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1993 2/09 Eucharistic Catechetics - S1

Experiences in Russia and Poland / Real Presence: Communication of Grace

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

MP3 Disc 1 Received from Breslin

These Sermons were taped by Daniel Peper who
traveled and taped Fr. Hardon from 1990 to 1995

  1. Experiences in Russian and Poland
  2. Real Presence: Communication of Grace

1.  Father Hardon’s and Some Marian Catechist’s Experiences in Russia and Poland

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.


Seat of Wisdom.

Pray for us.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

You can come up closer, don’t hesitate, because I’m not supposed to strain my voice any more than I have to, so the closer you can get…if you wouldn’t mind please.

First of all, it’s good to be back. And regards from your Sisters in Moscow, and also in Warsaw, and Mother Theresa sends her greetings. I spoke with her.

And maybe for a few minutes, of course I could talk for hours what we experienced both in Russia and in Poland.

There were three women, Marian Catechists: Celia Dawson, Marianne Carlson and Gabrielle; she is a psychiatrist from Pittsburgh. And then the men were Daniel Peper, you know that is why Jason is pinch hitting for him, and John McCalpine.

Now McCalpine speaks Russian fluently, which helped a lot. And there for ten days in Moscow, and the Sisters that I was speaking to - about thirty-five of them - they do not have facilities in Moscow itself, so we went about forty miles and they rented an apartment house for the Sisters. There was no chapel, so the Blessed Sacrament was reserved and windows are just - a whole wall was a window. So there was a crucifix hanging from the curtain, somehow the Sisters got it on, and we pinned the words, “I thirst” under the cross. And well, they kept me busy from 6:30 in the morning Mass, till 9:30 at night. And I spoke, and then there were questions. Now both those in Moscow and in Warsaw asked questions. But the ones in Warsaw, I would say maybe two hundred, two hundred and fifty questions about the problems going on in both countries.

Well, just a few major impressions; the Communists, under the guise of well, of Marxism, or Socialism just rob their people. There were seventy years of highway robbery.

Handful of, call them political gangsters, who ran the country, but so now that the Communists who officially and politically have pulled out, the country is very poor, both Russia and Poland.

One difference between Poland and Russia is that the Faith has been kept in Poland, whereas in Russia, as you know, for seven hundred years the Catholic Church had been outlawed by the Orthodox. So, in Russia, the poverty of most of the people is extreme, and I mean, really extreme.

I had about an hour’s meeting with the Archbishop of Moscow, and he has a rented apartment. First time in the history of the Church that there’s been a Catholic bishop in Moscow.

See, the break with the Orthodox by the Orthodox with Rome, took place in the mid 13th century, just over seven hundred years. And, during these centuries, the church and the government were like this, for centuries the same family, the Romanov families provided both the czars of Russia and the patriarchs of Moscow. So when the Communists took over, they just, well, those bishops who wouldn’t cooperate, they were shot; other bishops co-operated and of course the Faith was in many ways destroyed. On the other hand, the Faith is still alive in Russia. However, the number of Catholics is only a small fraction. I doubt if there are a hundred thousand Catholics in all of the two hundred plus million in Russia.

With the Orthodox, who are now liberated politically, they want the Faith. And that’s the main reason why I was asked to come, to give a seminar. Yesterday was a seminar, and it was all on morality. For ten days I talked about the Ten Commandments.

And well, the people - desperately poor. Food is scarce. Heat and the average temperature, I would say, was about 10 below. And even, the rooms that are heated are not. To conserve the heat, they will heat one room and all the rest of the bedrooms – cold. They can’t afford to heat more than, maybe, one room.

