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The Eucharistic Life of the Saints

The saints in heaven are caught up in the great mystery of love, and they pray that we too will come to know the love that satisfies all human desire.


In Manhattan I’ve seen hundreds of people at a time standing in line to have a book autographed by its author. I've seen people braving all sorts of weather to get a signature from Dennis Rodman or Hillary Rodham Clinton, grasping for the slightest share in the fame of another.

The fame of this world leaves a person alone to defend his turf…
Yet, what does this seeking after vicarious fame get them? At the time of death, do they risk being left with the agonizing memory of a wasted life?

In chasing after fame, what many people fail to recognize is the unrepeatable opportunity open to each of us, as children of God. Human beings are not called to be famous, but to give their lives in love for the lives of others.

The saints have stood in another line, seeking to have the book of their lives signed. The author is the Author of Life, and his signature, like that of the poor and illiterate man, is a simple mark, a cross. This mark offers no mere vicarious share in fame, but like all marks made by God, this signature is personal and transforming.

The saints have been most profoundly signed with the cross when they’ve received the fruit of its sorrowful and victorious mystery, when they’ve received the Body and Blood of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist gives us a share in the life of the Trinity, the love shared among the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We were made to love and Christ’s love empowers us to love in union with God who lives to love.

Becoming holy is no private affair; rather, we love God and neighbor in community.
One of the secrets of the saints is that they imitate what they celebrate; they join in the mission of their Divine Master. As Christ gives himself as food for the life of the world, so also do the saints. They live lives that are Eucharistic. Upon receiving Christ they proceed to give themselves for the life of others. You could almost say that they "eat and run." The self-giving of the saints is an act of thanksgiving for God’s gift of life.

Pope John Paul the Great, writing from his sick bed in a Roman hospital, said the Eucharist was a "formula of life." The Church furnishes us with many examples of people who lived this formula. St. Ignatius of Antioch, the second century martyr and bishop, wrote to his fellow Christians telling them not to save him from being fed to lions. He wanted the teeth of the lions to grind him into a "pure loaf for Christ." Ignatius was imitating the offering of Christ in the Eucharist by offering himself as a witness to the truth of his faith.

The holy layman and mountain climber Pier Giorgio Frassati, who died in 1925 at the age of 24, said: "Jesus visits me every day in communion; I respond in the poor way I can, by visiting his poor." St. John Chrysostom spoke to those who would neglect the Eucharist as a formula for life: "Do you wish to honor the body of Christ, then do not neglect it when it is naked. Do not render it honor here in time with silk fabrics, on the altar, and then neglect it outside, where it suffers cold and nakedness."

The Jesuit Saint Alberto Hurtado, who was canonized on October 23, 2005, said of the Eucharist: "This marvelous presence of Christ in our midst should revolutionize our life." The saints receive Christ in order to give Christ to others, to give life to others, especially to those who are suffering and on the margins of society, to those who feel untouched by love and friendship. The Eucharistic life is the revolution of the saints!

Charles Peguy wrote: ‘What would the Lord say if we arrived before him alone, if we came home to him without the others?’
Communion with Christ in the Eucharist forms us into a community with God and the saints. The saints in heaven are caught up in the great mystery of love, and so they love us now by praying that we too will come to know the love that satisfies all human desire. God has given us himself and he invites us to share his goodness with others. His goodness allows us to have friendship with him and our fellow men and women now and throughout the ages.

Becoming holy is no private affair; rather, we love God and neighbor in community. In his play, The Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc, Charles Peguy wrote: "You do not save your soul as you save a treasure, you save it as you lose a treasure, by squandering it. We must save ourselves together. We must arrive together before the good Lord. What would he say if we arrived before him alone, if we came home to him without the others?"

The fame of this world leaves a person alone to defend his turf; the adventure of love offered by Christ means a party in which "the more" is truly the merrier.

