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  • Sarah Raad

Merit

“There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.” (Saint John Vianney).

Garden of Gethsemane Jesus Praying (Lance Brown)

We have so many blessings in our lives. All that is good blesses us and so does all that is bad. For God – who is GOODNESS – can use EVERYTHING for the GOOD!


The Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, “Someday we will thank God not only for what He gave us, but also for that which He refused.”


I have been reflecting on those words very much over the last few days and weeks.


After all, this life is fleeting – frighteningly so – and yet, we continue to ask and act and pray as though this life would continue forever! At least, I certainly do.


I know all prayers have merit, but at times I find myself praying like a squirrel or a rabbit if they could pray. It is as though I smell a tiny whiff of possible danger on the breeze, and I duck for cover into hollowed-out warren or hollowed-out tree, too timid to even look out ever again.


And when I reflect on this, it seems strange to me that I behave like a squirrel or a rabbit, because God made me a lion and He made me to be brave!


I heard a story of Blessed John Henry Newman who was an Anglican minister who converted to Catholicism and became a Catholic priest in the 19th century. Obviously, when he converted to Catholicism, Blessed John Henry Newman was required to sacrifice many things, including his substantial income, but he understood the merit in greater things than money, and he said, “And what are all the pounds of silver in the world compared to one single Holy Communion!”

And he was not the only one to value the merits of the Blessed Eucharist. When he was very old, the famous Italian writer, Alessandro Manzoni continued to attend Mass, even in very cold and even icy conditions because he believed, “All the gold of the universe is nothing compared to that tiny piece of Bread.”

Saint John Vianney said, “There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.”


And so, as we enter what feels like the umpteenth week of lockdown in Sydney due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it occurs to me that what I am mostly feeling is what I am lacking…


And I feel the absence of the Blessed Eucharist in my soul with all the force of my existence. I miss my God – though He stands beside me now.


And I reflect on the suffering of my God, who surely missed His Perfect Divine Trinitarian Communion during the Great Silence between Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday when Christ prayed and heard nothing from the Father or the Holy Spirit… Because Christ – God the Son – bore the sacrifice of the Cross ALONE…


And how much God must have suffered in that silence!


After all, I am sinful and weak and distracted and unworthy and know God not at all and I suffer for not having received Him into my soul in the Holy Eucharist for a period of a few short weeks. In fact, despite any of my best efforts, I can attain Heaven only through God and the Graces that He provides to me. So, when I suffer – for missing my God – it is not great suffering really despite all that I feel – for I cannot even fathom an iota of the magnanimous glory of God and so I cannot really know Who or What I truly miss.


I compare this suffering of mine to that of God Himself – denied the communion with Himself for three long days during that Great Silence so that Christ could suffer the anguish of the Cross ALONE… What anguish He – God the Son and His perfect and equal Father and Holy Spirit – must have felt at that emptiness! What faith Christ maintained as perfect man to never give in to despair.

How the angels in Heaven must have mourned to see their Beloved suffer! How I mourn to think about it now…

Saint Faustina understood something of this burning desire to know God because she prayed, “O my Jesus, give me wisdom, give me a mind great and enlightened by Your light, and this only, that I may know You better, O Lord. For the better I get to know You, the more ardently will I love You.”


And the Love of the Lord has more merit than anything else that I could think of in all of creation…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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