Excerpts from To Leave and Yet to Stay
Mother M. Angelica
AN OASIS IN THE DESERT

It is sad to realize that so many believe Jesus is Present in the Blessed Sacrament and seldom visit Him. Men travel across the oceans to see ancient ruins, paintings, landscapes and celebrities, but they do not think of going into a simple church around the corner to visit the Creator of all beauty.

Man complains of his tensions, hang-ups and frustrations and for these human weaknesses he consumes bottles of pills and other remedies. He spends time and money trying to ascertain who he is and how he came to be. He is tormented by his past and entertains visions of grandeur or despair for the future.

We have a need to empty ourselves, know ourselves, accept ourselves and rise above ourselves.

Our need is not so much in changing what we are as in knowing how best to change who we are. How does darkness turn into light? How does ice turn into fire? How does a limited intelligence comprehend the mystery of life, death and what is to come?

To whom shall we go when no one listens or cares to hear our tale of woe? Who beckons to our broken heart or gives us the opportunity to cry without shame?

"Whoever remains in Me, with Me in him, bears fruit in plenty." These words of Jesus at the Last Supper give us a way of holiness that is both simple and easy. The Holy Eucharist is God within us and with us—it is God in us and we in God.

To maintain a close relationship with the God of Love, we must remain in that Holy Presence often. As the rays of the sun change and alter whatever they touch, so the Eternal Son, ever present in the Blessed Sacrament, changes whoever places himself in His Presence.

He is Present in the Eucharist to show us the depth of His Love, the lengths He will go to be with us, the longing of His heart to be always near.

It is not important what we say in His Presence. It is only important that we are there—often to let His Presence penetrate our souls and heal us—to shine on our minds, to strengthen our wills, to bring peace in the midst of turmoil. We must be content to be near Him—to let Him work wonders in our souls—to silently absorb the beauty of His self-effacing love—to let the rays of His light penetrate our innermost being and change our stony hearts into hearts of flesh, our rudeness into kindness, our temper into gentleness.

If only we had the humility to realize that He alone is Goodness and makes us good. As soon as we come into His Presence in the Eucharist, our souls respond to the power before them like a sunflower turning toward the sun.

His silent Presence, hidden in the tabernacle, says to each one of us, "I love you. Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will refresh you. Come to the fountain of life and drink. Tell Me your problems. Listen to My Voice. I tug at your heart, guiding your way and smoothing your path."

There is between the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus and the soul, a silent exchange of love, a sharing of pain, an inaudible dialogue between two who know each other perfectly and love each other deeply.

It is as if the soul sees itself in a perfect Mirror and knows clearly its faults and imperfections. A strange phenomenon occurs as the soul gazes at Jesus, Its own reflection becomes brighter, Its faults fade away and one day that "soul is turned—transformed into the Image it reflected." (2 Cor. 3:18)

This being true, why do we permit our souls to die of thirst when the Fountain of Living Water is just around the corner?

THE NEED

Deep in the heart of every human being there is the desire for Heaven and a fear of the death that initiates that desired goal.

It is a strange phenomenon that we cling to what is temporal, desire what is eternal and wish that somehow we could have both at the same time.

The desire to love and to be loved, the need of the presence of loved ones is planted in the heart of every human being because we were created by the God of Love to love. When man digresses from the mission to love, he creates a hell for himself and everyone around him.

Love is a flame that must be constantly fed to keep from diminishing, One of the ingredients of love is to be needed, The sinners flocked to Jesus because they had a need, while the self-complacent Pharisees were only antagonized by His Presence.

Jesus knew that when He was gone we would need a moving force to enable us to become and remain sons of the Father. He sent us His Spirit to possess our souls, enlighten our minds, direct our wills and fill us with the virtues we needed to bear the fruit of Jesus.

This He did for our sakes but as God-Man—Human and Divine—Risen and Glorified—He wanted to satisfy His love for us and to feed our love for Himself by a total giving.

