Monday, July 6, 2009
The little White and Crimson Rose of Jesus
The name of Maria Goretti has a special place for me. I would judge that most everyone in my generation has grown up having heard the story of the little crimson and white Rose of Jesus, St. Maria Goretti. Her story inspires such emotions in us, such a desire to bring ourselves to Jesus and His Mother Mary as pure buds, ready to flower into whatever vocation They desire for us, whether it be religious, lay people or as in the case of little Maria, Saints who gave their lives as martyrs rather than stain their immortal souls by committing a sin. And in that way, Saints like Maria Goretti become role models for young people in these modern times.
We know the story of Maria Goretti with surface knowledge. She is famous for what she obviously did, die rather than allow her relationship with Jesus to be compromised by giving into a sexual temptation. This is the obvious cause for her Sainthood, much as St. Maxmilian Kolbe’s obvious reasoning for Sainthood was taking the place of a fellow prisoner in the death cells of Auschwitz during the Second World War. But these are only the apparent. There is so much more to each life which calls for us to venerate them as special servants of God, true role models. We have written about St. Maxmilian Kolbe in two different books, trying to tell the story of this powerful man in the Church.
There were two other virtues of St. Maria Goretti which are so subtle, they get lost in the shadow of giving her life. One of them was selflessness. She cared more about her eternal soul than her bodily safety. And possibly even more than that, she cared about the soul of her attacker more than her own life. As we get into the woeful story of her life and death, we can’t help but realize that part of the reason for her determination not to give into Alessandro Serenelli was for his salvation.
Maria Goretti was a good little girl, a pure little girl. At eleven years old, she had such a love relationship with Jesus that she would rather die than allow her chastity to be compromised, rather die than take a chance on breaking relationship with Jesus. But how can that be? How could she possibly understand what path her Yes to Jesus would take her down? We’re not talking about St. Agnes or St. Cecilia or Saints of the early Church who gave up their lives for Jesus. This is the Twentieth Century. She is a product of this century. Where have we gone, how low have we become, that our young people can’t possibly understand how a girl from their own century could sacrifice her life for her morals?
Girls as young as eleven, are “sexually active,” have become pregnant, have had abortions often with help of their own mothers, in many instances, and those who did not die on the abortionist’s table, have died of AIDS in many instances. We’re at a time in our society when there are virtually no morals being taught or practiced either in the classrooms of our schools, in the pulpits of our churches, or in the homes by the parents of these children. Our schools are giving children condoms and parents are putting girls on the birth control pill. We’re being taught safe sex in an effort to avoid the spread of dangerous diseases and to keep the world population down. Last on the list of priorities is the prevention of the spread of moral decay of a civilization, which in its final analysis will be much more deadly than any physical disease our children may contract.
Maria Goretti is definitely a contradiction in terms. She is surely a paradox. She could not possibly exist in this, the last decade of the Twentieth Century, the end of the second millennium, and yet she is a product of our century. Either she is completely out of sync, or we are condemned for the apathy we portray to our children by our behavior. Either Maria Goretti is wrong or we’re wrong. Is it possible that we could be wrong?
But we’re getting way ahead of ourselves. To begin at the beginning of this short, but brilliant life in the Lord, we have to go to the far north and east of Italy, to the Marches, the harsh area around Ancona and the Adriatic Sea. For those of us who visit the Holy House of Loreto, it seems a most pleasant place to be. The month we usually choose, July, is not yet hot. The warm breezes off the Adriatic make it a most desirable time to visit our Lady of the Holy House there. But that’s July in Loreto. Not too far away in Corinaldo, where our little Saint was born, things are not quite the same. The winters are brutal. The howling winds coming off the Adriatic Sea pound against the rock-hard land, making it next to impossible to do any work on the farms.
If this is not enough, the Spring and Fall bring hard rain and flooding, ruining any small amount of crops which could be planted. No matter how hard the farmers tried, this was not a good place to make a living. For the parents of Maria Goretti, Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini, it was home. They had lived here all their lives, as had their parents before them and their parents before them. But that didn’t make their lives any more bearable. It was just consistent.
