Lenten Letter 2024 from Fr. Tomaž Mavrič, CM, to the Vincentian Family

by | Feb 18, 2024 | Featured, Formation, Reflections

Rome, 18 February 2024

First Sunday of Lent

To all the members of the Vincentian Family Movement


Dear brothers and sisters in Saint Vincent,

May the grace and peace of Jesus be always with us!

In my letter for 27 September 2016, I encouraged us to reflect on Saint Vincent de Paul as a “Mystic of Charity.” From that letter on, based on the Common Rules and Constitutions of the Congregation of the Mission, we have meditated on what made him a Mystic of Charity.

In the tenth chapter of the Common Rules, concerning the pillars of our spirituality, Saint Vincent suggests that in the Eucharist you find it all.

In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus is offered at every moment somewhere in the world. Jesus’s presence under the species of bread and wine does not remain limited to the time of the Eucharist but is given to us in an additional invaluable gift present 24 hours a day in the tabernacles of the world. It is not a half-hour’s presence, nor one hour, but 24 hours a day, day and night. Passing a church, a chapel, a place where a tabernacle is and where Jesus dwells, we may be completely unaware, not noticing or bringing to mind Who is present nearby, under the species of bread, sometimes just a few meters away, or even within reach. Physical reminders can help: “With regard to the lamp before the Blessed Sacrament, Jésus, mon Dieu! it must indeed be kept lit,”[1] but we still must respond to them.

In the history of the Church, since the first Eucharist, when Jesus offered Himself at the Last Supper under the species of bread and wine, there have been numerous examples of Eucharistic miracles confirming the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist; many instances of persons who, to stay alive, did not need any other food but the Eucharist; innumerable conversions because of the constant presence of Jesus in the tabernacles of the world. Countless persons have spent and are spending hours and hours in front of the tabernacle or during exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, many times not saying anything, not coming with a list of requests that they plan to ask of Jesus, but simply being with Him, remaining in silence, giving Jesus the opportunity to speak when and what He thinks appropriate and necessary for them.

“When you go through a village, greet the Guardian Angel of the place; when the coach stops, find out where the church is, if it’s not too far away. While one of you stops at the inn to see if there’s a room, the others will go to adore the Blessed Sacrament.”[2]

Some parishes, chapels, and religious communities have 24-hour Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Sometimes a group, or even just one person, makes sure that Jesus never remains alone. For some, the encounter with Jesus is in the middle of the night, when most people sleep. For many of us, the question might arise: How can these persons remain, not just a few minutes but hours in front of the tabernacle or during exposition of the Blessed Sacrament? How can they do it?

Two responses come to my mind:


Learning the catechism, participating in Holy Mass every day or every Sunday, attending lectures on the theme of the Eucharist or reading books on this subject, etc. alone cannot bring us to believe in the Real Presence of Jesus under the species of bread and wine and to be in love with Jesus. It is only through Jesus’s grace, mercy, and unconditional love. He waits 24 hours a day for us to come to visit Him in inner silence, to open our hearts and wait for when He will determine is the right time to communicate to us what He wants.

Each of us is invited to reflect personally: Where am I in relation to the two points mentioned above?

In the pilgrimage of faith, it should not be at all frightening, discouraging, or even shocking to realize that I am not yet where I would like to be. I should not be shaken because of the doubts that I may be carrying within me for years and years. The most important thing is not how I feel about myself, but how Jesus feels about me!

Jesus is waiting for us 24 hours a day, any time, in whatever shape we are, with the doubts, joys, or sorrows we may bring to Him. Saint Vincent counsels: “After adoring the Blessed Sacrament there and offering God the work they are about to do, they will ask Him for the grace of telling the sick poor what He wants said to them on His behalf for their salvation.”[3]

With our regular visits to Jesus in the tabernacle, with our regular adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus starts tearing down walls and obstacles, and starts filling us with His inner peace, opening our hearts to take new steps towards the time when we will be able, without hesitation, to respond positively to Him. Saint Vincent offers a very practical example: “Now, when someone says something rude to you that you find hard to bear, don’t answer back, but raise your heart to God to ask Him for the grace to put up with that for love of Him, and go before the Blessed Sacrament to tell your troubles to Our Lord.”[4]

As I write these lines, I know well how imperfectly I correspond to the two above-mention points. I am convinced that for us all, a positive response is the core to a lasting conversion that brings with it all the other spiritual means that help us on our pilgrimage.

I would like to present the example of a layperson I met a few years ago in Rome. Through his testimony of life, he is responding to the two above-mentioned points in an extraordinary way.

