The Divine Real Presence of Jesus in our tabernacles has always been the object of immense reverence and respect by the saints.
Their loving care, so sincere and pure, for the “things that belong to the Lord” (1 Cor. 7: 32) has been one of the clearest indications of their great love that did not hold back anything, that considered everything to be of great importance, even a simple matter of the prescribed ceremonies, for which St. Teresa and St. Alphonsus declared themselves ready to sacrifice their lives.
Holiness and Decorum
And it is from the saints that we must learn to love Jesus, surrounding with affectionate care the holy tabernacles, the altars and the churches, His “dwelling-place” (Mk. 11: 17).
Everything must breathe a sense of decorum, everything must inspire devotion and adoration, even in the little things, even in details. Nothing will ever be too much when it concerns loving and honoring the “King of Glory” (Ps. 23: 10).
Think how of old it was customary, for example, that even the water used for the ablution of priest’s fingers during Holy Mass be perfumed. Furthermore, Jesus chose to institute the Sacrament of Love in a respectable, beautiful place, namely, the Cenacle, a large dining hall with furniture and carpeting (Lk. 22: 12).
The saints have always shown wholehearted zeal and resourcefulness in seeing to the beauty and tidiness of the house of God, because, as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, it is necessary to take care first of the real Body of Jesus, then of His Mystical Body.
For example, during his apostolic travels, St. Francis of Assisi used to carry with him, or obtain, a broom to sweep the churches he found dirty. After preaching to the people, he used to address the clergy of the town and fervently urge them to be zealous for the worthy appearance of the Lord’s house.
He had St. Clare and the Poor Clares prepare sacred linens for altars.
In spite of his poverty, he used to obtain and send ciboria, chalices and altar cloths to poor, neglected churches.
When St. Peter Julian Eymard had to begin Eucharistic adoration in a poor abandoned house, the grief he experienced was so great as to make him exclaim even afterwards: “Oh, how dearly it costs me to house Jesus so poorly!”
We learn from the life of St. John Baptist de la Salle that the Saint wanted to see the chapel always clean and duly furnished, with the altar in perfect order and the sanctuary lamp always burning.
Dirty altar cloths, torn vestments and tarnished vessels hurt his eyes and much more his heart. He did not consider any expense too great when it came to providing proper worship of Our Lord.
St. Paul of the Cross wished altar furnishings and sacred objects to be so spotless that one day he sent back [to the sacristy] two corporals, one after another, because he did not judge them to be clean enough [for Mass].
Prominent among the kings who have loved the Eucharist is St. Wenceslaus, King of Bohemia. With his own hands he tilled the soil, sowed the wheat, harvested it, ground it, and sifted it. Then with the purest flour he made hosts for the Holy Sacrifice.
And St. Radegunde, Queen of France, after she had become a humble religious, was happy to be able to grind with her own hands the wheat selected to make the hosts for Holy Mass, and she used to give them free to poor churches.
Also noteworthy is St. Vincentia Gerosa, who cared for the grapevines which supplied wine for Holy Mass. With her own hands she cultivated them, pruned them, rejoicing in the thought that these clusters she had grown would become the Blood of Jesus.
“When marriage and parenthood seem difficult, picture yourself with your spouse as an old couple who, just before you hear the Master’s summoning call, look back along the road you have traveled. That road did not seem nearly so rough when you were leaning heavily upon each other. You faced threatening enemies on the way with stronger courage because you fought side by side. Courage sprang from knowing that you did not work or walk alone.” -Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik. The Catholic Family Handbook: http://amzn.to/2naxrU5 (afflink)
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