Do you know your ruling grace?

eymard

I first encountered St. Peter Julian Eymard when I came across his marvelous nine volume set of little books devoted to the Holy Eucharist.

As I began to collect these treasures penned by the French priest who founded the Blessed Sacrament Fathers, I found myself particularly drawn to one, simply titled “Holy Communion.”

My somewhat tattered copy of this little book is heavily highlighted, especially within the chapter named The Grace of Life. In this little chapter, I learned from St. Peter Julian something I had not heard of before….that each soul seeking the way of perfection on the spiritual journey possesses a “ruling grace.”

It is a grace of perfection which demands much more than the mere accomplishment of the law; it is the life, the sanctity of the soul.

….in the supernatural order, there are ruling graces, accessory graces, and complementary graces. Of the ruling graces, a single one is sufficient to lead to perfection. They give life and force to all other graces; they are the seal and impress of a life. (Holy Communion, pp. 170-171)

Did you ever wonder why you may not be especially attracted to fasting and penance, or why you admire those who work intensely with the poor, but you yourself do not seem drawn to do so? Do you struggle to have a constant awareness of Our Lord’s Passion, or become frustrated because you cannot seem to pray the rosary as often as you think you should?

If so, the above virtues and devotions are most likely not your ruling grace…the grace of your life. The “impress” of your life.

The ruling grace of a soul has two effects: first, it points out the path the soul must follow in its spiritual conduct; second, it guides the soul to a special vocation.

This grace of graces will give a special impress to piety, to virtue, to life. It will be the moving force of all actions, so that the soul will make every advance, will do everything from a single impulse.

To embrace all virtues together is beyond the scope of the human spirit. We cannot fix our gaze on all at once; it would be too great a strain and would result in a loss of simplicity and in suffering for us. Our efforts would be scattered instead of converging in unity toward one central object.

Each one must seek inwardly to discover his predominant grace, for upon correspondence with this grace depends the entire spiritual life. (Ibid, pp. 172-173)

And then St. Peter Julian continues on for several pages, writing about his own personal ruling grace, devotion to the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar.

He describes this grace of special love for the Blessed Sacrament to be the sweetest and most excellent of the ruling graces, and also the most frequently given by God.

At the end of this chapter, he warns that, “We must cooperate with this grace with great fidelity; if we are unfaithful to our ruling grace, we shall be unfaithful to all others. ( p.177)

I am grateful to St. Peter Julian Eymard for his teaching on the grace of our life. It gives one peace in orienting prayer and action in the direction one’s soul feels especially drawn. It relieves guilt over not forcing oneself into spiritual practices which do not seem to resonate with the soul.

Most wonderfully, it instills passion and joy into the spiritual journey, so that even when one is wandering in the desert, they still find comfort in clinging to their ruling grace…that special grace which acts like a prism through which they view the mysteries of God.

This teaching of St. Peter Julian does not mean that one is dispensed from seeking perfection through other means, such as penance, Our Lord’s Passion, etc. But the soul who has identified its ruling grace will learn to incorporate this special attraction into every area of their spiritual life.

In the very heart of the tree is the sap, which is its life. Wood and bark protect that life and tend to shield it from the cold of winter.

Ah Well! Your sovereign grace is the sap which gives fertility to every branch of your life. Guard it well; defend it as the heart, as the soul of your supernatural life. ( p. 177)

St. Peter Julian Eymard, pray for us!

(All quotations above in italics are taken from Book II of the Eymard Library, Holy Communion,published by The Eymard League, 1948)

(from the archives, first published August 2, 2012)

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From Retreat…..

imageSomething to think about:

This morning I heard a priest describe a kind of vision he had before Mass one day.
He was praying in the chapel and he saw angels weeping.

They said to one another:
They are going to feast on Him!

And then they cried because they could not.

But there was another reason the angels were crying:
They are going to feast on Him, but are not even aware of it!

Mad with Love…..

image

You, Jesus Christ become Man; You, bread! Oh, to annihilate oneself, how little that would be! If you had left us a relic of Yourself it would be a sign of love worthy of our veneration, but you yourself remain knowing that you would be the object of profanation, sacrilege and ingratitude, abandoned. Are you, Lord, mad with love?”         (St.Teresa of the Andes OCD)

image

Jesus longs for your gaze….upon Him

holyhour

PSALM 25:15

Permanently my eyes are on Yahweh,
for He will free my feet from the snare. 

 Permanently, unwaveringly, immovably, let my eyes be fixed on You alone, O Most Blessed Jesus! In Your Divinely Beautiful Gaze, I find all love, all peace, all strength, all wisdom, all joy.

