Tuesday, May 5, 2009

THE EUCHARISTIC MESSAGE OF GARABANDAL


By Rev. Joseph A. Pelletier, A.A.

In numerous ways, Our Lady at Garabandal has re-confirmed the Church’s centuries-old teaching regarding the Living Presence and Power of Jesus in the Eucharist. Fr. Pelletier, in this first of several articles, discusses one aspect of the Euchaistic Message of Garabandal.

One of the powerful signs of the authenticity of the Garabandal message is that it is Christ-centered. Its Christ-centeredness comes principally from its Eucharistic thrust: Communion (taught by way of the mystical Communion given to the girls by the angel), visiting the Blessed Sacrament, prayer for priests and thinking about the passion of Jesus. Mary’s mission was, and always is to draw us to Jesus, and it is by this drawing to Jesus that we are able to recognize her authentic presence.

Mary did not mention herself in the two, “Official” messages of October18, 1961, and June 18, 1965. The recommendation of the rosary, which she made every time she came, was done in a more informal manner in the course of her conversations with the girls. So, too, with the scapular. It was recommended in an indirect fashion-by the title Our Lady chose, that of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and by the large scapular which she always wore over her right arm.

The first message of 1961 was a call to penance and repentance, a plea to seek “forgiveness with sincere hearts”. It contained another reminder of the “Eucharist to which less and less importance is being given.” It called out attention to priests, sorely in need of prayers-priests, the ministers of the Eucharist. It asked us to “think about the passion of Jesus”- Jesus, the High Priest who perpetuates the sacrifice of the cross through the Mass.

It would seem that we are just know beginning to understand the full meaning and importance of the Eucharistic message of Garabandal. This message was seen at first as a reminder and defense of the traditional Catholic view of the Eucharistic and especially of the reality of the divine presence. This understanding of the Eucharistic message of Garabandal is, of course, correct and was very much needed in the days of unbelievable confusion that followed the Ecumenical Council Vatican II.

However, the Holy Spirit, with whom Mary is inseparably bound, is leading the Church to a fuller and richer understanding of all of the channels of grace, among which the Eucharist is one of the most important and far-reaching. This fuller and richer understanding is not really something new. It is more accurately a return to the belief-and practice- of the early Church. The Holy Spirit is reminding us of something that, at least in practice, we had forgotten, namely, that the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and Penance, have important functions of healing.

In regard to the Eucharist, most of the stress in the past was on the “food” or strengthening aspect of the sacrament. This certainly is an authentic and important aspect of the Eucharist. But the risen Christ who comes to us to strengthen our souls and help them grow in the love of God also comes to us with the fullness of his healing power, the same healing power that flowed from his person during the years of his public ministry. In those days it was enough to touch the hem of his garment with faith and expectancy to be healed both physically and morally. How far greater is the intimacy of our contact with Christ through the Eucharist! Christ knows the tremendous need for healing we all have today, physical, psychological and spiritual healing. He loves us no less than he loved the Jews of His day. His power is not lessened in any way, and at Communion we are in unbelievably close contact with that power. What is the matter then? Why aren’t we healed? Very simply, because we don’t believe that He wants to heal us. And not believing this, we don’t ask Him to heal us. It is truly as simple as that.

Faith and expectancy, believing and asking, are most important if we want to receive God’s gifts. He imposes nothing on us. He has given us a free will and respects that will. HE waits on us. He invites us but we must accept the invitation. In the book of Revelation, we are told: “Here I stand, knocking at the door. If anyone hears me calling and opens the door, I will enter his house and have supper with him, and he with me” (2:20).

Jesus stands and knocks, but will not force His way in. We must open the door. We must want Him to come in and we must indicate this to Him. We do this in prayer by asking. To ask is to open the door. He stands at our door with all His power, the same power He used during his mortal life to expel demons, cure the sick and raise the dead. But we don’t ask Him to come in and use that power. We stand there facing each other, Jesus and us, with only a door that we can push to open separating us. And if we fail to push the door open, Jesus’ power remains unused and fruitless to the pain and sorrow of His loving and merciful heart.

