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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
Before I begin speaking to you, my brothers and sisters, first of all I want to say Happy Feast Day to our heavenly Father: “Good heavenly Father, on this first day of the year, we wish You a happy feast day!” The Feast of the Eternal Father was established in 1971 by our Father John Gregory XVII. It did not exist in the Church before then.
How can we speak of the Eternal Father? What do we know about the Eternal Father? What can we say about Him? Jesus tells us the answer when He explains that He came on earth to accomplish His Father’s works, to manifest God to men. Philip, one of His Apostles, full of enthusiasm over Jesus’ words, asked Him: “Show us the Father!” And Jesus answered, “Philip, he who sees Me also sees My Father.”1 So to see and to know Jesus is to see and to know His Father.
Saint Paul says, I bend my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom all fatherhood in Heaven and on earth receives its name.2 When we see dads with their sons, you would say they want to see themselves in their son. Their son is themselves. It is the same for the Eternal Father. God made man His child and God wants, God dreams of seeing Himself in His child. We see this in the beginning in Genesis: God regularly visits our first parents, Adam and Eve, and communicates with them in intimacy.
Our heavenly Father! He would seem to need this intimacy with man; He wills it, He desires it, and He does everything to have it. Unfortunately, you know the story… By their sin, our first parents severed this intimacy with God. This manifestation of God, these familiar conversations, this intimacy: it is all broken!
Now, God loves man, and He wants to manifest Himself to him at all costs. What does He do? After a wait of four thousand years, behold the mystery of the Incarnation. God “invents” the Incarnation and the Redemption. Is this not the proof of an infinite love? Man flouted God, denied Him. Man turned away from Him to follow his own vanities and desires, yet God renews His relationship with him. But God does even more. Seeing that man is withdrawing from Him, He performs wonders, feats of love, deeds of loving genius: after the Incarnation and the Redemption, He institutes the Eucharist.
My brothers and sisters, we invite you to make this year a Eucharistic Year. That is the watchword, that is the wish. May this year be totally centered on the Eucharist. We ask this of all of you, my brothers and sisters, and of Christians throughout the world.
You who are priests, when you celebrate the Sacred Mysteries, do it with faith, respect and attention: attention of mind, intelligence, heart. May your heart be present, may your entire being be present! Leave all distractions, all other occupations behind. What are other occupations when we are preparing to offer Holy Mass? Nothing, nothing at all! Be attentive in order to avoid celebrating the Sacred Mysteries distractedly. You have always been attentive, but this year I ask it of you more particularly. May your Masses be totally divine. When you hold the bread in your hands, may it be truly Jesus who says: “This is My Body, this is My Blood.” God comes, He becomes incarnate and He immolates Himself in your hands. Each priest ought to be an extension of Mary. We should celebrate or attend the Sacred Mysteries with the same veneration as Mary, that is, with attention and love, as She did at the moment when the Son of God became incarnate in Her.
And you who are not priests, may your Communions this year be fervent, attentive. Be attentive to this immense, amazing fact: you are receiving Jesus, you are receiving God Himself. Who can imagine it? How can it be that we Christians draw near so easily and – unfortunately! – so distractedly, to the Sacred Mysteries: Communion, Jesus, God in the Eucharist?
I would also ask – especially our religious – to devote time to adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Jesus in the Eucharist. This is a very pressing invitation. May this request be transmitted: as much adoration as possible! May Christians – religious – adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. We place ourselves in the presence of Jesus, we adore Him, we contemplate Him. We contemplate Him as the Apostles did: “Philip, he who sees Me also sees My Father.” We see Him, He is there, in His Body, His Blood, His Soul and His Divinity. Let us disregard appearances in an act of faith; Jesus is asking us to do it.
May this year therefore be a year of adoration, of Holy Masses, of fervent Communions. What a chance we have today! In the past, it was more difficult to receive Communion, but we – especially the religious – have the chance of being able to receive Communion every day, and even several times a day!
