“He is here!” – St. John Vianney
We must totally transform our pastoral efforts and make them heroically Eucharistic. The patron saint of priests, St. John Vianney, knew the primary importance of drawing the Church’s gaze towards Eucharistic Adoration when walked up to the pulpit and preached his famously fiery yet very short sermon. Pointing toward the tabernacle he shouted: “He is HERE! He IS here! HE is here!” He descended from the pulpit and took his seat. His parishioners heard him loud and clear. They knew where their Priest’s pastoral focal point was: revivifying faith in the Real Presence.
Our Priests need to imitate this kind of John the Baptist-like preaching; “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:29) The Priest is the “Friend of the Bridegroom” who must rejoice greatly at the Bridegroom’s presence and voice so that the Bride will be stirred up in love. She shall respond to the call of the Bridegroom “as in the days of her youth” (Hosea 2:15) and return to the love which she had at first for Christ’s resurrected and glorified flesh (cf. Rev 2:4).
The Church will draw near and abide in Holy Communion with Christ’s Body in the Eucharist so that the Church may more and more be one with Him entering into a New Springtime of extravagant love; a second honeymoon, if you will, coalescing into a New Pentecost. “My beloved speaks and says to me: ‘Arise, my love, my dove, my fair one, and come away; for behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of pruning has come, and the rice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is comely.’” (Song of Solomon 2:10-14)
May the Bride of Christ console His heart with the constant vision of her face praising Him with her sweet voice and abiding in ever growing union with Him in Holy Communion. Here is the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary: worldwide, perpetual, Eucharistic adoration. O Mary, teach the Church how to be the Bride which your Son deserves! He deserves our constant attention and love! He deserves that every parish attend to His presence at all hours! He wants to be constantly with the one He loves. He wants to be with us. Let us give Him what He wants.
“You have forgotten the love you had at first.” (Revelation 2:4)
For his to happen, however, our pastoral efforts as a Church must be redirected and renewed in “Eucharistic amazement.” The modern Church has largely lacked the miraculous fruits proper to the power and presence of Christ in the world precisely because many pastors and laborers in the Lord’s vineyard have forgotten the first love of the Church, namely, Christ in Holy Communion from which flows all the other loves and activities of the Church.
In the modern Church’s many attempts to keep itself afloat we’ve wasted too much time and energy in merely plugging up holes in our sinking ship wherever we notice hemorrhaging. Let us then take inspiration and counsel from St. John Bosco’s aforementioned prophetic dream by anchoring ourselves to the Eucharist and Our Lady. It is the bridal love of the Marian and contemplative heart of the Church which empowers the Apostolic ministry and guides the shepherds of the Church in leading their flocks to green pastures.
After the Resurrection Peter and John heard the voice of Christ commanding them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. They were doing it all wrong; depending on their own efforts and human expertise. However, though they didn’t know it was the Incarnate Word of God speaking to them yet they obeyed and “gave it a try” so to speak.
The abundant yield of fish testified to the veracity of that Word which had commanded them for the Word always accomplishes that for which the Father sends Him. Their amazement at the efficaciousness of Christ’s Word to them sets them on fire with renewed love and deep repentance. Contemplative John recognizes the Bridegroom, “It is the Lord!” and Governing Peter enthusiastically draws near to the Body of Christ standing on the shore, Himself between and bridging Heaven and Earth.
It is a good thing that Peter listened to John’s prophetic word to him! Ashamed of having denied three times knowing the one He loved Peter buried himself in work. However, the call of love from John stirs Peter to put aside all his cares and dive into the darkness of faith swimming towards the shores of Heaven. Peter had fallen from the love He had at first. However, Peter’s acceptance of John’s contemplative intuition leads Peter to encounter the Resurrected Body of Christ on the shore.
It is from that bodily encounter that Peter is sent forth to feed and tend to Jesus’ sheep and lambs. With what shall Peter feed them? “For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.” (John 6) To where share Peter lead the sheep? “In verdant pastures He leads me. He leads me beside still waters where He gives me repose.” (Psalm 23: 2-3) Into the open pasture of Heaven the soul in Holy Communion is able to wander in delight and rest in safety just as, at the Last Supper, John the Beloved got lost in the joyful contemplation of Christ’s Words by resting his weary mind upon the gentle Heart of Jesus.
To be fruitful in the work of harvesting the Lord’s vineyard the Pastoral worker must first listen in contemplation to the Bridegroom’s voice emanating from Christ’s Body “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them.” (Matthew 19:14) Thus, the Pastors and leaders in the Church will “lead the ewes with care” right to the Good Shepherd who remains with His Church in the Eucharist, “even to the consummation of the world.”
-Matt Malicki, MA Theology