Each of us receives a personal call to holiness, but not a private one. We are called to work for the holiness of one another. God sanctified the Virgin Mary at her conception, in the womb of St. Ann, to be the Mother of Christ and His Church. St. Joseph taught Jesus carpentry. Jesus called the Apostles who became saints. St. Stephen prayed for St. Paul’s conversion as Paul was stoning him. St. Athanasius knew St. Anthony of the Desert and became his biographer. St. Augustine’s conversion was a result of the prayers of his mother, St. Monica and the preaching of St. Ambrose. When he grew older he corresponded with St. Jerome. In the east we see that luminous constellation known as the Cappadocians. St. Gregory of Nyssa was the brother of St. Basil the Great, St. Macrina was their sister and St. Gregory Nanzianzus was their friend. St. Sixtus ordained St, Lawrence. St. Benedict and St. Scholastica were twins. Sts Cosmas and Damian were brothers. That strange and seemingly lonely figure of Syria St. Simeon the Stylite who lived on top of a column in the desert, preaching, praying, and healing once sent a letter to St. Genevieve who became the patron saint of Paris. Sts Francis and Clare were friends. St. Dominic’s mother is Bl. Jane and his brother is Bl. Mannes. Bl. Jordan of Saxony knew St. Dominic and later brought St. Albert the Great into the order, St. Albert in turn was the teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas. St Catherine of Siena worked with Bl Raymond of Capua. St. Antoninus knew Blessed Fra Angelico. St. Philip Neri knew St. Ignatius of Loyola, the Capuchin St. Felix Cantalice, the Cardinal St. Charles Borromeo, the Pope St. Pius V, St. Camillus de Lellis, and corresponded with St. Catherine De Ricci and he knew even more saints than these. St. Teresa of Avila was friends with St. John of the Cross. St. Martin de Porres knew St. Rose and St. Juan Macias. Rose and Martin were confirmed by the bishop St. Turibius. St. Francis de Sales and St. Jeanne de Chantal collaborated together and they were friends with St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise De Marilac. St. John Vianney called his friend St. Pierre Julian Eymard the "Holiest man in France". St. John Bosco worked with St. Maria Mazarello to assist orphans. Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinta the Fatima visionaries were brother and sister. Bl. Maria and Bl. Luigi Quatrocchi were married to each other. Bl. Mother Theresa and Bl. Jan Tyranowski were friends of Pope John Paul the Second and we all knew John Paul the Second.

The Church formed by the Eucharist is the friendship of God with his saints, a friendship that transcends space and time.
These saints are only a small part of the genealogy of the family of God that is formed in the Eucharist, celebrated and lived. The Word becomes Flesh in the Eucharist and from the altar the Word enters our hearts, and we become flesh also for the life of the world. The Church formed by the Eucharist is the friendship of God with his saints. This friendship transcends space and time and so the saints care for us even now. Saints touch the lives of other saints not only through proximity, but in other ways.

St. Charles Borromeo carried on his person a miniature portrait of the English martyr and Bishop St. John Fisher. Fisher’s portrait gave St. Charles strength in dealing with Italian noble families and in instituting reform. St Urho of Finland, whose feast is March 16th, drove a plague of grasshoppers out of Finland. The grasshoppers then flew to Ireland where the snakes came out to eat them. In turn, St. Patrick expelled the snakes from Ireland.

As we strive for holiness we ask the saints intercession, celebrate what God has done in them, read their lives and writings, join their religious communities and imitate their virtues. This is the great bounty of the Eucharist!

The French novelist Leon Bloy wrote: "There is but one sadness—not to be a saint." Settling on not being a saint is like fame, it lasts only a moment. The effects of the cross signed on our hearts lasts into eternity while still producing fruit in history. The saints will always be with us because they have nourished themselves on the food of eternal life, the Eucharist. The greatest adventure is to love with God and so we seek to find others and take them to the avenues of grace where the saints dwell, where the cross directs us to our destiny. The gift of the Eucharist compels us onward toward the heavenly banquet and as we move together we invite others to join this procession, to know a life of self-offering for the life of all people. Having lived the mystery of the Eucharist, we will be ready to shout for joy and take our rest together, with the saints, in the Sabbath that knows no end.
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October 30, 2006

BR. HUGH VINCENT DYER is a member of the Dominican order in the Eastern Province of St. Joseph, studying at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. (www.dominicanstudents.org)

©2006, Br. Hugh Vincent Dyer O.P. All rights reserved.

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READER COMMENTS
11.06.06   Roberto Phoenix says:
A very well written article. The only problem is that St Urho is a total fiticious saint who was made up in St. Paul, MN in 1956 during St Patrick's day so the Finnish people had a reason and saint of their own to celebrate. Quite popular here in Michigan's U.P. but not taken rather seriously.

10.30.06   Godspy says:
The saints in heaven are caught up in the great mystery of love, and they pray that we too will come to know the love that satisfies all human desire.

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