The Most Holy Eucharist is Jesus, it is God. He willed it to be so: “This is My Body, this is My Blood.” The Eucharist is the Body, the Blood, the Soul and the Divinity of Jesus. It is even more: it is the Body, the Blood, the Soul and the Divinity of Jesus making Himself our food. The contemporaries of Jesus saw Him, mixed with Him, heard Him. We have something more: Jesus comes in us.
It is a natural law that a superior being assimilates an inferior being. You see, we eat several times a day. In us, our food does not remain a potato, a grain of corn or a tortilla, not even bread or dessert. We assimilate this food and it becomes us. When we receive Communion, the superior Being is the Eucharist, it is God Himself. If the soul receives Communion attentively, with fervor and devotion, our being is transformed and becomes Jesus.
Have you never heard these words of Scripture: I say to you: you are gods.3 Those are strong words, aren’t they? We write “gods” with a small “g”! When you really make a fervent Communion, God comes in you, He transforms you, He lives in you, it is you who become god. And after you have received Communion, it is God who moves about through you. If you remain attentive to this God living in you, and if you contemplate Him and impregnate yourself with Him, with His example, His word, His thought, Himself, then it is God who is moving about. You are a living, walking tabernacle.
I wish this for you this year, I wish it for the Church: may each one of us, may each Christian become a little god, a continuation of Jesus, a Jesus remaining active on this earth. This takes place according to the attention we put into it.
When Jesus came down on earth and worked out our redemption through His incarnation, His life and His death on the cross, humanity was as it were in one of its worst moments. Today, more than two thousand years later, once again we are living in one of the worst moments of humanity. How are we going to get out of this quagmire, this impasse, this apparently insurmountable difficulty? One would say that we are in an accelerated race to the worst outcome, to destruction. It is like a contest to see who can do even worse than what we have already seen. Those who observe the situation a little see how incredible it is. How are we going to get out of it? Is that even possible?
It is in the plan of God to change the world through the Eucharist. And that is why we invite you to make this year a Eucharistic Year. It is the Will of God. When Jesus instituted the Eucharist, He did it for every era, but specifically for the times we are living in today. He knew! He knew the extreme difficulty we would be in, and He instituted the Holy Eucharist.
The Eucharist will change the world, but first it must change us. Perhaps you will say, “How will the world be converted? We ourselves are sick!” Do you recall, two thousand years ago, in the time when Jesus lived, they brought the sick to Him. Jesus asked them, “Do you believe?” – “Yes, Lord, I believe!” Others answered, “I believe, Lord, but increase my faith!” And Jesus worked miracles, He cured those people. It is the same thing today! And that is precisely the reason for the Eucharist: it is for the sick people that we are. Not only is it to heal us, but also to divinize us. A single Communion ought to divinize us, but because we are so sickly, distracted, a little negligent, we need more than that. The more we frequent Jesus Host, the more we receive Communion with attention, with love, with the required dispositions, the more we will become divine, the more we will become Jesus.
Man was created in the image of God. Where, then, does this image of God reside? In man’s body? In his head or his nose, in his ears or his eyes? It is far more than that. What is the essence of God? God is love,4 says Saint John. Because God is love, He created man in His image and likeness. He created him with love and He made man a being of love. But – woe of woes! – by his sin, man shattered the image of God in him. Thus he lost the true meaning of love. Today, everyone talks about love. It may be the most widely used word on earth. Everybody loves: we love our parents, our children; we even love plants, little nothings, all sorts of things. We carry love within us, but we have lost the true meaning of love through our sin. That is why Jesus comes. He wants to teach us how to love.
Saint John says, Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.5 Immediately afterwards, Jesus instituted the Eucharist. Because He loves, He wants us to love, to learn how to love. The Eucharist is the School of Love, my dear friends. Since the time that sin perverted everything, we live for the earth, we live in egoism, even hatred. Everyone lives only for himself. We seek pleasure or we cry over our aches and pains. Humans weep, but their tears are rarely tears of love. Most of the time, they are tears of spite or selfishness. Sometimes also because we hurt in our body, in our soul. Man does not know how to love. Ever since sin was committed, humanity has lost this idea, this knowledge of true love. Who will show it to us? Jesus, my brothers and sisters, and Jesus alone. He alone can show us love, true love.
