A Totally Eucharistic Soul

St. Francis & The EucharistSt. Katherine Drexel Regional Fraternity
Regional Spiritual Assistant
St. Francis of Assisi Friary
1901 Prior Road
Wilmington, Delaware 19809
tel: (302) 798-1454      fax: (302) 798-3360      website: skdsfo         email: pppgusa@gmail.com
June 2016
Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,
In the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
may you enter the loving embrace of the Eternal Father
Whose Holy Spirit fills us with Life and Love!
The Lord give you his peace!
Our Seraphic Father Saint Francis of Assisi was a totally Eucharistic soul whose love for the Eucharist led him to revere all priests, even those whose lives were not as exemplary as they should have been. They give us spirit and life through the sacraments they offer and the Word they proclaim. All the faithful have a share in this marvelous gift of the  priesthood through their baptism and attentive participation in the celebration of the Eucharist.  The immediacy with which the celebration of the Eucharist ends after the faithful have received the Eucharist and shared in their Holy Communion seems as though the faithful are given a quick ‘good-bye’ with no ‘follow up’ or ‘follow through’. Nothing of the sort!  The Dismissal is a capsulized and intensely packed moment that carries with it an extraordinary responsibility and an awesome power.
When (Jesus) had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene…Then He appeared to the (disciples) … He said to them, ‘Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not be believe will be condemned.  These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages.  They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.  They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover…  (Mark 16: 9-19)  And behold I am with you always, until the end of the age. (Matthew 28: 20)  (The disciples) went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs. (Mark 16: 20)
From the moment  we sign ourselves with the sign of our salvation, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we begin an extraordinary spiritual journey through a mystical experience of our salvation history, and more intimately, throughout the Passion-Death-Resurrection-Glorification of Jesus. As the early followers of Jesus did, we also listen to and reflect on the words of our ancestors in faith.  As the first disciples did, we listen to and learn from the words of Jesus;  in the power of the Holy Spirit Who will remind you of all that I said (John 14: 26), we grow in the strength that will empower us to go forth and be ‘heralds of the Great King’.
Our Seraphic Father proclaimed himself as the ‘Herald of the Great King’ when confronted by a band of robbers. The robbers beat, stripped, and threw St. Francis into a ditch, considering him a mentally challenged person of little worth. They could not and would not accept or understand the freedom and joy that Francis had encountered when he allowed Jesus to ‘take over’ his life.  The Eucharist, celebrated well and received with the appropriate spiritual dispositions empowers us in the same way to be free to ‘be Christ’ and proclaim Him to all the world. We become ‘heralds of the Great King’. We are asked not only to bear a message to others in words, but to become the message in action, fearless of any opposition we might receive  for the sake of the Name (3 John 1: 7).   Human nature influences that reception.  Today we sense a growing aversion in many areas of our world to Christ and His message.  There are those who seek to follow Him with a sincere heart; there are those who follow the image they have created in their own likeness that responds to their personal situations rather than His Word; and then there are those who stand in opposition to Him, even going so far as to proclaim they are acting in His name.
Often those who seek to foster a love for the Gospel, the Church, and our Catholic Christian values and traditions face the same problems the first followers of Jesus, and all sincere seekers of Truth, faced down through the centuries.  If they are not physically attacked, those who seek to do God’s will and live in His Truth are beaten with barrages of negativity and harsh words; they are stripped of integrity by slander, false accusations, or even by an embellishment of the truth for the sake of destroying the reputation of the innocent, who are left on the ‘road of indifference’ or in the ‘ditch of discouragement’ alone to fend for themselves with their physical, and sometimes spiritual, strength depleted.  There is no stifling the power of God and His Spirit in those who seek His will.  We find strength in our weaknesses, as St. Paul reminds us when speaking of his own vulnerabilities and defects.  One of the great Fathers of the early Church, Tertullian, stated: The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.   What greater ‘martyrdom’ is there than the ‘witness’ of bearing with patience, trust, and forgiveness, an ‘ongoing death’ that seeks to destroy the soul over the course of days, weeks, months and perhaps years!  What greater amount of ‘blood’ can we shed than the ‘lifeblood’ of our time, talents and even treasures spent in the daily practice of our faith and its defense against the power of the one who is in the world’ (cfr. 1 John 4: 4).  The one who is in the world is always at work insidiously in the minds and hearts of those who proclaim a ‘heaven on earth’ and a god created to their own image!
The Eucharist offers us a bit of heaven on earth.  We bask in the light of the Son, and find strength and peace in Him. Once we have received the Lord in the Eucharist at Mass, it seems as though everything precipitates so quickly that we have little time to spend with the Lord in the protected solace of the church, chapel or other ‘sacred space’.  The brief words and quick dismissal, Go, the Mass is ended or perhaps, translating the words literally, Go, it is sent (Ite, missa est), are an urgent commission entrusted to all who participated (and the key word is ‘participated’) in the Eucharist.  Christ sends us out, as He did His disciples when He ascended to the Father, to bring to others what we have seen with our own eyes, heard with our own ears, and touched   (1 John 1: 1) – Jesus. The commission is urgent; thus the dismissal is immediate.  We have celebrated the mysteries of our salvation.  We have re-presented the Passion-Death-Resurrection- Glorification of the Savior.  We have actively participated in the Mass – we are witnesses to all this (Acts 2: 32).  There is no time to waste. We must be out and about with the Lord and proclaim Him with our lives!
At the very beginning of the Acts of the Apostles we read: (Jesus said to His disciples) you will be witnesses in Jerusalem … and to the ends of the earth … As (the disciples) were looking on, he was lifted up … from their sight.  While they were looking intently at the sky … suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.  They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? ( cfr. Acts 1: 1-12) The celebrant conveys the same command to us at the end of Mass.  It is as though he were saying: ‘You have celebrated the sacred mysteries of our salvation; you have entered the ‘inner circle’ of the Great King’; you have been privileged with His message and His Spirit to inform and remind you. The Victim is sacrificed, our offering is sent and received by the Father, the sacred communion that empowers those who receive worthily has been received and consumed … what are you waiting for? Don’t stand around!  It’s time to go and be the One we received. Drive out the demons of ill will, confusion, doubt, discouragement, despair by the spirit of goodness and compassion.  Speak the new language of Christ’s command of love that can be understood by anyone regardless of ethnic origin or even religious affiliation.  Deal with the deadly serpents of verbal and physical persecution for the sake of the Name.  Know that I am with you all days even to the end of the age (Matthew 28: 20).   Don’t fear the deadly poison of a world that insidiously attempts to corrupt mind and heart from within with seductive enticements and glittering allurements. Lay hands of reassurance and sensitivity on those who have grown ill through lives that are weak, those who have possibly given up … Be their strength … Be the Jesus you have celebrated and received to them.
Do not forfeit what divine authority confers on you.  Put on the garment of holiness, gird yourself with the belt of chastity (transparency of character and life) .  Let Christ be your helmet, let the cross on your forehead be your unfailing protection. Your breastplate should be the knowledge of God that he himself has given you.  Keep burning continually the sweet-smelling incense of prayer.  Take up the sword of the Spirit.  Let your heart be an altar.  Then, with full confidence in God, present your body for sacrifice.  God desires not death, but faith; God thirsts not for blood, but for self- surrender; God is appeased not by slaughter but by the offering of your free will. (Saint Peter Chrysologus, Sermo 108)
Spiritual Children of St. Francis of Assisi do not use prayer, personal sacrifice, and even charitable giving as an excuse to keep aloof from the realities of life.  Our Eucharist is celebrated sacramentally everyday at the altar, and then continued in the streets and our homes through our daily activities.  Once we’ve received the sacramental Jesus and allowed the grace of His Spirit to flow through our veins, we must ‘Go, the (liturgical) Mass is ended’ … ‘It is (or we are) sent’, to bring others, to lead the whole world, into the mystery of God’s love in the Sacrifice and Sacrament of Jesus the Christ.  The Eucharist is not just a goal to be reached but also a starting point that leads to greater heights in, with, and for God and His People.  The priest who acts in persona Christi (in the person of Christ) accompanies us as one of God’s People, and prays with and for us as one set aside to intercede as a ‘mediator’ between the divine and the human.  He too is called to be victim with the Victim that he too, with all those entrusted to his ministry, may share in the Victory of the Eucharist that fills the world with the Real Presence of an awesome God Who invites us to an intimate relationship with Him and then delegates us to be Eucharist, to be an act of thanksgiving in God, to all.
Continue to pray for all priests and those contemplating the priesthood. Pray that we priests live according to the Heart of the Savior in Whose person we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17: 28). Pray that we may be willing ‘victims’, if the Lord should ask that grace of us, that others with and through us may experience the victory promised all who listen to and live God’s Word: I have conquered the world  (John 16: 33).  Do not be afraid  (Matthew 14: 27; this verse and over 300 other verses in Scripture remind us that we need not fear for God is with us).  Greater is the one within you than the one in the world (1 John 4: 4) .  Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28: 20).
May the Eternal High Priest, Jesus, show us His Most Sacred Heart, pierced by the centurion’s lance that we may enter the door thrown open leading to the Father’s loving embrace; may Mary, Queen and Mother of our Seraphic Family, keep us in the depths of Her Immaculate Heart;  and may Our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi watch over each one of us, his Spiritual Children, with loving care.
Peace and Blessings
Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.
Regional Spiritual Assistant

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