The Eucharist is the “source and summit” of our lives, as St. John Paul II often reminded the world. In these next few years of Eucharistic Revival, it would be good to look to the example of the saints to learn about their devotion to Christ in the Eucharist, and how we can best emulate their devotion.
Saint Tarcisius: As relayed by tradition, Tarcisius was a young Roman boy who lived during the reign of Emperor Valerian. As the early Church was being persecuted, the faithful were forced to worship in secret. One day, after a Mass which Tarcisius was present, the bishop asked if a member of the congregation would be willing to carry the Blessed Sacrament to their fellow Christians who were imprisoned, as it was too dangerous a task for the clergy. Tarcisius bravely volunteered. After some instruction which entailed the necessity to keep the Blessed Sacrament safe at all costs, Tarcisius ventured off on his journey.
En route, some of Tarcisius’ friends approached him as they needed another boy for their game. Hearing Tarcisius’ negative reply and upon seeing his sense of urgency, the boys demanded to know what their friend was hiding from them. As their incessant requests were being refused, the boys concluded he most be hiding something which the Christians considered to be sacred, so they shouted that Tarcisius was a Christian. This resulted in the young Christian being violently beaten. A Christian soldier stumbled upon the scene, and intervened. The heroic boy died from his bruises in the soldier’s arms, but not before asking the soldier to protect Jesus in the Eucharist and to bring Holy Communion to the imprisoned Christians.
This young saint reminds us that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist. Like Tarcisius, we should reverence Him in the Blessed Sacrament and protect the Eucharist at all costs, even if it means laying down our lives for Him.
Saint Dominic: Saint Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans), is commonly known for his zeal for souls as he spent countless nights praying for the salvation of souls. However, Dominic’s early followers also recorded a more discreet practice of Dominic: they speak about the tears of their founder, not only when praying, but also when celebrating Mass. Brother John of Bologna, an early friar, relayed that when he served at St. Dominic’s Masses, he would see tears stream down the saint’s cheeks after he received Holy Communion. The simplicity of the tears of this great preacher reminds us that Jesus gives us a tremendous gift in the Eucharist: God Himself descends and takes His dwelling in the soul of man. Our response then should be one of gratitude, awe and reverence for the love Christ has for us: that He should give Himself to sinful man as food. As Dominic, we should always be thankful for Christ’s gift to us in the Eucharist and be mindful of Whom we receive at Mass.
Saint Francisco Marto: This young boy was one of the visionaries of Fatima. He, along with his sister, Jacinta Marto, and his cousin, Lucia, received apparitions of Mary under the title Our Lady of Fatima. During her visits, the Blessed Mother asked the young seers for the rosary to be prayed daily and for sacrifices to be made for sinners. In addition to following Mary’s requests, Francisco had a devotion to “the hidden Jesus,” Jesus hidden in the Eucharist. It was not uncommon to find Francisco in church (oftentimes when he should have been in school!) to comfort and console Jesus. As Sr. Lucia recalled in her memoirs, Francisco’s favorite place to pray was by the altar in order to be physically close to Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament. By his example, this young saint teaches us to thirst for Christ, to remain in His presence, and of the importance of consoling Him in the Eucharist simply by being present to Him. Additionally, St. Francisco challenges us to make visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament—even if it is for five minutes!
Mother Teresa: We are all familiar with this great saint who tenderly took care of Calcutta’s poor. Not only was Mother Teresa attentive to the needs of the poor, but also to the need of each person to experience the love of Christ in the Eucharist. She herself uniquely understood the importance of and the powerful effect of Christ in the Eucharist for she said: “when you look at the crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then; when you look at the Sacred Host, you understand how much Jesus loves you now.” As busy as Mother Teresa was, she and her nuns faithfully prayed a Holy Hour each day, knowing that the Eucharist was the source of their strength. We too should follow in the footsteps of Mother Teresa by taking some time each week to spend with Jesus in adoration. We should never be too busy to offer our day and week to God in this special way!
Saint Clare: St. Clare is known to have saved the town of Assisi from the Saracens. As the Saracens were approaching the convent, Saint Clare took the ciborium, and going to the window, faced the direction which the invaders were coming. She raised the Blessed Sacrament, and upon this benediction, the Saracens fled the town and failed to return. Thus, the town of Assisi was spared from the attack. St. Clare’s actions showed her Faith in the Real Presence and of her confident trust in God: that Jesus is truly present in the consecrated host, and as God, He will protect and guide His children. Like St. Clare, we should humbly present our needs to Christ, believing in His presence, remaining faithful to Him and trusting in Him. When we do so, we will experience the power of His love and grace in our lives, just as St. Clare did.
Blessed Carlo Acutis: He was a young Italian boy who had a great love for Jesus in the Eucharist. His simple yet sincere devotion to the Faith caused Carlo’s parents to become practicing Catholics and at their son’s request, they started to attend daily Mass with him. This millennial saint, however, is most known for his devotion to the Eucharist, for he documented all known Eucharistic miracles and even created a website containing information of each miracle! Though he died at the age of fifteen, his devotion to the Eucharist inspired all those around him, and enabled him to leave behind a beautiful testimony of his love for the Eucharist: his Eucharistic miracle website. Today all people throughout the world have access to Carlo’s website to deepen their knowledge and love for Christ in the most Blessed Sacrament. Carlo teaches us that learning about our Faith can strengthen our Faith and love of Christ. Carlo also challenges us to learn about Eucharistic miracles, and so acquire a deeper understanding of God’s love for us as well as strengthen our belief in the Real Presence.
There are countless other extraordinary saints who were deeply devoted to the Eucharist. The lives of these six saints teach us how to reverence and love Jesus in the Eucharist. Just as the Eucharist had a transforming effect in the lives of the saints, Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament can also touch and change our lives. We just need to allow Christ to enter our hearts by giving Him the time and space to do so. When succumbing to the love of Christ in the Eucharist, miracles will happen, not only in our own lives, but in the lives of those around us.