THE EUCHARIST AND OUR MOTHER
Rev. Michael Gaughran, S.S.C.
For us, in the Marian Movement of Priests, it is important that we enter into the contemplation of the Eucharist with our Blessed Mother. In all that we do, she asks us to share her own perspectives and she is, as the Holy Father tells us, the “Woman of the Eucharist” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 53).
For her, the Eucharist is not “something” among the preoccupations of her Heart. That Heart is Immaculate, which does not simply mean that it is free from sin, but that it is, alone among creatures, “full of grace”, totally flooded with love, reverence and adoration before her God Who had become her Son, and that same joy possessed her Heart when He had left the earth and now assumed the form of the Eucharist.
IN THE MASS
Our Mother has many beautiful things to say to us in the messages about the Mass. They can seem like a splendid heavenly commentary on something which occurs on earth, while she speaks from Heaven, until we remember that the Mass was experienced by her as her joy on earth until her Assumption. The fact is that we do not generally advert to the fact that Mother Mary went to Mass!
Of course she did. She lived with Saint John, one of the first priests of the Church, and we may well think that the Holy Eucharist was a daily event in her life. When she invites us to do everything with her, she invites us to enter into the sacred mysteries with her very own dispositions. Among the seven Sorrows of Our Lady, there is included the Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven, in itself a happy event, but for her a sorrow, for it was to be the last time she saw Him on earth. But that sorrow was eased by His coming to her in a new way, in the Mass, the One and Eternal Sacrifice, and in her Holy Communion (we shall say more on that).
This time, it would be a Presence which demanded total Faith, as He would be unseen, unfelt and unheard, but that Faith she had. She believed in His Word, which she shared with her new son, St. John, and she rejoiced to find her Son, Jesus. She was proud of John’s priesthood, was thankful for it and rejoiced to be able to form him in it, as she does with us, his brothers, with whom she is happy to share her experience:
“Enter today into the cenacle of my Immaculate Heart. Open for me the door of your priestly home that I may enter there as the Mother who loves you, who forms you and leads you, seconding also the desire which today, through his letter, my Pope, the first of the sons of my maternal predilection, has communicated to you.” (377b, March 31, 1988)
“Second my action, the purpose of which is to transform you interiorly, in order to make you all priests according to the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. The triumph of my Immaculate Heart cannot take place except in the triumph of my Son Jesus, who will reign once again in the hearts, the souls and the lives of each person and nation: in all humanity.”
(176b, June 14, 1979)
Mother Mary went to the Holy Mass as the One and Eternal Sacrifice of her Son. She would have had a clear idea of this, through the lights given into her soul. We may understand then that, when she speaks to us of the Blessed Eucharist, she is speaking to us of a mystery which she had made her own through her experience in her life with Jesus and through a life-long contemplation, profoundly enlightened by the Holy Spirit, as she “kept these things in her Heart pondering them”. With this in mind, we can imagine the horror with which she now views the abuses of the Sacrament of her Son, and the lack of belief which surrounds the Blessed Eucharist.
SHE LIVED HER EUCHARISTIC FAITH
Our Mother’s sense of the significance of the Eucharist, while obviously principally focused on Calvary, would have embraced the whole of the life of Jesus and its events: it was all an offering of adoration and reparation to the Father, a single mystery of obedience to His Will, which culminated in the Sacrifice of Calvary. It was not an offering restricted to certain events in His life, but the offering of a Person and, for her, a Mother’s offering of her Son, of Him totally. She had been aware of this from the very beginning, when the Archangel spoke and named Him Jesus, the “Savior”. She knew the prophecies, that the Savior, when He came, would have to be sacrificed for the sins of mankind and, to avoid any doubt, there was Simeon’s prophecy. She could not make the offering at the Presentation in the Temple without being aware that she was cooperating in an early step of her Son’s offering to His Father on the way to Calvary. She was already “Co-Redemptrix.” She lived in the spirit of sacrifice and offering throughout the life of Jesus and, with Joseph, had to form Him in that spirit. So her task as Mother included the preparation of the Supreme Sacrifice in Him and therefore, her living of the Sacrifice within herself. This adds significance to the words, repeated twice “The Mother kept all these things in her Heart, pondering them” (Lk.II: 19 & 51) – not just to be stored away as information in her mind, but to be lived alongside Him.
