Holiness Begets Holiness

Fr. Willie Doyle S.J. Military Chaplain for the 8th Royal Irish Fusiliers WWI

If it is true that the goal of a Christian is not only to behold God’s Face one day in Heaven, but also to bring with us as many souls as possible in our lifetime, then Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J., was a true Christian.  Holiness begets holiness in others. Both St. Teresa of Calcutta and St. Josemaria Esciriva were each inspired by Fr. Doyle, a little-known Irish Jesuit priest, who in a powerful yet humble way guided each saint on the path to holiness. Fr. Willie was an Irish Military Chaplain, who was killed in action during one of the worst battles of World War I on August 16th, 1917, on the muddy, bloody battlefield of Ypres, after having run “all day hither and thither over the battlefield like an angel of mercy,” one hundred years ago. But his story is just beginning to come to come to light and inspire many, many other souls who are also seeking God’s Face.

Fr. Willie was beloved by all the men he served, ministering to exhausted soldiers of all faiths or none, with little or no sleep himself and at great personal sacrifice.  There was little food, and no relief, sometimes stretching many weeks.  He suffered along with the other soldiers from the cold, waist-deep mud that filled stagnant trenches, suffered gas-attacks and all the horrors of war.  Fr. Willie risked his own life at every moment, administering absolution, anointing with oil faces which were so smashed by shells that they were barely recognizable as men, and then burying the dead.  Once, though sick himself, he laid face down in the mud of a trench, in order that a sick doctor could get a little sleep by lying on Fr. Doyle’s back.  On the last day of his life he was seen running back and forth across the battlefields giving absolution to dying men, until finally being hit by a shell himself.

St. Teresa of Calcutta

But, surprisingly it wasn’t Fr. Doyle’s battlefield heroism that inspired Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who learned of this holy priest when she was a young nun, as recounted in the book about her life, Come Be My Light.  Nor were his great mortifications and ultimate self-sacrifice noted in the writings of St. Josemaria Escriva.  They were both inspired by something most people would consider inconsequential: the smallest sacrifice of giving up butter on his bread and sugar in his tea; sacrifices Fr. Doyle considered intolerable.

St. Josemaria Escriva

St. Josemaria wrote to a friend of an example that set him on the road to sainthood; known as “The Butter Battle.” “We were reading–you and I–the heroically ordinary life of that man of God. [Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J.] And we saw him fight whole months and years at breakfast time: today he won, tomorrow he was beaten…He [Fr. Doyle] noted: ‘Didn’t take butter…; did take butter!’ I have read quickly the life of Fr. Doyle: how well I understand the butter tragedy.” [For St. Josemaria, his own battle was the small sacrifice of not reading the newspapers.]

Fr. Doyle, who was born the same year as St. Therese of the Holy Face and the Child Jesus, was himself inspired by her “Little Way.” And he was determined to follow it, by “doing little things for God with great love”:

“Kneeling at the grave of the Little Flower, I gave myself into her hands to guide and to make me a saint.  I promised her to make it a rule of my whole life, every day without exception, to seek in all things my greater mortification, to give all and refuse nothing.  I have made this resolution with great confidence, because I realize how utterly it is beyond my strength; but I feel the Little Flower will get me the grace to keep it perfectly.”

St. Therese

He did not ask God for the courage to perform great acts of heroism, but instead begged earnestly for the grace to give up butter, sugar in his tea, salt and other little things. “How many deceive themselves,” Fr. Doyle wrote, “in thinking sanctity consists in the ‘holy follies’ of the saints! How many look upon holiness as something beyond their reach or capability, and think that it is to be found only in the performance of extraordinary actions.  Satisfied that they have not the strength for great austerities, the time for much prayer, or the courage for painful humiliations, they silence their conscience with the thought that great sanctity is not for them, that they have not been called to be saints.  With their eyes fixed on the heroic deeds of the few, they miss the daily little sacrifices God asks them to make; and while waiting for something great to prove their love, they lose the countless little opportunities of sanctification each day bears within its bosom.”

