Jesus, Our Eucharistic Love
by Father Stefano Manelli, O.F.M., Conv., S.T.D.
We are publishing Father Manelli’s book in serial form in our magazine. The first six installments of this book appeared in issues number 4 to 9-10 of The Fatima Crusader. This is the seventh installment.
Father Stefano has been a priest for about twenty-five years, and is the Superior of the Friary he founded. His religious community, inspired by Blessed Maximilian Kolbe’s idea of the “City of the Immaculate”, tries to follow ever more closely the ideals and rule of St. Francis of Assisi. The printing facilities and radio station of Father Manelli’s “Casa Mariana” (House of Mary) continue to expand and are used exclusively to make Jesus and Mary better known and loved. Father’s Casa Mariana has expanded so much recently that they sent four missionaries to the Philippines to start a Casa Mariana there. Father Manelli, who has his Doctorate in Sacred Theology, is well known in Italy. His book, Jesus, Our Eucharistic Love has gone through at least five editions in Italy and over 100,000 copies have been printed. Although some of his other works have been published elsewhere in English, this is the first time that this very solid and devout work has been published in North America. Father was pleased to give us permission to publish his work in English as he looks forward to being able to reach even more souls through the mass media to bring them, through Mary, to the sweet yoke of Christ.
We are happy to present this our seventh installment of his book and we hope you will like it, as those who have already read Jesus, Our Eucharistic Love attest that it is a very powerful and edifying piece of literature.
The Saints certainly did not seek for more. They knew where Jesus was, and they desired no more than the privilege of keeping inseparable company with Him, both in their affections and by bodily presence. Being ever with our beloved – is this not one of the primary things true love calls for? Indeed it is; and, therefore, we know that visits to the Blessed Sacrament and the Eucharistic Benediction were the secret yet evident loves of the Saints. The time of paying a visit to Jesus is wholly the time of love – a love we will resume practicing in Paradise, since love alone “does not come to an end” (1 Cor. 13:8). St. Catherine of Genoa made no blunder in saying, “The time I have passed before the tabernacle is the best spent time of my life.”
Let Us See Some Examples from the Saints
|The surest means of remaining immune to the pestiferous disease that surrounds us is to fortify ourselves with Eucharistic food.|
|Padre Pio’s evident love for the Holy Eucharist is seen in how he said Mass. He said, “It would be easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” He spent many hours each day visiting Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.|
Blessed Maximilian M. Kolbe, apostle of the Immaculate Virgin, used to make an average of ten visits a day to the Blessed Sacrament — a practice he began as a young student. During the school year, during the intervals between classes, he would hasten to the chapel so that in the mornings he managed to make five visits to Jesus. During the rest of the day he made five more visits. Among these, one was what he considered always a compulsory stop during the afternoon walk. It was in a church (in Rome) where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed.
Also, St. Robert Bellarmine during his youth, when on his way to and from school, used to pass a church four times. Thus, four times a day he would stop and pay a visit to Jesus.
How often does it happen that we pass by a church? Are we perhaps rather thoughtless and callous? The Saints hoped they would meet a church along the road they were taking; whereas, we are quite indifferent, even if we find churches before us. Ven. J.J. Olier wrote: “When there are two routes to get me to a certain place, I take the one on which I meet more churches, in order to be nearer the Blessed Sacrament. When I see a place where my Jesus is, I am so happy, and I say, ‘You are here, my God and my All’.”
St. Alphonsus Rodrigues was a doorkeeper. His duties often took him by the chapel door; then he would never fail to at least look in to give Our Lord a loving glance. When he left the house and when he returned, he always visited Jesus to ask His blessing.
The angelic youth, St. Stanislaus Kostka, took advantage of every free moment to hurry off to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. When he simply could not make it, he would turn to his Guardian Angel and tell him quietly, “My dear Angel, go there for me.” And what a truly angelic assignment! Why can we not make such a request? Our Guardian Angel would be quite glad to comply. In fact, we could not ask him to do us a nobler and more agreeable favor.