And this is where our little Saint was born on October 16, 1890. She was the second living child of the Goretti family, the first boy having died as an infant. She had an older brother, Angelo, and would have more brothers and sisters as time went on. When we wrote of the Little Flower of Lisieux, St. Thérèse, we said Saints beget Saints. Maria’s mother in particular, Assunta, was a saintly woman. She had no formal education, but she was taught powerfully by her Church and given, we believe, infused knowledge by the Holy Spirit. This love for God and her Church was passed on to her children, especially little Maria. She was baptized the day after her birth. Assunta did not want to have her child carry the stain of Original Sin any longer than necessary.
Under the tutelage of Assunta and Luigi, Maria grew up a very selfless, giving girl. She cared more about pleasing others than for her own comfort. Little things had great meaning to Maria. Perhaps because the family had always been and would always be financially very poor, she had no great need for possessions. They were not available to the family; Maria didn’t think about them. Instead, she tried to do whatever she could to make her family’s life more pleasant. She was a very normal girl, enjoying games and running through the fields. But her mother noted a strong spirituality in her from an early age. It never left her; it just became more intense.
Little Maria and her family lived a happy life in Corinaldo, but they were always on the edge. The land was too small and difficult to farm. Luigi did the best he could, but it was not good enough. He insisted that he could not take care of his family in the proper manner under these conditions. He argued they would have a better chance in some far-off land, perhaps the big city, Rome. The grass was always greener somewhere else.
Taken from Holy Innocence
Thursday, July 2, 2009
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“When you speak or preach,
always insist on frequent Communion,
and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
The Lord sends us special people to handle special needs, at crucial times in the history of our Church and our world.
From the time of Jesus, the little ones, the children, have been dear to the heart of the Father. We recall the words of Jesus in Scripture, “Let the little ones come unto me, and do not hinder them. It is to such as these that the
Children have always been uppermost in the mind of the Father, as they have been helpless and in need of protection. There have been orphans and street urchins from the beginning of time. Over the centuries, the Lord has provided for these little ones, by sending men and women to take care of them.
An epidemic of exploitation of children began at the end of the eighteenth century, with the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Inventions, such as machines for spinning thread, the power loom, and the steam engine, created a new way of manufacturing goods. It also created a need for massive cheap labor. Families were lured off the farms and brought into the cities to work in factories, under the deception of living a better life.
In the name of progress, a new phrase had to be coined, slums, to accommodate the unbelievably poor living conditions, to which these families were subjected. Mothers and fathers worked long hours, as did the children who were old enough to work. Those children who could not find work, or were too young to work, were left to roam the streets, on their own. Satan had a field day, turning these little ones into street gangs. Left to their own devices, many embraced lives of crime. There was no one to curb their behavior, or focus them in the direction of God. But God is in charge; God is always in charge.
From God’s vantage point in Heaven, He could see the entire history of civilization, past, present and future. He could see the crisis, building in the lives of His children, in the wake of this new wave of materialism, this frenzy to possess more goods, better goods, no matter what the cost in human lives and souls. God knew, He would have to send a very special person to combat this wholesale evil in the world and save the children. That person would have to be so charismatic, he could draw young and old alike. He had to be able to soften hearts of stone and convince others that the vision, the Lord had given him could be accomplished. He had to have a “can do” personality. He had to be a mover and shaker. He had to be a super-yes man. He had to be a Don Bosco!
Don Bosco was God’s gift to the Church of the nineteenth century. He was one of the most powerful men in our Church of that time. The magnetism of Don bosco reached out and touched souls all over the world, even to this present day. He was one of the most multi-faceted diamonds, the Lord has ever given us. In addition to being a pied-piper to the young, attracting them, embracing them, protecting them, guiding them, he founded a Religious Order, was an author, a super church-builder, as well as a visionary and prophet. His accomplishments were so great, he was loved by millions of God’s people and hated by God’s enemies. He gave all credit to Our Lord Jesus and to His beautiful mother, Mary’s active intervention, under the title of Mary, Help of Christians.