She speaks of this mystery, which embraces the whole of His life, in this way:
“In the Eucharist Jesus is really present with his Body, with his Blood, with his Soul and with his Divinity. In the Eucharist, there is really present Jesus Christ, the Son of God, that God who, in Him, I saw at every moment of his earthly life, even if He was hidden under the veil of a fragile and feeble nature, which developed through the rhythm of time and of his human growth. By a continual act of faith in my Son Jesus, I always saw my God, and I adored Him with profound love.
I adored Him when He was still guarded within my virginal womb, as a little bud, and I loved Him, nourished Him, caused Him to grow, giving Him my own flesh and my own blood.
I adored Him after his birth, contemplating Him in the manger of a poor and bare cave.
I adored my God in the Child Jesus who was growing, in the adolescent who was maturing, in the young man who was bending over his daily work, in the Messiah who was carrying out his public mission.
I adored Him when He was rejected and repulsed, when He was betrayed, abandoned and denied by his own.
I adored Him when He was condemned and mocked, when He was scourged and crowned with thorns, when He was led to the gibbet and crucified.
I adored Him beneath the Cross, in an act of unspeakable suffering, and when He was brought to the sepulcher and placed in his tomb.
I adored Him after his resurrection…” (360f-m, August 21, 1987)
The Holy Father, in a striking parallel, speaks to us of this:
“Mary, throughout her life at Christ’s side and not only on Calvary, made her own the sacrificial dimension of the Eucharist. When she brought the Child Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem “to present Him to the Lord” (Lk. 11:22), she heard the aged Simeon announce that the Child would be a “sign of “contradiction and that a sword would also pierce her own Heart (Lk. 11:24-35). The tragedy of her Son’s crucifixion was thus foretold, and in some sense Mary’s Stabat Mater at the foot of the Cross was foreshadowed. In her daily preparation for Calvary, Mary experienced a kind of “anticipated Eucharist” — one might say a “spiritual communion — of desire and oblation, which would culminate with her Son in His Passion, and then find expression after Easter by her partaking in the Eucharist which the Apostles celebrated as the memorial of that Passion. What must Mary have felt as she heard from the mouth of Peter, John, James and the other Apostles the words spoken at the Last Supper: “This is My Body, which is given for you” (Luke XXII: 19)? The Body given up for us and made present under sacramental signs was the same body which she had conceived in her womb! For, Mary, receiving the Eucharist must have somehow meant welcoming once more into her womb that Heart which had beaten in unison with hers and reliving what she had experienced at the foot of the Cross.” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 56)
And, we might add, all the more poignant, as she, the Immaculate One, was clearly aware that the price of her Immaculate Conception was the death of her Son!
I have sometimes wondered why some great artist has not tried to portray the moment of our Mother’s Holy Communion. Probably because it is impossible; such a moment is totally interior and cannot be reproduced exteriorly. But certainly the moment in which one of her priest-sons offered her that Blessed Eucharist was a moment like no other: the coming, once more, of the Eternal Divine Son to His Mother, the encounter of the Sacred Heart with the Immaculate Heart! She was once again in Bethlehem as St. John pronounced the words of Consecration, and again she adored; she was once again on Calvary as he raised the Sacred Host above the altar and pronounced the words of offering, the whole of His life was in the offering of the Holy Mass but, above all, she saw in the priest, not just John, but Jesus Himself, the One and Eternal High Priest, Whose instrument John was. And so it is with each one of our Masses; she is there once again.
Her presence at the Mass is not that of any participant in the daily Mass, but an active presence. Because of the fact that, as we have seen, the events which took place at Calvary share in the divine eternity, so it is true of every part and action of that day, including the part of the Mother. As the Mass is special because in it are renewed the events of the Sacrifice by Him Who is the One and Eternal High Priest, through the hands and lips of those who act in His Person, so too it is special for the Mother, Whose part in the Mass is also renewed. It demonstrates how closely she was united in that Sacrifice, and continues to be to this day.
She tells us:
“Let yourselves be washed in his blood, penetrated by his love, be generated by his sorrow, hidden in his wounds, restored by his ransom, redeemed by his new and eternal Sacrifice.