My brothers, my sisters and my dear friends, I wish for us this year to learn love through the Mass, through Communion, through adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament. God needs Eucharistic souls who will manifest His love to the world. A Eucharistic soul is a soul in whom Jesus lives. He lives in that soul as He lives in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Jesus said to Nicodemus, God so loved the world that He gave it His only-begotten Son.6 God the Father gave us His Son in order to show man what is this image which He made in us and which He came to restore. Jesus comes, He becomes incarnate. He is born in a little manger, in poverty, in sorrow, in abjection, in suffering, in the cold, in the night, in silence. Then He grows up. All the way to Calvary, His life is one act of love which teaches us how to love. Jesus shows it through His entire life. He shows me the image I had lost by my sin. He does better: He will give Himself to me, He invents the Eucharist. Love will give Himself to me as a food, so that I may become that being of love once again.
The Eucharist is Jesus in the manger, it is Jesus hidden, Jesus preaching, Jesus making miracles. It is also Jesus praying to His Father, Jesus immolating Himself on Calvary, Jesus buried in the tomb. In the Eucharist, Jesus shows us all the mysteries of His life. More yet: He comes Himself to live them in us. What a great mystery the Eucharist is! All that Jesus, the Word Incarnate, lived on earth, that entire life of love comes to be produced in me. The Eucharist is the living Gospel, just as when Jesus was in our midst two thousand years ago. The Eucharist contains the entire life and teachings of Jesus. When you receive Communion, you enter into that Gospel, it penetrates you. But to that end, you must be attentive!
Saint Paul says, He who eats and drinks the Body and the Blood of Jesus unworthily, eats and drinks judgment to himself.7 We must draw near to the Eucharist with attention. I almost said, “with fear,” but I prefer to say with attention and love, for Saint Paul adds, …for not distinguishing such a great mystery.8 The condemnation is for those who pay scant attention to such a great mystery. We must pay attention!
In the world of tomorrow, we will have to communicate the Gospel. We will have to speak to people about it, for they will have to live it. This duty is especially incumbent upon us, the Apostles of Infinite Love. We know that God has entrusted the salvation of the Church and of humanity to us. We must bring the truth of the Gospel back into the whole world, so that the truth of the Gospel may once again be known, loved, lived. That is our career. Where will we get the flame, the unction, the conviction to preach the Gospel? From the Eucharist. But this duty is also that of all Christians. Every Christian must identify with Jesus. Where better than in the Eucharist?
Eucharist also means gift, total gift. A Eucharistic soul is a given soul. God loved so much that He gave His Son. A soul who loves is a given soul; a soul who gives himself is a soul who loves. When Jesus came on this earth, He gave Himself, He immolated Himself. He offered Himself as a sacrifice, an oblation to His Father for the sins of men. He is Life for us, poor sinners. Sin had given us death, we were like walking corpses. Jesus made Himself a host. A host is an oblation, an offering; it is something that is immolated. Through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and through the Eucharist, the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross and His immolation are perpetuated.
This year I wish for each one of you, every religious and every Christian, to be other Jesus Hosts. That sets the bar rather high, doesn’t it? It seems impossible, but that is why He made Himself our food. He is the One who will do it. How will He do it? Through your frequentation of the Sacrament of love: through Holy Mass, Holy Communion and adoration. With the attention of our entire being, let us give a great deal of time to Jesus Host. And when we are obliged to return to our tasks and occupations, let us live in anticipation of our next Mass, our next Communion, our next adoration, when we will be able to contemplate our Jesus.
