What the month of April means to Catholics and how to honor it in your home.
For Catholics, April is the month devoted to the Holy Eucharist. How poignant it is that during this very month of the Eucharist, so many of us will not be able to receive Holy Communion, due to churches closing their doors in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. How searingly poetic that our hunger and thirst for the Eucharist is now taking place in the very month dedicated to honoring it.
Lent is always a time of sacrifice, a time of “doing without,” but what we are sacrificing this Lent seems unimaginable, and weighs heavily on our hearts. And yet Jesus’s mother and beloved disciple had to watch him suffer, die, and be buried. Then they had to endure life in a dark, frightening world for the three painful days before the Resurrection. Our dark days too shall pass. We are an Easter people!
But for now, like any heavy cross that must be carried, we are asked to take it up and follow Him. May the very Lenten desert of longing we’re currently walking, the hunger and thirst for the Eucharist we feel in this month of the Eucharist, be the reason we fall more deeply in love with Our Lord.
When separated from one’s true love, one does not stop loving, but instead must find ways to turn longing into beauty, pain into purpose. And so, let our inability to receive the Eucharist this month make us determined to grow in devotion and to adore Our Lord and honor the Holy Eucharist in rich ways that create oases in this desert. During this April, let us cultivate our longing for Him, our hunger and thirst, so that when this time is behind us, and we return to Mass, we will be ever more grateful, more humble, more filled with joy, to receive the Real Presence.
Continuing our monthly series on ways to showcase each month’s Catholic theme in your life, here are 10 ways you can align your family to the Holy Eucharist this April:
1Make a daily spiritual communion
You can find a prayer to do this here or here. Let us benefit from the graces so many saints enjoyed by making a heartfelt spiritual communion. Perhaps when we are able to return to Mass, we will still keep the practice of making a frequent spritual communion. What a great benefit to our souls!
2Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet
St. Faustina, the Apostle of Divine Mercy, was deeply devoted to the Eucharist, even adding “of the Most Blessed Sacrament” to her name! Let’s purpose to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3:00 each day this month, especially on Fridays, the day of the week dedicated to the Passion of Jesus and Divine Mercy along with the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
3Pray the Rosary daily
This month pay special attention to the Luminous and Sorrowful Mysteries. The Luminous Mysteries (Thursdays) include “The Institution of the Eucharist,” and the Sorrowful Mysteries (Tuesdays and Fridays) include the “Agony in the Garden,” and “The Crucifixion,” such Eucharistic Mysteries. This book about the Rosary has reflections, art, and even a self-guided three day retreat for Lent and for deepening love of the Eucharistic Lord.
4Place a picture of Jesus in the center of your table
To remind the whole family that Jesus is physically present in the Eucharist, and that He is with us in our domestic church, frame a picture of the image of Divine Mercy, the Sacred Heart, or any lovely picture of Christ that you have in your home (on a bookmark, prayer card, or image online that you find and print up).
5Pray a daily Morning Offering to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
It is a healing blessing to start the day with these words, “O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you all my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day, for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all my relatives and friends, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father.”
6Adore the Holy Face of Jesus
Since Tuesday is the day of the week dedicated to the Holy Face, make each Tuesday in April an opportunity to focus on the face of Christ with such prayers as these. It will make the reality of Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist come more alive for you as you contemplate His Holy Face.
7Watch Mass online or on television
This is a wonderful way to continue worshiping and keeping the Sabbath holy. You’ll hear the readings of the day, join in the Responsorial Psalm, and even join in singing a hymn or two. It will be familiar and comforting, and will really lift your spirits!
8Watch Eucharistic Adoration online or on television
Find a quiet room or place to just breathe and without any words necessary, devote yourself to Him. Here’s one of several sites that offers this.
9Pray the Anima Christi
The poetic version translated by St. John Henry Cardinal Newman is my favorite version, and easy to memorize. In these days of longing for Eucharist, why not memorize this poetic prayer asking the Eucharistic Lord to keep us close and never let us be parted from His side!
10Invoke St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church
While all saints love the Blessed Sacrament, St. Catherine stands out as a saint known for her strong devotion to the Eucharistic Lord and her feast day is April 29th. Also, she is a perfect saint to pray to these days, because she served those suffering during a time of plague. An image of St. Catherine even depicts her holding the barque of the Church on her shoulders! Let her help carry us, and inspire us to carry each other as we join in praying this brief but powerful novena to her beginning on April 20th.
11Love your neighbors
The great Eucharist-loving saint of April, St. Catherine of Siena, reminds us that our love of the Eucharistic Lord should always impel us to love our neighbors. In The Dialog of St. Catherine of Siena, Jesus tells St. Catherine, “The soul, as soon as she comes to know Me, reaches out to love her neighbors” (Dialog 89). And so even though so many of us are quarantined, let’s be inspired in Eucharistic love to find ways to help others and reflect Jesus’s love. Perhaps it’s sending food or supplies to a family in need, or calling or face timing a friend who’s feeling lonely. Send a thoughtful card in the snail mail to someone stuck without visitors, send Mass cards to those who need prayers… what greater gift could you give someone these days?
12Send love to the Eucharistic Lord
The plan: write prayerful cards and letters to the Jesus. This way, Our Eucharistic Lord, who deserves every bit of adoration we can lavish on Him, will feel our company this Lent through letters during this time when we cannot receive Him in the sacrament. This idea is to create a visual, concrete reminder of our longing for the Eucharist. How to do this? Read about it here.
Where to watch Eucharistic adoration online
Why is First Communion typically celebrated in April or May?