This Good Friday is repeated when Jesus is again immolated for you, although in an unbloody manner, in the Sacrifice of Holy Mass. The supreme gift of this day is mystically renewed by you.
But, close to Jesus who is immolated, the sorrowful oblation of your heavenly Mother is also repeated. She is always present close to every altar upon which Holy Mass is celebrated, just as she was during the long and sorrowful Good Friday.” (288 l-n, April 20, 1984)
It gives us a little look at the mystery of the soul of our Mother. As she was the Mother of the Child Jesus so, as she tells us, she is the Mother of the Most Holy Eucharist, and she re-lives the events of Calvary wherever the Holy Mass is celebrated in its cycle around the world. It is not that she simply remembers the events of that day but that she continues her active part in the Sacrifice. Of that day, she tells us what her part was:
“At every moment of this offering, Jesus willed to have his Mother with Him that she, too, might suffer and offer. In this, I became co-operator with Him in his work of redemption, truly Co-redemptrix, and I am, above all, the Mother of Jesus, the Priest.”
(291e, July 5, 1984)
She goes on to describe that part in these ways:
“[My Heart] was also the altar on which my Son was immolated, the chalice which received his blood, which opened itself to the moaning of his wounds, which was opened wide to the great gift of his dying Heart.” (131e, July 29, 1977)
“I am the sorrowful one because, as Mother, I formed, raised, followed, loved and OFFERED my Son Jesus, as a gentle and meek victim, to the divine justice of the Father.”
(334e, Sept. 15, 1986)
“EVEN JESUS WILLED TO OFFER TO THE FATHER ALL HIS SUFFERINGS THROUGH AND WITH ME. And it was thus that, offering my Son freely to the Father, I became true Co-redemptrix.” (44d, April 1, 1974)
All this remains in the Heart of our Mother as she accompanies us at the altar in every Mass that is offered. The gift of her to us of the Mother by the Son is renewed at every Mass. In another remarkable parallel, the Holy Father told us:
“Do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke XXII: 19). In the “memorial” of Calvary, all that Christ accomplished by His Passion and death is present. Consequently all that Christ did with regard to His Mother for our sake is also present. To her He gave the beloved disciple and, in him, each one of us: “Behold Your son!” To each of us He also says: “Behold, your Mother!” (cf. John XIX:26-27). Experiencing the memorial Christ’s death in the Eucharist also means receiving this gift. It means accepting – like John – the One Who is given to us anew as our Mother. It also means taking on a commitment to be conformed to Christ, putting ourselves at the school of His Mother and allowing her to accompany us. Mary is present, with the Church and as the Mother of the Church, at each of our celebrations of the Eucharist. If the Church and the Eucharist are inseparably united, the same ought to be said of Mary and the Eucharist”.
(Ecclesia De Eucharistia, 57)
IN OUR CELEBRATIONS
Mary is present at each of our celebrations of the Eucharist. As the Holy Father says, we hear those words “Behold your Mother”, with the same significance as John did. It was no ordinary motherhood; it was given in the context of the supreme Sacrifice, and John was to be formed by her in order to participate in the fullness of Jesus’ Sacrifice.
It is often forgotten today that the Cross is central to Christian life. This is so, not merely in the sense of recalling the events of two thousand years ago, with gratitude, but in sharing in those events. The fact is that, when we were baptized, we were baptized to be sacrificed, to be offered, in whatever way the Will of God would ask of us, and we cannot take part in the mystery of the Eucharist in a full way unless we accept that meaning for our life, and so put ourselves in our Mother’s hands to be prepared.
Jesus was not only the Supreme High Priest of the New Covenant, but the Victim as well, and it was His Mother’s task to prepare the Victim for the Sacrifice. It is the same for ourselves. We consecrate our priesthood into her Immaculate Heart, so that she may prepare us as victims with Him, united to the Sacrifice of the Eucharist, as Sacerdotes et Victimae”.
“Now something is really changing: it is I who am living and working in you. Your heart beats in unison with mine; your mind follows my thoughts; your words repeat my voice; your hands repeat my gestures: you are, as it were, born again in me.
As for one, so also for all the priests of my Movement. All little children, nourished, kissed, caressed and cradled by me.
