Monday, September 5, 2022
Jose Antonio Varela Vidal
There is a chapel in the heart of Madrid that, although it is not a parish, has its faithful. The bells do not ring either, but the neighbors arrive very early to experience their "daily Mass and Communion" before going to work or starting chores at home and with their children.
The doors, which open at 7:30 a.m., lead the visitor to an atmosphere of quiet worship, full of that characteristic silence that emerges when the Blessed Sacrament is adored: an atmosphere of dialogue, of scrutinized mystery, as well as of forgiveness and gratitude.
Therefore, this tabernacle will never be "abandoned," since there will always be one of the Eucharistic Missionaries of Nazareth exchanging glances with Jesus in the Eucharist. It could not be any other way, since the saintly founder of the congregation, the Spaniard Manuel González García, entrusted two tasks to his daughters: to insist and recommend that the tabernacles never be "abandoned" or "forgotten." In other words, neglected, unsightly or without due recognition inside the churches.
Moreover, he coined a neologism — very much in the style of Pope Francis — which, for these sisters, is their drive, their motivation and their commitment: to "Eucharistize."
THE FIRST CENTURY
When we wanted to learn more about this religious charism that opens the doors of its tabernacle every day in Madrid, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that it had celebrated the 100th anniversary of its foundation. "The first hundred years," as they like to call with joy this jubilee.
To reflect on this event, we spoke with Sister Mónica Yuán, head of Communications for the congregation and superior of the Madrid community, who left everything in her native Argentina to enter the garden of flowers and fragrances that is religious life, especially if Jesus in the Eucharist is at the center.
And so it was that she took on the mandate to "Eucharistize," which is nothing more, as she herself explains, than "to show everyone the love and grace of God, present in the Eucharist."
This is what the founding father, St. Manuel González, understood and lived. At the time of his death in 1940, he was bishop of Palencia, Spain, a dignity that helped him to spread throughout the world, with his writings and with the establishment of the congregation, the importance of replacing the "abandoned tabernacles" with worthy spaces that properly preserve the Host.
TO REACH EVERYONE
In the words of the young superior, the apostolate of the Missionaries must "renew with enthusiasm the mission of 'Eucharistizing' every reality in which we are present."
And in a society like today's, the question arises: What can the contemporary man find if he decides to face Jesus in the Eucharist?
"Christ restores true freedom to all those who recognize themselves as poor and needy," Sister Monica assures us, adding: "We must preach with our testimony that we believe in a God who listens and forgives."
Seeing her so immersed in her convictions, we asked her a question from some of our friends: "If I cannot receive Communion, does God not enter in me?"
The answer comes with the immediacy and pastoral clarity of one who serves as local superior: "God is very much God. He can fill hearts, even without that piece of bread. He has other ways to reach us and we have other ways to meet him."
And she tops it off with a hope: "That is why we must pray and experience that God is in our hearts and that he will give his graces, enter into communication with you and lead you to live charity."
FOOTSEPTS OF THE HOLY FOUNDER
We asked her to tell us more about St. Manuel Gonzalez. The first thing that Sister Monica highlights is all his years of pastoral activity, as well as the fruitfulness of his pen. "With an agile style, full of Andalusian grace and unction, he transmitted love for the Eucharist, introduced many to prayer, formed catechists and guided priests."
One of the legacies of the founder was the "Granito de Arena" (Grain of Sand) magazine, published bimonthly to this day, which from its first editions had the pastoral contribution of St. Manuel Gonzalez himself. In this way, the reader can understand in a simple way, "What does Jesus do and say in the tabernacle?" as well as the way in which "the heart of Christ beats with love" from a tabernacle.
This "young" congregation, with only 100 years of existence and 150 sisters spread in nine countries, has a message for young women who feel attracted to consecrated life: "Vocation is a decision to be happy. Do not resist that call. If God calls you, he himself will show you the meaning of your life and expand your heart.”
As we said before, it's just a matter of emailing the sisters, who will respond quickly, as digital dialogues demand.
Before leaving, as Sister Monica heads off to pray Vespers with her community, we ask her about a challenge for the next 100 years: "To go deep, to discover what is important."
We watched her say this and thought: "This certainty must have been given to her by Jesus in the Eucharist, from so much watching and listening to him."
To learn more about the Eucharistic Missionaries of Nazareth: www.misioneraseucaristicas.org/wordpress/.
This article originally appeared as column in the August 2022 edition of La Voz Católica.