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If you are looking to deepen your Eucharistic Spirituality, search no further. If you are simply searching for a solid Catholic spirituality, this is surely the book for you. Now, perhaps you are merely curious about what Eucharistic spirituality is all about. If so, this just might be what you have been waiting for. Wherever you maybe on your spiritual journey you will find the chapters in this book helpful, and Saint Peter Julian Eymard, Apostle of the Eucharist, a helpful companion. Father Norman Pelletier, SSS
Lent In The Light of Eucharistic Spirituality
Prayer, fraternity, and service are the three pillars of Eucharistic Spirituality, a spirituality that constitutes a part of the identity of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament.
• Prayer: The Christian life cannot be considered or lived without prayer. That is to say, one cannot speak of a Christian life without a communal encounter, but above all personal encounter of communion and friendship with Jesus Christ through prayer. Thus, prayer turns about the central axis around which all Christian activity to construct the Kingdom of God springs. Because of this, prayer thus constitutes the first dimension of Christian praxis.
• Fraternity: This consists in that dynamic of going out of oneself to encounter and share with the other, with the neighbor. That is, a going towards encountering God through and by means of a brother and, consequently, of the community. The above, to learn to welcome the other, but likewise to listen to him, which means not only recognizing the other as a person, but rather, acknowledging God’s presence in the other, since “That Other (God) is at the same time the other; this person, in his/her most intimate reality, is God. His/her self is a Divine self.”
• Service: The Christian life is a call to service: the surrender of one’s life for others. We encounter God in the historical and concrete situations of others and, above all, of those who suffer. This entails the commitment to be at the service of the community: the commitment to surrender one’s life given so that God’s designs and his presence may be brought about in history. In this way, then, the call to be for the other expresses the presence and blessing of God. In a word, this is commitment for the good.
• Eucharistic Spirituality, a path of conversion: Now, regarded as the time of grace or “favorable time” to apply the apostle Paul’s phrase (2 Cor 6:2) to Lent, Eucharistic spirituality traces out a path of conversion that consists precisely in the call the Lord makes to us: “be converted and believe the Good News” (Mk1:15). Indeed, if the three pillars of Lent: prayer, almsgiving and fasting are means to achieve conversion, Eucharistic spirituality is also involved, and even more so since it is based on the very understanding of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is, as stated by Vatican II, “the source and summit of all Christian life” (LG 11). So, Eucharistic spirituality can foster a transforming Christian praxis that springs from the ideal of Eucharistic life, which is oriented towards uniting contemplation and action.
The simple reason for this is that the new life in Christ cannot be fully Eucharistic if it is not consecrated to God and to humankind. Eucharistic spirituality thus set out a way to live the Paschal Mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ fully, that is, a way of living the gospel which actively builds up the Kingdom of God. Through prayer, fraternity, and service, it involves carrying out fully the Eucharistic Christian life that encompasses in itself solidarity with the poor and the weak (which is expressed through fasting and almsgiving) and opposition to everything that undermines human dignity. Because the Christian faith, which has its basis and meaning from God’s free gift in Jesus Christ becoming bread, the Bread of life in the Eucharist constitutes the core of the experience of faith, the point of encounter between God and human beings.
This encounter with the love of God in the Eucharist in turn impels us to encounter our neighbour, that is, with our brother. Thus, the Eucharist or, we could say, Eucharistic spirituality that is derived from our understanding of the sacrament of the Eucharist leads us to the same experience as that of the Apostle of the Gentiles, Saint Paul: “I no longer live, it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). Thus, Eucharistic spirituality responds or, more exactly, corresponds to the spirit of Lent, in a word, to Christian spirituality, that of making each Christian another Christ, that is, men and women raised up to reflect the perfection of the Father in being compassionate and merciful.
Eucharistic spirituality thus realises, on the one hand, the experience of encountering God (through prayer) and others (through fraternity) while, on the other, the exercise of a transforming Christian praxis (through service). Hence, a prayerful, fraternal and servant life indubitably traces out a path of conversion in keeping with the spirit of Lent. This is precisely insofar as Eucharistic spirituality leads to a Christian orthopraxis which signifies maturity in faith. Thus, Eucharistic spirituality (prayer, brotherhood, and service) as well as the three pillars of the Lenten season (prayer, almsgiving and fasting) are directed to forming Christians convinced and committed to the cause of the Kingdom of God, that is, personal and communal conversion and, hence, social transformation. What has been said pertains to the bringing about of a more just and more fraternal world while awaiting the coming of the Lord.
“Community and history form two faces of the same human reality that comes about in a diachronic-synchronic openness. In synchrony, human beings open up to each other, forming a community of life and progress. In diachrony they communally become history.”
In short, living the Lenten path of conversion in the Eucharistic spirituality means undertaking in the first place, through prayer, communion with Jesus in the Eucharist and, thus, with the Church. Secondly, through fraternity, we become aware that the Christian life is lived in community, that consists in building bonds of brotherhood. And finally, in the third place, starting from the service, it entails realizing that the Christian life, through faith in the Eucharist, implies a commitment towards the world. Therefore, prayer, fraternity, and service we realize the need to commit ourselves to the transformation of society, that consists in facing the historical and social reality in order to bring about a different world, a new world: more just and more fraternal.
