The image depicts two good priests who were friends, Saint Jean-Marie Vianney and Saint Peter Julian Eymard. Saints flourish in relationship with each other. One might say that there are constellations of saints set in the firmament of history’s darkest nights by the provident hand of God.
Saint Peter Julian Eymard
Saint Peter Julian Eymard is one of Silverstream Priory’s cherished heavenly friends. On the feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1857 Saint Peter Julian Eymard inaugurated the solemn exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament by which the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament came to life. Again this year, I propose the following novena for those who care to make it with me from January 6-14.
In the morning:
Antiphon: And when they were come into the house,
they found the Child with Mary His Mother,
and fell down and adored Him.
V. Arise, shine, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come.
R. And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
Let us pray.
O God, who by the leading of a star,
didst manifest Thine Only-Begotten Son to the Gentiles,
mercifully grant that we,
having been led unto Him by the light of faith,
may, with grateful hearts,
ceaselessly adore Him present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar,
Who is our Mighty King, our Great High Priest, and our Immaculate Victim,
and Who liveth and reigneth with Thee,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end.
In the evening:
Antiphon: The Priests shall be holy;
for the offerings of the Lord made by fire,
and the bread of their God, they do offer,
therefore they shall be holy.
V. Pray for us, Saint Peter Julian.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.
O God, Who through the preaching and example of Saint Peter Julian Eymard,
didst renew the priesthood of Thy Church in holiness
and inflame many souls with zeal
for the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar;
we beseech Thee, through his intercession,
to gather priests of one mind and one heart,
from the rising of the sun to the setting thereof,
to keep watch in adoration before the Eucharistic Face
of Thine Only-Begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ
and to abide before His Open Heart,
in reparation for those who forsake Him, hidden in the tabernacles of the world,
and in thanksgiving for the mercies that ever stream
from the Sacred Mysteries of His Body and Blood.
Who liveth and reigneth with Thee
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, world without end.
Some readers of Vultus Christi may recall that on 26 October 2007 I wrote: “The desire of the Heart of Jesus is that there should be priest adorers and reparators: priests who will adore for those who do not adore, priests who will make reparation for those who do not. Our Lord asks me — and will ask other priests as well — to remain in adoration before His Eucharistic Face, offering all the priests of the Church to His Open Heart present in the Sacrament of His Love.” This inspiration was confirmed by the splendid letter of Cardinal Hummes, published on December 7, 2007, inviting to adoration and reparation for priests.
The Confraternity of Priest Adorers of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus
The Confraternity of Priest Adorers of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus responds to the need and desire of many priests, young and old, to unite among themselves specifically for the adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and to support one another in persevering in prayer.
Its charter, so to speak, is the Priestly Prayer of Jesus at the Last Supper in the Cenacle, given in the 17th chapter of Saint John’s Gospel. Therein, Jesus the Eternal High Priest lifts His eyes to heaven and prays to His Father, firstly, for Himself; secondly, for His Apostles; and thirdly, for all those who, through the word of His Apostles, will come to believe in Him (see Benedict XVI, General Audience, 25 Jan. 2012, on the high priestly prayer of Jesus in the Cenacle).
The Confraternity is a response to the invitation of Jesus: Come to Me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you (Matt. 11:28), and to His sorrowful reproach in the Garden of Gethsemani: What, could you not watch one hour with Me? (Matt. 26:40). The Priest Adorers draw further inspiration from the words of the Lord Jesus: I say to you, that if two of you shall consent upon earth, concerning any thing whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by my Father who is in heaven. For where there are two or three gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them (Matt. 18:20).
The crisis that in recent years has so shaken the Church and burdened the hearts of priests with sorrow and uncertainty, requires a powerful spiritual antidote. Our Lord is calling His priests to tarry in His presence. He invites them to abide in the radiance of His Eucharistic Face, close to His Heart. There they will recover the joy of their youth and the certainty of being loved by Christ with an everlasting love.
Are not such confraternities already in existence?
