Playing Peek-a-Boo with God

By Chris Sparks

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! (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 223)

Is it too late to suggest to you a New Year’s resolution? I hope not. Forgive me if it is; but I'm certain Faustina would want me to share this one with you.

It is simply this: Make time this year to adore the Eucharistic Lord.

Saint Faustina loved the Lord present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, you see, so much so that her full name in religion was “Sister Maria Faustina of the Most Blessed Sacrament.” In fact, throughout her Diary, we read accounts of her visions of the Eucharistic Lord, of the Child Jesus in the hands of the priest at the moment of Consecration, and of the living Lord being broken apart to be distributed to the people.

Saint Faustina calls us to trust in Jesus, and in a special way, to trust, then, in the greatest of Sacraments, "the source and summit" of our Christian life (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1324). She calls us to believe in hidden realities, to accept on faith the presence of Jesus hidden under the appearances of bread and wine — and more.

She also calls us to believe in the hidden Jesus who comes to us “in His most distressing disguise,” as Mother Teresa put it — the hidden Jesus who comes to us in the poor. Indeed, St. Faustina had a uniquely powerful experience of that reality:

Jesus came to the main entrance today, under the guise of a poor young man. This young man, emaciated, barefoot and bareheaded, and with his clothes in tatters, was frozen because the day was cold and rainy. He asked for something hot to eat. So I went to the kitchen, but found nothing there for the poor. But, after searching around for some time, I succeeded in finding some soup, which I reheated and into which I crumbled some bread, and I gave it to the poor young man, who ate it. As I was taking the bowl from him, he gave me to know that He was the Lord of heaven and earth. When I saw Him as He was, He vanished from my sight. When I went back in and reflected on what had happened at the gate, I heard these words in my soul: My daughter, the blessings of the poor who bless Me as they leave this gate have reached My ears. And your compassion, within the bounds of obedience, has pleased Me, and this is why I came down from My throne — to taste the fruits of your mercy.

O my Jesus, now everything is clear to me, and I understand all that has just happened. I somehow felt and asked myself what sort of a poor man is this who radiates such modesty. From that moment on, there was stirred up in my heart an even purer love toward the poor and the needy. Oh, how happy I am that my superiors have given me such a task! I understand that mercy is manifold; one can do good always and everywhere and at all times. An ardent love of God sees all around itself constant opportunities to share itself through deed, word and prayer. Now I understand the words which You spoke to me, O Lord, some time ago (Diary, 1312-1313).

Eucharistic devotion trains the eyes of our heart to truly perceive the world and everything in it, especially our neighbor. As C.S. Lewis said in The Weight of Glory, “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.” Eucharistic Adoration prepares us to see through the fallen appearances of the world, of our neighbor, of the day to day struggles and suffering, in order to perceive God, sustaining everything, loving everything and everyone into being, sanctifying wherever He is welcomed, blessing abundantly wherever people say, “Thy will be done.” Everything is a gift; everything is potentially part of our communion with the infinite dance of giving and receiving in the heart of the Trinity, if only we consecrate ourselves to God and give everything to Him, particularly through the hands of Our Lady.

That doesn’t mean we will never face a cross; that doesn’t mean that all will be easy. We know what the Christian life is because we know the life of Christ. We know how to live as sons and daughters of God because Jesus and Mary did it first, did it best, and demonstrated that sorrow has a necessary place in the Christian life, just as much as joy, light, and glory. Part of our generous self-gift to God includes graciously accepting suffering and living it generously, to the best of our ability, all while we take the right and just steps to alleviate suffering.

But Eucharistic Adoration trains us for this, as well. Eucharistic Adoration teaches us to wait in silence and joy in the presence of the Lord. It brings us to feel the tension of His hiddenness, the drama and dreariness of awaiting His full unveiling, His full and final return. We may spend time with Jesus in joy, but we will also spend time with Jesus in sorrow, in tiredness, or in pain. We, like St. Faustina, should bring all of life’s problems and blessings with us to the Eucharistic Lord. We should come to Him in praise, thanksgiving, repentance, petition, and in all childlike trust.

He is with us, even if we can only see bread. He is with us, even if we can only taste wine. He is really here with us until the end of ages. We await His Second Coming, not as the return of a long absent, silent, and unreachable Lord, but rather as the child awaits the parent’s return in a game of peek-a-boo. Jesus is with us, as He promised (see Mt 28:20). He gave us His presence in Word and Sacrament, in Church and neighbor, in the poor and in the Mystical Body of Christ. He gives us His presence now, and will continue to do so into eternity.

So let us see with 2020 vision. Let us see clearly the nature of reality this year by fixing our gaze on the Eucharistic Lord, the fullness of God hidden under the appearances of bread and wine. Let us play peek-a-boo with God, knowing He is with us, trusting in His love, and so come to see the world as it really is. Let us place ourselves in the presence of God in the Eucharist, and so learn to recognize the presence of God in all things, the Creator sustaining all things by love.

  • Make sure to faithfully attend Mass on Sundays (or Saturday Vigil Masses) and solemnities.
  • If we don’t already, let’s try to attend daily Mass as often as possible.
  • If there’s Eucharistic Adoration, Exposition, and Benediction available at a parish near you, try to go at least once a month — more, if possible.
  • Sign up as an adorer at a perpetual Adoration chapel, if there is one near you.
  • If nothing else, go spend time with Jesus in the tabernacle at your local parish. Pray, read good Catholic literature, or simply sit in silence, keeping the Eucharistic Lord company and allowing Him to spend time with you, as well.

Let us also learn to see beyond the fallenness and brokenness of our neighbor, to perceive the image and likeness of God in the poor, the stranger, the alien, and the whole family of humankind.

  • Take a look at the lists of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Pick one, do some research into ways to perform that work of mercy, and make it a regular part of your life this year.
  • Need help with that? Take a look at ‘You Did It to Me’: A Practical Guide to Mercy in Action by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC. It’ll help you find the works of mercy best suited to your time, talents, and resources, as well as to your God-given desires.
  • Next time someone exasperates or upsets you, take a deep breath. Look at them and remind yourself silently that here before you is a beloved child of God, a brother or a sister. Offer up the anger, frustration, or fear to God. Then recommit to live the natural and supernatural virtues in relation to your neighbors, all while looking at them with the eyes of mercy.

These resolutions will help us to see God more clearly, love Him more dearly, and follow Him more nearly, in the words of the 19th century hymn, in the year 2020.

Chris Sparks serves as senior book editor for the Marian Fathers. He is the author of the Marian Press book How Can You Still Be Catholic? 50 Answers to a Good Question.

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