St. Augustine has left us an account about his mother, St. Monica, which tells how, every day, besides attending Mass, she went twice to visit Our Lord, once in the morning and once in the evening. Another holy mother of seven children used to do the same, Blessed Anna Maria Taigi. And St. Wenceslaus, King of Bohemia, used to make frequent trips, day and night, even in the rigors of winter, to visit the Blessed Sacrament in churches.
Here is another happy example in a royal family: When St. Elizabeth of Hungary was a little girl and used to play about the palace with her companions, she would always pick a spot near the chapel so that every now and then, without being noticed, she might stop by the chapel door, kiss the lock, and say to Jesus, “My Jesus, I am playing, but I am not forgetting You. Bless me and my companions. I will see You again.” What simple devotion!
Francisco, one of the three little shepherds of Fatima, was a little contemplative, and he had an ardent love for visiting the Blessed Sacrament. He wanted to go often and stay in church as long as he could in order to be near the tabernacle close to the “hidden Jesus”, as he called the Eucharist in his childlike, profound way of speaking. When sickness confined him to bed, he confided to his cousin, Lucy, that his greatest pain was not being able to go visit the “hidden Jesus” to take Him all his kisses and his love. Here we have a little boy teaching us how to love!
We may add that St. Francis Borgia used to make at least seven visits to the Blessed Sacrament every day. St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi was making thirty-three visits a day during one period of her life. Blessed Maria Fortunata Viti, a humble Benedictine nun of our times, used to do the same. Blessed Agatha of the Cross, a Dominican tertiary, succeeded in making a hundred visits a day, going from her residence to a church. Finally, what shall we say of Alexandria da Costa, who, when bed-ridden for many years, was continually making flights in her heart to visit all the “Holy Tabernacles” in the world?
Perhaps these examples astonish us and might seem to us exceptional, even among Saints. But that is not the case. Visits to the Blessed Sacrament are acts of faith and love. Whoever has the greater faith and love, feels more strongly the need of being with Jesus. And what did the Saints live by if not by faith and love?
One day a resourceful catechist said to his young pupils, “If an angel were to come to you from Heaven and tell you, ‘Jesus in person is in such and such a house and is waiting for you,’ would you not at once leave everything in order to hasten to Him? You would interrupt any amusement or anything that occupied you; you would count yourself fortunate to be able to make a little sacrifice in order to go and be with Jesus. Now be sure, and do not forget, that Jesus is in the tabernacle, and He is always waiting for you, because He wants to have you near and desires to greatly enrich you with His graces.”
How greatly, how highly, have the Saints valued the physical presence of Jesus in person in the tabernacle and Jesus’ desire to have us near Him? So greatly, so highly, as to make St. Francis de Sales say, “We must visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament a hundred thousand times a day.”
Let us learn from the Saints to love our visits to Jesus in the Eucharist. Let us make these visits. Let us linger with Him, talking with Him affectionately about what is in our heart. He will fondly look upon us and draw us to His Heart. “When we speak to Jesus with simplicity and with all our heart,” said the holy Curé of Ars, “He does like a mother who holds her child’s head with her hands and covers it with kisses and caresses.”
If we do not know how to make visits to the tabernacle which include heart-to-heart talks, we should obtain the beautiful, matchless booklet of St. Alphonsus entitled Visits to the Blessed Sacrament and to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Something unforgettable is the way Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, every evening, used to read with a tearful voice one of St. Alphonsus’ Visits during the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament just before the Eucharistic Benediction.
Let us get started and be faithful in making at least one visit a day to Our Lord Who is fondly waiting. Then let us try to increase these visits according to our ability. And, if we have no time to make long visits, let us make “stop-ins”, that is, let us enter the church every time we can and kneel down for a few moments before the Blessed Sacrament, saying affectionately, “Jesus, Thou art here. I adore Thee. I love Thee. Come into my heart.” This is something simple and short, but, oh, so profitable! Let us always remember these consoling words of St. Alphonsus: “You may be sure that of all the moments of your life, the time you spend before the divine Sacrament will be that which will give you more strength during life and more consolation at the hour of your death and during eternity.”