A Future Pope on Fasting from the Eucharist

Re-blogging an article from Parishable Items blog by Fr. Victor Feltes. Image and post credit: Fr. Victor Feltes.

personal reflection: I thought of this deprivation as something that might make us all really think about what it is we are missing in these days… if one sees these days of not having to go to Mass or not having to go to Communion as kind of a “relief” or something, perhaps it will awaken something in us that asks “why do we feel like that?” For those who know what it is we are missing and feel it deeply, it is another awakening too… you often don’t really realize what it is that you have until it is taken away… this could have a really deeply rooted effect on many of us…

JM

A Future Pope on Fasting from the Eucharist

In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church (of which 98.6% of the world’s Catholics are members) there is only one day each year when no Masses are to be celebrated – that is, Good Friday. That day’s liturgy contains a Communion service in which presanctified (previously consecrated) Hosts are received and eaten by the faithful. However, in the early Church, there was no consumption of Holy Communion on Good Fridays by the faithful at all. This tradition was noted by the esteemed theologian Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) in his 2002 book “Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith: The Church as Communion.”

In passages relevant to our present-day, Lenten reality, Cardinal Ratzinger reflects upon the spiritual value that could be found in the practice of Catholics in full communion with the Church abstaining for a time from consuming Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist:

“When Augustine felt his death approaching, he ‘excommunicated’ himself and took upon himself ecclesiastical penitence. In his last days, he set himself alongside, in solidarity, with the public sinners who seek forgiveness and grace through the pain of not receiving the Communion. He wanted to meet his Lord in humility of those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for Him, the righteous and gracious One. Against the background of his sermons and writings, which describe the mystery of the Church as a communion with the Body of Christ and as the Body of Christ, on the basis of the Eucharist, in a really marvelous way, this gesture is quite shocking. It seems to me more profound and fitting, the more often I ponder it. Do we not often take things too lightly today when we receive the most Holy Sacrament? Could such a spiritual fasting not sometimes be useful, or even necessary, to renew and establish more deeply our relation to the Body of Christ?

In the early Church there was a most expressive exercise of this kind: probably since the time of the apostles, Eucharistic fasting on Good Friday was part of the Church’s spirituality of Communion. Not receiving Communion on one of the most holy days of the Church’s year, which was celebrated with no Mass and without any Communion of the faithful, was a particularly profound way of sharing in the Passion of the Lord: the sorrowing of the bride from whom the bridegroom has been taken away (see Mark 2:20). I think that a Eucharistic fast of this kind, if it were deliberate and experienced as a deprivation, could even today be properly significant, on certain occasions that would have to be carefully considered—such as days of penitence (and why not, for instance, on Good Friday once more?), or also perhaps especially at great public Masses when there are so many people that a dignified distribution of the Sacrament is often not possible, so that by not receiving the Sacrament people could truly show more reverence and love than by doing so in a way that contradicts the sublime nature of this event.

Spiritual hunger, like bodily hunger, can be a vehicle of love.

Such fasting—which could not be allowed to become arbitrary, of course, but would have to be consonant with the spiritual guidance of the Church—could help people toward a deepening of their personal relation to the Lord in the Sacrament; it could be an act of solidarity with all those who have a yearning for the Sacrament but cannot receive it. It seems to me that the problem of people who have been divorced and remarried, yet equally the problem of intercommunion (in mixed marriages, for example), would be less of a burden if voluntary spiritual fasting was at the same time undertaken in visible recognition and expression of the fact that we are all dependent upon that ‘healing of love’ which the Lord effected in the ultimate solitude of the Cross. I would not of course wish to suggest by this a return to some kind of Jansenism: in biological life, as in spiritual life, fasting presumes that eating is the normal thing to do. Yet from time to time we need a cure for falling into mere habit and its dullness. Sometimes we need to be hungry—need bodily and spiritual hunger—so as once more to comprehend the Lord’s gifts and to understand the suffering of our brethren who are hungry. Spiritual hunger, like bodily hunger, can be a vehicle of love.”

From the Book of Heaven

Notes to consider in these challenging days… from Luisa Piccarreta’s Book of Heaven, Volume 12.

