“A life that is purely contemplative can not be fully eucharistic: the fireplace has a flame”. Thus wrote Eymard in 1861. An adorer, he was also an impassioned apostle of the Eucharist and he traced out ways of glorifying this mystery. The basic lines of his activity and teaching can be synthesized in the following way.
Above all, a renewal of christian life. It is not just a question of combating ignorance or indifference, but rather, and above all, of regenerating the christian life which becomes lost in the middle of a thousand practices and devotions that forget the essentials. In the preliminary draft of the “Directory” of the lay “Fraternity of the Blessed Sacrament” he lays down this principle: “Man is love like his divine prototype. Just as he is love, so he is life.” And he explains that “every love has a beginning, a center, a goal”. From this principle Eymard draws a whole pedagogy for the spiritual life: “In order that the devout soul become stronger and grow in the life of Jesus Christ, it is necessary first of all to nourish it with his divine truth and the goodness of his love, so that it may proceed from light to love, and from love to virtue”.
The religious Institutes founded by him are called to live that spirit of love of which the Eucharist is the sacrament: “This Eucharistic love of Jesus should therefore be for all our religious the supreme law of their virtue, the object of their zeal and the distinctive mark of their holiness” he wrote in the Constitutions. In a word… a community shaped by love. In the same way he conceived the “Fraternity” as a group of lay people who unite adoration and apostolic commitment. For this reason he created centers not only close to his SSS communities but also in numerous parishes. At times he seems to have had thoughts of having some members who, for the purpose of leading a more eucharistic life, would form a family community in the world like a small religious cenacle.
The ideal that he confided to his spiritual children was “to set the four corners of the world on fire with eucharistic love”. And he exhorted his religious, in the Constitutions, hat our Lord Jesus Christ be always adored in the Blessed Sacrament and glorified socially throughout the world”. This is the meaning of the expression “the reign of the Eucharist” which appears frequently in the writings of Eymard. Thus, in an article entitled “The century of the Eucharist”, written in 1864 for the review Le Tres Saint Sacrement which he had founded, Peter Julian noted:
The great evil of our time is that people do not go to Jesus Christ as to their very Saviour and God. They abandon the only foundation, the only law, the only grace of salvation… What is to be done then? We must return to the fountain of life, and not just to the historical Jesus nor to the Jesus glorified in heaven, but rather to Jesus in the Eucharist. It is necessary to bring him out from the shadows so that he can once again take his place at the head of christian society… May the reign of the Eucharist increase… Adveniat regnum tuum.
In concluding, here is a text from St. Eymard which the Liturgy of the Hours – Office of Readings (Matins) offers us: