It is First Friday.

After celebrating Holy Mass and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, for a day of adoration, before leaving I led the people, three times in honour of the Holy Trinity, in the traditional invocation of faith’s trust:

                                                   O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving, be every moment Thine.

During that invocation my heart was surprised for the second time in less than a day by a procession of priests across my heart.

The first time they were in my heart was during prayer and meditation upon the Holy Eucharist last night as I prepared my notes for this reflection.

I recall saying to the Lord at the time I didn’t get the connection between these priests and what I was preparing to write about.

Again this morning I mention the same thing to Him.

The first of those priests who came into my heart was one, now long since entered into eternal rest, with whom I served when I was newly ordained and assigned to the cathedral.

This most compassionate and steadfast of priests bore in his physical being horrific scar tissue, while humbling admitting a constant struggle in his heart to forgive those who had so brutally tortured him, the SS guards in the camp where he had been held, with hundreds of other priests, many of whom we executed there.

The second priest, who these days with utter compassion serves as a chaplain for the military, carried in his heart the wounds inflicted by his barracks mates in the country where he grew up and was first a seminarian.

His country at the time was under the evil oppression of communism.

The communists, while barely tolerating the existence of the Church, liked to take men from the seminary and force them into several years of military service, ordering the other men in the barracks to attempt to break the spirit of any seminarian in their midst by whatever means they chose. Most of those means were of the kind which would truly render a man so deeply shamed and discouraged that often he would indeed have his spirit broken.

With this priest they failed: undoubtedly because of this priest’s devotion then as a seminarian and now as a priest, and trust in the protection of Our Lady of the Eucharist.

The third priest, as a child during the Second World War, was interred in this country along with his parents and thousands of others. Even though they had lived here for generations in the hysteria of war, because they were ‘ not like us ‘ and deemed a threat to national security, their property was confiscated and they were placed in camps under heavy guard.

Yet he emerged from that experience a loyal citizen still, eventually heard the call of Christ, became a Catholic, left behind an excellent career and became a priest, a priest of incredible gentleness.

The fourth priest when I first met him was in seminary a year behind me.

He was playing on the docks with a childhood friend the day Saigon fell and had but a few moments to choose to run up the gangplank of the last ship to manage to get away, or follow his friend back into the city and possible arrest and detention since he came from a military family well known for their Catholic faith.

He chooses to escape, leaving behind his family and his country.

Finally another older priest, this one also long ago called home to the Father.

He suffered much both in his childhood and in his early life as a priest. He too had tasted the horrors of war, but as a chaplain to those fighting against the Nazis.

More, he suffered from religious authority because of his unwavering advocacy for true justice for the poor and the oppressed.

Eventually he offered himself in response to a call from the Spirit and Our Blessed Mother, as a priest for a newly forming community of lay people who are dedicated to working with the poor, both the materially and the spiritually poor.

After some years in the field houses of this community he was recalled to the ‘motherhouse’ and for over twenty years served as Guestmaster for visiting priests, washing toilets, making beds, sweeping floors, until his health rendered even those simple tasks too much.

He spent the next near two decades living in a small room in the community’s infirmary, a victim soul of suffering and intercessory prayer.

He was instrumental in my own return to the practice of our faith, in particular to a return to the sacrament of reconciliation and remained my confessor for years.

In the last years of his life I had the privilege to help care for him and treasured every word he would say, most especially his constant statement that: “Once I have celebrated Holy Mass the day is complete, it is a divine day.”

These are the priests who processed across my heart as I was preparing to write about the splendour and mystery of the Holy Eucharist.

Each of them: a suffering soul.

Each of them: a priest of incredible compassion, love and courage to live and speak truth.

Each of them: a most beloved brother, some of them mentors, one of them my own confessor.

So I begged the Lord yet again: “What Lord is the connection?”

“Contemplate ground wheat, crushed grape, My broken open Heart.”

Then I began to understand a bit more deeply this mystery that, as priests, we not only celebrate and receive, not only offer but are offered.

Like Christ we too must be broken and distributed.

Like Christ Priest we as priests must have our hearts broken open.[Hos.6:6; Hb.10:5-7; Ps.51:19; Mt.22:37ff; Jn.19:34]

Christ loves us with a broken open heart.

The Church has always seen in the breaking open of His Sacred Heart the gushing forth of the sacramental life of grace.

Standing before our crucified Lord, this river of grace pouring forth, we contemplate the ultimate act of the virtue of trust in and abandonment to the loving will of the Father.

Christ’s Holy Resurrection is the glorious love-fulfillment of that trust.

Here we discover the source of our own trust and abandonment to the Father’s Holy Will for us, to His love.

Here too we are before the necessity of our own hearts being broken open in imitation of Christ priest to whom, through sacramental ordination, we are most profoundly configured by the Holy Spirit.

Once again with confidence we turn to the Holy Spirit, offering Him our hearts as surely as Christ offered His to the lance. [Jn.16:13-15]

After His Holy Resurrection Jesus comes to us, as He did to the Apostles, and finds us, often like them, doubting and struggling. He invites us in our pain and confusion to touch Him by touching His Holy Wounds that we might know He is real! [cf.Jn.20:27]


That we might believe.

It is through the locked door of our hearts, if we open to Him [Rv.3:20], into the deepest regions of our terrified hearts, that Jesus comes and it is in allowing Him to touch those deep wounds that we touch Him.

Our most tender Lord does not force Himself upon us, thus, as we read in Revelations 3:20, He comes only as far as the door of our being. There He patiently remains waiting, knocking, and seeking leave to enter.

The wonderful thing about allowing our hearts to be broken open is that henceforth there is no longer a closed and locked door ever barring His entrance!

We must allow Him to enter and touch us in the depths of our deepest wounds if we are to be healed, if we are to have abundance of life.

We can be more than a little anxious when we finally come to understand this mystery and truth that we can only truly love, in imitation of Christ, with a broken open heart.

Broken to us means something painful, like a broken bone, or promise.

We speak of marriages that have broken up, of friendships that have been broken off.

Broken things, in our consumer culture, are usually things thrown out with the trash, hence broken for many means devastating rejection or abandonment, a profound breach of trust.

Broken hurts.

Broken can mean being unlovable, or unforgiveable.

Original sin broke the original intimacy between man and God, broke the original unity between man and woman.

The result was fear and distrust.

Suddenly God, the loving one, became God the feared one.

When He came looking for His first children the response to His tender call became the first utterance of pathos and a sadness which remained unavailed until the Saviour should have His own cry become ours.[Gn.3:10; Mk.15:34]

Once again, if we yearn in the slightest to understand the wonder of our existence, the true meaning of life, the reality of our being in persona Christi, we are at the foot of the Cross.

We of hearts which must be broken open contemplating the Priest whose Heart they have torn asunder.

On the Cross Christ has taken all our fear, pain, vulnerability, loneliness, questions, tears, sins, and more than we can ever comprehend, upon Himself.

This is ultimate gift of Self.

Only if we open wide the door of our being, offer our own hearts to be broken open, will we experience the entrance of Christ into the depths of our hearts, spirits, souls wherein He shall fill us with His own light and salt us with fire that we, true priests, can then go forth and make self-gift as priest to all our brothers and sisters as salt and light [Mt.5:13,14] and truly lay down our lives, moment by moment, as gift of true love, as He has asked us: love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Heavenly Father. [Mt.5:44, 45]

The breaking open of our hearts is in essence experience of Eucharist in the fullness of we, as priests, being both the one who offers and the oblation itself.

It is a deep configuration to Christ wherein the Sacred Liturgy becomes more than a sacred event we celebrate but a sacred reality we live in our very flesh, mind, heart, soul:

                                               Broken and distributed is the Lamb of God, broken and not dismembered, always eaten and never expended, but making holy those who receive It.

So exalts the Church in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom!

We priests must allow the Holy Spirit, in a real way, to break and distribute us to our people as surely as we break and distribute the Lamb of God to them.

In breaking open our hearts the Spirit will not dismember us, that is abuse our fear of trust, the fear of abandonment to Divine Providence as being a danger of annihilation.

Indeed the more we surrender, the more we allow the mystery of kenosis, the breaking open of our hearts which allows us to be emptied of the false and sinful self in imitation of Christ’s own self-emptying, the more we shall be filled with the utter fullness of God!