His life on earth made Him experience what His Infinite Mind always knew: Man needed to see to believe. How could man live by Faith and yet see God? How could He leave us in order to send the Spirit and yet stay to be our Companion? How could love be satisfied and thirst satiated without interfering with man's free will and the need to choose for himself?

Our God is inexhaustible in the ways He uses to manifest His love for us. Jesus devised a way to feed our souls, to nourish our bodies with heavenly food, to thrill our souls with the taste of Infinite Love—to stay with us after He returned to the Father.

To prepare us to accept this Mystery of Faith, He performed miracles to symbolize the reality and then at that solemn moment before His death, He revealed just how He would be with us to the end of time. Divine Love triumphed before death paved the way for the Resurrection. He revealed to the crowds that He would be their food and drink and told them emphatically that unless they ate His Body and drank His Blood they would not have life in them.

HE HAS ONLY TO WILL

It is significant to note that the first miracle Jesus performed was not a gesture of compassion for the sick or possessed. He lived a life of work and prayer for thirty years and as soon as He began to manifest His Divine Nature, worked a miracle symbolic of something greater to come.

At the wedding feast of Cana Jesus merely told the servants to draw out the water and take it to the chief steward, He did not say a prayer over the water or touch it, He merely willed that it be changed from water to wine, Only God can create or change by an act of His Will alone. God's Prophets performed similar miracles, Elias prayed and the oil did not diminish until the famine was over, Here Jesus does not pray as one whose gift depends upon the Will of God. No—He is God—and His Will alone—creates or changes His creation.

It was so when more than four thousand I followed Him and forgot to eat for three days. As at the wedding feast of Cana, there was in the feeding of the multitude an important message, These kinds of miracles were performed by Jesus to impress upon the minds of the crowd that His power was the Power of God, These particular gestures of compassion were wrought as a symbol of something greater to come. Their hearts were prepared to accept a greater mystery that He would reveal before His death—the Mystery of the Eucharist, This Mystery was so great a gift from God that the human mind would never be able to accept such an influx of love without some preparation.

He would one day change bread and wine into His own Body and Blood. The same Power would multiply; the same minister would distribute from the same Source of Love—Jesus.

As the steward at Cana and the crowds in the desert did not understand how He did it, they all realized that what He did was done out of love. He nourished their bodies and though all benefited by the fruit of His Power, none were deprived of His personal attention and love. These two miracles foreshadowed the Eucharist.

He began His life by taking on the flesh of man and ended it by giving that flesh back to man in the form of food, He began His public life by changing water into wine and He ended it by changing bread and wine into His Body and Blood.

He accomplished both miracles with great ease. On both occasions He was surrounded
only by His chosen few. Both miracles were accomplished in a quiet conversational tone of voice—as if it were nothing.

A necessary ingredient of Faith then is a belief not only in what God reveals, but in His Power to accomplish anything He wills to do. Our part is to humbly wait for Him to manifest His Will. We are never sure that what we ask for is for our good and so we wait for a confirmation if the answer is "Yes" and enlightenment if the answer is "No."

The one thing we cannot do as Christians is to question His Power and the right to manifest that Power by a mere act of His Will. God has only to Will and out of nothingness comes existence, and from existence comes change, Whether that change is abrupt and sudden or gradual and imperceptible, the same Power is at work. We cannot question His Power for the One who created mountains, hills, planets and stars out of nothing can surely change something that already exists into something else, Neither can we question His Love. Who can fathom a Love as great as the Love of Jesus? He proved it Himself by His birth, life, death and resurrection, Since the source of the doubts cannot be in God, it must be in ourselves. Perhaps we are afraid of the obligations placed upon us when we believe in His Real Presence in the Eucharist. Perhaps our love is too lukewarm to accept the total abnegation of Jesus as He places Himself into a small host.

LIVING BREAD

During their sojourn in the desert, the Israelites were fed by God with manna. They were His chosen people and as they wandered from place to place, God kept them alive by giving them a fresh supply daily.

