Oct 25, 2014

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Our first reading is from the Book of Exodus. The Lord gave to his people Israel the Ten Commandments and lists of lesser laws. In the section we read, the Lord tells them that they should not trouble or oppress foreigners because they themselves were once strangers in a foreign land. They should have mercy on and not wrong widows, orphans and the poor. Why? The Lord had mercy on the Israelites and, therefore, they are to have mercy on others. The Lord has shown them love and, therefore, they are obliged to love others. We, too, are strangers in a foreign land. Heaven is our true home. After our first parents were expelled from the Garden of Eden, all their descendants have been wandering through the world estranged from the Paradise which God intended for humanity.

Jesus tells us in the Gospel that all of the laws and prophets depend on two commandments: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Our first debt of gratitude is to God. “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10” We are all sinners. Yes, we are estranged from Paradise because of the sin of our first parents, but we are also strangers to God because of our own sins. God loves us too much to leave us in our sins. He was not obliged to tell us the way out from slavery to sin. But he did even more than this. He loved us too much to leave us to our own devices to see if we might escape. He sent his Son to deliver us by his death and resurrection.

Just as he led Israel through the Red Sea, parting the waves to provide a path to freedom and crushing the pursuing enemy by closing the waters upon them, so too, by the waters of baptism he both parts the waters so that we can pass over to the freedom and grace of the sons of God. Then, he closes the waters upon our sins which pursue us. Much like Israel, we also find ourselves grumbling against the commandments of God and falling back into our previous life, back into our sins. The heavenly Jerusalem is still off in the distance and we wander in the desert of this life. The Israelites had the Ark of the Covenant and the glory of God present in their midst while they journeyed towards Jerusalem. We, too, have the presence of God on our altars and his holy words in our sacred books. For these reasons and more, the case is not that we have loved God and therefore he has loved us back. The contrary is true: God has proved his love for us and therefore we ought to return his love by loving him with all our heart, soul and mind.

But Jesus says the second commandment is like to the first. How can our obligation to love God, which is not merely an external or legal obligation but an interior necessity of the human heart, be compared in any way to an obligation to love our neighbor? First, because if we love God then we must love what he loves. “Beloved, we love God because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 1:19-21)” Second, we who have come to know the love of God have also learned that life not lived in that same love is dreary and leads to no good place. I don’t mean to say that the Catholic life is easy. We certainly struggle in living faithfully the life of virtue. But we have the true words of God to guard to us, to shine the light upon the way so that we can at least see the path that leads to eternal happiness. We have the sacraments to strengthen us, to heal us from every weakness so that it becomes a real possibility to walk that path with the help of grace.

But what does this command to love our neighbor include? Does it mean to simply accept wherever they happen to be? Does it mean to condone the sin in their life? Does it mean that we should put to the side our own Catholic beliefs, or at least not mention them so that we don’t offend anyone? Does it mean that we cannot bring the truth revealed by God into the public sphere? No. G.K. Chesterton remarked about patriotism: “My country, right or wrong,” is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, “My mother, drunk or sober.” A patriot loves his country and so hopes that his compatriots and government will live up to the great ideal and all the things that are best about his country. A patriot is embarrassed when his country falls short of those ideals and works tirelessly to remove those things which are not in keeping with the good that he loves. Similarly, true love for neighbor is incompatible with the idea that while our life might be the better for our relationship with God, for our reception of the holy sacraments and our membership in his Mystical Body, the Holy Catholic Church, perhaps our neighbor is incapable of all these good things. Perhaps the life of virtue, and the undoubted struggles and difficulties that will ensue on account of weakness is too much and really won’t bring happiness to others. Nonsense. If we truly believe that, then neither does our Catholic Faith bring us happiness and freedom. It is not love to leave another in the poverty of unbelief, nor the loneliness of being widowed, nor the abandonment of the orphanage. We, all of us, need God. We desperately need the experience of his love and we just as desperately need to love him back.

I’m not suggesting that we run about beating people with revealed truth or shaking our fingers and wagging our heads as we tell them what is wrong with them or their lives. I am suggesting that we meet each person and see their transcendent dignity: they are made in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by the blood of the Cross. Let us love them, because God loves them even if they don’t know it yet. He isn’t waiting for them to be perfect before he begins to love them – he already loves them just as they are. He also calls them, just as he calls us, to completion and perfection by sharing in his divine life. He wants them to be free from slavery to sin and live forever in paradise with him. We want that for ourselves, we should want it for others too. But it may take some time just loving them where they are at before they are able to receive God’s love and move to where he is calling them to be. And that should be no surprise to us: isn’t that how we are meeting God, too?

Oct 20, 2014

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

Last Sunday, we heard Jesus tell the parable of the Wedding Feast. The Pharisees knew that they were those who refused the invitation or those who mistreated and killed the servants of the king. For that reason, the Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They don’t go to Jesus themselves. Instead they send their disciples together with the Herodians. These disciples and the Herodians ask Jesus: “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” But listen to how they ask him: “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”

They call him “Teacher,” put they are not his disciples (disciple means student). In reality, they do not care what he is going to say, since they only want to trap him. If he says, “Yes, it is lawful to pay the tribute,” they will accuse him to the people, saying that he is not the Messiah, since he does not wish for Israel to be free from foreign domination. If he says, “No, it is not lawful,” then they will accuse him to Herod and the Romans as an imperial traitor. They are trying desperately to curry favor with Jesus by flattery, hoping that he will let his guard down and take them into his confidence: “we know that you are a truthful man and teach the way of God.” But, knowing their malice, Jesus says, “Show me the coin” and “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they reply.

Roman money had an image and an inscription on it, just like our money does. Our quarter of a dollar has the face of George Washington on it. The inscriptions read: “Liberty” and “In God we trust” on the front. And on the back it says, “E pluribus unum” (Out of many people, one). The money for the tribute had the face of Tiberius Caesar on it. And the inscription read, “Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti Filius Augustus.” which means Tiberius Caesar Augustus, Son of the Divine Augustus. The Pharisees and the Herodians had seen or heard of the deeds, miracles and teachings of Jesus. All of his works and miracles and even his teachings, had the image of God on them. His deeds and words bore the image of God, because He is the image of the invisible God.

St. Paul writes in his letter the Colossians (1:15-20): “He is the image of the invisible God, the first born  of all creation. For in him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and in him. And he is before all, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he may hold the primacy: Because in him, it hath well pleased the Father, that all fullness should dwell; And through him to reconcile all things unto himself, making peace through the blood of his cross, both as to the things that are on earth, and the things that are in heaven.”

We are made in the image and likeness of God. God said: Let us make man in our image and likeness ... and God created man in his image ... man and woman he created them. (Gen. 1:26-27) And in our baptism, the image of the only Son of God is sealed in us. We are so united to the Son, that we form only one body and one Spirit with him. All that the Son has, he has offered to the Father in order to redeem us from slavery to sin. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in Christ: As he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted in his sight in charity. Who has predestined us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto himself: according to the purpose of his will: Unto the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he has graced us in his beloved son.” (Eph. 1:1-6)

Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, says Jesus. We do have to pay taxes. We should be good citizens. We have to follow the laws, unless those laws are contrary to the truths of God. But now, look at your life. Look into your soul. “Whose image is it?” Is it the image of the approval of the world? Are you more conformed to the image of Caesar, that is the image of this world or is your life conformed to the image of the Only Begotten Son of God? What is the difference between your life and the lives of those who do not belong to Christ and his Church? Jesus also says, “Give to God what belongs to God.” And to God belongs not only my money, my possessions, my loyalty but also and above all: my heart, my mind, my body, my soul. Today there is no longer a Roman Empire nor a Roman Emperor. “Sic transit gloria mundi – Thus passes the glory of the world!” And one day, this world also, will vanish. But God remains forever, his glory is forever! “Give to the Lord, you families of nations, give to the Lord glory and praise; give to the Lord the glory due his name!”

“O God, almighty Father, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever.”

Oct 15, 2014

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

“And from the throne came a voice crying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great.” Then I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, like the voice of many waters and like the voice of mighty thunders, crying, “Alleluia! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” (Rev 19:5-9)

In our first reading from the prophet Isaiah, God promises to prepare a feast for his people. What sort of feast is it? The Sacred Scriptures, over and over again, use nuptial imagery to describe the relationship between God and his people. “You shall no longer be called Forsaken, and your land shall no more be called Desolate; but you shall be called My delight is in her, and your land Espoused; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” (Is. 62:4-5) The feast is a wedding feast. The Lord said through the prophet Hosea: “And I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.” (2:19-20).

When God led Israel out of slavery in Egypt, he had them slay a lamb, paint their doorposts with the blood of the lamb using hyssop and then eat the lamb. At the foot of Mt. Sinai, God proposes to them that he would be their God and they would be his own possession, that is, they would belong to each other. The bride in the Song of Songs says, “My Beloved is mine and I am His. (2:16).” God tells Moses to consecrate the people and to tell them to wash their garments, that is adorn themselves for a wedding, and to be ready on the third day (Ex. 19:10). It is in this context that they receive the Ten Commandments and other laws as bridal gifts. Among the laws is to remember the events by which God saved them from slavery and therefore to celebrate the Passover feast and the seven days of unleavened bread as remembrance of their God who had betrothed Himself to them. The Passover includes a number of cups of wine. There is one at the introductory rites, a second at the remembrance of the redemption of Israel from Egypt, a third at the eating of the meal (the cup of blessing), then hymns are sung (Psalms 113-118) and finally a last cup of wine.

Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a wedding feast that a king prepared for his son. The King is God the Father, Jesus is the Son. In the Gospel according to St. Luke, Jesus says to his disciples, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” (Lk 22:15) On the day before he was to suffer, Jesus took bread and giving thanks, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, “This is my Body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, said the blessing, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “This is the chalice of my Blood.” St. Luke tells us that after this cup, Jesus says that he will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes. (Lk. 22:18) But St. Mark tells us that after the cup of blessing, Jesus and the Apostles sang the hymn and then went out to the Mt. of Olives, to the Garden of Gethsemane. (Mk 14:24-26) If we look back at what we learned from the Old Testament we will see that something is missing. There should be the cup of blessing, then singing of psalms, then another cup. Where is this last cup? What is it that Jesus prays when he enters the Garden of Gethsemane? “Father, if you will, take away this cup from me: yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Lk 22:44) There’s the cup. And where does Jesus drink from the cup? “Afterwards, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said: I thirst. Now there was a vessel set there full of vinegar (sour wine). And they (the soldiers), putting a sponge full of vinegar about hyssop, put it to his mouth. Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar said: It is finished. And bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.” (Jn. 19:28-30) On the Cross and at the Supper, Jesus hands over his body for his Bride, the Church. On the Cross, the Supper is brought to completion. The Passover Sacrifice is finished.

Jesus rises on the third day and ascends into heaven where the book of Hebrews tells us that he lives always to make intercession for us (7:25). And how does he appear? St. John writes in the Book of Revelation (5:6): “I saw: and behold in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the ancients, a lamb standing as though it had been slain.” In his resurrected and glorified body, Jesus still bears the open wounds of his crucifixion and death. The last piece missing from this heavenly Wedding Feast of the Lamb is our participation in it.

At every Holy Mass, directly before communion, the priest shows the consecrated host and says: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” In this gift, he offers us the opportunity to partake in the reality now, although hidden under signs, the same reality which is prepared for us in heaven. While we are still here on earth, we taste the mysteries of heaven. This is the sacramental and liturgical foretaste of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.

Jesus tells us in our parable today that many will refuse to come to the wedding feast, although the Father will have invited them. Some will come to the feast unprepared, but they will be cast out into the darkness. We must be properly dressed in a wedding garment, the white robes of the Saints, who, in their baptism, have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. We should not refuse the invitation to be consecrated and sanctified, to enter into this intimate encounter with the Lord. But we should be prepared to receive him through confession of our sins and by prayers of affection and devotion. If we truly understood this great mystery, then we would give everything to partake of it. If we really understood the Mass, says St. John Vianney, we would die of joy.

Oct 6, 2014

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The Old Testament often uses the imagery of the vineyard to describe the people with whom the Lord made a covenant. “The vineyard of the Lord of Hosts is the house of Israel: and the man of Judah is his pleasant offshoot.” The image of the vineyard expresses God’s care for Israel. Taking care of a vineyard is time intensive. The field must be cleared, tilled, planted, and watered. The vine must be pruned, trained and protected against pests, mold and bad weather. Psalm 80:8-9 from our Responsorial Psalm speaks about how the Lord established Israel as his vineyard: “A vine from Egypt you transplanted; you drove away the nations and planted it.” What care the Lord took for his people, centuries upon centuries in his plan to save the whole world! And for a time, Israel flourished. The Psalm continues: “It put forth its foliage to the Sea, its shoots as far as the River.” The prophet Hosea (10:1) says: “Israel is a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit.”

But then the prophet continues: “The more his fruit increased the more altars he built; as his country improved he improved his pillars.  Their heart is false; now they must bear their guilt.” The more successful Israel became the more Israel turned to idolatry by building altars and pillars to false gods. Israel gave itself over to every sort of sin. The prophet Jeremiah says: “Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine? Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, says the Lord God (2:21-22).” And so the Lord hands over his precious vineyard to the nations around it, sending his people into exile, as the prophet Ezekiel says: “Therefore thus says the Lord God: Like the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so will I give up the inhabitants of Jerusalem. (15.6)” Israel was supposed to be a light to the nations by their holiness, showing others the beauty of God.