2/12/18 – Vol. 12

Deserted churches, and without ministers.

Continuing in my usual state, my always lovable Jesus made Himself seen so very afflicted, and I said to Him: ‘My Love, why are You so afflicted?’ And He: “Ah! my daughter (Luisa), when I allow that churches remain deserted, ministers dispersed, Masses reduced, it means that the Sacrifices are offenses for Me, that the prayers are insults, the adorations irreverences, the confessions amusements, and without Fruit. Therefore, no longer finding My Glory, but offenses, nor any Good for them – making no use of them, I take them away. But this tearing ministers away from the Sanctuary means also that things have reached the ugliest point, and that the variety of scourges will multiply. How hard man is – how hard!”


VOL. 12 – January 31, 1918

Dissolving oneself in Jesus, to be able to say: what belongs to Jesus is mine.

I was abandoning all of myself in Jesus, when He told me: “My daughter, dissolve yourself in Me. Dissolve your prayer in Mine, so that your prayer and Mine may be one single prayer, and one would not recognize which one is yours and which Mine. Your pains, your works, your will, your love – dissolve them all in my pains, in my works, etc., so that they may mix one with the other, and form one single thing; to the extent that you may be able to say, ‘What belongs to Jesus is mine’, and I may say, ‘What is yours is Mine.’

Imagine a glass of water, which is poured into a big container of water. Would you be able to distinguish, afterwards, the water of the glass from the water of the container? Certainly not. Therefore, for your greatest gain and my highest contentment, repeat often in whatever you do: ‘Jesus, I pour this into You, so that I may do not my will, but Yours’, and immediately I will pour my acting into you.”

The Will and Love

Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, O.C.D. has this to say about the will and love:Little_Catechism__01395.1447782106.328.245
“There is a sensible love and there is a love of the will. Sensible love consists in a feeling that draws us affectionately toward someone and makes us experience pleasure in that person’s company or in the remembrance of the same. Love of the will consists in wishing a person well, by free choice and determination of our will. When afterwards this love takes full possession of the soul, then it wants to belong to the person loved and deliberately to consecrate its entire life to that person.”

Which is true love?

He continues, “Love of the will, because the will is what is most personal in us. Our liberty resides in the will, and it is precisely with this That we give ourselves to God. For this reason He asks of man exactly the ‘gift of his will.’ It is in this full consecration to God that the total giving of self on the part of a human being consists.” (P.5 from Little Catechism of the Life of Prayer)

As we continue to call on the Divine Will to move in us, to act in us, we can see how it begins and ends in love, true love. The masters of prayer, Carmelites and others, knew this life of prayer was about a radical love; a magnanimity of the soul that wants God above all else.

If we are having difficulty in whatever stage of living in the Divine Will, let us ask Him to give us generous hearts!

actofloveimage

Personal Reflections on the Divine Will

By Monica Kolars

Our Lord gave humanity one prayer while on earth; the Our Father. Thus it is of utmost importance but don’t we all take it for granted, reciting it but never really thinking about why our Lord gave us this prayer? We know it is composed of seven petitions. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 2803, in the section on prayer, we can read more about these petitions.

St. Teresa of Avila, in her Way of Perfectionism, writes a commentary on the Our Father. She was teaching her nuns how to pray. In fact, she relates a story about one day, a woman came to her who desired to enter Carmel. St. Teresa, as prioress, was interviewing her and asked her how she prayed. She said, “Mother, I don’t do a very good job. I start with the Our Father and find that I never finish it after hours of prayer.” St. Teresa responded, “My daughter, you are welcome in Carmel.” I am paraphrasing the story but it serves the point that in this short prayer, there are jewels to be mined. God wants to teach us about Himself and ourselves.

With the teaching on Divine Will given to us by Luisa Piccarreta we are able to look anew at the prayer of the Our Father and mine these jewels. Of course one goes immediately to the section of the prayer, Thy Will be done, the fiat. The fiat that the blessed Virgin gave at the Annunciation; the fiat Christ gave from the Cross; and the fiat of Luisa.

What about our fiat? Historically the phrase “Thy will be done,” has accomplished miracle after miracle. What could our fiat accomplish?

M.K.