For Catholics, and especially for Franciscans, who love Our Lord Jesus Christ fully, it is desirable to be a Eucharistic person. What does that mean? A Eucharistic person seeks to emulate Our Lord, as much as possible and also St. Francis, who had a very high regard for the Blessed Sacrament, in our everyday life. We must BE who we receive, and that is Our Lord Jesus Christ. That is what St. Francis meant, when addressing the early friars, he said: "Remember your dignity, then, my friar-priests. You shall make and keep yourselves holy, because God is holy (Lv.11:44). In this mystery God has honored you above all other human beings, and so you must love, revere, and honor him more than all others."
The above passage of St. Francis words was said to priests, but in days of old, reception of the Blessed Sacrament in Holy Communion, while almost daily for a priest, was only several times a year for members of the laity. Now, in the 21st Century, we receive Holy Communion certainly once a week, if not more often. So we are a Eucharistic people, and in this respect, Francis was also talking to us. Here we have, in the species of bread and wine, our Lord in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity - and as a Eucharistic people, we need to cultivate a much greater respect and awe for the mystery of the Holy Eucharist.
Catholics bandy about the name "God" and "Christ, Jesus" in everyday language without regard to the meaning behind the words. For many people these words have become an expletive. That somehow must stop. I think prayer will be the only cure. Let us pray then that at least Catholics will always revere God and Jesus, His Holy Mother Mary, and all the Saints and Blesseds, for those are in Heaven are enjoying the Kingdom.
Holy Mass, the Sacred Mysteries, is the high point of a Catholic life. The high point of the day. And for Franciscans, Holy Mass and Holy Communion, should come in an even higher regard. During the Ordination of priests, the Bishop pronounces the following words: "Recognize what you are doing, imitate (in your life) what you are doing (on the altar)." Now let's paraphrase this while speaking to the Franciscan lay person: "Recognize what you are doing, imitate what you are doing when you are receiving Our Lord in Holy Communion." We are the recipients of the powers bestowed upon a priest, and thus we should make an effort to live and be Eucharist because that is what Our Lord, and indeed, our Seraphic Father wishes for us to be and to do.
St. John the Baptist trembled and was afraid even to touch Christ's Sacred Head with his own hands (see Mt. 3:13ff), but we touch Him every time we receive Holy Communion. We should tremble too -- at touching Our Lord when we receive Him in our Hands, a practice that seems increasingly sloppy at times. Let our thoughts be on the Sacrament we are receiving, fully aware at that moment of the great honor Our Lord is giving to us: Himself. Let us be most reverend and aware and then, let us be Eucharist toward everyone with whom we seek, or receive contact that day. People we speak to, people we listen to, deserve our full attention and respect, because we are a Eucharistic people and we must live in Christ and be Christ to all other people.
Humble thyself in the presence of the Lord. Not only for the few minutes that we are aware we have just received Him, but each and every minute of the day. And talk to our Lord in prayer. Not just a minute in the morning and while we say our daily prayers, the Liturgy of the Hours, and meal prayers, but give our Lord attention and devotion throughout the day. We have so many spare minutes that usually go wasted. Moments in the car, let's just pray for the other drivers on the road around us. In fact, it is a good and holy practice to always pray for other people who are toiling with their own problems and often problems that are not close to the wishes of the Lord.
In my meal prayers, I generally ask Our Lord to bless me, and the food from His bounty, and then I add, ..."and please, Lord, bless all those who have had a hand in preparing this food, growing it, cultivating it, transporting it, shelving it, cooking it and serving the food. Pray for your fellow diners when in a restaurant setting. Thank God for making the cow whose milk we may be consuming, the dairy farmer who milks this animal or who prepares an animal for slaughter so that we have meat to eat at dinner time. The scope and breadth of the people you can pray for is limitless and they are all God's children whether they are consciously aware of this or not. God loves them as he loves us.
Think in your prayer life of people of the whole world. There are many non-Catholic people because Catholicism just isn't a part of the culture they grew up with. God loves them also. God loves them as basic human beings, part of his creation, but He does not love sinners. Thus, as St. Francis did, and he is a champion in this respect, we should love all people regardless if the limitations society may place on them. So to everyone we should BE EUCHARIST and treat them as Our Lord would treat us.
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
September 18, 2008, rev. 2019
(1) (2) from "St. Francis & the Cross, reflections on suffering, weakness, and joy," by Fr. Raniero Cantalamesa, OFM Cap., and Carlo Maria Martini (Charis - Servant Publications. 2003), page 66 and 67.
Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis
Divine Mercy Fraternity
Vero Beach, FL
Term expires: 2/10/2022
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Helen Caldarone, OFS
Mary "Jean" McGovern, OFS
Jack Reddy, OFS
Donna Haro, OFS
Joanne Giordano, OFS
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Five Franciscan Martyrs