The Holy Eucharist, Heart and Center of Passionist Life
Just as Christ’s Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist stands at the center of the Church’s life, so too is Our Eucharistic Lord at the center of the life of our community. The Holy Eucharist is truly the source and summit of our daily life and of the interior prayer life of each of our Nuns.
We who are called in the Church to make a vow to live and promote devotion to the Sacred Passion of Jesus, continually cherish and honor the living memorial of His Passion in the Holy Eucharist. Memorial in this case means not just a memory of an event that took place 2000 years ago, but the presence of what is called to mind. We truly do experience the Eucharistic “amazement” that Pope John Paul II spoke of, as we study and pray the Church’s teaching about this Sacrament of Christ’s love, as well as in our communal and personal prayer before His “Eucharistic Face.”
Pope John Paul’s Letters, On the Eucharist in Its Relationship to the Church, (Ecclesia de Eucharistia) and Stay With Us, Lord, (Mane Nobiscum Domine) sum up the heart of our Passionist vocation and charism of the “memoria Passionis.” Our vocation calls us to the “unceasing contemplation of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus, ‘the greatest and most overwhelming work of God’s love’”, as our holy founder, St. Paul of the Cross expressed it.
Thus, through the contemplative gifts of the Holy Spirit, we are drawn to penetrate more and more into the Paschal Mystery (the Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus) and into the Holy Eucharist that makes it present throughout the centuries.”
At every celebration of the Eucharist, we are spiritually brought back to the Paschal Triduum….[The Church’s] foundation and wellspring is the whole Triduum Paschale, but this is as it were gathered up, foreshadowed and ‘concentrated’ forever in the gift of the Eucharist….With it [the Eucharist], he brought about a mysterious ‘oneness in time’ between that Triduum and the passage of centuries. ~Ecclesia de Eucharistia 3 & 5
Although our Founder never gave us perpetual adoration, we do have frequent Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in addition to our Holy Mass and full Liturgy of the Hours. Thus, our community lives in the climate of the Eucharist.
St. Paul of the Cross wrote in our primitive Rule:
“Let them be special adorers of the Divine and Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, which is the heavenly food of the soaring eagles, that is, of the souls advanced in holiness. Let them often visit their Sacramental Lord and thank Him unceasingly for having left us such an infinite Treasure. For this purpose they shall make spiritual communions frequently throughout the day. By means of such communions they will be transformed into the Lord with the most ardent charity.”
Pope John Paul II in Ecclesia de Eucharistia said that in the Eucharist,
”unlike any other sacrament, the mystery of communion is so perfect that it brings us to the heights of every good thing. Here is the ultimate goal of every human desire because here we attain God, and God joins himself to us in the most perfect union. Precisely for this reason it is good to cultivate in our hearts a constant desire for the sacrament of the Eucharist. This was the origin of the practice of spiritual communion.” #34
St. Paul of the Cross also wrote:
“Above all else, I rejoice in the Lord that you may often find yourself plunged and immersed in the Sacred Passion of Jesus and in the great furnace of His Eucharistic Presence, that here you may drink torrents of burning love and be adorned with the treasures of divine grace and virtue.”
It is clear that Paul himself had experienced, and wanted us to experience, the transforming power of Eucharistic prayer and devotion. Pope John Paul said in Mane Nobiscum #25 and 26 that “the Eucharist is a mode of being, which passes from Jesus into each Christian…and is meant to spread throughout society and culture.” He added that he wanted all the faithful to commit to having a “Eucharistic attitude.”
Being devoted to the Passion of Christ, to His Paschal Mystery of death ordained to resurrection, means to be “committed to changing [our] lives and making them in a certain way completely Eucharistic.” ~ Ecclesia de Eucharistia #20
In his numerous letters of spiritual direction, our Holy Founder frequently taught souls to recollect themselves in the interior temple of their baptized souls, and to realize that there is an altar of the heart on which they should keep the Eucharistic Jesus always exposed. Here they would fulfill the words of Jesus, “When you pray, go to your private room and close the door, and pray….” ~ Matthew 6:6
This interior prayer makes the entire day Eucharistic. It enables us to carry about in our bodies the dying of Jesus so that His life may also be revealed in us, and it leads to a mutual abiding of Christ and each Nun in silent love, making the whole day a spiritual communion.
One saint is to have said that no matter at what time during the day someone would ask him what he was doing, he could always say, “I am offering Mass.”This is one way Passionists live out their devotion to the Passion. This is one way we carry on a “perpetual adoration of the heart.”
Our times of Private Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament are as follows:
- Each day from 5 – 6:25 p.m.
- Each Friday morning from the end of 6:30 a.m. Mass until noon.
- Our Holy Founder gave us Friday as a day free from work. He wanted us to honor Our Lord in His Sacred Passion in a special way each Friday.
- Retreat Sunday afternoon once a month.
- On the morning of Holy Days and Passionist Solemnities
We allow our Nuns the freedom to spend extra time before the Blessed Sacrament during their free periods as well as after Night Prayer until 9:30 p.m. All in all, it is very true to say that Passionist life is lived in the “climate of the Eucharist.”
Adoramus Te Christe!