In the early 1970s, during the Vietnam War, Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan was the Archbishop of Saigon.
The Communists saw him as a threat.
>> On the Feast of the Assumption – 1975 – he was arrested and shipped off to a prison in North Vietnam.
He stayed there for thirteen years, nine of them in solitary confinement.
>> During his imprisonment, he was not allowed celebrate Mass or receive the Eucharist.
However, the Archbishop was allowed one luxury: to write letters to friends outside prison.
When he did, he often asked them to send him what he called “his medicine.”
>> They knew what he meant.
They sent him cough medicine bottles…
… filled with wine and small bits of bread.
>> Sympathetic guards smuggled him some wood and wire, and from that he made a small cross, which he hid in a bar of soap.
He kept all this in a cardboard box.
>> That box became his own private altar.
Every day, at 3:00 p.m. – the Hour of Christ’s death – he would place drops of wine in the palm of his hand, mingled with water, to celebrate Mass.
The greatest ongoing miracle in history was able to take place.
>> That cramped prison cell became as beautiful and as blessed as any cathedral…
… a sanctuary for the glory of God.
He did this for thirteen years…
… till he was finally freed in 1988.
This is a man who understood – with every fiber of his being – how precious Holy Communion is.
What about us?
>> How deep is my understanding, faith and love for the Most Holy Eucharist?
The Holy Eucharist – the Body and Blood of Jesus – is the greatest treasure that the Church offers to Her children…
>> Yet, the Holy Eucharist sometimes, also becomes the great barrier for people to misunderstand and misinterpret the Church.
The same was true even in the time of Jesus.
>> The mention of His Body and Blood caused great division, misunderstanding and led to the misinterpretation of Jesus.
The Gospel of the Day is an account of the Lord declaring the necessity of being partakers of His Body and Blood to be having a share in eternal life.
Jesus continues His discourse on He being the “Bread of Life”.
The Lord surprises His hearers by saying that He is “the bread that came down from heaven” (Jn 6:51a)
He shocks them even further by saying that “the bread that I give is my flesh for the world” (Jn 6:51b)
This caused a dispute among the people, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” (Jn 6:52)
The bold declaration of the Lord that He would give His Flesh and His Blood as food and drink, caused a huge scandal among His listeners and it cause deep divisions and disputes.
The same is so much true in our own world, when the Church declares the Holy Eucharist to be the True and Real Body and Blood of the Lord, there is so much dispute and division caused.
>> Not many are able to accept this understanding
>> Not many are convinced of this teaching
>> Not many even believe this to be true
>> Not many are passionate either
The Catechism of the Church declares that “the mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique”
“In the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist ‘the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.”
The questions now arise before us…
1. How is my belief and understanding of this most Precious and Treasured Gift of the Holy Eucharist – “the source and summit of Christian Life”?
… Do I believe with conviction that Jesus is truly present in the Blessed Eucharist?
… Do I celebrate and participate in the Holy Mass with this Divine Fervour?
2. What is the effect that this Sacrament of Total Self-giving on me?
… Does the reception of Jesus, the Love Incarnate, make me in turn to be more loving towards others and do I make deliberate choices to extend love to all?
… Does the sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist impel me also to make sacrifices – even tiny, insignificant, unnoticed – for the cause and good of others?
3. How is my contribution to spread the Good News of the Holy Eucharist to others?
… Am I being a person who radiates the love of the Eucharist to others, by my conscious efforts to be respectful, reverent and devoted in the Chapel or Church and also become aware of the Lord’s Presence, when passing by Churches or handling Sacred objects?
… Do I tell to other people about this exciting, real presence of God in the Holy Eucharist, to other people, especially the sick, the suffering and those in distress, that they may experience the Real and True healing presence of the Lord?
May we understand that in the Most Holy Eucharist – the greatest ongoing miracle in history – takes place.
>> It is this miracle that can turn even a cramped prison cell to become as beautiful and as blessed as any cathedral…
… a sanctuary for the glory of God.
Let us grow in the Love for the Holy Eucharist and deepen our faith and conviction in Him.
May Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist always be praised…
… and may our Blessed Mother Mary, the Mother of the Eucharist, intercede for us!
God Bless! Live Jesus!
Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “The Holy Eucharist is the ‘the Sun of all spiritual exercises…
… the centre of the Christian religion
… the heart of devotion
… and the soul of piety
>> It is the Ineffable Mystery that comprises within itself the deepest depths of Divine Charity, the Mystery…
… in which God really gives Himself and gloriously communicates His graces and favours to us.”