When I was a little person, the good nuns in my Catholic elementary school, filled my spirit with beautiful tales about Don Bosco and his work with children. Interspersed with the stories were accounts of miraculous happenings, to which Don Bosco gave credit to Our Lady. She was his best friend; She became my best friend, possibly as a result of these marvelous stories. When I grew up, naturally, I believed that all the stories the nuns had told me about Don Bosco, as well as other saints, were just that, stories. That is, until I came back to the Church at age 40, at which time the Lord gave me the gift of believing as a child again.
In researching the incredible life of this modern day role model, we found the same problem exists, even among his own biographers. Some of them feel that supernatural aspect of Don Bosco’s life has been blown out of proportion, that the instances of miraculous intervention in his life have been overstated, and we should focus on the man and his accomplishments, rather than the power of the Lord to work in men’s lives, in whatever way He chooses. On the other hand, there are those who picture Don Bosco as an empty vessel; they give full credit for every good thing in his life to the intercession of Mary, Help of Christians. To be honest, that’s the way Don Bosco felt about most everything.
We realize, though, there has to be a balance, that some of the incidents in his life make him so unique that no one could feel capable of imitating him. In the interests of keeping the man on a plain where he remains touchable, we will attempt to keep our enthusiasm, for how much the Lord worked in his life, to a minimum. But if we don’t expound on the miraculous in his life, we fail to give glory to God, who is the moving Force behind all of it. We also fail to give honor to this man, who allowed himself to be emptied completely, that he might be filled with the Holy Spirit. We have to give serious consideration to the words Pope Leo XI said of him, “In his (Don Bosco) life the supernatural almost became the natural and the extraordinary ordinary.” We really have to address that profound statement.
Out of the Darkness
It was the year 1815, Masses of migrants descended on the big city of
He was born of strong peasant stock, Francis and Margaret. Theirs was a large household to feed. Francis’ invalid mother, as well as a son by his first wife, plus John and his brother Joseph, created a major financial burden on the young couple. The fruits of their land were not enough to take care of the family, so Francis worked at other jobs to bring extra income into the house. It was while he worked for a landowner that he contracted pneumonia and died. John was barely two years old. John always remembered his mother’s words, although he could not remember his father: “You have no father, Johnny.”
With the father and main breadwinner gone, many families would have fallen apart, but not the family of Margaret Bosco. She had been given special graces by the Lord, to hold onto and provide for her family’s welfare and growth. She used them. She took care of her bedridden mother-in-law, a step-son, and her own two children. She had the greatest influence on Don Bosco. While he has been given the honor of being among the Communion of Saints, his mother has to be right there next to him, sharing the glory.
There has been an ongoing dispute about the value of absorbing huge amounts of information, compared with the simple, uncluttered teachings of our ancestors. Francis of Assisi distrusted books and learning. Don Bosco, on the other hand, was a great proponent of learning. We have to believe that a great deal has to do with faith. Where is the information coming from, and how does it glorify God? Margaret Bosco was very clear on that point. Whatever she taught her children was to point them towards God. Margaret believed that she was training her children for the difficult world they lived in. They all worked hard. It was good training for the life John would live as a religious. We can’t help but think, Our Lady had a direct hand in raising John.
The First Dream
Don Bosco was gifted with many dreams, visions and prophecies, during his lifetime. Actually, it’s very difficult to distinguish between them. We believe, his dreams were prophetic visions. There is a great deal of accuracy attached to Don Bosco’s visions, both for his time and for the Church of today. He actually became very famous, while he was still living, for the dreams, visions and prophecies he was given. In 1858, Pope Pius IX ordered Don Bosco to write down all his dreams “word for word”, for the posterity of the community.
Don Bosco experienced his first dream at age nine. He wrote it down in his autobiography. It impressed him so much, he never forgot it. Years later, he could recount the dream exactly as it had happened. In his own words,
“When I was about nine years old, I had a dream that left a profound impression on me for the rest of my life. I dreamed that I was near my home, in a very large playing field where a crowd of children were having fun. Some were laughing, others were playing and not a few were cursing. I was so shocked at their language that I jumped into their midst, swinging wildly and shouting at them to stop. At that moment, a Man appeared, nobly attired, with a manly and imposing bearing. He was clad with a white flowing mantle, and his face radiated such light that I could not look directly at Him. He called me by name and told me to place myself as leader over those boys, adding the words,
‘You will have to win these friends of yours not with blows, but with gentleness and kindness. So begin right now to show them that sin is ugly and virtue beautiful.’
