This week our calendar of saints has included saints who were founders of religious orders. On Monday, July 31st, we celebrated the Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola who founded the Jesuit order (S.J., who run McQuaid high school in Rochester). Tuesday, August 1st was the Memorial of St. Alphonsus Liguori who founded the Redemptorists order (C.S.S.R, who run Notre Dame Retreat House in our diocese in Canandaigua).
Both St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Alphonsus Liguori are among the more commonly known saints and their feastdays are required memorials on the church calendar.
As we turn to today, I want to first say that the gospel reading for today (17th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1, Wednesday) is the same verses that began our gospel last Sunday.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
On Sunday, I spoke in my homily about how we should see the whole Mass, the Word of God, and the Eucharist as treasures. In our diocese we are celebrating a Year of the Eucharist. It is with this in my mind that I want to talk about a lesser known saint whose feastday is today as an optional memorial, St. Peter Julian Eymard.
St. Peter Julian Eymard was born in 1811 in France. It was a difficult time for the Catholic Church following the French Revolution. The Church was suppressed for a number of years in France. His family continued to practice the faith. At the age of five he went missing. His family found him in a church. Responding to their question of what he was doing he said, “I am here listening to Jesus.”
As he grew, he felt a call to the priesthood. At first his father resisted as Peter was his only surviving son. Peter did enter seminary and was ordained for the Diocese of Grenoble. Over time, he joined the Society of Mary (Marist) and grew in a strong devotion to the Eucharist.
In 1856 he founded the order of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament (S.S.S.). He, and the order, did much to foster devotion to the Eucharist. The Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament continues today, including serving in several cities here in the United States. As we celebrate this Year of the Eucharist in our diocese, let us pray for the intercession of St. Peter Julian Eymard that we all grow in a strong devotion to the Eucharist.
P.S. A full biograph of St. Peter Julian Eymard can be found on the website of the order he founded, the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament at http://blessedsacrament.com/us/st-peter-julian-eymard