My heart believes there is a direct connection between the not uncommon resistance among priests today for the celebration of popular pious devotions such as Holy Benediction, Adoration, devotions to the Most Sacred Heart, and this fear of being, as one young priest likes to repeat: too priestly!

Translation: too clerical.

Yet St. Paul tells us that we are called to ‘bear one another’s burdens’ [Gal.6:2].

 Our people are heavily burdened and does not Eucharistic devotion ease their pain?

Is not the Sacred Heart their comfort?

And the Apostle adds that it is in bearing one another’s burdens that we fulfill the law of Christ. That law, we know, is simply: love one another. [cf.Jn.15:17]

We most likely would resist less the movement of the Holy Spirit within us to sanctify us with a broken open heart that we might truly love, if He were to break us open through some sweet mystical experience.

In reality our hearts will be broken open through struggle with faith, with God, as Jacob struggled before us [Gn.32:23-33], the reality of spiritual warfare as shown in Revelations chapter 12.

Yet when we receive Love’s wound then we enter into a depth of communion of love with the Holy Trinity where ours becomes the beloved’s own experience. [Sg. Of Sgs. 5:4]

Moment by moment too, in a manner which is quite hidden and a protection from any form of pride, we are broken open, and healed too, through the nitty-gritty of the sacred duty of each moment.

We are, after all, mere vessels of clay within which is this great treasure of our holy vocation of joy and all other sanctifying grace from sacraments received.

So we can rightfully say with the Apostle, and rejoice in its truth and be thankful for the experience[s] of being goaded by the Holy Spirit into humility! [2Cor.12:7-10]

Actually it is a protecting grace!

Jesus, with great joy, at the very beginning of His public life for our redemption, proclaims the truth of His being sent by the Spirit, the same Spirit who is active within us. [Lk.4:17-19]

Because we have free will, and thus a tendency to sin and to a persistent type of attempted self-protecting which actually is a closing of our hearts to Him, the Holy Spirit is necessarily persistent in His work of breaking us open!

That this is ultimately a gentle operation is made clear in St. Paul’s extraordinary Letter to the Romans, especially chapter 8, in particular verses 5-9, 14-17, and 26-28.

The Holy Spirit does this because of the Eucharistic reality that we are, as priests, both the ones who offer and are offered. He also does this so we in our turn, having been anointed in persona Christi, seek out the poor, the captive, the downtrodden, loving them, serving, announcing to them that since He is Risen, every year IS the year of the Lord’s favour!

Again, since we are endowed with free will Christ can only come to the door of our being and knock, begging admittance.

When we allow Him to enter it is the same as giving the Holy Spirit full consent to henceforth allow into our beings only Christ and the persons and things of Christ and to break open our hearts that all else may be removed from us, most especially our false self.

Of course we all know that as a result of our own sin-wounds and the wounds inflicted upon us by those who have sinned against us we often have hearts like something sealed in a jar or walled up in a tomb.

Ordination, as we also know only too well, is not some magic potion that suddenly renders us whole and holy.

Like all sacramental grace it demands constant cooperation for the Spirit to transform, transfigure us so we become what we are.

Christ knocks at the door of the tomb in which we have buried ourselves, or where we are held captive by some addiction or fear and He cries out to us: Come out! [cf.Jn.11]

Christ also seeks to shatter the jar of our fears and illusions.

If we but allow Him to do so, and allow the Spirit to accomplish His work within us, then we shall experience the joy of a broken open heart which becomes a wide open door through which processes the Most Holy Trinity in communion of love, filling us with the utter fullness of God. [Jn.1:16; 2Cor.4:11; Gal.2:19,20; Gal.3:27; Gal.4:6,7]

Faith is the gift whose fruit is trust. Trust is the willingness to say, and mean it no matter what our emotions may be doing at the time: “Yes, you may break me open O Holy Spirit and configure me ever more fully to Christ of the Broken Open Heart. You may empty my being of all that is not holy, set me free from what has me captive, heal my blindness which is so dark because I fear, fill in my poverty due to my sins with the Good News of Divine Mercy, free me from having been pulverized and downtrodden by the allures of the world. Declare within my deepest being the year of the Lord’s favour so that I live no longer, only Christ lives in me!”