Like Peter who was privileged to walk on water, I can do all things in You. It is only when I look away for a moment, that I too begin to perish.

O Eternal Beauty, let no creature, no earthly attraction draw my gaze away from Your Loveliness. But when in my foolishness, I am distracted from the incomparable Glory of Your Face, grant that I may turn again immediately to You, Who have promised to free my feet from the snares of this world.

O my Adorable Jesus, the more I look upon You in the Most Blessed Sacrament, the more intimate this gaze we share becomes. My poor heart is drawn ever deeper into Your Flaming One. In silent adoration, I come to know You, and to experience that I am known and loved beyond my most daring desires.

I make my own the prayer of St. Therese: “Jesus, grant that I may be fascinated by Your Gaze, and be the prey of YOUR LOVE!”

(First published, June 5, 2011)

Jesus, my King and Bridegroom…

Crucifixion, Bartolome Esteban Murillo

Crucifixion, Bartolome Esteban Murill

This evening at Mass, on the Solemnity of Christ the King, I watched as the line formed to receive Our Lord’s Precious Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion.

Is Jesus not the most approachable of Kings?  One Who is humble, condescending and generous beyond all imagining!

As I took my place in the Communion line I thought of how this Glorious King does not seek to surround Himself with the rich and powerful of His Kingdom, but prefers the simple and ordinary souls who would never be allowed in the presence of an earthly king.

Yet, if Jesus has any favorites, it is the poorest, most despised and rejected among us.  His heart aches to love the least loved.  His Mercy burns for the most wretched sinner. Jesus is the King of Love.

As I drew nearer to the priest and glanced above the altar, I did not behold a King robed in magnificent garments and crowned with jewels.  I saw a gentle and irresistible King, hanging on a cross and wearing a crown of thorns.

This is Jesus Who is both King and Bridegroom, Whose Merciful Heart longs to wed every soul to Himself, to give each a share in His Eternal Glory and even a participation in His Own Divine Life.

That is what you do when you wed someone.  You give them all that you have, and all that you are.  And when Jesus gives Himself to us in Holy Communion, that is what He does.  He gives ALL.

And for a throne, Jesus desires our hearts….yours and mine.  How unthinkable that He would prefer us over all Creation, but He does.  He yearns to be King of our hearts and make His dwelling there.  He told us so on the night before He died.

Anyone who loves Me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we shall come to him
and make a home in him. (John 14:23) NJB

I could never find a picture for this post, glorious and beautiful enough to illustrate Jesus as He reigns in Heaven.  But, I don’t think Jesus minds at all.  He still bears His Wounds in Glory.

And somehow, I think He prefers the crown of thorns over any crown of gold and precious stones.

It is His Crown of Love….this King of Love.  My King.  Hopefully, your King too..

Our Heavenly Bridegroom!

After This….nothing more but Heaven

“The Eucharist is the supreme proof of the love of Jesus. After this, there is nothing more but Heaven itself.”

St. Peter Julian Eymard

“When we go before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament we represent the one in the world who is in most need of God’s Mercy.” We “Stand in behalf of the one in the world who does not know Christ and who is farthest away from God and we bring down upon their soul the Precious Blood of The Lamb.”

Pope St. John Paul II

 “O Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I would like to be filled with love for You; keep me closely united with You, may my heart be near to Yours. I want to be to You like the apostle John. O Mary of the Rosary, keep me recollected when I say these prayers of yours; bind me forever, with your rosary, to Jesus of the Blessed Sacrament. Blessed be Jesus, my love..,” 

Pope St. John XXIII, Journal of a Soul

 “For One in such a lofty position to stoop so low is a marvel that is staggering. What sublime humility and humble sublimeness, that the Lord of the Universe, the Divine Son of God, should stoop as to hide Himself under the appearance of bread for our salvation! Behold the humble way of God, my brothers. Therefore, do not hold yourselves to be anything of yourselves, so that you may be entirely acceptable to One Who gives Himself entirely to you.”

St. Francis of Assisi

“O Sisters, if we would only comprehend the fact that while the Eucharistic Species remain within us, Jesus is there and working in us inseparably with the Father and the Holy Spirit and therefore the whole Holy Trinity is there…,” 

St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi

Adoring the Holy Face of Jesus

Today is the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus.  It always falls on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras.)  I can’t help thinking that this Feast of reparation falls on this day at least partly because of all the sins committed during the Mardi Gras celebrations.  (I grew up in New Orleans, so I know….)

