Last Sunday we began working our way through chapter six of John’s Gospel. This chapter contains the heart of John’s theology of the Eucharist. Because it is so important, we will be reading from this chapter for the next few weeks.
We recently celebrated the Feast of Saint Peter Julian Eymard, the Apostle of the Eucharist, and founder of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament. I thought it would be appropriate to explore Saint Eymard’s Eucharistic theology since we will be devoting several weeks reflecting on the Eucharist. In the following extract, Saint Eymard ponders the place of the Eucharist in his life. His spirituality focuses on the “gift of self.” He often spoke of the Eucharist as Jesus’ gift of himself to us. In this reflection he also notes the struggle he experiences in giving himself entirely to Jesus. His struggle isn’t unique. If we are people of prayer we can easily relate to his struggle. I hope this extract encourages you in your prayer, especially your prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
The Eucharist Is the Center of Our Love:
St. Eymard’s Reflection, Based on John 15:4.
“Abide in me.”
Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament wants to be the center of our hearts. He tells us: “Abide in me…Abide in my love.” What does abiding in our Lord’s love mean?
To abide in his love is to make his Eucharistic love the center of our life, the only source of our consolation. It is to cast ourselves into the heart of Jesus in our afflictions, our sorrows, and our joys. To abide in his love is to make the Eucharist the center of our desires.
I ask myself why is the Lord not my center? Because he is not yet the ego of my ego; because I am not completely under his control, under the inspiration of his will; because I have desires that vary with the desires of Jesus within me; because he does not mean everything to me.
I must enter this center, abide in it, and act in it. Come, my soul! Leave the world. Come out of yourself. Go to the God of the Eucharist. He longs for you. He longs to live with you, to live in you. Abide in Jesus present in your heart.
What impresses me is that this center of the Eucharist is hidden, invisible, altogether interior, and for all that, most real, living, and sustaining. In the Eucharist Jesus conceals his power. He conceals his divine Person. From his Eucharist Jesus sanctifies the world, but in an invisible and spiritual way. He rules the world without either moving or speaking. The kingdom of Jesus must be in me in the same way, completely interior.
What nourishes this center is something similar to God’s call to Abraham, “Go, leave your homeland.” It is renouncing and abandoning outside things and turning to those within. It means loosing yourself in Jesus. He tells us, “Come out of yourself and follow me into solitude where, alone with you, I will speak to your heart.” This life in Jesus is the gift of self, the intensifying of union with him.
Jesus taught us, “The kingdom of God is within you.” There is no center other than Jesus, and Jesus Eucharistic. He tells us, “Without me you can do nothing.” He wants to be our hearts’ only happiness. He is continually drawing us to himself. The life of love is no more than our continual attraction to him.
A final thought from Saint Eymard
As we empty ourselves and take the form of Christ, we enter into the mystery of Jesus emptying himself in the Eucharist – then the Eucharistic Kingdom is make manifest in us.