It is to make St. Paul’s prayer, while on our knees our own! [Ep.3:14-21]

We are the stewards and ministers of the treasury of sacramental grace.

It is essential we willingly, and frequently, put our face onto the ground adoringly at the foot of the Cross, crying out in all truth: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.

Once we have soaked the ground with our tears, wept for our own sins and those of the whole world, we can then lift our eyes towards Him and contemplate with all the love of our broken hearts He who’s Heart they have broken open.

There, in the depths of the communion of love, we will come to understand a broken heart is both a loving and an obedient heart.

There too we will come to open ever more the depths of our heart to the ineffable reality of the Most Holy Eucharist.

                                                             ……all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate are bound up with the Eucharist and are directed towards it. For in the most Blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ Himself our Pasch and the living bread which gives life to men through His flesh – that flesh which is given life and gives life through the Holy Spirit. Thus men are invited and led to offer themselves, their works and all creation with Christ. For this reason the Eucharist appears as the source and summit of all preaching of the Gospel: catechumens are gradually led up to participation in the Eucharist, while the faithful who have already been consecrated in baptism and confirmation are fully incorporated in the Body of Christ by the reception of the Eucharist.

                                                Therefore the Eucharistic celebration is the center of the assembly of the faithful over which the priest presides. [61]

It is this reality of our sacramental consecration as priests, this sublime and central experiential truth of our communion of love with the Most Holy Trinity, which is celebrated by us as act of faith and reality, intercessory prayer and thanksgiving.

No matter how our raw humanity, our very clay-ness, may seem to weigh upon us during the sublime event of celebrating Holy Mass, we draw constant reassurance, affirmation and strength from the very Eucharistic prayer of Christ Himself, our High Priest who the night of His Passion prayed for us in particular: Jn.17:11-19.

Sometimes, it is true, because of the combination of all the preparatory things we need to, especially before Sunday Masses, weddings, funerals and other particular solemnities, and too often because of the daily celebration of Holy Mass, we can find it difficult to be truly reverential and attentive.

Celebrating the heavenly liturgy here on earth may at times be experienced as a rather blatantly human endeavour because, priest though we are, we remain men.

This can be particularly acute when, having received our Lord and God, the Divine Lover, in Holy Communion we are surrounded by a lot of activity, people, sounds, sights, and a certain pressure to quickly get about the business of bringing our Eucharistic Lord to our brothers and sisters.

Then, once they have been fed, all too quickly there can be a certain wave of restless. They want to leave. Or we want to flee. Either way we quickly move through the final prayer, sometimes followed by announcements which, if we be honest, truly have no place in the liturgy. The blessing, the recessional and greeting people as they leave.

There follows any number of things to do and before we know it we are back in the rectory.

However we need not remain stuck in such a sequence.

The ritual itself provides, indeed states, there should be time for thanksgiving. It need not be excessively long, but surely we can take a few moments to thank He who has just made such a comple As with Baptism and Confirmation it is important we remember our First Holy Communion. The first time He permeated our beings with His Eucharistic Self. Remember too the first time we celebrated Holy Mass.

Certainly we cannot, of our own effort, duplicate those first experiences, but we can beg of the Holy Spirit a renewed and ever deeper faith in and love of the One who gives Himself to us.

                                              …… Holy Communion is the most excellent means of living in Christo. Through it, the priest unites himself in the full spirit of love of the Saviour: ‘He that eateth My flesh…abideth in Me and I in him’ (John vi.57). Moreover, after Holy Communion he continues to live in the radiance of the heart of Jesus, enveloped, as it were, in the atmosphere of His love and of His grace. By remaining constantly united to the Saviour the priest makes the divine gift bear abundant fruit in his soul:  ‘He that abideth in Me and I in him, the same beareth much fruit’ (John xv.5). [61] As with Baptism and Confirmation it is important we remember our First Holy Communion. The first time He permeated our beings with His Eucharistic Self. Remember too the first time we celebrated Holy Mass.