So the people are hungry for the Faith. And in talking with the Archbishop, if I had a thousand Americans to come to Moscow, ‘course they’d have to handle some Russian, they’d be put to use immediately. They need priests. They need religious. And the Archbishop has no means of communication, does not even have a newsletter. So, it’s just breathtaking what you know could and should be done there and I offered to do what I could. I told myself through others and I think I should say this, because by now if you haven’t heard this yet Sisters, but in Moscow while we were there, by the fifth day, a gang of three car loads of men came to rape the Sisters. So, at 11:00 at night, three of us men, myself, and two younger men. The walls by the floor were pretty much glass windows. So these gangsters threw rocks through this huge glass wall and then broke into the building. And they were shouting, “Where are the women? Where are the women?” So that the three of us and, well, I said a prayer, “Lord, if you want to take me now, this will be a good cause; somebody ought to do something.” Well, eventually, I did. So that we talked to the men. You know the Sisters, of course nobody slept I’m sure that night even though the police were called. The leader of the gangsters had about maybe twenty five or so in leather jacket had the metal name on the back of his jacket, Posse, P-O-double S-E which can mean almost anything, but that he was leader of the group. So, when the police finally came, they bawled out the men, and they brought, because this is regular you might say experience in Moscow, they brought a truck with them to well put, really temporary wooden wall where these windows were, where the huge wall window was crashed. But they didn’t arrest anybody, they just….

The average woman by the age of forty, in Russia, has had five abortions. This I got from a number of sources. And they’re mainly because of the government.

It’s around maybe thirty miles, from where the seminar was held, into Moscow. And, the Sisters thought it was really wise that these three lay women did not stay where we were having the seminar. Only God knows what might have happened to them.

So, they were told to stay in Moscow; the three lay women; Celia Dawson, Marianne, and Gabrielle. But and there wasn’t even telephone connection because telephones exist, but almost none workable. So, I did take on about four or five hours from the seminar in where I was teaching the Sisters to go to Moscow just to reassure the women that they didn’t come to Russia in vain.

Well, they did help out the Sisters, because before the Sisters from the house in Moscow came to the seminar, said they needed help.

But, and while in Moscow then I met with the Archbishop of Moscow; and he talked good English. But, for lack of heat well, first of all, he’s renting an apartment; because it’s the first time as I said that any Catholic bishop has been in Moscow in the history of the Church. And he’s not wanted by the Orthodox. So, thought I could get an appointment with the Patriarch. Here’s a Jesuit, It is our job, you know, go where angels fear to tread!

So, but I could not get an appointment with the Patriarch. But we talked for about an hour, the Archbishop and myself and his office was ice cold. He had a heavy overcoat on in his office and a shawl. And so we talked. And that’s his office. There may have been some heat there, but I didn’t feel it. And well, we talked. It was very frank. At first, he wasn’t quite sure what I was up to, because you know, not all Jesuits are, shall I say, of the same stripe.

So, after about twenty minutes, I reassured him you know, that I was straight and all the rest, told him that I was going to Rome on the way back from Warsaw. So then, he opened up and we were, well, very friendly conversation. So, well having said that in Warsaw, I could talk for another what was it fifty minutes that I talked? I could talk for; I’m not exaggerating, for five hours.

But Poland is different than Russia or Moscow. The Faith of course, had been basically preserved by most of the people in Poland. But since the liberation of Poland, once the Church had served its purpose, you might say, in getting them free from communist tyranny. Well, it’s not the same thing as it was under persecution, at least in the big cities. So, still Poland is a different country. In Moscow, in the thirty some miles from where the seminar was held into the city of Moscow, and this is mile after mile, there are no houses. If I saw three homes or houses, and I traveled altogether fifty miles around Moscow. They’re all, they’re not even apartment buildings. They’re just huge block houses; square, completely geometrically square; and rising twelve, fifteen stories high. And just room enough for two children. So there’s no way, if people had more children, they’d have to see them starve or abort them. So abortion is really forced on the people by the government. But in these miles and miles of - you can’t call them apartment houses, because they really look like, because they were, prisons. And in other words, houses or homes as we know them, I saw almost none at all in Russia. Now I presume that in smaller towns if I traveled deeper into Russia I would of seen more of it.