There is no need for long prayers and formulas. Do you think you can impress your Jesus? Oh no! He knows you in depth. He knows what you need. Like His Apostles, let us contemplate Him in silence. You have nothing to say to Him? Come! You feel that you are empty, hollow, insipid, cold, a bad religious, a bad Christian? With all the more reason – come, come to see Him! Jesus tells us: Come to Me, all you – all! – who labor and are burdened. Come to Me!9
My brothers and sisters, dear friends, are you bowed beneath the burden? You have the ideal in your heart, but you suffer and groan over not being that servant, that faithful disciple, that true Christian, that soul totally given to God? You suffer and groan over it. With all the more reason: Go! Go to Jesus! Go to the Eucharist!
Say to Him: “My Jesus, I come before You, in Your company, because I need You. You are the One who instituted the Eucharist, my Jesus. You knew that I would need it in order to know love. I am egocentric, an egoist, I think only of myself! My life is dull because I think only of myself! My life is insipid, it does not have much taste, much flavor. How can You even look at me? But I come to You, I need You. I am looking at You. My God, I want to know You!”
I formulate it like this but you can do it differently, without a lot of words. Provided there is that attention, and the soul is in a kind of aspiration before Jesus. You want Him to come to you but you feel that your sins, your heedlessness, your negligence, your lukewarmness alienate Him. Tell Him again: “My Jesus, what boldness on my part! What audacity it is to come to You – I, a vile sinner who offends You, who forgets You, who is so easily distracted, caught up with all my little occupations. You fall into oblivion, my God, because of my earthly occupations. O Lord, what audacity it is to receive Communion. But You are the One who asks me to do it. You told me to come to You, that all those who are in need must come to You. You even told us to eat Your flesh and drink Your blood. You asked me to receive Communion. If You had not asked me to do it, it would be rashness on my part, but since You asked me, I believe in Your infinite love and I come to You, because I want to find a way! I want to break away from my vices, my sins, my vanities. I want to get out of my egoism; I want to forget myself. My Jesus, I want to become You. At bottom, I have only one thing to say to You: I want to become You.”
You remain for a moment at the foot of Jesus Host, and you come back again. You return to Holy Mass and Communion and adoration, because you need them. Continue and persevere. Pray, and implore. Then, infallibly, God manifests Himself. It is infallible! And He transforms you.
Do not make this prayer only for yourself, universalize it! Make it for all your brothers and sisters of the earth. Do not remain concentrated on your little person. Intercede and pray: “My God, permit me to be the delegate of my brothers and sisters. Reign upon the earth! Do something! You are almighty, I believe it. Work a wonder for me and for my brothers and sisters, a wonder of conversion, of transformation. When I receive Communion, transform me. Come, Jesus, come and transform us, along with all the souls of good will.” That is how we pray, very simply.
My brothers and sisters, on the occasion of this first Mass of the new year, let us ask that this year be marked by the Eucharist. May each one of our souls be attentive to Jesus Host, who has wanted to live in our midst. Do not forget: God wants our intimacy. That is His obsession. He wants to manifest Himself to us. You will discover Jesus, His thought, His love, through the Eucharist. I wish you intimacy with God. May nothing on earth separate you from God. Let us enter into His designs.
In conclusion, I say to you: Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.10 Spend a great deal of time with Jesus Host, let yourself be impregnated with Jesus, and you will be perfect. Jesus will make you perfect, as His Father, our Father, is perfect.
1. St. John 14:8-9.
2. Ephesians 3:14-15.
3. Psalm 81:6.
4. I St. John 4:8.
5. St. John 13:1.
6. St. John 3:16.
7. I Corinthians 11:29.
9. Cf. St. Matthew 11:28.
10. St. Matthew 5:48.
Go to Communion, my brothers and sisters, and say, “My God, give me the strength to amend my life, to make it comply with Your holy Will!” Even if you repeated only that, you would obtain great graces of transformation… The sources of grace are in prayer and especially in the Eucharist. It is through prayer and reception of the sacraments that we receive the grace of God.
Father John Gregory of the Trinity