Certainly we cannot, of our own effort, duplicate those first experiences, but we can beg of the Holy Spirit a renewed and ever deeper faith in and love of the One who gives Himself to us.

                                              …… Holy Communion is the most excellent means of living in Christo. Through it, the priest unites himself in the full spirit of love of the Saviour: ‘He that eateth My flesh…abideth in Me and I in him’ (John vi.57). Moreover, after Holy Communion he continues to live in the radiance of the heart of Jesus, enveloped, as it were, in the atmosphere of His love and of His grace. By remaining constantly united to the Saviour the priest makes the divine gift bear abundant fruit in his soul:  ‘He that abideth in Me and I in him, the same beareth much fruit’ (John xv.5). [61]

Our sacramental reality of being in persona Christi will fragment, indeed dissolve into a mere function unless we, like St. John the Beloved before us, nestle frequently, trustingly and lovingly, against His Most Sacred, and broken open for us, Heart.

We need this intimacy with the Divine Lover and there is no better time for this contemplative union between us than when we have received Him in the Holy Eucharist.

While such a lingering with Him may not be possible immediately after receiving Him during the liturgy or right thereafter, we should strive, and if our people know this is what we need they will respect the time we take, to be alone with Him as soon as possible.

Only through intimacy with Christ of the Wounded Heart will we ever overcome the fear of having our own hearts broken open. Only through that same intimacy will we willingly embrace the cross daily and follow Him wherever His love takes us.

                                                             The mystery of the Cross is the compendium of the beatitudes. In it are found, in unity of sorrow – the most perfect unity that exists after the unity of love in the bosom of God – the virtues and the gifts which the beatitudes produce in an incomparable and divine degree of perfection. The divine nakedness of the Cross is the consummation of detachment. The unutterable state of Jesus as victim, totally surrendered to divine justice in the sacrifice of Calvary, is the height of meekness. The immense desolation of Christ on the Cross is the depth of holy sadness of those who weep. The immortal victim is supreme justice and supreme mercy united on earth in an ineffable kiss of pain, as they are united in heaven in the divine kiss of love. The holy, unfathomable and infinite purity of the nakedness of Christ Crucified is the divine summit of purity on earth, as in heaven nakedness, divine simplicity, is infinite purity. And the sublime monument on the top of Calvary is the last word of love, both human and divine on earth.

                                                                When we contemplate Christ on the Cross with the enlightened eyes of the heart, we grasp this most profound and fundamental truth, that there are only two consummations of sanctity because there are only two unities: that of love in heaven and pain on earth. Sanctity is simplification. God is most holy because He is infinitely simple; souls are holy because they are simplified in God. In the discourse at the Last Supper, when He asked the Father for perfect holiness for His own, Christ said, ‘That they may be one, even as We are one.’  The Father and the Word are joined in the unity of the Holy Spirit, that is, in the unity of love. Souls are united in the Cross of Christ, in the unity of pain. [63]

The Holy Eucharist is communion of love.

Communion of love is Trinitarian.

“Pain”, cries out with affirmation and joy, teaches the Servant of God, Catherine Doherty, “is the kiss of Christ!” [Sg. Of Sgs. 1:2; Ps. 16:11]

Holy simplicity is that freedom which is the hallmark of the children of the Father, that trust which is the hallmark of hearts which know they are beloved of Christ the Divine Lover, that obedience which is the hallmark of wills and souls totally surrendered to the movements of the Holy Spirit.

The more we allow our hearts to be broken open the more we shall truly love Christ and the things of Christ, the Church and all she asks of us in truth-teaching, fidelity to ritual and the more we shall be true humble, loving servants of our brothers and sisters.

If we are not in the depths of this communion of love with the Holy Trinity, the source and summit of which love flows from the source and summit of our sacramental life, the Holy Eucharist, then we will, inevitably, seek a substitute.

The heart cannot be without love.

Either the heart embraces the reality of Real Love Himself and the Love offered us, or the heart will accept unreality and become captive by some other.

One of the most classically manly men of the two-fisted, hard drinking, no nonsense kind of the last century, who grew up through all the wars and other chaos of that bloody time, was touched in the depths of his soul by the Little Flower and our Blessed Mother. Subsequently another woman touched his heart and to make self-gift to her it meant embracing poverty, agreeing the apostolate she founded must come first and, eventually, it meant embracing chastity as well.

