“I live because of the Eucharist.” With these poignant words of Mother Angelica reveal her identity as an apostle of the Eucharist. We can learn from her Eucharistic witness if we pray as she did, “Give me the faith to understand that the Eucharist makes everything possible.”
From the first moment when my eyes beheld the exquisite golden Eucharistic Monstrance at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama, I grasped what had taken hold of Mother Angelica’s heart. To be perfectly honest, at first I thought the exquisite gilding and sheer size of the Monstrance was excessive. With that thought, a ray of light washed over my wedding ring, a gold ban adorned with 14 diamonds twinkling in the light. I thought—here on my finger is a symbol of a sacramental marriage covenant of human love. Suddenly I understood. Mother, a Poor Clare of Perpetual Adoration Nun, made a covenant of love also. For her Divine Spouse she desired nothing less than the most beautiful vessel to hold the excess of Divine Love that is the Eucharist. She was in love with her Eucharistic Lord.
Many words more eloquent than mine have been written about beloved Mother Angelica since her Easter resurrection. Like thousands of Catholics around the globe, I have been remembering her life and legacy, praying with the EWTN global family, experiencing joy for Mother and personal grief. When she passed to eternal life, I realized how much this witty, wise, courageous Nun influenced my faith journey. I wished to sit at the feet of a great pupil of the Blessed Sacrament and learn from her. Here are ten Eucharistic lessons from her writings. She left us many priceless pearls, none of which are sugar coated.
1. Eucharistic Truth
“There is no prayer so high; there’s no ecstasy so sublime; there’s no work so great; there’s no suffering so severe; there’s nothing to compare with that moment when I and the Trinity—Almighty God through Jesus, Your Son, and the power of Your Spirit—are one. It is the greatest gift You could ever give us.”
2. Eucharistic Suffering
“Lord God, help me to abandon the preoccupations that seem so important to me as I approach You in the Eucharist, as on Calvary.”
“I feel sick today, dear Jesus. My head throbs, and my body is so weak that it is an effort even to talk to You. I try to think of Your poor head when it was crowned with thorns, and I marvel at Your fortitude. I think of how very weak You must have been when You took the Cross upon Your shoulders. I marvel at Your love. Well then, I will do the same for You. It is strange, dear Jesus, that as soon as I think of Your pain, mine seems slight.”
3. Eucharistic Mercy
“You humbled Yourself by becoming man, by permitting Yourself to suffer, and now by masking Your unparalleled glory in the form of a small piece of bread—all so that I can have You inside me.”
4. Eucharistic Humility
“Lord God, if I truly appreciated the majestic humility of the Eucharist, if I fully grasped the opportunity to participate in Your very nature, it would change me life forever.”
“I stand before You, Lord God, a sinner. In all the realms of Your creation, no one is more undeserving of Your love than I…This is why I dare approach Your presence…Your power is at its best in weakness. Your love is more gratuitious to the ungrateful and Your mercy more sublime to the undeserving.”
5. Eucharistic Courage
“Strengthen my love and my gratitude for this tremendous gift. Give me the faith to understand that the Eucharist makes everything possible.
“Divine Jailer, You have the key to release my soul from the prison of discouragement. Unlock the doors, and let me roam freely into the regions of Your love. Deliver me from the tyranny of my own will. Surely You take no pleasure in my soul disquieted within me, for then I am wrapped in myself. Do I hear You whisper, “Unlock the door for the key is within; I wait ready to enter and comfort you?”
6. Eucharistic Love
“You never take Your eyes from me, and yet my eyes wander through the world looking for a place to rest. Why can’t I love You as You love me? Why do I seek what is finite when I can possess the Infinite? My fickleness must astound the angels, who see how passing are the things I cling to.”
“Let my fumbling ways be a poem of desire that tell You I love You. Let my weaknesses and failures be like the plaintive cry of a wounded bird that cannot fly to its nest alone. Let my nothingness be lost in Your omnipotence so I may never be separated from You.”
7. Eucharistic Patience
“Every day, Jesus, I learn by some situation or experience of my great need for You. When I try to be patient on my own, my patience is forced and short-lived. It is obvious to everyone that I am desperately trying to be patient. When I raise my mind and heart to You, dear Jesus, and see You so serenely patient, my soul drinks in that spirit of patience like a cool breeze on a humid night. Your patience penetrates my being, and only then am I truly patient. It takes so long to learn that I can bear fruit only in You.”
8. Eucharistic Companionship
“There are times, my Jesus, when I like to imagine Your face and picture how You walked down the dusty roads. I like to think You are standing beside me, watching all I do with great love and understanding. Then I realize that once more I have brought You down to my size, encompasses Your beauty in the narrow realms of imagery, and constrained You in a tiny space beside me. Grant, dear Jesus, that when my imagination pictures You, I never lose sight of the truth that Your real beauty is beyond my wildest dreams. Your presence is much closer than at my side.”
9. Eucharistic Forgiveness
“Lord Father, I enter into Your compassionate Spirit and try to drink deeply of Your merciful love My memory smarts with the remembrance of past offenses, and my soul is pained by the anger of yesterdays—days in the past that bring tears and sadness. Every time I think they are gone, they return with renewed vigor, and I realize I have not grown in compassion and forgiveness. I put my memory into Your compassionate mercy, and I ask You to cover its wounds with the healing balm of Your mercy. Let my soul sink into the fathomless ocean of mercy, and return to me renewed, healed, and refreshed with love for everyone and malice toward none.
10. Eucharistic Time
“Life is so short, my Lord. I look at all my yesterdays, and they seem so hazy, while all my tomorrows are uncertain. The only I really possess is this tiny moment, and it passes so quickly. Why does time weight so heavily in my life? It is a most precious gift from Your hands, and I should look at it as I would a treasure. It provides the opportunity for me to know You better and love You more, to become like Jesus and be filled with Your own Spirit, to increase in holiness and to make reparation for my sins. Thank you, my Lord, for time.”
“The Eucharist bridges the gap between fallen humanity and redeemed humanity and prepares us for our glorified humanity in Christ’s second coming. We are in a process of deification through the Eucharistic life. This process is one of healing from fallen nature (sin) to redeemed nature (sanctity) to glorified nature (transforming union with God: beatific vision). The Holy Spirit is the key agent in the process of transformation in Christ.”
“The Holy Spirit brings us to an abiding encounter with Christ in the Eucharist, in which we are grafted like branches onto the vine (cf. John 15:4). This communion is by no means temporary. The physical presence of Christ in the Eucharist is vital because our physicality, our bodies, matter as ‘temples of the Holy Spirit’ (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19).”
The Eucharist affects your resurrection. Fr. Lawrence Lovasik teaches, “Holy Communion establishes between Jesus Christ and us not merely spiritual contact but physical contact as well through the ‘species’ of bread. The resurrection of the body can be traced from this physical contact with Christ. The resurrected bodies of those who have worthily received the Eucharist during their lifetime will be more strikingly resplendent because of their frequent contact, during life, with the risen Body of their Lord.” (Beckman, God’s Healing Mercy)
Imagine the striking resplendency of the soul of a Franciscan Nun who lived her spirited and suffering life in constant communion with the Eucharist. Mother’s life and legacy are captured in her words, “I live because of the Eucharist”.