So that I may place them all, with much love, on the wood of their cross, I must prepare them for this ineffable and painful moment. They, like my Son Jesus, will have to be immolated on the cross for the salvation of the world.
Let them entrust themselves therefore to me like little children. The Heart of their Mother will be the altar on which they will be immolated, victims acceptable to God for his triumph.”
(61c-f, November 19, 1974)
We should note that this spirit of being offered as victims is right at the heart of the spirit of the Marian Movement of Priests.
Our Mother’s preparation of us for our place in the Eucharistic Sacrifice does not simply relate to the care with which we perform the rite, obedient to the instructions of the Magisterium. It is obvious that we should do this, and with the greatest reverence and care. But our Mother reminds us:
“The Sacrifice of the Holy Mass must be lived interiorly by you, in your life and at the moment of its celebration. It is above all at the altar that each of you comes to be like Jesus Crucified.” (148n, February 11, 1978)
For this, she must prepare us inwardly with light on this great responsibility so that, as she says, we must not be just liturgically competent in our celebration but live the Eucharistic Mystery from day to day. For this we have consecrated ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of her Who lived and still lives that mystery to the full. To enrich our hearts, we need a light which must come through prayer; a retreat like this must be our help, offering as it does an opportunity for quiet reflection (and therefore we must seek some silence).
“DO EVERYTHING WITH ME”
Our Mother described her part in the Holy Mass in various ways, as we have seen. In particular, in the two texts we have just listened to, two very important expressions are present. She describes herself as “offering her Son”. This is not intended, of course, as suggesting that she makes the offering which a priest makes in the Person of her Son; that, she tells us, is reserved to us, but it is the offering which even we cannot make: the offering by a Mother of her Son. She has experienced the pain to its depths, (on another occasion, I have suggested the title of the Mother with the Priestly Heart). Then also, the other expression, she also refers to her Immaculate Heart as being “the altar on which her Son is sacrificed”. If that was true on Calvary, it is therefore true of the Mass. I myself like to form my intention for the Mass each day, offering Jesus to the Father on the Immaculate Heart of Mary, His mystical altar.
In this way, we can unite ourselves specially to our Mother as we offer our Holy Mass, uniting ourselves in a special way also to her motherly offering. We also ask her to unite herself to our own priestly offering – not, of course, in the sense of ascribing any aspect of our priesthood to her (which would obviously be totally wrong), but in the sense of asking her to watch over our human exercise of our priesthood – as, I imagine Pope Paul did, as he offered his ring to her at Fatima, would have asked her specially to watch over his exercise of his great office.
We have said repeatedly in these retreats that a key to living our consecration to Mary’s Immaculate Heart is given to us in a phrase repeated often in the messages: “Do everything with Me”. Our prayer, our actions and offerings acquire a new value and holiness by becoming united to that of our Mother and being offering on her Immaculate Heart as her own. As we go to the altar, we go with her, with her we listen to the Gospel, keeping in our hearts the events of Our Lord’s life as she did; as we prepare the gifts, we ask her to use her hands for the task which was hers; as we make Him present, we go with her in spirit to Bethlehem and, as we offer Him, we stand with her on Calvary.
This thought has another dimension. We have already referred to our Mother’s Holy Communion at the Masses of the Apostles, and the sublime holiness of that moment of reunion. We could be forgiven for saying (as in a famous eucharistic hymn sung in England) “Had I but Mary’s sinless Heart to love Thee with, my dearest King, 0 with what burst of fervent praise Thy goodness Jesus would I sing.” That hymn was written long before the messages began, and before our Mother made known to us the priceless gift of her Immaculate Heart: “I want to give them My Heart; for this they must accustom themselves to live always in My motherly Heart” (27g, November 27, 1973). That gift must be taken seriously and appreciated in all its depth: our Mother is telling us that we may use her Heart before the Most Holy Trinity, to speak to God through it, to offer our actions with her, to be a presence of her in the sight of God. This leads us to the wonderful conclusion that, in our reception of her Son, that same sublime encounter between Mother and Son can take place in us. We should ask her that it may be she to receive, welcome, adore love and thank Him in me – and she will do it!.