The 19th and 20th centuries saw, in fact, the birth of a number of movements for the promotion of Eucharistic adoration, reparation, and priestly holiness. The best known of these is, without doubt, the Association of Priest-Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament, founded by St Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1869), and canonically erected in Rome on 16 June 1887. The second half of the last century saw many of these fine movements fall into decline, leaving a void in the spiritual life of new generations of priests. The Year of the Eucharist proclaimed by Blessed John Paul II in 2004, and the Year of the Priesthood proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 were an invitation to rediscover and refresh the benefits that accrue to priests who commit themselves to prayer for and with one another, and in particular, to Eucharistic adoration.
Why the Eucharistic Face of Jesus?
In his encyclical letter of Holy Thursday, 17 April 2003, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Blessed John Paul II drew the eyes of the Church to the Face of Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. He coined a new phrase, one not encountered before in his writings or in the teachings of his predecessors: The Eucharistic Face of Christ. Thus did the Pope share with the Church his own experience of seeking, finding, and adoring the Face of Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.
The human face is a mysterious icon of the heart. It signifies, among other things, a personal presence open to relationship with another. In the Sacrament of His Love, the Face of Christ, the Human Face of God, is turned towards those who seek Him, ready to draw them into a healing and life-giving communion of love with His Sacred Heart.
Who May Belong?
The Confraternity is open to all Catholic bishops, priests, deacons, and seminarians.
What are the obligations of a Priest Adorer?
There is but one essential obligation: one continuous hour of adoration each day. This obligation does not bind under pain of sin; it is, nonetheless, a serious engagement, and one not to be put aside lightly. In times of sickness, the offering of one’s weakness and suffering, in union with the immolation of the Lamb, is itself an act of adoration, reparation, and fruitful intercession for one’s brother priests. The hour of adoration may be made before the Blessed Sacrament concealed in the tabernacle, simply exposed in the ciborium, or solemnly exposed in the monstrance.
One may join the Confraternity at any time. Upon joining, and once a year thereafter, the Priest Adorer solemnly pledges to make daily one continuous hour of Eucharistic adoration. He renews his pledge every June on the date most convenient for him, between the Feasts of Corpus Christi and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A priest may renew his pledge privately in the presence of one witness; or together with the priests of his Cenacle; or publicly before the faithful in his parish church.
To remain active in the Confraternity, the annual pledge of membership must be signed, dated, and returned to Silverstream Priory, Stamullen, Co. Meath, Ireland, no later than July 1st every year.
Assent to the Divine Friendship
Christ desires with an immense desire to purify, and heal, and sanctify His priests. This He does, and will do, by drawing them into the radiance of His Eucharistic Face and the warmth of His Eucharistic Heart. We priests all too easily forget that Our Lord is present in the Sacrament of His Love to offer us all the good things that come from friendship: companionship, conversation, joy, comfort, hospitality, strength and, above all, love.
Friends of His Heart
Jesus is hidden in the Most Holy Sacrament; His Face is veiled by the sacramental species and His Heart, too, is hidden. He is, nonetheless, really present as True God and True Man, alive, seeing all, knowing all, and burning with desire that all should come to His tabernacles but, first of all, the priests whom He has chosen to be His intimate friends, the friends of His Heart.
A priest who, in adoration, assents to the friendship of Christ, will want for nothing and will make great strides along the path of holiness. Virtue is not difficult for one who abides in the friendship of Christ. The friendship of Jesus for His priests needs to become the subject of conversations, of reflection, of study, and of preaching; more than anything else it needs to become the lived experience of every priest.
Our Lady and Saint John
A priest who abides in the friendship of Christ will accomplish great and wonderful works for souls. This is the secret of a fruitful priesthood. From her place in heaven, Our Blessed Lady is entirely devoted to keeping priests faithful to the Divine Friendship. Saint John, the Beloved Disciple, also intercedes for priests, that they might persevere in the way of friendship with Our Lord and find their joy in the love of His Heart.
Priests who come to adore the Eucharistic Face of Jesus will quickly discover His Heart and, in His Heart they will discover the friendship for which He created them and to which He calls them. The single greatest deficiency of the clergy is that so many priests are ignorant of the tenderness and strength and fidelity of Our Lord’s friendship for them. How can this deficiency be remedied? By adoration before the Eucharistic Face of Christ. Pray, then, that the radiance of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus will reach an ever greater number of priests, until, in all the Church, the Priesthood of Christ shines with all the splendour of His own holiness.