I hope you will visit this link to my post featuring the history of this feast, as well as the Golden Arrow Prayer which Jesus Himself dictated to a Carmelite nun….a prayer to bring delight to His Heart.

But I also wanted to celebrate the Beauty of the Face of Jesus today.  I substituted at Adoration yesterday, and found myself meditating much on His Sacred Humanity, and how irresistible the Face of Jesus must be.

I cannot imagine such love and compassion, such kindness, tenderness, majesty and power, such goodness and glory all shining forth in one Sacred Countenance.  Truly, one could not see Him as He is and live!

I remember the words of St. Faustina:  Jesus, who will paint You as beautiful as You are?

faceofchrist

O Most Beautiful Face
Of my Savior,
I adore Your Divine Beauty,
Hidden from me now,
Yet known somehow
In the depths of my soul.
I sit before You,
Beneath Your Loving Gaze.
I gaze back,
Seeing
Only the Sacred Host,
Yet knowing
That it is into the
Eyes of my Beloved Savior that
I see,
Endlessly.

For an outstanding article on the Holy Face, visit: http://vultus.stblogs.org/index.php/2014/03/look-to-him-and-be-radiant/

Tuesday adoration….what is love?

Federico Barocci, Insitution of the Eucharist, Rome, S. Maria sopra Minerva, 1608

Federico Barocci, Insitution of the
Eucharist, Rome, S. Maria sopra Minerva,
1608

What is another Name for God?
It is Love.

And what is love?
It is desiring the good of the beloved.
And what does that mean?
We give all that we can
to insure the well-being of our loved one.

And what does God do?
He gives Everything:
His Very Self
His Divine Life
His Human Life, sacrificed for us.
His Precious Body and Blood to be our Food.

As a baby receives milk from its mother,
Can we doubt that God would nourish us too,
would give His entire Self?
Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity,
pouring Himself into us
in a union so profound
that the angels are in awe.

If only we could see,
could realize what is happening:
feel His Sacred Heart
beating within us–
His very Blood
mingling with ours–
His Divinity
filling us–
preparing us to share one day
in His Own Divine Life.

Love so great
Stooping to lowliness–
It is what His Love does
Giving to the least
All
That He is.

O God of Majesty and Glory, we bow before the Mystery of Your Infinite Love for us…we  who are but mere creatures of Your hand, and yet, children of Your Heart!

The Sweetest Kiss….

kiss

On this Eve of the beautiful Feast of Corpus Christi, I share with you a little poem (hymn) from my great aunt’s First Communion prayer book. (circa 1903)

I first read it many years ago, and found it so charming. My aunt was a contemporary of St. Therese, (having been born in 1890.) I like to imagine that Therese may have read this little poem, or at least one like it.

I pray that tomorrow, each of us will rejoice, as in the last stanza of this poem: What happiness is like to this?

May we receive the Sweet Kiss of Jesus as though it were both our First, and our Last, here on this earth!

O Happy Flowers!  O Happy Flowers!
How quietly for hours and hours,
In dead of night, in cheerful day,
Close to my own dear Lord you stay,
Until you gently fade away.
O Happy Flowers! What would I give
In your sweet place all day to live,
And then to die, my service o’er,
Softly as you do, at His door.
O Happy Flowers!

O Happy LIghts! O Happy Lights!
Watching my Jesus livelong nights!
How close you cluster round His throne,
Dying so meekly one by one,
As each its faithful watch has done.
Could I with you but take my turn,
And burn with love of Him, and burn
Till love had wasted me, like you,
Sweet lights! What better could I do?
O Happy Lights!

O Happy Pyx! O Happy Pyx!
Where Jesus doth His dwelling fix,
O little palace dear and bright,
Where He, who is the world’s true light
Spends all the day and stays all night,
Ah! If my heart could only be
A little home for Him like thee,
Such fires my happy soul would move,
I could not help but die of love!
O Happy Pyx!

O Pyx and Lights, and Flowers! but I
Through envy of you will not die;
Nay, happy things! What will you do,
Since I am better off than you.
The whole day long, the whole night through,
For Jesus gives Himself to me,
So sweetly and so utterly,
By rights long since I should have died
For love of Jesus Crucified.
O happy soul!

My happy soul! My happy soul!
How shall I then my love control?
O sweet Communion! Feast of bliss!
When the dear Host my tongue doth kiss.
What happiness is like to this?
Oh heaven, I think, must be always
Quite like a First Communion Day,
With love so sweet and joy so strange,
Only that heaven will never change
My happy soul!