Published by Dominican Nuns Ireland in Reflections (Dominican) · 28 April 2020
Tags: St, Catherine, Eucharist
Tags: St, Catherine, Eucharist
Saint Catherine had a tremendous love for Jesus in the Eucharist. In her day it was very unusual to receive the Eucharist on a daily basis — one really had to have permission in order to do so and most times this permission was denied. Catherine, however, received very many mystical graces in the Eucharist — visions and ecstasies often lasting 3-4 hours took place after she received Holy Communion …many priests later attested to it. In fact, her spiritual director/confessor, Fr. Raymond of Capua, says in his biography of her:
“Catherine was drawn to the Eucharist by the intense love she felt for Jesus, on whom she had set her eyes, on whom she had set her heart, in whom she had set her faith, whom she loved with all the powers of her being. No matter what obstacles were raised by those who wished to prevent her receiving Holy Communion, Raymond always did his utmost to let her have the consolation she sought and found in it. In this way she got into the habit of saying to him sometimes, if he happened to be present when her soul was stirred with a longing for Holy Communion: “Father, I am hungry; for God’s sake give my soul its Food.” For this reason too, it was arranged and granted to her by Pope Gregory XI that she could have with her everyday a priest to give her absolution and administer Holy Communion to her, with the right to use a portable altar, so that she could hear Mass and receive Holy Communion daily, without hindrance from anyone.” (The Life of St. Catherine of Siena: page 290 & 291)
In the strength of the Eucharist Catherine went out to the poor and especially to the very ill to minister to them. Wasn’t this the Eucharistic spirituality that Mother Teresa of Calcutta lived out, too — so that she could pick up the dying from the gutters of the slums, carry them to one of her clinics and care for them until they either got better or died with dignity? Love and devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist does that. Both Catherine and Mother Teresa took very seriously the words of Jesus in Matthew 25: “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren you do unto me” (v. 40).
Our love for Jesus in others, too, is what brings us to Heaven. The Eucharistic Prayer II of the Liturgy implores God to bring us to “the fullness of charity” for that is where heaven is. St. Paul urges us in his Letter to the Romans (12:1) to “offer our bodies as a living sacrifice”. It is what St. Catherine did when she cried out in prayer: “O Eternal God, accept the sacrifice of my life for the Mystical Body of Holy Church.”
The following is what Catherine herself says to us about the Eucharist in the book,” I Catherine”:
“I beg you, for the love of Christ crucified, to respond with joy and eager longing to the invitation to this glorious wedding – feast (the Eucharist), with its promise of sweetness, joy and every delight. At this feast we leave all uncleanness behind; released from sin and suffering, we dine at the table of the Lamb, where the Lamb Himself is both our food and our servant. The Father, you see, is our table, bearing everything that is – except sin, which is not in Him. The Word, God’s Son, has made himself our food, roasted in the blazing fire of charity, while the servant at the table is that very charity, the Holy Spirit, who gave and gives us God with ( the Godhead’s) own hands”. (Catherine of Siena, I, Catherine, p.91)
The graces of our baptism must be nourished as often as possible with the Holy Eucharist — True Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, along with frequent reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and time spent in Adoration, contemplating the one who has loved us so much. We are called to bring hope through our life of prayer to those among us who are in darkness and whose lives have become meaningless, to those who are suffering in all kinds of ways, physically, spiritually, psychologically and emotionally.
Let us pray through the intercession of Saint Catherine, who found more joy in ministering to the poor and to all those in need, than in all of the heavenly ecstasies, visions, miracles and other mystical phenomena that Jesus was pleased to bestow on her. She depended on the Eucharist to give her the strength and the courage she needed to perform all that the Lord required of her. Is it not the same for us? May the Lord make our lives of prayer, Adoration and sacrifice, fruitful for those in most need of help in today’s world; for an end to this pandemic and for healing and comfort for all those suffering due to it; for a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the whole world, that all of us may come to realize that in God alone is true happiness and joy to be found, here by grace and afterwards in glory.
Let us never underestimate the power of God’s grace to transform us and our world. Amen
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