We have said it before, and shall say it again, that that gift of our Mother’s Immaculate Heart creates in us a very special order of holiness, totally unmerited and just the fruit of a Mother’s love. We must BELIEVE THIS. We must believe it, not only for ourselves, but also for our people, to whom we must make this known, and whose right it is to find their own Holy Communion enriched and to be given a special joy by this knowledge. There is so much preaching about trivia; as Pope John Paul told us, we need a second evangelization, renewing the knowledge of the great truths of our Faith in the heart, and perhaps this eucharistic year is one of the more important stages in this. We must help our people to see through the mind and heart of Mary.
We must be profoundly aware, both in ourselves and for our people, that this is one of the greatest privileges it is possible to possess: to live in and through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. To be in her Heart is to live already in the renewed Church, which is in her Heart, though as yet present only as a little seed.
The Lord remains with us after the Mass and wishes to find us with him. Mother Mary is always there, beside every Tabernacle on the earth, and this is where she wants us as well:
“For this reason I say to you: The times have come when I want you all before the tabernacle, and above all I want you priests who are the beloved sons of a Mother who is ever in an act of perpetual adoration and of unceasing reparation.” (360D, August 21, 1987)
It is a striking request, especially in these times in which a priest’s life can be taken up with many things, especially meetings and other activities. But is it all so necessary? It is perhaps harder, but more necessary, to pray! Our Mother Mary is asking something different of the Priests who belong to her. It is a call to give a different direction to priesthood in cultivating, as far as possible, the interior life, centered on the Presence of her Son who makes Himself available for this. It takes courage to be different, but it is the desire of our Mother:
“Jesus is surrounded today by an emptiness, which has been brought about especially by you priests who, in your apostolic activity, often go about uselessly and very much on the periphery, going after things which are less important and more secondary and forgetting that the center of your priestly day should be here, before the tabernacle, where Jesus is present and is kept especially for you.
It is not your pastoral plans and your discussions; it is not the human means on which you put reliance and so much assurance, but it is only Jesus in the Eucharist which will give to the whole Church the strength of a complete renewal, which will lead it to be poor, evangelical, chaste, stripped of all those supports on which it relies, holy, beautiful and without spot or wrinkle, in imitation of your heavenly Mother.” (330 x,C August 8, 1986)
“Jesus is present in the sacrament of the Eucharist to help you build this unity of yours, to give you an example of how one must love, in total giving to all one’s brothers.
Come to me together, therefore, that I may bring you to Jesus in the sacrament of the Eucharist, awaiting you in his silent immolation, really present among you in all the tabernacles of the world.” (259kl, February 11, 1983)
We speak of the unity which is needed in the Movement – this is the root of the unity appropriate, more than any other, to our Movement -before the Tabernacle!
This is a program requested by Pope John Paul II: he has brought us to our Mother and to Jesus in the Eucharist as the columns of our spiritual life in these years of the Rosary and of the Eucharist.
“During this year, Eucharistic adoration outside the Mass should become a particular commitment for individual parish and religious communities. Let us take time to kneel before Jesus present in the Eucharist, in order to make reparation by our faith and love for die acts of carelessness and neglect, and even the insults which our Savior must endure in many parts of die world.. Let us deepen through adoration our personal and communal contemplation, drawing upon aids to prayer inspired by the Word of God and die experience of so many mystics, old and new. The Rosary itself, when it is profoundly understood in die biblical and christocentric form which I recommended in die Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, will prove a particularly fitting introduction to Eucharistic contemplation, a contemplation carried out with Mary as our Companion and Guide”.
(Mane nobiscum Domine, 18)
The Eucharist, through our reception of the Eternal Son, places us within the life of the Blessed Trinity, eternal life, of which we possess everything except vision itself. In the company of our Mother, Who always adores that Presence in us. We remember the words of St. Thomas:
Jesu, Quem velatum nunc adspicio,
oro fiat illud quod tam sitio:
ut Te revelata quaerens facie,
visu sim beatus Tuae gloriae
(Jesus, Whom I now see beneath the veil,
I pray that I may receive what I thirst for so much:
that, seeking You with Your face uncovered,
I may be blessed with the sight of Your glory).
MMP INTERNATIONAL SPIRITUAL EXERCISES
Collevalenza – Shrine of the Merciful Love
June 26 – July 2, 2005