Now in Warsaw, that was not quite the case, there were many of these block houses also in Warsaw. But the people in Poland have managed to preserve not just their Faith, but also their independence. For example, in Russia I saw almost no stores in Moscow. Because the communists are not in power any more. I mean they’re not in political power; but they are in power; they’re running the government. That is they call them ex-communists.

And in downtown Moscow, I would say, just about every building; all kinds of office buildings, bank buildings, whatever, had huge heavy bars. Every downtown building in Moscow looks like a prison. In Warsaw, on the other hand, there were stores, not many, some. There were even - had some small billboards; in Russia, none of this.

Now for one reason, Russian people are, God knows, how many are even surviving for the lack of food.

Now in Warsaw, there were seventy-five Sisters. And there, your Sisters in Russia, now some had to be left in charge of whatever residences you were running. But as many as could come to the seminar; they came even from countries like, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and so on. Poland, it was pretty much the Sisters just from Poland. However, they were also from Bohemia, Slovakia. And they’re getting vocations right and left in Poland. So, they’re not lacking vocations. And I came to know the Regional Superiors. In fact, both ran the seminars. The one in Moscow, well, Sister Jontale succeeded Sister Malla who had been for five years Regional Superior of Greater Russia. The one in Poland was Sister Jaqueline Clare. They both are from France, and they speak good Russian and also good English. But in Warsaw, if I stayed up all night, I could have been kept busy, because there are so many problems they run into: “How do you cope with this? How do you cope with that?” And but I figured a cut-off time was 9:30. So by 9:30 at night then I wanted to go to confession.

You know I try to go to confession daily. So the nearest parish was two miles away. So I walked and Daniel walked me. And now the road, there’s snow just snow all over the place, but where the cars were running, of course the road was fairly cleared of ice. But it was dangerous because cars there are a lot of, this is in Warsaw. But Daniel walked ahead of me. He had white gloves on so he’d flag the cars because at night you don’t see too well so we didn’t get hit. And the pastor of the parish, I went to confession. I spoke Slovak, which he partly understood and he spoke Polish, which I partly also understood. So I went to confession in Latin. He gave me also a Latin penance. But he has three Masses every day and five Masses on Sunday. And this is a, I wouldn’t call it, suburban parish because there are no suburbs as we understand them. But just a small town and it’s probably about forty miles from downtown Warsaw. And the people in the smaller towns have kept the Faith, and of course, they too have suffered indescribably - but same thing, poverty.

So I stayed at a house, which a couple that I guess they would be of some means, course they left the Sisters, which was used to house Daniel and myself. By the time we got to Warsaw, John McCalpine came back to the United States, there was just the two of us, Daniel Peper - my chaperone, and guard, and recorder - and myself. So we had two rooms, but… Now the downstairs; one room was kept kind of warm, but just kind of warm. You had to really have your coat on to keep warm inside. But upstairs was bitter cold. So, due to everything that I could, lights were not too bright. I couldn’t get my Office until night. So I’d walk around back and forth to keep myself both warm and get my Office time.

And then the Sisters in Warsaw, as I say, they just had several hundred questions. So much so that at the seminar I had to watch myself that I wouldn’t be just answering questions.

But, it has all been recorded. Of course, we have to edit the recorded because we have to make public everything that the Sisters ever asked that I answered. We had three meetings that the Religious Superior called, as many Superiors as she could get from Warsaw and around Warsaw. And how to provide for sound Catholic education for the Sisters and was also for the people. I might have caught a glimpse in about an hour with him in Warsaw. And the situation is different but not that much. And they have vocations. They teach religion in the schools now.

And the day before I left Warsaw they somehow had mitigated the abortion law. See, abortion was legalized in seventy, maybe seventy-three, the same year that our Supreme Court legalized abortion it was legalized in Poland. And just the day before I left the Parliament managed to, not completely but at least, maybe except for rape or incest, something like that, abortion was outlawed.