Jesus uses this same imagery in the parable we heard today. Israel is the vineyard, God is the landowner. The servants are the prophets, the tenants are people of Israel, specifically the chief priests and elders. Jesus is the Son whom the land owner sent at the last to obtain his produce.  Jesus will later tell his disciples at the Last Supper: “I am the true vine (John 15:1).” Jesus does what Israel could not do for itself. He is the true vine that bears eternal fruit. Jesus says: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:1-5)”

The question we are left with is whether we are bearing fruit or not. The Song of Songs says, “but, my own vineyard I have not kept. (Song of Songs 1:6)” Unless we are joined to Jesus heart and soul, we cannot bear good fruit. Like Israel, we become corrupted by our sins. But the Lord, if we allow him, will  still take care of his vineyard. If we refuse his grace and are unwilling to be transformed to the image of his Son, Jesus tells us that his Father will take us away from the vine. If we accept his grace, it will not be an easy thing to transform our lives: he will prune the branches, literally cleanse and purify us, so that we will bear more good fruit. This process will have its joys certainly, and the peace that comes with following the Lord. But it will also be uncomfortable. Yet, St. Paul tells us not to have anxiety. Trust the Lord and his peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. He tells us to meditate on whatever is honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent and praiseworthy. Then he says, not just the feeling of peace, but the God of peace will be with us.

Oct 1, 2014

Our Lady of Sorrows, September 15th

Today we celebrate the Memorial of our Lady of Sorrows. As it happens the memorial, which has a proper Gospel, coincides this year with the reading from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians wherein he writes them concerning the Lord’s Supper. He has just finished chiding them for their behavior when they gathered together. Now he reminds them of what it is that is being done. He rehearses the account of the Last Supper by beginning, “For I received from the Lord what I also handed over to you.” The point is that the Eucharist is not something which the Church or the community or the Apostles came up with. It is something that Jesus instituted and which he commanded the Apostles to continue: “Do this in remembrance of me.” Then St. Paul says something rather shocking, although we have heard it so many times that we may hardly pay attention to it at all: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.”

Our Gospel relates the presence of the mother of Jesus at the foot of the cross. On the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows it seems appropriate to proclaim this little section. This, of course, must have been the moment of her greatest sorrow. But the coincidence of these two readings: St. Paul’s teaching on the Last Supper and the Gospel account of what transpired between Jesus and his mother at the Cross, help remind us of the connection between the Supper and the Cross. And this connection is an excellent thing to reflect on.

In the upper room, on the day before he was to suffer, Jesus made an irrevocable offering of his body and blood to the Father for the remission of sins. The manner of this offering was as a solemn liturgical, sacramental and ritual sacrifice. In anticipation of his sacrifice upon the cross, he made that sacrifice-to-come present sacramentally under the signs of bread and wine and he made it really present. This is what he commanded his apostles to do as a remembrance of him.
And in order for there to be a sacrifice, there has to be a victim. A mere sign will not do. It would be one thing to ritualize the memory of what was done for us through the use of only symbolic signs, but that would not amount to a sacrifice in the proper and strict sense. In that case we would be offering to God something else than the one true sacrifice of Christ, namely, we would be offering our memory of his sacrifice. Now, that’s not a bad thing at all, but our memory of something is not the thing itself. But as with all ritual and liturgical ceremonies, a sacrifice must be carried out through signs – such is the nature of man – but it will need something greater than simply signs in order also to have the reality itself. This is the nature of sacraments. They are signs which pertain to divine realities and make effective what they signify.

We have reason to believe that such is the nature of the sacrament of the Eucharist. As St. Thomas so beautifully wrote in his hymn Adoro Te Devote: Visus, tactus, gustus in te fallitur; sed auditu solo tuto creditur. Credo quidquid dixit Dei Filius: nil hoc verbo Veritatis verius. “Sight, touch, taste are each in Thee deceived; but by hearing only can it safely be believed. I believe whatever the Son of God has said: Nothing is more true than this word of the Truth Himself.” Only the approach of faith makes sense of our Lord’s demonstrative use of the words: “This is my Body” and “This is my Blood.” Remember, in the Gospel of John chapter 6, our Lord uses increasingly stronger language and repeats the literal sense of his words, even to the point of letting some of his disciples reject his teaching and cease to follow him. He did not let them go away because they misunderstood him, but because they understood him quite well but found the teaching too hard. But in order to have this same one true sacrifice present, the same victim had to be present, which Jesus provided for in the institution of the Eucharist.