“Confused and afraid, I replied that I was only a boy and unable to talk to these youngsters about religion. At that moment the fighting, shouting and cursing stopped and the crowd of boys gathered about the Man who was now talking. Almost unconsciously, I asked:
‘But how can you order me to do something that looks so impossible?’
‘What seems so impossible you must achieve by being obedient and by acquiring knowledge.’
‘But where, how?’
‘I will give you a Teacher, under whose guidance you will learn and without whose help all knowledge becomes foolishness.’
‘But who are you?’
‘I am the Son of Her whom your mother has taught you to greet three times a day.’
‘My mother told me not to talk to people I don’t know unless she gives me permission. So, please tell me your name.’
“At that moment I saw beside Him a Lady of majestic appearance, wearing a beautiful mantle glowing as if bedecked with stars. She saw my confusion mount; so she beckoned me to her. Taking my hand with great kindness, she said:
“I did so. All the children had vanished. In their place I saw many animals: goats, dogs, cats, bears and a variety of others.
“`This is your field, this is where you must work.’ the Lady told me. `Make yourself humble, steadfast, and strong. And what you will see happen to these animals you will have to do for my children.’
“I looked again; the wild animals had turned into as many lambs, gently gamboling lambs, bleating a welcome for that Man and Lady.
“At this point of my dream I started to cry and begged the Lady to explain what it all meant because I was so confused. She then placed her hand on my head and said:
‘In due time everything will be clear to you.’
“After she had spoken these words, some noise awoke me; everything had vanished.”
The next day, when he shared this dream with his family, everybody came up with a variety of interpretations of what the dream might have meant. However, his mother zeroed in on the message immediately. She said, “Who knows if some day he may not become a priest?”
There are Saints among us whose greatest virtues have been their lifelong battles against their human nature. Those of us who are privileged to study their lives, have a tendency to ignore what we believe to be their shortcomings, in an effort to go directly to their source of sanctification. When we do this, we miss the teaching the Lord has to give us by the example of His suffering servant. We go for the dream, and miss the journey. The sanctification is in the journey.
St. Bernadette used to complain about the accounts she read on the Lives of the Saints, in that they all seemed too sugar coated. She said of the Saints, “They were human beings with faults and weaknesses, like all of us.” Mother Angelica once said, referring to the authors of lives of the Saints, “They should all be given forty years each in purgatory, for making these Saints seem so perfect.” Bernadette probably felt the same way.
To the little Saint of Lourdes, the many gifts she was given during her lifetime: one, that of beholding the presence of Mary, the Mother of God, eighteen times in the year 1858; another, her ecstasies during those Apparitions, were just that, gifts. She believed that these were aids from the good God to help her get through a sacrificial life amidst a barrage of attacks, and to suppress her own fiery inclination to fight those attacks. She prayed the gifts would offset her imperfections, which included a strong will, a fierce temper, and a stinging tongue. What she may never have reallized is how Our Lord Jesus and His Mother Mary were able to use these traits for their glory.
We once wrote that Bernadette was a simple girl, an illiterate at the time that Our Lady appeared to her, but never did we consider her a stupid girl. Her behavior throughout the period of the Apparitions, her inner strength to hold up against great powers in the government and the Church, are a strong indicator of this. Her life after the Apparitions, and in the Convent of St. Gildard in Nevers, is proof of her strength.
We never knew much about Bernadette. As a young man, I became enraptured by the Apparitions of Our Lady to Bernadette, after reading The Song of Bernadette. I fell in love with Mary, but never thought much about Bernadette. Even the first time Penny and I visited Lourdes, we didn’t see or hear much of the little visionary. This is as Bernadette wanted it. With the exception of the Cachot, where she lived during the time of the Apparitions, the Boly Mill, where she was born, and the Maison Paternelle, where the family lived after the Apparitions, Bernadette is not considered a major part of the Shrine. But Bernadette is very important, both as the intermediary for Mary during that period of time in 1858, and as a role mode for todayl.
