full of anxiety and already exhausted by the thoughts of what needs to be done ‘today’. I can’t go about my day disturbed and agitated. In today’s society we live with almost constant stress in our daily lives. Many things need to be done and physically we can feel overwhelmed, if not totally exhausted.

I believe St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) quoted above in her essay on Principles of Women’s’ Education has the answer for us. Our first duty each day should be to spend time with God in prayer. Ideally, it should be spent at Mass where we participate in the great offering of reconciliation and are purified and made happy. As we participate in Mass we lay all our doings and troubles along with the sacrifice on the altar.

sunrise

However, this is not always a possible way to start our day when we have a house full of small children to raise or if we don’t have the luxury of a convenient Mass time and a nearby church. Nevertheless, I can get up a bit early, before everyone else in the house has awaken, and spend some quiet moments with the Lord in prayer.

I can spend a moment making a spiritual communion and unite myself with Him. A spiritual communion is the best way to express, in prayer, my desire to receive Jesus. God will respond to this act with His grace. St. Teresa of Avila encouraged this practice as well. “When you do not receive communion and you do not attend Mass, you can make a spiritual communion, which is a most beneficial practice; by it the love of God will be greatly impressed on you” (The Way of Perfection, Ch. 35)

And when the Lord comes to me then in Holy Communion, then I may ask Him, “Lord, what to you want of me?” (St. Teresa). And after quiet dialogue, I will go to that which I see as my next duty. (Edith Stein Collected Works, ICS Publications p. 144)

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Here it is evening. I have just finished evening prayer which closes with the following prayer:

“Stay with us, Lord Jesus,
for evening draws near,
and be our companion on our way
to set our hearts on fire with new hope.
Help us to recognize your presence among us in the Scriptures we read
and in the breaking of bread,
for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.”

           (Evening Prayer, Monday Week IV, The Liturgy of the Hours)
This prayer is reminiscent of the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. “ And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them.” (Luke 24:15) As I reflect over my day, filled with conversations and various activities, I wonder if I had been aware of His presence with me. Perhaps he was there along and my “eyes were prevented from recognizing him.”

But now it is evening, things have quieted down “the day is almost over”. It is time to urge the Lord to “stay with” me as I break open the Scriptures. Pouring over these words I will let him speak to me and set my “heart burning”.

As a Carmelite the Scriptures hold an important place in my daily life and prayer. Secular living does have an impact on the amount of time I can devote to this each day, but even a short amount of time spend in Scripture reading will help to foster love and devotion for the Lord.

Tomorrow I will arise early and go to Mass. There I will meet the Lord in the “breaking of the bread” and in hearing him speak as the priest “opens the scriptures to us” who have gathered to hear Mass. Another opportunity in my day for the Lord to “make himself known” and to be my “companion along the way”.

emmaus

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From Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours during Ordinary Time the closing prayer for Week IV on Monday evenings reads:

Stay with us, Lord Jesus,
for evening draws near,
and be our companion on our way
to set our hearts on fire with new hope.
Help us to recognize your presence among us 
in the Scriptures we read,
and in the breaking of bread,
for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.
As his disciples were walking and talking along the way, Jesus comes up to them (though they were unable to recognize him) and he asks:
“What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?” 
(Lk 24: 17)
Why they were talking about Jesus! Should this not be our conversation with each other as we walk together along the Way? Shouldn’t we be able to help each other to recognize him? 
This can only be done if we get to know him through the Scriptures which will cause “our hearts to burn within us” sparked with the flame of faith. Then, after getting to know him in the Scriptures, we can see him with the eyes of faith in the breaking of the bread, the Eucharistic bread.
The Word and Eucharist are our sustenance – food for the journey. May his words be on our lips and  burn within our hearts as we walk and talk with each other, and may we see him and recognize him in each other when our eyes are opened at the breaking of the bread – all with Jesus as our companion on our way.

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Eucharistic Adoration

Stop by Fountain of Elias for a beautiful post on Eucharistic Adoration.

http://fountainofelias.blogspot.com/2010/03/in-gethsemane.html

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Our spiritual life cannot subsist without Jesus. And yet Jesus is truly with us, in the Eucharist. St. Teresa of Jesus wrote the following about the Eucharist: “Certainly, I think that if we were to approach the most Blessed Sacrament with great faith and love, once would be enough to leave us rich. How much richer from approaching so many times as we do. The trouble is we do so out of routine, and it shows. O miserable world, you have so covered the eyes of those who live in you that they do not see the treasures by which they could win everlasting riches!” ~ Meditations on the Song of Songs (Chapter 3)

May our reception of this Most Holy Sacrament never be just out of routine!

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Pope Urban IV established the Feast of Corpus Christi. He requested St. Thomas Aquinas to compose hymns for it. Lauda Sion is one of the beautiful hymns Aquinas composed in honor of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Each verse explains what Catholics believe about the Eucharist.

Sion, lift thy voice and sing:
Praise thy Savior and thy King;
Praise with hymns thy Shepherd true:
Dare thy most to praise Him well;
For He doth all praise excel;
None can ever reach His due.

Special theme of praise is thine,
That true living Bread divine,
That life-giving flesh adored,
Which the brethren twelve received,
As most faithfully believed,
At the Supper of the Lord.
Let the chant be loud and high;
Sweet and tranquil be the joy
Felt to-day in every breast;
On this festival divine
Which recounts the origin
Of the glorious Eucharist.
At this table of the King,
Our new Paschal offering
Brings to end the olden rite;
Here, for empty shadows fled,
Is reality instead;
Here, instead of darkness, light.
His own act, at supper seated,
Christ ordained to be repeated,
In His memory divine;
Wherefore now, with adoration,
We the Host of our salvation
Consecrate from bread and wine.
Hear what holy Church maintaineth,
That the bread its substance changeth
Into Flesh, the wine to Blood.
Doth it pass thy comprehending?
Faith, the law of sight transcending,
Leaps to things not understood.
Here in outward signs are hidden
Priceless things, to sense forbidden;
Signs, not things, are all we see:-
Flesh from bread, and Blood from wine;
Yet is Christ, in either sign,
All entire confessed to be.
They too who of Him partake
Sever not, nor rend, nor break,
But entire their Lord receive.
Whether one or thousands eat,
All receive the selfsame meat,
Nor the less for others leave.
Both the wicked and the good
Eat of this celestial Food;
But with ends how opposite!
Here ’tis life; and there ’tis death;
The same, yet issuing to each
In a difference infinite.
Nor a single doubt retain,
When they break the Host in twain,
But that in each part remains
What was in the whole before;
Since the simple sign alone
Suffers change in state or form,
The Signified remaining One
And the Same forevermore
Lo! upon the Altar lies,
Hidden deep from human eyes,
Angels’ Bread from Paradise
Made the food of mortal man:
Children’s meat to dogs denied;
In old types foresignified;
In the manna from the skies,
In Isaac, and the Paschal Lamb.
Jesu! Shepherd of the sheep!
Thy true flock in safety keep.
Living Bread! Thy life supply;
Strengthen us, or else we die;
Fill us with celestial grace:
Thou, who feedest us below!
Source of all we have or know!
Grant that with Thy Saints above,
Sitting at the Feast of Love,
We may see Thee face to face. Amen

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