“The eucharist is the supreme proof of the love of Jesus. After this, there is nothing more but heaven itself.” -St. Peter Julian Eymard
Dear Religious Family,
For a while, I have been wanting to write a chronicle about the beautiful apostolate of visiting the sick and bringing them Holy Communion here in Papua New Guinea. Now, in this time of Lent and Easter, we have witnessed, yet again, the efficacy of the sacraments and the hidden love of Jesus in the Eucharist, and we want to share it with you.
Encountering the Love and Mercy of God in the Holy Eucharist
We are privileged to come into daily contact with the love and mercy of God in the Holy Eucharist, but many times the sublimity of this miracle goes far beyond our understanding. The Eucharist is the ultimate example of Christ’s humble self-emptying. In the Incarnation, God became man and through His love, in the Eucharist, He makes Himself present to remain always accessible to us, feeding us physically and spiritually with the graces we need most. This mysterious reality is especially tangible every week as I bring Holy Communion to the sick and elderly in Lido Village.
Finding Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and in the Eucharist All Things
Jesus steps into the most humbling, miserable, and lowly situations, just to unite Himself to his chosen ones- the sick elderly, who are hidden from the view of the world, often shut in a small corner of a broken house. Sometimes the house doesn’t even have walls… And yet, Jesus comes there every week, because there in these hearts is where he finds His home. In front of these situations the eyes of the world only see misery (poverty, illness, etc.) but through the eyes of faith, one finds a most faithful soul, trusting in God’s loving presence, longing for their weekly encounter with Him, to receive the strength to continue along their journey towards Heaven.
Applying the Words of St. Peter Julian Eymard
We can apply the words of St. Peter Julian Eymard to the faithful of Lido: “Is not our Lord as meek and humble in the Blessed Sacrament as He was during His life on earth? Is He not always the Good Shepherd, the Divine Counselor, the Changeless Friend? Happy the soul that knows how to find Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and in the Eucharist all things!”
Benedict’s Reunion with His Lord in Holy Communion
For almost a year, the parish where we do our apostolate has not had a parish priest, so the sick people were not able to have confession or receive anointing of the sick until recently when a parish priest was named from the diocese. Now that you have the background information, I would like to tell you a little story of Benedict. This man was more than 90 years old and he had been on the waiting list to receive the Sacraments for several months already. He had not had the Sacraments for ten years! One Saturday during Lent, father generously accompanied me to visit and hear the confessions of all the sick of the village (almost twenty people spread throughout different parts of the village). Once a lively and strong soldier, Benedict was now a tiny old man, barely skin and bones. Hunched over and hardly able to walk, he came out from under his house and asked Father to help him remember how to go to confession. On that chosen Saturday in Lent, Benedict was reunited with His Lord in Holy Communion.
Benedict’s Holy Viaticum and Magdalena’s Anointing of the Sick
A week later, I went to visit Benedict to bring him the Eucharist, along with the others who receive weekly. This time, Benedict wasn’t able to get up on his own and had to be carried out from under the house to lay on a simple bench to receive communion. He had a bad infection on his face and was not very conscious. He struggled to open his mouth to receive the Eucharist, for the second time in many years. Little did I know, I had the privilege of giving Benedict holy viaticum. After I left, he went back to his bed under the house and didn’t get up again. Just a week later, Thursday of Holy Week, Father was able to come and anoint him, but this time, he wasn’t able to open his mouth to receive Jesus. He could hear us praying and slightly moved his hands and feet as we prayed. Just 20 minutes after we left, Benedict passed quickly into his awaited place in heaven, joining the saints just in time for the Triduum. Benedict was buried on Good Friday, the same day as our Lord. Following their beautiful local tradition, after the Easter Vigil Mass, everyone leaves the church with their lit candle and brings it to a friend or relative’s tomb in the cemetery just outside the Church. I was happy to bring my candle to Benedict’s tomb this year, asking now for him to intercede for us.
Along with Benedict, another of my friends, Magdalena, received anointing of the sick on Holy Thursday, for she also was in pretty bad condition with a large infection. However, Magdalena was very conscious as she received communion and responded as best as she could to the prayers. Come to find out, she said goodbye to this world during the Easter Vigil!
May their souls rest in peace, and may they interceded for us, that we might have an ever-greater love for Christ’s presence in the Eucharist!
¡Viva la Eucaristía y Viva la Misión!
Sr. Mary Altar of Sacrifice, Missionary in PNG