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In order to “make the Church the Body of Christ” we must keep our eyes on “the Transfigured Christ present in the Eucharist.” This was Pope Francis’ advice to Spanish seminarians from Madrid, whom he met at the Vatican on February 3, 2024. He encouraged these possible future priests to focus on the Eucharist and adoration, as a source of inspiration and faith for their mission.
“Trust in He who called you to this beautiful task, and prostrate yourselves in adoration so as to be able to build with docility the temple of God in your people and in your communities,” the Pope told the seminarians, who were accompanied by Cardinal José Cobo Cano, archbishop of Madrid.
To guide them, he cited the ideas of a Spanish bishop from the late 1800s, St. Manuel Gonzalez.
The Pope explained that this bishop wanted “a seminary in which the Eucharist would be: in the pedagogical order, the most effective stimulus; in the scientific order, the first teacher and the first subject; in the disciplinary order, the most vigilant inspector; in the ascetical order, the liveliest model; in the economic order, the great providence; and in the architectural order, the cornerstone.“
After mentioning this vision, the Pope then launched into his own explanation of it, breaking down the different points to help the seminarians understand how the Eucharist can help make God the “cornerstone” of their lives.
Let us review these points so as to place God at the center, or rather, to allow Him to be the foundation, the plan and the architect, the cornerstone. This is obtained only with adoration. Jesus – our saint [Manuel] tells us – will do so as a pedagogue — patient, severe, gentle and firm according to what we need in our discernment, because He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He waits for us, He encourages us and He sustains us throughout our journey. He is our greatest stimulus, because we have consecrated our lives to follow Him.
Letting Jesus guide us
The Pope explained how in adoration Christ can especially reach the heart of every person and guide him or her on the best path. This helps us see that Jesus is at one and the same time the most important teacher and most important subject matter of study.
“From Jesus we do not learn things, we welcome Him, we hold on to Him in order to be able to bring Him to others,” he continued. “The great lesson that the Lord gives us is humility, He became flesh, earth, man, humus [latin for earth, ground,]for us, out of love.”
Entering in a true relationship with God
Then the Pope explained that through adoration Christ helps one reflect on his worldly desires. “For discipline, confronting the Eucharist every morning – the most vigilant inspector – makes us reflect on the futility of our worldly ideas, our desires to ascend, to appear, to stand out,” the Pontiff said.
“He who is immense makes a total gift of Himself and in my hands, before communion, He asks me: Have you reconciled with your brother? Have you dressed yourself in your festive garb? Are you ready to enter my eternal banquet?”
The Pope then explained that in order to answer those questions and do what God has planned for our lives, we must put in some work — “ascesis” — and confront things directly. “It is necessary to enter into the desert, so that He may speak to our heart,” Francis said.
“If [our heart] is filled with worldliness, with things, however ‘religious’ they may be called, God will not find room, nor will we hear Him when He knocks on our door. Therefore, silence, prayer, fasting, penance, and ascesis are necessary to free ourselves from what enslaves us, and to be fully God’s.”
In “abandoning ourselves to Jesus, the Lord will be the great providence, let us leave it to Him to propose and realize, let us merely put ourselves at His command with docility of spirit.”