All the weight of the cross, all the pain of that aspect of his vocation was mingled with much physical pain because of his heart condition.

In both senses of the phrase.

In his professional life he had been one of the toughest reporters in a very tough era when newspapers where the main source of news for most people.

He was also one of the most highly paid and famous.

In the early days of the apostolate, by then known, as it is today around the world, as Madonna House, he helped keep the little community going by writing books.

Towards the end of his life his childhood dream was fulfilled when he was ordained a priest.

To participate in any Divine Liturgy he celebrated was to see the face of a man, a priest, totally in love with Love Himself.

It was to see in the radiance of his face, the tenderness of all the movements, gestures, words which the rubrics ask of us, the intimacy, confidence, faith, hope and joy flowing from the Eucharistic love affair.

Years before, while still a layman, as noted in his book I Cover God, he was walking in the forest, chanced upon a pine tree, kissed it and tasted a drop of resin.

His heart was suddenly moved with love and his heart heard the voice of love Himself:

                                                                I have kissed you with the kiss of all My forests …but I have been much more intimate than that. I have also kissed you with the kiss of My mouth! My Son! My Word!

                                                               My Son, My Word, was and is the perfect Man. He was and is the essence of humanity, as well as the essence of divinity. My Son, My Word, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, God and Man, is placed daily on your tongue by one of My priests – even as the lifeblood, the essence, of the pine, was placed on your tongue by yourself.

                                                             You felt the pine sap. You felt its pungent, aromatic taste; its oily pleasantness; its enduring flavour. You do not, ordinarily, taste anything in the Host except the taste of bread. And this taste is neither pungent nor long lasting.

                                                           Only your soul knows the wondrous strength and sweetness in the Communion Wafer – in the Body and Blood, in the Soul and in the Divinity, of My Son, My Word.

                                                          You cannot taste Divinity!

                                                          Jesus is the essence of humanity, the essence of all the people I have put upon your earth. You are part of it, and it is part of you. The pine you tasted is a perfect tree. There is no taint in its essence. The Host you swallowed was, and is, human and divine perfection. There is no taint in it. There is no taint in Mary. There is no taint in her Son.

                                                         I am I. I am God. Out of My mouth comes the Word. The Word I utter is I. I am the Father of the Word. I am the Concord, the Love, that exists between the Voice and the Word. I am the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. I am the Three-in-One, the One-in-Three. I am the Crucified. I am the Resurrection and the Life.

                                                        ‘In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God; and the Word was God.’ ‘The Word made flesh.’ The Word I uttered is a kiss. The kiss of My mouth. The kiss of peace. The kiss of pity. The kiss of boundless mercy. The kiss of consolation. The kiss of love. The kiss spurned. The kiss betrayed by a kiss, and sold and slain. The kiss of redemption. The kiss triumphant over death. The eternal kiss of God. This is the kiss I give to free you, My slave. I am God and you are but a slave. You kneel before Me at Communion. You are My subject. Yet I am your subject too, for I come to you at your bidding! I come to you gladly. I stoop to you. I visit you. I kiss you with the kiss of My  mouth. I give you the kiss of eternal life. [64]

The Cross is the Tree soaked with the resin of His Precious Blood, poured forth from Love’s broken open Heart.

Every time we approach the altar and celebrate the Sacred Mysteries we are in Love’s embrace, in communion of love.

Let us stop resisting the invitation to be so plunged into the reality we celebrate that we fear the ever more complete breaking open of our hearts, or resist the kiss of His mouth.

The Holy Gospel reminds us that one of the reasons for the breaking open of His Heart is for the purpose of our being still in love’s contemplation of Love poured out. [Jn.19:37]

We know that it is our own sins which break open His Heart.

But He only wounds us with redemptive love.

At the beginning of this chapter I mentioned some priests who were much on my heart. Among them the eldest who had been my confessor for decades.

One year during the party we had to celebrate his birthday, and his more than fifty years as a priest, I was sitting beside him when another priest approached and said with great affection: “Well Father, just imagine all the Holy Communions you have received in your life!”