But in Poland they also need, well let it be known, really the only thing I can tell you this with sincerity, we are living in a dream world. We have no idea, no idea how much those people have been resisted and not just now, and these are liberators, how many have died over the years in some violent deaths, starved to death but with the Faith.

And so, we caught a glimpse again the need is great. And it’s not so much financial help. Of course, they need financial help too. They need personnel, dedicated people: priests, religious, and lay people. Now they’re getting vocations, but even that takes years to train people. And in even in training people having been brainwashed for so many years by the Communists, the Sisters in both countries told me, these young people coming into the community, for example well, they may be Catholic but they’ve just not only ignorant of the Faith they have all kinds of weird ideas because they have been brainwashed all their life.

So well, I promised both the Archbishop of Moscow and Father Glymph that we would help.

And now Wednesday I’m meeting with my Ignatian catechists at the university and I’ll share some of this with them. But I really believe it’s an historic opportunity for the Church.

In the meantime the cults. You name it; the Jehovah Witnesses. They’ve got millions of dollars of money. They’re just pouring money into both countries and not to say other countries that have been as we say, liberated. So even to know how to cope with these cults.

And I met our Jesuits in Moscow, met the Superior. But the admissions. So they have one or two positions at the University of Moscow where they’re teaching philosophy. Well, that’s O.K. but there are these millions of people who are in need of the Faith, you see.

So, and then I went to Rome and of course I could talk for hours. Met with especially three cardinals: Cardinal Gagnon, Trujillo. Gagnon is in charge of the Eucharistic Congresses. Now the Eucharistic Congress is in Seville in June. Cardinal Trujillo, who is in charge of the Council on the Family, Cardinal Sanchez who is the Congress for the Clergy is in charge of catechetics. All three want to come to the United States in the summer so I’m arranging for programs for them. And they got just a few days they can stay in the United States to get transportation and also to well build up an audience. And the first time that I mentioned this, Cardinal Sanchez took me aside privately before we went to the meeting and he said, “You know the end of April the Holy Father has called the representatives from all the countries who are in charge of catechetics to implement the Universal Catechism that’s been published.” Well, the bishops from Africa and Asia, mostly just don’t have the financial resources to come to Rome and stay for three or four days, whatever it is. So, Cardinal Sanchez and I know each other, so I said “how much would you need?” Well, he said, and he was kind of embarrassed, he said, “I could use fifty thousand dollars”. So, am I being recorded? But it is very important for the bishops because the Catechism is, as you know, is out. Not in English yet. But it’s out in French. I bought a copy in Italian in Rome. The Spanish is out. But, the problem now will be to implement and it’s not enough of that big thick book. Have you seen a copy yet? O gosh, you should have. Will you please remind me by next week at least. I’ve got the French and Italian which I have. The English is not out yet and behind the English, could you turn off the machine?

Real Presence: Communication of Grace

And this will be a new subject, and we’ll spend some time on that.

Real Presence: communication of grace.

We’re asking ourselves why did Christ institute the Blessed Sacrament? Now the first two reasons we gave is that He might be present with us that we might adore Him. And the First Commandment, as we know is, we are to adore the one true God, who we believe became man, so God become man is literally, physically in our midst to be adored. However, this is now the second reason. Christ instituted the Blessed Sacrament in order to communicate His grace. There is more than passing value in reflecting what this means, because the language we commonly use is adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the language we use. OK? And it’s true. Christ is here, we adore Him. Our purpose right now will be to clarify the fact that adoration includes petition, and therefore that devotion to the Blessed Sacrament….

“Is there a chalk on the blackboard?”

Sister: “Yes.”

“Father Henderson is in the hospital?”

Sisters: “Yes, Father.” “Intensive care now.”

“O.K., I’ll pray for him, trust me.”

So devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, it is adoration, but it is also petition. And then by the way, is the theme behind this brochure. And first time in my life we got two imprimaturs from two bishops, just to guarantee orthodoxy. But, I cannot tell you how important this is because if we speak correctly, Eucharistic adoration, promoting Eucharistic adoration fine, however, the Christ who is here is already to be adored is also to be, well, petitioned, asked, begged and as this goes to result while on earth people ask him to work miracles. And there’s no question nothing else but, well a flood of miracles can save countries like the United States. So Our Lord in the Eucharist is not only here to be worshipped by us or honored by us or adored by us, He is also here to give us grace.

The plan then for this part of our reflections is to examine the Church’s understanding of Eucharistic adoration not so much from our side, notice, in adoring Christ, but from

Christ’s side in giving us grace. There were then three questions that we’ll be asking and answering. Question number one: How does Eucharistic adoration include Eucharistic petition? Secondly, why is Eucharistic petition such a powerful means for Christ communicating His grace? Why is Eucharistic petition such a powerful means for Christ communicating His grace? And then, third question, what is the apostolate of Eucharistic prayer?

Now there’s been development of doctrine as you know the Church keeps growing in her understanding of the revelation that God has given her. And this is the same faith, but a clearer, deeper understanding of what the Eucharist really means.

First then, Eucharistic adoration includes Eucharistic petition. My first comment here is that we’re not trifling with words in saying this. And then why is it so important to know that Eucharistic adoration means Eucharistic petition? See, the language is just not in the books. I don’t mean anywhere, but it’s just not the ordinary way of speaking of Eucharistic devotion. Eucharistic petition, why is it so important? Because otherwise we are liable to deprive ourselves and others of many blessings that Christ intends to give us and others through our fervently asking Him in the Blessed Sacrament.

During His visible stay on earth, remember we should never say when Christ was on earth. Never, never say that. Never, never. When Christ was on earth visibly, Christ is on earth as the Catholic faith. And that faith had it remained strong, Detroit would not have closed forty two parishes or Chicago, sixty two parishes. Is that Faith? So the intentional language, adoration is the act of religion by which God is recognized as alone worthy of supreme honor because He is infinitely perfect, has a right to total obedience as our Creator and our total dedication as our destiny. I can repeat this. The intentional language: adoration is the act of religion by which God is recognized as alone worthy of supreme honor because He is infinitely perfect, has a right to our total obedience because He is our Creator and our total dedication because He is our destiny. We came from God and we’re going, praise God, to Him. We’ve been made by God, and for God.

I spent almost a whole day in Moscow talking about the First Commandment. Because that’s the one commandment that for seventy years had been almost blocked out under Communism - the First Commandment.

If we define adoration the way we just did, this includes every form of prayer. In other words we commonly speak of four kinds of prayer - commonly.

So we commonly speak of adoration. What’s the second? Please? Petition. What’s the third? Please? Thanksgiving. Well, maybe we should put thanksgiving in here.

So there’s one, two and what’s the fourth? Expiation, contrition, mercy. We call it prayer and mercy; begging for God’s blessing. And over these centuries and to this day this is the way we, this is good, a good lineup, however, we are now looking at the adoration as really including, in other words, adoration can be distinguished from the other three ways of approaching God or adoration can be seen as including every form of prayer. In other words, in every prayer that we ever address to God, we are always adoring Him. Now it’s this adoration and then in speaking in general why are to adore God, that’s what I was answering here, we are to adore God and address Him with a prayer of adoration. First, because He is the source of everything that we have and hope to have. In other words that we are from God we have everything that we possess and hope to have comes from God. But secondly, we are also made for God. So that the two main, fundamental reasons for adoring God are that He is our First Cause from Whom we came and our Final Cause for Whom we exist. Now theologically, I won’t spend too much time, but just to make sure that I cover some ground; theologically, you might say where does love come in? Well love is the adoration of God as the One for Whom we are made. In other words, whatever else love means, love seeks union between the one loved and the one loving. And that’s our destiny, to be united with God so that all love on earth, all love of God on earth is, you might say, expressive of our desire for union with God from Whom, once we reach Heaven, we can never be separated.



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