This food kept their bodies healthy and strong, but what it symbolized increased their faith. It was a food sent by God to manifest His Providence and Love. "It was not Moses who gave you bread from heaven," Jesus told the crowds, "it is My Father who gives you bread from heaven." (Jn. 6:32)

It is strange that in describing a past event Jesus used the present tense. The Father is still feeding His people. In the past He sent Manna and in the present He sends Jesus.

The people asked for this bread of life, expecting some type of manna that would satisfy them forever. "Give us this bread always," they pleaded.

The answer they received was not what they expected. "I am the Bread of Life, "He told them.

In a very short discourse—Jn. 6:32-58—Jesus told the crowds four times that He would raise them up on the last day: three times that He was living Bread and twice, that they would live forever. There was a condition to all these promises. This condition has two facets. "I tell you solemnly, everybody who believes has eternal life." (Jn. 6:47) Belief in the message Jesus gave them from the Father was food for the soul. He was man's true broad but a Bread that only Faith could receive. That Faith in Him made them heirs to the Kingdom. They were to hear and learn, absorb and digest the words of Jesus as they flowed from the Father. Lest they think it sufficient for them merely to hear the words, He said, "I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate manna in the desert and they are dead, but this is the bread that comes down from Heaven so that a man may eat it and not die." (Jn. 6:49.50)

Spiritual food was as necessary as physical food. The word of God had to be taken in by the mind so man would know what to do to please God. However, once that word entered the soul it needed power to germinate. Something else was needed to permit it to bear a hundredfold fruit. So bountiful was this fruit to become that it took over the soul completely and that soul, created with limitations, would contain within itself its very Creator. The Creator would shine forth in the soul and transform it. Love itself would take possession of the soul and it would begin to love with God's own Love.

How was this marvel to be accomplished? Sad to say, the crowds of His time grasped the Mystery more quickly than the people of today. "The Jews started arguing with one another, 'How can this man give us His Flesh to eat?' Jesus replied: 'I tell you solemnly, if you do not eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood you will not have life in you.'" (Jn.6:52,53)

Why did the Jews not accept this statement of Jesus as a symbol? On a day in the not too distant future Jesus was to call Himself a Vine and His followers branches, growing from that Vine. They understood this as a symbol and so it was,

The Author of Truth was bound to make this Mystery clear in the minds of His listeners. Unless Truth was set forth clearly there would be no way for that Truth to be accepted or rejected. The Free Will given to man by his Creator would not be held responsible for a Light that was only faintly visible. So bright was the Light of this revelation that it carried with it the Promise of Eternal Life.

"Anyone who does eat My Flesh and drink My Blood has eternal life and I shall raise him up on the last day." Jesus used the present tense again and said, "has eternal life." (Jn. 6:40)

Eternal Life begins with this Eucharistic communion of life—this intimate union of Creator and creature—this mingling of All with nothingness. The Eucharist enables Eternal Light and the created soul to join together and become one Light. Living Bread and a living soul unite and become one Love, one sacrifice for the salvation of many.

The Father communicates life to the Son and Jesus passes on that life to the faithful by making Himself their food. Only the Holy Spirit can give souls the light to understand this Mystery of the Eucharist. The "flesh"—the senses—human intelligence—could never invent, believe or accept such a Mystery on its own.

PRAYER

Body of Christ, make me holy. Fill my weak soul with an overflowing of Grace so You and I may be as One. You have created me for Yourself. What an act of ingratitude to keep any part of me for myself. My weakness and pride make me forget You but Your humble Presence in the Eucharist stirs my soul to repentance. Let us be hidden together in love and union. Accept my wretchedness and wrap it in Your Power and change it all in the fire of Your Love.

_______

The author prays that all those who read this booklet will have a deeper awareness of the Father's Mercy, the Son's Love and the Spirit's Power.

Printed with the ecclesiastical approval of:
JOSEPH G. VATH, D.D.
Bishop of Birmingham
Alabama, USA

©1976 Eternal Word Television Network, Inc.

Scripture Quotations taken from Jerusalem Bible unless otherwise indicated


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