Once I got to know her, I came to love her. There is much in Bernadette which can be used in our everyday struggle to reach the kingdom, to be part of the Communion of Saints. We can learn from her. We can use her lifelong struggle for sanctity as a teaching in our own lives.
Bernadette at the time of the Apparitions
Bernadette once said, in reflecting on her life, that the reason Mary chose her was because she was the lowest of the low. “What do you think of me? Don’t I realize that the Blessed Virgin chose me because I was the most ignorant? If she had found anyone more ignorant than myself, she would have chosen her.”
She really underestimated her role in the Apparitions at the grotto of Massabiele in the little hamlet of Lourdes. Our Lady needed one such as she knew Bernadette could be. This was a very important message she was bringing the people of the world. She could not take a chance on trusting a weak person, who could be reduced to tears, or shot down at the first sign of adversity. She needed someone who would have the strength to stand up before the powers of hell, and Bernadette was that person.
Another time our Saint said, “The Blessed Virgin used me like a broom. What do you do with a broom when you have finished sweeping? You put it back in its place, behind the door!” referring to her much sought after life of seclusion at the cloistered Convent in Nevers. Without her being aware of it, she was exhibiting a great deal of depth of spirit, abandonment to the Lord, and humility. Penny and I call our ministry the Lord’s balloon. We believe we are allowed to rise as high as He wants, for His Glory, but when He is finished with us, He will stick a pin in the balloon.
Everything in Bernadette’s early life would agree that she was the bottom of the barrel, so to speak, if we were using the world’s mentality. Her family was so poor that they brought the poverty level of the area down to a new low. Her father hired out for wages just under what was paid for a work horse. Between her mother and father, they could not earn enough money to bring them up to the poverty level. At the time of the first Apparition, they had been reduced to living in a former prison cell, the Cachot, which had been condemned for being below human standards.
Bernadette was a sickly girl from birth. She suffered from Asthma all her life. She was undernourished as a result of the family’s living conditions. She was sent to a farm in Bartres, to live with the woman who had breast-fed her when she was an infant. Only this time it was because there was not enough room, or enough food to care for her in Lourdes.
She loved her family, especially her father, François. When she was sent away to Bartres during her childhood, he always found excuses to visit her there. She was the oldest, and for him, the most special. He grieved for his child, but could not see her being with the family under such austere conditions. So when Bernadette sent countless messages home to bring her back, they were unanswered. However, Our Lady had a plan.
Bernadette had been promised when she was sent to Bartres, that she would be able to study with the Priest there for her First Holy Communion. She was almost fourteen at this time, and the only girl of her age in Lourdes who had not received First Holy Communion. We have to believe that she was under the mantle of Mary all her life, but especially at this time. She was extremely good in her work, which turned out to be her downfall. She was given more and more responsibility as a shepherdess, which gave her no time to go to Catechism lessons. She found herself working in the fields all day long. The two children of the family she stayed with, left each morning for Catechism lessons, while Bernadette went out into the field. This hurt her terribly.
Shortly after she arrived at Bartres, the Priest left to enter a Monastery. When he left the village, the foster-parents of Bernadette felt guilty that they had not kept their promise to let her attend Catechism lessons. The foster-mother tried to teach her at home, but she could only read a little, and Bernadette not at all. In addition, the lessons took place after dinner was over, and all the chores had been completed. Under the best circumstances, it would have been difficult for the child to learn, but this was an impossible situation. She had a problem retaining information to begin with, and that, coupled with the fact that she was exhausted when they began, turned it into a disaster. Bernadette was extremely frustrated.
We see the first signs of her strong will crop up. She took the bull by the horns. She told her foster-mother she had to go into Lourdes one Sunday. When she arrived there, she confronted her family, insisting she be allowed to return home. She wanted to receive First Holy Communion, and would have to begin Catechism lessons at once if she were to receive in 1858. Her parents gave in. She returned to Lourdes on January 28, 1858, just fourteen days before Our Lady came to her.
Her insistence on going back to Lourdes to study her Catechism in order to receive First Holy Communion, shows her strength in the face of adult authority, and really the first inclination we see of the deep spirituality of Bernadette. Prior to this, she had never been considered a holy girl. She had always been good, very polite, and very lovable. But all the teachers, Priests, Sisters and neighbors of the Soubirous family interviewed after the Apparitions, maintained that she would never have been thought of as holy.
