Jesus is in our tabernacles, and this fact we call the Real Presence. The same Jesus who was sheltered by Mary Immaculate within her virginal body, is in the little body of white Host. The same Jesus Who was whipped, crowned with thorns, and crucified as a Victim for the sins of the world, remains in the ciborium in the Host as a Victim Sacrificed for our salvation.
The same Jesus who rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, where He now is gloriously reigning at the right hand of the Father, resides on our altars, surrounded by a multitude of countless adoring Angels – a sight that Blessed Angela of Foligno beheld in a vision.
Thus Jesus is truly with us. “Jesus is there”. The holy Cure of Ars could not finish repeating these three words without shedding tears. And St. Peter Julian Eymard exclaimed with joyful fervor, “There is Jesus”. Therefore all of us should go visit Him. And when St. Teresa of Jesus heard someone say, “If only I had lived at the time of Jesus… if only I had seen Jesus… If only I had talked with Jesus…” she responded in her spirited way, “But do we not have in the Eucharist the living true and real Jesus present before us? Why look for more?”
How saints kept visiting Jesus
The Saints certainly did not seek for more. They knew where Jesus was, and they desired no more that the privilege of keeping inseparable company with Him, both in their affections, and by bodily presence. Being ever with our beloved – is this not one of the primarily thing true love calls for? Indeed it is and therefore we know that visits to the Blessed Sacrament and the Eucharistic Benediction were the secret yet evident loves of the Saints.
The time of paying a visit to Jesus is wholly the time of love – a love we will resume practicing in Paradise, since love alone “does not come to an end” (I Cor. 13:8). St. Catherine of Genoa made no blunder in saying, “The time I have spent before the tabernacle is the best spent time of my life.”
St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, apostle of the Immaculate Virgin, used to make an average of ten visits a day to the Blessed Sacrament – a practice he began as a young student. During the school year, during the intervals between classes, he would hasten to the chapel so that in the mornings he managed to make five visits to Jesus. During the rest of the day he made five more visits. Among these, one was what he considered always a compulsory stop during the afternoon walk. It was in a church (in Rome) where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed.
Also, St. Robert Bellarmine during his youth, when on his way to and from school, used to pass a Church four times. Thus, four times a day he would stop and pay a visit to Jesus.
How often does it happen that we pass by a Church? Are we perhaps rather thoughtless and callous? The saints hoped they would meet a church along the road they were taking; whereas, we are quite indifferent, even if we find churches before us. Ven. J.J Olier wrote; “When there are two routes to get me to a certain place, I take the one on which I meet more churches, in order to be nearer the Blessed Sacrament. When I see a place my Jesus is, I am so happy, and I say, ‘You are here, My God and my All.”
St. Alphonsus Rodrigues was a door keeper. His duties often took him by the chapel door; and then he would never fail to at least look in to give our Lord a loving glance. When he left the house and when he returned, he always visited Jesus to ask His blessing.
The angelic youth, St. Stanislaus Kostka took advantage of every free moment to hurry off to visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. When he simply could not make it, he would turn to his Guardian Angel and tell him quietly, “My dear Angel, go there for me?” And what a truly angelic assignment! Our guardian Angel would be quite glad to comply. In fact, we could not ask him to do us a nobler and more agreeable favour.
St. Augustine has left us an account about his mother, St. Monica, which tells how, every day, besides attending Mass, she went twice to visit Our Lord once in the morning and once in the evening. Another holy mother of seven children used to do the same, Blessed Anna Maria Taigi. And St. Wenceslaus, King of Bohemia, used to make frequent trips, day and night, even in the rigors of winter, to visit the Blessed Sacrament in churches.
Perhaps these examples astonish us and might seem to us exceptional, even among saints. But that is not the case. Visits to the blessed Sacrament are acts of faith and love. Whoever has the greater faith and love, feels more strongly the need of being with Jesus. And what did the saints live by if not by faith and love?
One day a resourceful catechist said to his young pupils, “If an angel were to come to you from heaven and tell you, Jesus in person is in such and such a house and waiting for you, would you not at once leave everything in order to hasten to Him? You would interrupt any amusement or anything that occupied you; you would count yourself fortunate to be able to make a little sacrifice in order to go and be with Jesus. Now be sure and do not forget, that Jesus is in the tabernacle, and He is always waiting for you, because He wants to have you near and desires to greatly enrich you with His graces.”
Let us learn from the saints to love our visits to Jesus in the Eucharist. Let us make these visits. Let us linger with Him, talking with Him affectionately about what is in our heart. He will fondly look upon us and draw us to His heart. ‘When we speak to Jesus with simplicity and with all our heart’ said the holy Cure of Ars, “He does like a mother who holds her child’s head with her hands and covers it with kisses, and caresses.”
– – – written by Fr. Stefano Manelli