The old priest looked up.

His face was brilliant with a shimmering radiant light.

He simply smiled a smile of one who absolutely trusts he is beloved. [Jn.6:27]

When we truly love someone and that love is real and holy we yearn to be with them always, we think about them, make choices with their best interest at heart.

In a word we make a gift of ourselves to them.

Thus with each Holy Communion our hearts ever more humbly, ever more generously, ever more zealously ask the question about the ‘to do’ aspect of our being [Jn.6:28,29] and live it out precisely by being who we are!

At the heart of everything is faith.

Faith, as we know, is not only ascent to the truths of faith, but it is also a deep trust in all that the Church asks of us.

Faith does not tinker with the content of truth, nor the truth of proper sacramental form.

Faith not only believes that what we consecrate is His Real Presence, but never alters anything within the Sacred Liturgy.

Humble obedience is the external witness of faith.

When we are disobedient, even in little things, we begin to distance ourselves from that obedient intimacy with the Father which Jesus offers us in communion of love.

What should be the humble, untainted, celebration of the Heavenly Liturgy becomes pockmarked with our own egos and there is a real sadness which envelops our good people when they see an incomprehensible twisting of what should be only of and about Christ into something which becomes a paltry performance rather than a sublime celebration of the mystery of faith.

When we do such things we join interiorly at least in a type of return to our ‘former way of life’ and in a sense begin to no longer accompany Jesus in the depths of fidelity.

Who among us would ever want to hear Love Himself ask: DO YOU ALSO WANT TO LEAVE?

That question, in John 6 verse 66, speaks to the heart of our struggle to be truly humble, faithful, obedient servants of the very mysteries we celebrate.

In 1990 Cardinal Godfried Danneels, addressing himself as much to his priest sons as to his people, wrote a pastoral letter of clear truth-teaching and exquisite tenderness on the holy sacramental priesthood. It has been published in English as: Messengers of Joy.

In this great pastoral the Cardinal speaks about what can cause the heart of a priest to become emptied of joy, seek to flee the Cross, the lance, the tomb. He also addresses the reality of our being priest in the midst of the culture of death in what is seen to be the post-Christian era. In so doing he faces straight on the pain of many priests who struggle with what swirls around us, distracts or tempts us in raw contradiction of the truth alive in our hearts.

                                                           ….priests must often pass from great joy to deep sadness within a few moments. This need to shift gears, to empathize alternately with joy and sorrow, makes great demands on their hearts. It can be exhausting, but is also gives them a special serenity, a certain satisfaction. Pastoral work often means that we must stand in mid-stream, half-way between two shores. Every priest is familiar with the tension between justice and mercy, between doctrine and practice, between requirements and compassion; between what the Church teaches and what is possible to the poor believer. Some people expect priests to be rigorously orthodox, adhering literally to every detail; others expect realism, a recognition of the need to adapt and of the need for ‘inculturation.’ Priests can be trapped between liberals and conservatives. Poor St. Christopher carrying the Infant Jesus between two shores which want nothing to do with each other! [65]

Even during the celebration of the source and summit of our faith we can experience that immense stress of which the Cardinal speaks and it can drain our capacity to be fully present to the reality of who we are and with Whom we are in communion of love.

During those times when we most experience this pulverization is the moment when in fact the lance is breaking through the outer shell of our hearts and we are being wounded with love!

When all we want to do is flee, to hide, to find some place where we are not being torn at, our hearts should take comfort in the very cry spoken by our predecessor in the sacred priesthood, and share in his faith. [Jn.6:68, 69]

Since reality is we cannot love without a broken open heart reality also is that when our hearts are truly broken open we become icons of charity and icons of communion of love.

This is when we become truly what we are, shepherds, teachers, and can then form with our people, who receive Christ in Holy Communion, that community of living and humble charity which builds the civilization of love.

Then, once again across the earth, for all to see, for all to discover as the pilgrim’s path, their true home on earth, a place of refuge and hope, a house of love, will the Church, in each parish, be what She is and we priests will truly become what we are.