Because the Eucharist contains the same Victim and the one who offers is the same: the sacrifice of the cross and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one and the same sacrifice. Here St. Thomas is quite helpful for us to begin to understand the depth of this Sacrament which Christ has left for us. In the Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas answers the question of whether it was fitting that Christ instituted the sacrifice at the Last Supper (ST III, q.73, a.5): “Firstly, because . . . Christ Himself is contained in the Eucharist sacramentally. Consequently, when Christ was going to leave His disciples in His proper species, He left Himself with them under the sacramental species; as the Emperor's image is set up to be reverenced in his absence. Hence Eusebius says: "Since He was going to withdraw His assumed body from their eyes, and bear it away to the stars, it was needful that on the day of the supper He should consecrate the sacrament of His body and blood for our sakes, in order that what was once offered up for our ransom should be fittingly worshiped in a mystery."

Secondly, because without faith in the Passion there could never be any salvation, according to Romans 3:25: "Whom God hath proposed to be a propitiation, through faith in His blood." It was necessary accordingly that there should be at all times among men something to show forth our Lord's Passion; the chief sacrament of which in the old Law was the Paschal Lamb. Hence the Apostle says (1 Corinthians 5:7): "Christ our Pasch is sacrificed." But its successor under the New Testament is the sacrament of the Eucharist, which is a remembrance of the Passion now past, just as the other was figurative of the Passion to come. And so it was fitting that when the hour of the Passion was come, Christ should institute a new Sacrament after celebrating the old, as Pope Leo I says (Serm. lviii).

Thirdly, because last words, chiefly such as are spoken by departing friends, are committed most deeply to memory; since then especially affection for friends is more enkindled, and the things which affect us most are impressed the deepest in the soul. Consequently, since, as Pope Alexander I says, "among sacrifices there can be none greater than the body and blood of Christ, nor any more powerful oblation"; our Lord instituted this sacrament at His last parting with His disciples, in order that it might be held in the greater veneration. And this is what Augustine says (Respons. ad Januar. i): "In order to commend more earnestly the death of this mystery, our Saviour willed this last act to be fixed in the hearts and memories of the disciples whom He was about to quit for the Passion."

St. Thomas puts it more succinctly in his famous text called O Sacrum Convivium: O sacrum convivium, in quo Christus sumitur: recolitur memoria passionis eius, mens impletur gratia, et futurae gloriae nobis pignus datur. O sacred banquet, in which Christ is received, the memory of his passion is renewed, the soul is filled with grace, and the pledge of future glory is given to us. This only just begins to mark out the wonderful depths of the Eucharist. But until we begin to understand this connection of the Eucharist to passion and death of our Lord, we will miss much of its meaning for us.

And here we turn not only to doctrine and theological expositions of the Catholic faith, but to Mary. Mary is the woman “who kept all these things in her heart.” She knew docility to the Holy Spirit in immaculate receptivity to the Wisdom of God. She contemplated the Annunciation, she was filled with knowledge of sacred scriptures, as the references in the Magnificat demonstrate, She contemplated the Birth and hidden life of her Son. She contemplated him in his ministry to preach the Kingdom of God. She contemplated his healing power and the grace and authority with which he spoke. And she contemplated him from the foot of the Cross. Here, where our Savior suffered, where he consummated the sacrifice which he had offered in the upper room and left for his disciples in the future to perpetuate his sacrifice across the centuries, our Savior had another gift to give us. He gave us Mary for our mother, Mary standing at the foot of the cross – contemplating him in sorrow with a mother’s love. Mary’s knowledge of his sacrifice exceeds that of any other creature, human or angelic.

How many times and with what depth of love did the Mother of God contemplate all these things and especially his death on the cross, when she adored him in the Holy Eucharist at the Sacred Liturgy? Our Lord gave his mother into the keeping of the disciple whom he loved, in whose person we are all indicated, so that, we might contemplate his mysteries together with her who contemplated him from the beginning and has never ceased in her loving contemplation. He gave us to her as to our own mother so that with a mother’s love she might instruct us concerning the affection, tenderness and adoration which we ought to offer to her Son in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Seek the guidance of Mary as you contemplate her Son, hidden in the Eucharist. She will teach you to stand faithfully at the foot of the Cross, offering to him your own sufferings for the sake of the Church, in order to make up in yourself what was lacking to the sufferings of Christ. If we imitate her faith, we too, shall one day contemplate him, not hidden under the veil of the Eucharist but face to face.

Iesu, quem velatum nunc aspicio, Oro fiat illud quod tam sitio; Ut te revelata cernens facie, Visu sim beatus tuae gloriae.

O Jesus, whom veiled I now look upon, I pray grant that for which I so thirst; That seeing Thee with Thy countenance revealed, I may be blessed by the sight of Thy glory.