This brings to mind the Scripture passage regarding Jesus, when He returned to Nazareth after having begun His ministry. He spoke brilliantly in the synagogue, but the elders said to each other, “But isn’t this Joseph the carpenter’s son?”
The year 1858 had been declared by Pope Pius IX to be a Holy Year. He asked for solemn public and private prayer. Four years before, this same Pope, who had a great love and devotion to Mary, had proclaimed to all the world, the dogma of her Immaculate Conception, amid a furor that had not yet died down. Catholics were required to believe this. There had been a popular heresy spreading throughout Europe at this time, Pantheism, which claimed that man was equal with God. By this proclamation of our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, Our Lord Jesus through His Pope, Blessed Pius IX, declared that with the exception of Jesus, only Mary was conceived without Original Sin. This proclamation caused more problems than it meant to solve. Rumbling went on inside the Church, and outside in Protestant circles. It was outrageous to give this singular honor to a woman, they argued. Shades of Lucifer!
On January 7th of this Holy Year of 1858, Bernadette had turned fourteen years old. On January 28, she returned to Lourdes from Bartres. On February 11, she went with her sister and a friend to pick up dry twigs at the grotto of Massabielle. The Bernadette who walked out the door of the Cachot that day would never return. She was to be touched by Our Lady, and would never be the same. Her life would be changed forever.
“We take you to a place high in the sky, so you can watch the drama of February 11, 1858, unfold, where Heaven and earth meet, the Divine touches the human, and the world is affected for all time. On earth, we see Bernadette and her sister Toinette frolicking through the town, picking up a playmate, Jeanne Abadie. They don’t even know where they are being directed. Their chore is to pick up firewood, wherever they can find it. At the other end of the spectrum, we see the clouds open, and a bright light appears from Paradise, moving slowly towards earth. The little girls wind their way through the town, then down the hill in the direction of the River Gave. From our vantage point, we can hear choirs of Angels singing joyous hymns in anticipation of the miracle that is to take place. If we could see into God’s dimension, we would be able to witness these Angels surrounding and carrying the most magnificent creature the Lord has ever placed on the earth. Slowly, they descend from the Heavens, the drama building. We can feel our hearts pounding as the Angels and the Queen get closer and closer to earth.
The children approach the River Gave. They see a cave on the other side. It’s the Grotto of Massabiele, a garbage dump. But it’s dry inside. They can see sticks and twigs on the ground. Bernadette hesitates crossing the river, for fear she will catch cold. Her mother will kill her if she finds out that Bernadette even entertained the idea of crossing. The girls chide her. She feels a flush of anger and resentment rise up in her cheeks. She takes off her stockings and begins to wade across the water. At the same time a streak of light flashes across the sky at meteoric speed. We don’t know if the other children see it. But as Bernadette walks out of the water, she is thrown to her knees by an unknown force. Before her is a brilliance that is indescribable. It’s dazzling, yet there is a softness, a warmth, a shimmering, but oh, so much more. She looks to an alcove at the right of the grotto. She is speechless. The choir of Angels reaches its highest pitch as the eyes of Bernadette and the Lady meet. An electric beam rivets the gaze of the two together. Bernadette feels her heart swelling. She is afraid it will burst. She cannot breathe. She trembles; her fear turning into excitement, wonderment. She can’t take her eyes off the Lady. It has begun. The Queen of Heaven comes to speak to her people. God puts aside the laws of nature, and creates MIRACLE!”
The above article is from our Book, "The Many Faces of Mary, a Love Story"
Saint Peter Julian Eymard
Peter Julian Eymard is called, among other things, “Champion of the Blessed Sacrament”. He had such a singleness of purpose, in his great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament that he would Found an Order devoted solely to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and the spread of that devotion. That Religious Order is called “Priests of the Blessed Sacrament.”