Such is our mission in light of the Rule of Life and such is likewise the purpose of the Church during this season of Lent calling us to conversion. In this dynamic, the task for us Blessed Sacrament religious in this favourable time of Lent consists in becoming focused by our own spirituality. It is about living it better but also, above all, presenting it to our parishioners and laity as a path of conversion along which we move step by step, but surely and certainly, to the Resurrection. That means it will lead us to the celebration of the Paschal Mystery with a new heart and a renewed life and, hence, to rise with Christ.
BROTHER CHRISTOPHE MENDY, SSS from NOTIBIP 78 - March 2022 307e
In God's Time by Fr. Norman Pelletier, S.S.S.
A Review by Fr. Bangor Arputha Raj, S.S.S. ~ Province [Nalgda] India
An impressive book (with numerous references to vast resources), from an inspiring and experienced member of the Congregation. It should be a fascinating book for many of us who would like to know more about our Congregation, especially the developments during the teething and nascent period. I am still a novice in so far as the knowledge of our history is concerned. I spent quite a few days to read the book through. Though this book was given a year back to me, I cast my sight on it only this June as I was gathering a few materials on the Spirituality of our Founder.
Fr. Norman, sss is trying to converse with his readers, particularly with younger generation of the Congregation. As the author puts it, “… it behooves us to know and understand our history so that we can appreciate the contributions of those who have gone before us and recognise the events that have shaped us”. This book contains 10 Chapters, 1 Epilogue and 3 Appendixes with so much of clarity and myriad of information.
The first part of the book is fairly chronological beginning with the death of Father Eymard, followed by General Chapter and the line of Superiors General, with a shaky start, their Administration with the given historical and testing period of surviving and consolidating through troublesome days in France, and redeeming experiences over The Marechal Affairs = The Benedictine Project. One notes that Fr. Norman, sss, has done enough justice to unpack the unfathomable emotions, the drama of those decisive years, unfinished initiatives, struggles, ambiguities resulted by the political upheavals and expulsion of religious, unavoidable conflicts and quarrels, days of depression, financial constraints, pros and cons of the conflicting situation and many more experiences of the nascent group of religious dedicated to live the
Eucharistic Life envisaged Fr. Eymard.
These enormous ups and downs, the author observes, were the moments of living the Paschal Mystery, thus providing to the members a purpose and direction that paved fruitful for generations. At the same time, the author has given more space than otherwise, to highlight and recount the moments of God’s Grace and Blessings, guiding the Order during which the fathers exhibited the spirit of charity and love throughout such period to The Eucharistic Charism. The author is overwhelmed so, as he does not cease to omit to expound the steady growth in numbers and new foundations in Europe and elsewhere.
The second part of the 10 Chapters has abundant quoted materials of the Generals and leading personalities which are important for our collective identity. One will be happy to recount while reading through the transitions and progress made from the Constitution to Rule of Life of our Congregation. It is made clear to the committed readers that there is no secret formula for process of discernment to save the Congregation and its Eucharistic Charism than to listen to the voice of God in The Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Obviously, though this book is not of the total history of the Congregation, it is a right book to acquire a birds-eye-view on which the members and scholastics alike may build up their own history and add volumes to this present contribution. Observations offered in the Epilogue is worth reading again and again thus reminding our identity with sure note of hope. Pope Francis reminds us thus, “Recounting our history is essential for preserving our identity, for strengthening our unity and common sense of belonging”.
The Joy of Being Baptised
Excerpts from Counsels for Spiritual Life
Happy Feast Day Saint Peter Julian Eymard
“Fr. Eymard speaks to his sister Marianne, who is also his God-Mother, on the anniversary of his Baptism. 'The most beautiful day of my life'. He recalls memories linked to his childhood: his convalescence at his attempt at the Novitiate of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate at Marseille, where he threw himself into it with excessive zeal and where his health broke down. It is for us an invitation to call to mind our own Baptism, the day when we became children of God.
My dear sisters,
Today I cannot resist the joy of writing you a few words. I'm sure that you
can guess why I prayed so earnestly to God for you, for our father our mother
and my godfather!
It's such a beautiful day for me. It's the most beautiful day of my life since this
is the day when I had the good fortune to be baptized.” If I had died then, I
would be in heaven now, praying for my godmother [who is] still on earth,
weighed down by the cross, on the thorny path to heaven. But the Good Lord
did not wish it and has left me until now in this valley of exile, tears and
struggles. May he be blessed all is well, provided we reach our goal at the end.
Once we reach it, whether the road was short or long, easy or difficult,
everything weighs in the scales only as grace and mercy from God. The essential
thing is to reach it [the goal].
Pray that I may attain the goal, as I do for you. If you should reach it first,
leave a walking stick behind and an open door.”
Excerpts from the letter to Miss Marianne Eymard February 1846.