Jesus’ Eucharistic Virtues

Have you ever pondered Jesus’ Eucharistic Virtues? St. Peter Julian Eymard, “the Apostle of the Eucharist,” did. He wrote the following: 

Few persons think of the virtues, the life, the state of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. We treat Him like a statue; we think He is there merely to forgive our sins and to listen to our prayers. That is a wrong viewpoint. Our Lord lives and acts in the Eucharist. Look at Him, study, and imitate Him. Those who do not find Him in the Eucharist must go back nineteen centuries, read the Gospel and complete it in its intimate details. They miss the sweetness of our Lord’s words as actually spoken: “I am your way, today; I Myself am your way!” Without doubt, truth never fails, and the Gospel is an immortal book. But how laborious for one to be always going back to the past! And it is a mere mental representation, obtained at the cost of effort and fatigue. It is a more speculative way, but less of a help to virtue.1

Following His Passion, Death, and Resurrection, Jesus could have reigned exclusively in Heaven at the right hand of His Father. And yet, Jesus also wanted to dwell on earth in the Holy Eucharist until the end of time at the right hand of His brother: you and me. It was as if Jesus preferred our human heart to the perfect bliss and love of His Father, though we know this not to be the case. It would seem as if Jesus is a fool to dwell in the Holy Eucharist after being scorned and murdered by the ones He loved. Love caused Jesus to become Incarnate once before and now Incarnate once again in the Holy Eucharist. Love is the main reason for the Holy Eucharist, but not the only reason.

One of the most forgotten reasons for the Holy Eucharist is that Jesus wishes to be “the model of all the virtues,”—not just any model, but our model. While Jesus could be our model from Heaven, He can no longer practice the virtues there. In fact, St. Peter Julian Eymard argues that Jesus exercises the virtues more fully in the Holy Eucharist than when He walked on earth. How amazing! For instance, St. Peter Julian Eymard once said, “Patience and forgiveness He still practices in a higher degree than on Calvary. There His executioners knew Him not; here they know Him, and yet insult Him.”2

Many of us love to read the lives of the saints, so that we can imitate their virtues, but very few of us contemplate Jesus’ Eucharistic Virtues. It is no wonder we do not advance in virtue because we don’t go to the source of virtue, Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist is the greatest teacher of virtue. Just as the Cross was the pulpit from which Jesus taught His heroic virtues, such as patience in suffering, poverty, obedience, humility and trust, so also it is with the Holy Eucharist. That is why the Holy Eucharist is not only a treasure of grace but also is the never-ending wellspring for our prayer lives. We can never study this book of love too much, this school of virtue. Our Lord’s virtues continue to unfold before our eyes if we take the time to contemplate Him, where the words are written not with ink, but with His precious blood.

Despite our Lord’s great desire that His virtues flourish in our souls, we place obstacles in the way, which can stem from our view of Him and how we pray. Instead of an intimate conversation between two best friends, “we treat Jesus as a statue,” according to St. Peter Julian Eymard. We fail to see our Lord as a living person, and not just any person, but our best friend. He is the One who knows every hair on our head; the One who knows when we are going to die. The One who died for us and instituted the Holy Eucharist as if we were the only person on the Earth.

St. Peter Julian Eymard reminds us to “Look at Him, study, and imitate Him.” Notice St. Peter Julian Eymard didn’t say read books or recite prayers the entire time during adoration. We ought to look at Him and do so often without words. We ought to study His life, so that we can imitate Him and be more humble and loving sons and daughters of God. We ought to implore our Lord for all the graces we need, especially for our vocations, for our daily bread, but above all, we must beg Him to be “our way and model.” The Holy Eucharist is the fountain of all graces and virtues. If we are struggling with pride, let us gaze upon Him, Who humbled Himself into a piece of bread—He whom with the Father and Holy Spirit created the world out of nothing. If we are struggling with greed, let us gaze upon Him, Who became poor as a child and as a tiny host. If we are struggling with purity, let us gaze upon Him, Who is without blemish. 

Besides communicating His virtues, our Eucharistic Lord teaches us one of the greatest lessons. Hidden behind the host, Jesus teaches us the secret to our relationships—how to be present—for He is the Real Presence. Just as our Eucharistic Lord is present to His Father and to us at every moment of the day, so too we ought to be present. Throughout the day, our heart must remain fixed on God despite our duties. And when people come in our path, we must seek to be like our Eucharistic Lord, who bestows His undivided attention. We must seek to listen more than speak. Like the humble host, we put their needs above ours as we strive to just be with them. Above all, we seek to love those God puts in our path. And when they see our love, we ought to be like the monstrance, for it is Jesus we want them to see and not us.

Photo by Francesco Alberti on Unsplash

1St. Peter Julian Eymard,  In the Light of the Monstrance, trans. Rev. Charles De Keyser (New York: The Sentinel Press, 1947), 39-40.

2St. Peter Julian Eymard,  The Real Presence (New York: Fathers of the Blessed Sacrament, 1907), 238

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Patrick O'Hearn is a husband and father. He has authored seven books including the Parents of the Saints, The Shepherd at the Crib and the Cross, Courtship of the Saints, The Grief of Dads, Go and Fear Nothing, Our Lady of Sorrows, and Nursery of Heaven (available this August from Sophia Institute Press). He was a contributor to Fr. Don Calloway’s latest book, 30 Day Eucharistic Revival. His subjects of interest include the lives of the saints and the interior life. He holds a Master's in Education from Franciscan University. You can visit his website at

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