‘The most solemn moment of my life’: St. Faustina and the Eucharist

By Br. Stephen J., MIC

“The most solemn moment of my life is the moment when I receive Holy Communion. I long for each Holy Communion, and for every Holy Communion I give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity.” (Diary, 1804)

De Eucharistia numquam satis (“Never enough about the Eucharist”): This motto could well be applied to the life of St. Faustina, whose feast day is Oct. 5. The primary theme of her Diary, of course, is Divine Mercy, and it covers all the ways that God reaches down to meet the needs and overcome the miseries of His creatures. However, the Eucharist is, in an exceptional way, the Sacrament of mercy. 

In the Eucharist, Jesus remains Emmanuel, “God with us.” Through the Eucharist, He nourishes our spiritual life. With the Eucharist in Adoration, we are sanctified by imitating the prayer of the saints in Heaven, those who will forever see His face and bear His name on their foreheads (cf. Rev 22:4).

Bread of the Strong
In the Diary, St. Faustina never tires of praising the “Bread of the Strong,” from which she draws all the courage and strength she needs each day (91). This heavenly Food gives her the genuine hope that she may lead a life “pure, immaculate, undefiled,” even here on earth (159). The Lord gives her soul a special dependence on Him. 

When she doubted her worthiness to receive Communion because of a little failing, Jesus appeared to her to say, “My daughter, do not omit Holy Communion unless you know well that your fall was serious” (156). Only mortal sin prevents us from uniting ourselves to God in Holy Communion. Venial sins hinder us from accepting grace, but we can be purified of them in the fire of God’s love. Without this love, even the great St. Faustina could have easily been lost; therefore she writes, “I fear life on days when I do not receive Holy Communion … [but] from the tabernacle I draw strength.”

One day, while a priest was distributing Communion to the sisters at the Communion rail, one of the Hosts slipped out of his hand and fell first on his sleeve, then onto St. Faustina’s hands. This was before the liturgical changes following Vatican II, and so it was not the custom for any but the priest to touch the Sacred Host with his hands. 

Faustina, not knowing what to do, remained kneeling until the priest came before her again, and then lifted up her hands to return the consecrated Host to Him. While Jesus was in her hand, as she later wrote, “I felt such a power of love that for the rest of the day I could neither eat nor come to my senses.” 

Reparation
It is no accident that St. Faustina had specially been charged that day to make reparation for all offenses and disrespect of the Eucharist, praying that, at least for one day, not one person would commit sacrilege. Just imagine if the kind of grace she described were to inspire reverence in those who receive Holy Communion in the hand today; we would see miracles of conversion and of sanctity beyond belief.

The Eucharist, furthermore, taught St. Faustina how to love her neighbor. Jesus taught her in the Host that she too should become a “hostia,” a sacrifice. She often received light in Adoration or during Mass as to how she should treat certain persons with love and sincerity. It is a slow school, however; only near the end of her Diary (1769) does she tell Jesus that she can finally love her neighbor purely with His love. This absolute purity of divine love, she says, is daily kindled through the Eucharist. 

Mother Teresa said something similar: Only when we recognize Jesus in the Eucharist can we truly recognize Him in the poor of this world. Humanly speaking, such merciful love is impossible: That is why it is the distinguishing sign of Christians. We are known to be Christians, not because we love what is humanly lovable, but because we love what is humanly unlovable, for “the love of God has been poured into our hearts” (Rom 5:5), and it must overflow to others.

Eucharistic Revival
Last summer, on the Feast of Corpus Christi, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops formally initiated a “National Eucharistic Revival.” The purpose of this revival is to inspire us Catholics, particularly in America, to see the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and to shape our lives in accordance with that reality. Jesus complains to St. Faustina that souls “do not recognize Love” but treat Him “as a dead object” (1385).

Saint Faustina drew many souls to love the mystery of Divine Mercy in the Eucharist during her earthly life. However, her mission continues after her death, as she sings to Jesus in one of her many poems to the Blessed Sacrament:

Jesus, delight of my soul, Bread of Angels,
My whole being is plunged in You,
And I live Your divine life as do the elect in heaven,
And the reality of this life will not cease, though I be laid in the grave. (1393) 

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NBFD

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