“They treat me as a dead object.” (Diary of St. Faustina, 1385)
We know that this pains the sensitive Heart of Jesus because unrequited love is the height of pain which the human heart experiences. Jesus Sacred Heart is fully human, perfectly sensitive, overflowing with love and, therefore, pained by the real absence of His people before His Eucharistic throne. Jesus spoke to St. Faustina (the bearer of the message of Divine Mercy to the world) about this unbelief in His Eucharistic Presence and confided to her, “When I come to a human heart in Holy Communion My hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul. But souls do not even pay attention to Me; they leave Me to Myself and busy themselves with other things. … They treat Me as a dead object.” (Diary of St. Faustina, 1385)
Once, when St. Margaret Mary (the Saint to whom the revelation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was given) asked Jesus what in her was most displeasing to Him He told her that it was her inattentiveness to His Presence in the Eucharist. This should shock us awake just as the Apostles were awoken by Christ’s words, “Could you not watch with me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40) So if a Saint who had received mystical revelations from Christ hadn’t been as attached to attentive as Our Lord wanted how much more ought we “yoke” ourselves next to His Sacred Body in the Eucharist and as parishes and communities perpetually adore His Holy Presence?
He longs to gaze upon the unveiled face of His Bride, the Church, but she remains outside the throne room.
There is something to notice about Jesus’ loving complaint towards His sleeping Apostles in the Garden. Jesus highlights a kind of minimum expectation of the time we should give to prayer rather than a normative expectation: “Could you not be with me for at least one hour?” Rather than ensuring that we set aside “enough” time for a Holy Hour each day and treat that as the norm we should be open to the Lord asking us to abide in His Presence whenever He wants and for as long as He desires our company.
Are we open to being called to His side more often or do we presuppose that He would not want us to keep watch with Him for more than an hour? We need not limit our time with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration based on Christ’s minimum expectation by arbitrarily making “one hour and one hour only” into the norm. Rather, our normative disposition needs to be that of the Saints who went where Christ called them as soon as His summons was heard. Further, love caused them to peacefully abide there there as long as Jesus desired. We can become like Eucharistic handmaids, so to speak, by imitating Our Lady’s normative disposition and default posture as being one of sitting at the Master’s feet ever attentive to the slightest movement of His hand indicating His heart’s current desire.
“Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to your word” (Luke 1:38) As adorers of the Eucharistic Lord our starting point is to be with Jesus only leaving His Presence when He calls us out to invite others into His Presence. His Eucharistic Presence is then our source and the summit of all our Apostolic ministry.
Further, we must be willing to pour out—like St. Mary Magdalene’s perfumed anointing oil in John 12:3— our time and love at the Lord’s feet either in silent adoration or in tongues of praise as the Spirit enables us (cf Acts 2:4). Jesus knows our weakness, however, and acknowledges that, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” This is the place of tension where we are called by the Lord to stretch our expectations and dispositions through intentional and extravagant love. “Where you do not find love, put love, and there you will find love” as St. John of the Cross simplifies it. We must become more and more willing to allow the Lord’s “intrusions” into our lives by letting Him come and “plunder” our time, energy, faculties, and resources. In doing so, Jesus prevents them from the being dissipated on the cares of the world and transfers them to His sweet and kingly dominion.
“But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may plunder his house” (Mark 3:27). How willing are we to allow Jesus to plunder our houses? To steal our time? Our plans? To steal our hearts and allow Him to take everything? He is like a thief in the night for whom we must keep all the windows and doors unlocked!
We must surrender to Christ the deed to our house where all our possessions reside so that Jesus can move freely, dispossessing us of all our possessions so that He Himself may become our only possession; our pearl of great price. We must become possessed then of Christ’s Spirit! We must allow this “Holy Spirit possession.” This is true freedom: to be freed from sin and freed for love by the Son who alone makes us free (cf. John 8:36). We must choose self-forgetful love or we will continually be saddened at the remembrance of our many possessions like the rich young man (cf. Matthew 19:16-30).
The “one thing” we and the rich young man lack is the total freedom to follow Christ wherever He leads. In our current state, however, the weakness of our sinful flesh (which Jesus highlighted in the Garden of Gesthemene) paradoxically is strong enough to bind the willingness of our spirit to respond to the Lord’s summons to “keep watch and pray” (Matthew 26:41). We are rich with the goods and cares of the world like the rich young man but spiritually impoverished by our very flesh which enjoys them so much.
The spirit is indeed willing but the flesh is weak wherever it is still bound by some sin or attachment. As St. John of the Cross’s word of wisdom reminds us one remains bound by a rope just as by a thread so long as that thread is still holding fast. Hence the need for Christ to come to our sleeping, bound up spirits and rouse them awake as He did in the Garden for His Apostles! Jesus’ authority to “bind and loose” is continual work in our lives of binding the dispositions of the sinful flesh—which interrupt and delay the good we are called to do— and steadfastly loosing the ropes and threads which keep us enslaved to sin and various attachments.
Romans 7:19-21 speaks of the opposition which exists between the willing spirit and the sinful flesh, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.” So we must let Christ, Who is stronger than this “evil close at hand” within us, to be about His Father’s business of deliverance and healing in our lives by frequenting His Eucharistic Presence where He ministers to our every need. Zeal for His Father’s house consumes Jesus (cf. John 2:17) and that same Spirit of zealous love will consume our imperfections to the extent that we allow Him the opportunities to enflame our hearts more and more by drawing near the “Burning Furnace of Charity” (see the Litany of the Sacred Heart).
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Matthew 27:37)
Yet, as individuals and as a Church we keep Jesus waiting and do not give Him opportunities to free us! We then wonder when He will deliver us from evil!
When, many wonder for example, will we be delivered of the evil of abortion in our world? However, does not this particular evil stem from society’s lack of recognition of the gift of that newly created life; a certain “unbelief” about the presence of life in the womb? Many are unwilling to “see” the little person hidden underneath the veil the mother’s sanctuary-like womb. A sacred presence of the image of God is borne within her yet the gift is unrecognized and therefore too often “treated as a dead object” just as Jesus’ Presence in our sanctuaries is “despised and rejected”; or at least ignored and unloved.
Hear in the following prophetic complaint a foreshadowing of the neglect given to Jesus in the Eucharist: “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3).
“He came to His own home but His own people received Him not.” (John 1:11)
Imagine if the members of the Church were all enkindled with the fire of “Eucharistic amazement” and recognized Jesus there, proclaiming His Presence like the Apostle John, “It is the Lord!” Like Peter diving into the sea so that he could be near Jesus as soon as possible we, I think, would have to tear people off of the roof tops of our Churches because they would be so desperate to even touch the hem of His garment (cf. Matthew 9:21) let alone receive all His fullness in Holy Communion! It is this type of Eucharistic love by which Jesus wishes to be lifted high in order to “draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32). The magnetic and desperate attraction of love should have us as a Church eager to catch even just a glimpse of Jesus just like Zacchaeus (cf. Luke 19:1-9).
It should cause us to cry out for healing and salvation like blind Bartimaeus shouting at the top of his lungs, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Luke 18:38) Further, our faith would save not just us but those for whom we would zealously bring before the Master’s feet in passionate intercessory prayer both at Mass and during Eucharistic Adoration. As a Church we must lower our paralyzed and broken culture before the countenance Divine Mercy confident of the power of His saving gaze to ignite faithful repentance and revivify society out of its moral paralysis.
“Awake, O sleeper!” (Ephesians 5:14)
Jesus has given Himself to us in the sacraments and especially in the Eucharist in order to resurrect us to new life and love. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. And this bread, which is my flesh, I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51) Yet, how far we have fallen from the source of our life! How long will we wait—how long will we make Jesus wait— before we rouse from sleep and sprint towards the summit of holiness, the Eucharistic meal which Christ’s Body provides for us.
He will cause us to share in His Divine Life to the extent that we allow the light radiating from His Eucharistic countenance to penetrate even the dark corners of our hearts. The Church’s faith in the Eucharist is like sleeping beauty in need of a wake-up call from Heaven! “But when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it is said, ’Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.’ Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:13-17ff).
Let us awake from the prophetic dream of St. John Bosco to see Heaven kissing earth at the consecration occurring on our altars. St. John Bosco was shown in a dream a huge boat which represented the Church. This boat was being tossed by violent waves while under siege from all sides. In the midst of this crisis the helmsman, the Pope, desperately tried to anchor the boat to two pillars. First, to a taller pillar on top of which was the Eucharist. Second, to a shorter pillar atop which was Our Lady. The meaning of the dream was caught by Pope St. John Paul II in his countless proclamations Christ’s Real Presence and the Church’s real need to abide with Him. Hence, the voice of Christ speaking through His vicar urging of the Bishops, Pastors, and lay people of the Church to pray—to beg!— for the grace of Eucharistic conversions budding forth from a rekindled “Eucharistic amazement” in the Church.
This is the way forward toward effectively evangelizing our culture of death: a resurrected awareness and love of the Body of Christ.
-Matt Malicki, MA Theology