Thus will our people be what they are called to be through their own baptismal vocation to holiness. [Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35]

If we are to build up the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church on earth, to form true community, build the civilization of love, then it becomes necessarily urgent we priests be of one mind and heart with Holy Mother the Church, the Holy Father and have true communion of love among ourselves as bishops and priests. [1Jn.4:12]

The icon of the perfection of God’s love within us is the obvious love we have for each other.

So necessary to the full proclamation of the Gospel, and so much is this unity in charity also the essence of the lived mystery of faith we celebrate, that it forms part of Christ’s own priestly prayer to the Father on our behalf. [Jn.17:20-23]

Disunity between our hearts and the heart of the Church, the heart of the Pope; lack of love for our brothers in the holy priesthood, is the evil spawn of negativity, egoism and usually is fuelled by that most common and pernicious of priestly sins: gossip.

        Negativity and gossip are potent satanic weapons which discourage hearts from true devotion and generosity, leading to the destruction of the shepherd and the scattering of the flock.

As much damage as can be done when we fail to preach orthodox catholic teaching, mess around with the rubrics, deny that we are indeed Father, hide behind the porous veil of secular dress, nothing equates the damage done when our people see we fail to truly love one another.

There is really, in spite of the very serious others which have wounded the Church across the ages, no greater scandal than disunity among the shepherds.

Only when we live the Gospel command of love and its adherent unity, with our lives without any compromise, will our people be united in charity. [Jn.15:8-17]

Having just instituted the sacraments of the holy priesthood and the Holy Eucharist, heading with an obedient heart towards the fulfillment of the will of the Father even to having His Heart broken open on the Cross, Jesus pours out those words of life for us.

This is the detailed description of our divine election, our vocation of joy through ordination.

               Jesus here tells us completely who and why we are in persona Christi.

The Holy Eucharist can truly be called our very reason for being!

Yes, if we allow our hearts to be broken open our own hearts will become Eucharistic hearts, filled with the fire of the Spirit, the selflessness of Christ, the love of the Father.

                                                   In the resurrection of Jesus God has poured the fire of His love into the entire universe….

                                                  …If we who have been baptized with fire allow that fire to consume us, if we simply allow God in us to be God in us, then everything we touch and every person we gather into our arms and hearts will feel the risen flesh of Jesus.

                                                ….Catherine {the foundress of Madonna House Lay Apostolate} has always said, “I can endure anything between two Masses.” Jesus never asks us to endure anything without His Body and Blood….

                                               …..Between two Masses: because Jesus did not count the cost, He baptized time itself with the fire of God’s love. The time between one Eucharist and the next becomes the time of the towel and the water, the time of washing my        brothers’ and sisters’ feet. At first we do not understand, but as we wash –grudgingly counting each minute – we begin to discover that through this washing, in the very act of loving so humbly, Jesus is feeding us with His risen Body. As He makes the commonplace bright with His glory, our minds fall silent, and only our hearts can grasp what He shows us: that in loving as He loves we are offered with Him to the Father and are received with Him as the Easter bread by all those we serve.

                                                                              After the Supper with His friends, Jesus went to the garden, where He said, “My heart is breaking with sorrow” (Mk.14:34). He is risen, but to live the joy of His resurrection is to experience the heartbreak of Christ. We say, “That’s it. I’m finished. I follow the Lord and look what He has done to me.” We are not finished, however; we are just beginning, as Jesus was. As that tiny little cramp that you thought was yourself breaks open, you discover that within there is this radiant stillness of everlasting life – Jesus Himself, the Lord, with His Father and the Holy Spirit.

                                                              You discover that stillness by washing the feet of others every day. You may well see only the naked, dirty feet until, by the great tenderness of the Father, the Easter bread begins to purify your heart, and the Easter light begins to cleanse your eyes. Then you begin to see whose feet you are washing, and who is washing your feet as you wash others’. Then the time between two Masses becomes what the Mass itself is: loving sacrifice transformed by the Father’s love into perfect joy. Then the Lord’s word – “that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete”. (Jn.15:11) – is fulfilled in you because, as you let Him feed you with His love and let Him make you too the bread of love, your heart becomes what His heart is: an icon of that love that makes the sun rise on the good and the evil alike, that lets the rain fall both on the just and the unjust. [66]