His name is Arnoldo, and he is married with three children. He is quite well-known in Italy and beyond. He comes from a prestigious Italian family. As a philosopher, writer, poet, and entrepreneur, he had a promising future. However, he gave up everything to dedicate himself to a Foundation called “House of the Spirit and Arts.” His wife and their three children, ages 14, 12, and 9, hear him say: “Sorry, I have to go and talk to Jesus.” Here are some of his thoughts on Jesus, the Eucharist, and God’s love:[5]

Over the years, always, and every day, or at least countless times, there is this relationship with Christ, present in the Eucharist… He is truly present in the world. He breathes into the world. From every tabernacle.

I think it is God’s love that touches me. And that always surprises me. When I least expect it, when I least feel worthy of His love, He touches me, reaches out to me, makes me realize how much He loves me. It is He who always reaches out to us… I think God is a lover who “always stands at our door” waiting for us to open a crack for Him.

The encounter with Christ marks you forever. It is like an open wound. When Christ strikes us, wounds us, man begins to die of love, to be consumed by love… I am only sure that I am in love with Him, because He has touched me, because I feel that “open wound” gives meaning to life, because no one has ever touched me as deeply as He has, no one has descended into the depths of my spirit, caressing it, as Christ does.

He, from the tabernacle, He, present in the Eucharist, descending to the depths of the soul to quench its thirst… The Eucharist, as it were, infuses the body and spirit with a secret sap, it activates a second circulation in which a mysterious blood, a blood of love, circulates.

Christ in the Eucharist is always on the Cross and at the same time is risen: He continues to give Himself, until the end of time, to save every human being… The cross and the Eucharist are two “scandals” that are absurd to the world’s mentality because they reveal Love in its supreme Summit… The Eucharist acts on the human conscious and transfigures it into love.

Communion is first and foremost an experience, not a ritual. And an experience presupposes relationship, will, intelligence and heart coming face to face with a presence of God, whom you believe to be God by faith.

If I do not receive the Eucharist for a few days, I miss it. The Eucharist is a need, you cannot resist it. Take everything away from me, not the Eucharist. No temptation, no sin could make me give up the Eucharist.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, visit to Jesus in the Tabernacle

Inspired by the many examples of people whose testimony helps us to deepen our personal faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and our being in love with Jesus, we are invited to use this special time of the liturgical year, Lent, as an extraordinary season of grace in preparation for next year’s Jubilee of the 400th Anniversary of the Foundation of the Congregation of the Mission and the Jubilee of the whole Church to take some concrete steps in this regard. May the Eucharist become for the whole Vincentian Family Movement, each Congregation, each Lay Association, as well as for all those who live Vincentian spirituality and charism while not belonging to any branch of the Family, ever more the center and inspiration of who we are.

I would like to thank all those communities, groups, and individuals who already regularly have in their schedules a common Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, as well as private visits to Jesus in the tabernacle. For those communities that do not have regular weekly Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, I would like to encourage them to start it in this time of Lent and keep it as a regular prayer practice. Lay groups may organize the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament according to their possibilities in the parishes or chapels where they meet. Other persons who do not belong to a specific branch might see where they could join in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Apart from the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus is waiting for us in the tabernacle 24 hours a day. As each Congregation and Lay Association of the Family has such a desire for its members to increase in number and in holiness, Jesus surely will not remain indifferent to our plea.

May Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Saint Vincent de Paul and all the Saints, Blessed, and Servants of God of the Vincentian Family Movement intercede for us!

Your brother in Saint Vincent,

Tomaž Mavrič, CM

[1] Saint Vincent de Paul, Correspondence, Conferences, Documents (hereafter, CCD), translated and edited by Jacqueline Kilar, DC; and Marie Poole, DC; et al; annotated by John W. Carven, CM; New City Press, Brooklyn and Hyde Park, 1985-2014; volume II, page 660; letter 817 to Claude Dufour in Saintes, 4 July 1646.

[2] CCD X, 446; conference 100 to Four Sisters Being Sent to Calais, 4 August 1658.

[3] CCD XIIIb, 382; document 186, “Preparing the Sick of the Hôtel-Dieu for General Confession” (1636).

[4] CCD X, 150; conference 74, “Love of Physical and Moral Sufferings” (Common Rules, Article 6), 23 July 1656.

[5] These thoughts are taken from the book, Arnoldo Mosca Mondadori and Monica Mondo, Il farmaco dell’Immortalità, Dialogo sulla vita e l’Eucaristia [The Medicine of Immortality, Dialogue on Life and the Eucharist], Scholé, Editrice Morcelliana, Brescia, 2019. It is an interview Monica Mondo conducted with Arnoldo Mondadori.


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