From Soul of Christ
Theme for Holy Hour:
Jesus, Center of Our Lives
Suggested opening hymn: “Center of My Life,” refrain text and music composed by Paul Inwood, verses are Psalm 16.
Spend some time in silent adoration.
Adoring Jesus In His Word
When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.” Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!” (Luke 22:14-22)
Pause for silent reflection.
In the gospels, the institution of the Eucharist is such a momentous event that, as with the crucifixion, the gospel writers tell it tersely without commentary. Yet every word and gesture of Jesus is significant, as he must have been acutely aware of what he was doing. Let us prayerfully consider the words of institution, repeated at every Eucharistic Celebration.
This is my body…
Jesus gives thanks, breaks the loaf, and changes it into his body. Then, he literally offers his body to the disciples as their food, his blood as their drink. Jesus wants to be so close to us that he is our food and drink, that he becomes us and we become him.
It stunned the saints to understand the intimacy that Jesus wants with us, his all-too-sinful followers. Yet, Jesus is clear that this closeness is what he wants: “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you.” Every Eucharistic Celebration contains this intense eagerness of Jesus to become one with us.
We are called to make our entire lives Eucharistic, to make the Eucharist the center of our lives. How can we do this, practically speaking?
Blessed James Alberione encouraged the practice of making the Mass the center of our day (or of our week, if we participate at Sunday Mass):
Center the whole day in the Eucharist – this means to make the day Eucharistic. From noon to the next morning, prepare yourself by offering, sanctifying, and performing your various duties with hearts united to the Guest in the tabernacle. After Mass, spend the morning in thanksgiving, radiating the fruits of holy joy, working “through him, with him, in him” to the glory of the Blessed Trinity.
Thus, the hours or days before we go to Mass become a time of preparation to receive Jesus, through prayers of love and desire and by offering our daily small sufferings to him. And in the hours or days after Mass, we stir up in our hearts sentiments of joyful thanksgiving for all the gifts we have received, but most especially for the gift that Jesus makes of himself.
This Act of Faith in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, written by Blessed James Alberione, is a beautiful prayer to prepare our hearts to receive Jesus.
Take some additional time for your own personal reflection, then offer this Act of Faith and gratitude in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
Act of Faith
Jesus, eternal Truth,
I believe you are really present in the bread and wine.
You are here with your Body, Blood, soul, and divinity.
I hear your invitation: “I am the living bread descended from Heaven”; “take and eat; this is my Body.”
I believe, Lord and Master, but strengthen my weak faith.
…given for you
At the very moment at the Last Supper that Jesus gives himself fully to his disciples, he also tells them that he is giving himself fully for them – and for all of us. The very next day, he will die for us. By giving his life for us, Jesus recreates our relationship with the Father: a covenant based not on our abilities, choices, or worthiness, but on his love.
Following Jesus Way
Ultimately, the Eucharistic Celebration is intended to be a celebration of love. Jesus, the Son of God, offers his human life so that we can live in true freedom, the freedom of being loved and unconditionally. Such an immense love that offers us the greatest freedom begs for a response. So the Mass is not just the renewal of Jesus’s sacrifice of love, but also becomes our loving response to his gift of himself.
The solemn, more formal language that the church uses in the prayers of the Mass is an effort to express in mere words the inexpressible: the mystery of God’s great love and our response.
Take some time to reflect on your personal response to the great gift Jesus makes of himself to us in the Eucharist.
Pray, “Lamb of God…” in sorrow for the times you have not been as attentive in celebrating the Eucharist and living a Eucharistic life.
Pray also for the grace to center your life on the Eucharist.
In Union With Christ
What has been my response to the immense love Jesus offers me in the Eucharist? How can I participate at Mass more fully, more lovingly? How do I want to live a Eucharistic life from now on?
Do this in remembrance of me
Jesus asks us to celebrate the Eucharist in his memory. It is not enough just to remember his love. We need to experience his saving love frequently if we are to stay united with him. When we remain in his love, we bring his love into the world.
Authentic love includes sacrifice, a dying to some of our own desires for the sake of the one we love. The greater the love, the greater the sacrifices we are willing – even happy – to make. If we truly love Jesus, we come to share his interests and desires. And his urgent desire is to bring God’s saving love to everyone. He asks of us: “Do this in remembrance of me.” What does “this” mean? Certainly celebrating the memorial of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. But couldn’t “this” also mean sharing everything with Jesus, just as Jesus shares everything with us? Might “this” also mean to give ourselves to others just as selflessly as Jesus gives himself to us at every Eucharist? His call to us to imitate him comes just after the institution of the Eucharist in Luke’s Gospel: “I am among you as one who serves,” (Luke 22:27). In John’s Gospel, the washing of the feet is the ultimate symbol of living the Eucharistic life.
“Do this in remembrance of me,” is Jesus calling to us to live a Eucharistic life: to share in the life and mission of Jesus, to share in his paschal mystery, to share his love with others.
We might feel overwhelmed by the greatness of this call. Yet the call to live a Eucharistic life is not impossible because Jesus nourishes us with his own Body and Blood. In giving us himself, Jesus strengthens, comforts, and transforms us. Even though we are weak and sinful his loving grace can overcome any obstacle. This great mystery of faith is also incredibly personal: in the Eucharistic Celebration, we are transformed into Christ for the world.
We pray for the grace to remain united to Jesus, to center our life on him, to allow Jesus to transform us. The beautiful prayer below, written by Blessed James Alberione as a thanksgiving after Holy Communion, can be prayed any time for the intention of growing in union with Jesus.
PRAYER TO JESUS LIFE AFTER COMMUNION
You may wish to use this prayer as a spiritual communion.
Jesus, my life, my joy and source of all that is good,
I love you.
Above all, I ask of you that I may love you and all those redeemed by your Blood more and more.
You are the vine and I am the branch:
I want to remain always united to you so as to bear much fruit.
You are the Font—pour out an ever greater abundance of grace to sanctify me.
You are my head, I am your member: communicate to me your Holy Spirit with all his gifts.
May your Kingdom come through Mary.
Console and save all those dear to me.
Free the souls in purgatory.
Multiply and sanctify those called to share in your mission.
Close with a hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, such as “Sing of Mary,”
written by Roland F. Palmer, SSJE, asking for the grace to learn to “live Christ” as she did.