Yes, Jesus is pained and sorrowed at not being able to use His power for us, at our lack of confidence in His love for us. We offend His love when we do not ask, we are in reality saying to Him; “I do not dare to ask because I do not think you will give me what I want. I am not sure that you love me enough to give me what I ask.”

It all reduces itself to our faith, or lack of faith, in His love. If we truly believed in His love, we would ask Him to move the mountain of physical, psychological and spiritual ailments that are crushing us and breaking our spirits and removing all joy from our hearts.

“Let him drink, who believes in me. Scripture has it: From within him rivers of living waters shall flow,” Jesus said (Jn 7:37-38). Not a little trickle of water will moisten our lips, but flowing rivers of water shall refresh our body and soul if we believe and ask, expecting to receive and “never doubting” (Jas 1:6). Jesus also said, “I came that they might have life and have it to the full” (Jn 10:10). Have life to the full! This is what He came to bring us with His power.

Jesus was really quite clear in what He said. Also, knowing “what little sense we have, and how slow we are to believe” ( Acts 24:25), He repeated the same thing many times. One of his clearest and most complete statements concerning this is found in John 14:12-14: “I solemnly assure you, the man who has faith in me will do the works I do and greater far than these. Why? Because I go to the Father, and whatever you ask in my name I will do, so as to glorify the Father in the Son. Anything you ask in my name I will do.”

When Jesus performed miracles during His life, he glorified his Father. When he performs miracles today at our asking, He also glorifies the Father. He wants to glorify the Father in this way, and we deprive Him of opportunities to do this when we do not ask Him to perform “great works” in us and through us.

The glory of the Father is the ultimate purpose of all Jesus did and does. The immediate purpose of what Jesus did and does concerns us. From our point of view, He performed and wants to continue performing miracles and healings so that we might “have life to the full.” Fullness of life includes joy and happiness: “Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full” (Jn 16:24). Jesus wants to heal us so that we may know full joy and happiness. This is not to say that He wants to remove the cross completely from our life, that He does not want us to suffer. He explicitly told us we would have to take up our cross and follow His example of suffering. But there are many forms of suffering besides physical, psychological and moral suffering. There is the hardship, the fatigue and often the anxiety that go with the fulfillment of our duty of state, the monotony of daily tasks, the problems of raising a family, of priestly and other ministries and services.

The healing which Jesus wishes to perform above all is inner healing, healing of the mind, of the spirit, of the soul. There are so many things in our minds, our memories, our subconscious, our weak nature that are obstacles to God’s love in our lives. These are the things He ardently wants to see removed and healed, so that His love may take over more completely in us. And these are the healings that are in fact being obtained most frequently

The promises obtained in Scripture and mentioned above are indeed being claimed in faith and are being fulfilled with ever growing frequency today. We know of what we speak. We have heard and observed these things ourselves. God loves us much more that we can ever imagine. He is not failing us. We are failing Him by not believing in His love and by not claiming in faith His loving promises. Those who are stepping out in faith and are asking, expecting to receive and never doubting, are finding out that God does indeed love us dearly and is pouring out His love in a lavish manner. They are discovering what St. Paul and all the saints have discovered, that Jesus is indeed “Him whose power now at work in us can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine” (Eph 3:20).

This power of the risen Christ is most likely to be released in us at Holy Communion. It is especially then that we should ask Jesus for inner healing, but not only for inner healing. We should not hesitate to ask him to cure our physical or bodily ailments, too. It is not harder for Him to do one or the other, or indeed both at the same time. But it is generally better to ask for one thing at a time. However, do not put any limits on His love for you or on His power. Ask for everything you need. Remember that healings are generally slow and gradual and normally take time. Our faith and our virtue is perfected in patience and perseverance.

But do not overlook or neglect the divine friend who remains with us, night and day; in our tabernacles. It is the same risen Christ that we receive in Holy Communion. His power can pierce the tabernacle door and reach us in the church pew as easily as it does at Communion. We should not be satisfied with a monthly Eucharistic vigil. If we had lively faith, we would “visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently,” as Our Lady requested in her first message at Garabandal.

Remember what Conchita has said: “The Blessed Virgin told us that it is a greater grace to receive Jesus in Holy Communion than to see her.”