Kindred Spirits in the Eucharist

The very first paragraph of Bl. Dina's autobiography sums up the center of her spirituality.

She wrote:

O Jesus, I promised not to think back to the past anymore so as to concentrate only on You, in the present, and now, out of obedience, I must submit to it lovingly. My only pleasure is to Let You Have Your Way. I have abandoned myself completely to Your action, so that, without hindrance, You may be able to fulfil your designs in me, poor as I am; to act freely, always and in everything. You have given me the grace to abandon myself to Your love, You have blotted me out, and in the purest transport of gratitude I cry out: 'I have now not with my own life, but with the life of Christ who lives in me' ...

You have plunged me into the immensity of Your grace and Your mercy, like a tiny sponge in the ocean. Countless times, when I was cold, forgetful, ungrateful, you multiplied your invitations and caresses... The perfect bliss of a soul here on earth is
To Love You and Let You Have Your Way.

These introductory words from Bl. Dina's autobiography show us what was central to her spiritual life. "To Love and Let Jesus Have His Way" was actually Dina's chosen motto; it summarizes for us her understanding of what she called the mystical "substitution" of Jesus Christ for her soul. In other words, His mystical indwelling that enabled Him to live in her and through her at every moment. This idea of mystical "substitution" was not intended by Bl. Dina to be a doctrinal novelty, but simply a vivid way of expressing St. Paul's teaching from Galatians 2:20: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me."

In one of the most famous passages from her autobiography, Bl. Dina describes in greater detail what she meant by mystical "substitution":

If I left everything in the care of Jesus, what would happen? Jesus, in return, undertook to do everything: to think, speak, act, not only with me but in my place. He substituted Himself for me and I let him have his way. Oh! What a choice gift it is to understand how to let the Savior live within oneself! I wish I could obtain this grace for every soul ..."

This idea of Christ's mystical "substitution," in other words, His mystical indwelling and intimate union with the soul that is completely surrendered to Him - this also finds an echo in the teachings of the Polish mystic St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-38). In Diary entry no. 1784, for example, Jesus said to Faustina:

How much I desire the salvation of souls! My dearest secretary, write that I want to pour out My divine life into human souls and sanctify them, if only they were willing to accept My grace. The greatest sinners would achieve great sanctity if only they would trust in My mercy.... My delight is to act in a human soul, and to fill it with My mercy.... My Kingdom on earth is My life in a human soul.

At other times, St. Faustina came very close to expressing her own union with Christ in terms of mystical "substitution." For example, as she wrote in her prayer in Diary entry no. 163:

I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy, and be Your living reflection, O Lord.... O my Jesus, transform me into Yourself, for you can do all things.

For St. Faustina, of course, the principal means that Jesus uses to deepen His mystical indwelling in the soul is the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist was the center, the well-spring of her whole life in Christ. As she wrote in her Diary (entries 1037 and 223):

One thing alone sustains me and that is Holy Communion. From it I draw all my strength; in it is all my comfort ... Jesus concealed in the Host is everything to me ... I would not know how to give glory to God if I did not have the Eucharist in my heart ...

O living Host, my one and only strength, fountain of love and mercy, embrace the whole world, fortify faint souls. Oh blessed be the instant and the moment when Jesus left us His most merciful Heart!

Through mystical revelations, Jesus impressed upon the soul of St. Faustina that in the Blessed Host she can find His Sacred Heart, overflowing with mercy. At the Three O'clock Hour each day, for example, Jesus encouraged her to "at least step into the chapel for a moment and adore in the Blessed Sacrament, My Heart, which is full of mercy" (entry 1572). Again, when our Lord appeared to Faustina one time just after she received Holy Communion, He said to her with great kindness: "My daughter, look at My merciful Heart."

"As I fixed my gaze on the Most sacred Heart," she wrote, "the same rays of light, as are represented in the image as blood and water, came from it, and I understood how great is the Lord's mercy" (entry 177).

Thus, for St. Faustina, it is in the Eucharist that we can find the living Heart of Jesus Christ, overflowing with the rays and graces of Divine Mercy for us, and this marks the center and well-spring of our whole life in Christ.

Not only do we find a similar teaching in Bl. Dina's autobiography, but we find it especially in her account of a vision she received. This vision seems to pull together all those same images that St. Faustina loved - Sacred Heart, Blessed Host, divine rays, flowing graces - it pulls them all together into one extraordinary manifestation of the merciful love of Christ in the Eucharist.

Dina wrote:

This morning when I arrived in Chapel, a little before six o'clock, I found Our Lord pleased. He seemed consoled.... Finally, during the Communion of the Community at Mass, I found it impossible to resist the force of this divine light any longer so I abandoned myself to the action of Our Lord. My Savior made me see His adorable Heart in the Sacred Host. I did not look upon His sacred countenance, but His Heart and the Host captivated me. The two, His Heart and the Host, were perfectly united, so much so that I cannot explain how it was possible for me to distinguish one from the other. From the Host there radiated a vast number of rays of light. From His Heart there sprang an infinity of flames which escaped with irresistible force. The Blessed Virgin was there close to Our Lord, so close that she seemed lost in Him and yet I could distinguish her from Him.... All the rays of the Host and all the flames of the Heart of Jesus passed [through] the Immaculate Heart of the most Holy Virgin.... I cried out:

"O Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, I entreat Thee, by Our Lady of the Eucharistic Heart, reign over all souls as Thou desirest."

Our Lord then showed me ... the rays of the Host and the flames of His Sacred Heart, passing [through] the heart of the Blessed Virgin, descend[ing] upon the nuns of our Congregation and from them were radiated upon a countless multitude of souls who surrounded them on every side, as far as the eye could reach, and were turned towards them, Our Lord said:

"My Heart overflows with grace for souls! Bring souls to My Eucharistic Heart."

This vision alone established Bl. Dina and St. Faustina as kindred spirits, devoted to the Heart of Christ, present and overflowing with graces for us in the Eucharist. This is not to say, however, that Bl. Dina's spiritual teachings are identical to St. Faustina's. There is certainly a difference in emphasis between the two. Dina's way emphasizes the indwelling that brings the soul into the life of the Blessed Trinity, and that leads the soul to undertake a life of reparative suffering, in and with Christ. Faustina has all of these elements in her spirituality too, as we shall see, but her emphasis lies more on the merciful love of God that makes all of this possible, and the response of trust that He asks from every soul in order to open our hearts to all the graces that He wants to pour out upon us.

Nevertheless, the similarities between the teachings of these two holy souls of the Church are so numerous, and so profound, that sometimes, when reading their writings side-by-side, we can feel as if we have uncovered something like a conspiracy between the two!

(This series continues next week on the theme of Divine Mercy in the spirituality of Bl. Dina Belanger of Quebec).

Let us pray for you. Send us your prayer petitions. They will be placed before the Blessed Sacrament in Our Lady of Mercy Oratory.

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