There’s a teaching here, which we don’t want to miss. He went from Diocesan priest, to the Order of Mary, to founding an Order in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. Wherever you find the Mother, you will find the Son; wherever you find the Son, you will find the Mother. Wherever you find the Mother and the Son in the Eucharist, you will find the priesthood. We have never researched or written about any Saint who has not had a great devotion to the Eucharist, coupled with a great love for Our Lady. Peter Julian Eymard confirms this in his choice of ministries.
But his path to Our Lord Jesus and Our Mother Mary was not an easy one. To begin with, there was a great feeling of anti-clericalism in
Add to that Peter's father did not want him to become a priest, or live the religious life. They were poor, and Peter suffered poor health. The situation in
At the beginning of his priestly ministry, he devoted his time to normal parish activities, but he felt a powerful draw to the Blessed Sacrament. The Eucharist was always the Center around which his life revolved. He proclaimed more than once, “Without it, I would have been lost.”
One time, while carrying the Consecrated Host in procession on
“My soul was flooded with faith and love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Those two hours seemed but a moment. I laid, at the Feet of our Lord, the Church in France, myself, and everybody throughout the world. My eyes were filled with tears: it was as though my heart were under the wine-press. I longed, at that moment, for all hearts to have been within my own and to have been fired with the zeal of
He left the diocesan life to enter the Marist community, where he had been a novice in 1829. When he was leaving the diocese to enter the Marists, his sisters begged him to reconsider. he told them, "God calls me now. Tomorrow will be too late."
Even during his time with the Marists, he couldn’t help pondering and meditating on the Eucharist. A pivotal point in his life occurred on a pilgrimage to a local Marian shrine in 1851, Our Lady of Fourvieres. The Lord put a thought into his head, and he could not get it out of his mind. There was no Order devoted to the Blessed Sacrament! In his own words,
“One idea haunted me, and it was this; that Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament had no Religious Institute to glorify His mystery of love, whose only object was entire consecration to Its service. There ought to be one....I promised Mary to devote myself to this end. It was still all very vague and I had no idea of leaving the Order (Marists).”
[Author’s Note: When you hear the words, haunted, or “I couldn’t get it out of my mind”, you know it’s the Lord. Blessed Juliana of Liege, whom the Lord used, to institute a Feast Day in honor of the Blessed Sacrament, expressed her feelings in the same way. She had a vision which haunted her day and night. Everywhere she went, every day, it was there. So, my brothers and sisters, if you feel an overpowering feeling that has to do with the Eucharist, in particular, you can be pretty sure it’s the Lord hounding you (like the hounds of Heaven which
He felt he couldn’t hold back any longer. The burning inside of his heart to protect, adore and give honor to his God, Jesus in the Eucharist, took over his entire being. He presented his idea for a new Order of the Blessed Sacrament to his Superior General, who told him to wait. Obedience, being at the zenith of his vows, he waited. He was still chomping at the bit, but because his
They had to change houses in 1858, and they moved into a small chapel in
[An aside - Mother Angelica's order, Poor Clares of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration was founded in
In 1859, Pope Pius IX greatly praised the movement. Spurred on by that endorsement, the Order grew in leaps and bounds. More houses were opened in
Once he had received the praises of Blessed Pope Pius IX, his community began to spread its wings all over the world. Communities of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament can be found all over the world, in
He was a staunch soldier in defense of the Eucharist and Eucharistic devotion. Although he was known to be kind and gentle, he had no problem getting up and letting the church of any given country know how they were offending the Lord by their behavior.
It was his first trip to
He continued with his tirade against
In researching the life of St. Peter Julian Eymard, we found that he truly put everything into the Hands of the Lord through the Blessed Sacrament. An example of this was when he wanted to go to
His great work for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and his ongoing work for the Faithful to receive frequent Communion was endorsed and encouraged by many popes. Even after his death, St. Pope Pius X gave his backing to frequent reception of Holy Communion in 1905, and allowed young people to receive Communion once they have reached the Age of Reason.
Peter Julian Eymard died on August 11, 1868. He was beatified in 1925, and raised to the Communion of Saints by Blessed Pope John XXIII, at the close of the first session of the Ecumenical Council, December 9, 1962.
St. Peter Julian Eymard leaves behind great insights into the Eucharistic life. He wrote many spiritual works.