“Self-love,” wrote Fr. Doyle, “is our own greatest enemy.” Little things are of great importance to God.  It was through being “faithful to God in little things,” those small sacrifices, that he was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, which is “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  Fr. Doyle knew better than anyone the value of making those small sacrifices of love that become mighty weapons in the hand of the Living God — and He will win the war!

With her great reverence for the thirst of Jesus on the Cross, and the desire to seek His Face everywhere, it is possible that Mother Teresa may have found inspiration when she read the following passage in Fr. Doyle’s diary:

“The greatest thirst of Jesus on the Cross was His thirst for souls.  He saw then the graces and inspirations He would give me to save souls for Him… In what way shall I correspond and console my Savior?  I went on to ________ and once more had an opportunity of a quiet prayer before the life-sized crucifix in the church which I love so much.  I could not remain at His feet but I climbed  up until both my arms were around his neck.  The figure seemed almost to live, and I think I loved Him then, for it was borne upon me how abandoned and suffering and broken-hearted He was.  It seemed to console Him when I kissed His eyes and pallid cheeks and swollen lips, and as I clung to Him I knew He has won the victory, and I gave Him all He asked.” –Fr. William Doyle, S.J. 

 

“To Raise the Fallen” compiled and edited by Patrick Kenny

Just in time to celebrate the one-hundredth anniversary of Fr. Willie’s death, there is a new book available, on the inspiring life of Fr. Doyle, his writing and war letters compiled by Patrick Kenny, To Raise the Fallen, which may be found by clicking (here). If you are interested in reading more about the life of Fr. Doyle be sure to visit this wonderful blog dedicated to to Fr. Doyle: Remembering Fr. Willie Doyle, S.J.  

… remember “Holiness begets Holiness!”

A Humble, Silent Witness to the Face of God – Robert Cardinal Sarah

Robert Cardinal Sarah gazing at the Face of Jesus, transfigured, in the Eucharist at the Basilica Sanctuary of the Holy Face of Manoppello(Photo 2013: Paul Badde/EWTN

His gaze is piercing, his lips closed, as he turns interiorly toward the Face of God; he listens intently for God’s voice in humble silence, and paradoxically evangelizes the world.  Robert Cardinal Sarah, appointed in 2014 as the prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship by Pope Francis, has written a masterpiece on prayer with Nicholas Diat, The Power of Silence; Against the Dictatorship of Noise.  In the afterword for the book Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI writes that Cardinal Sarah is “a master of silence and of interior prayer.”  

In The Power of Silence Cardinal Sarah writes:

Robert Cardinal Sarah (photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

“Silence is not an absence. On the contrary, it is the manifestation of a presence, the most intense of all presences.”

“Through silence we return to our heavenly origin, where there is nothing but calm, peace, repose, silent contemplation, and adoration of the radiant Face of God.”

Pope St. John Paul II also spoke of the “radiant Face of Christ” as a preparation for the New Evangelization in Novo Millenio Ineunte, “And it is the Church’s task to reflect the light of Christ in every historical period, to make his Face shine before the generations of the new millenium. Our witness, however, would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not first contemplated His Face.”  One can have the false impression that evangelization consists only in saying many words. So, how is it possible that silence can also evangelize? Another eminent cardinal, Louis Cardinal Tagle of the Philippines, gives an answer to this question in his address in 2012 for the Synod on the New Evangelization:

 “The Church must discover the power of silence.  Confronted with sorrows, doubts, and uncertainties of people she cannot pretend to give easy solutions.  In Jesus, silence becomes the way of attentive listening, compassion and prayer.  It is the way to truth.  The seemingly indifferent and aimless societies of our time are earnestly looking for God.  The Church’s humility, respectfulness, and silence might reveal more clearly the Face of God in Jesus.  The world takes delight in a simple witness to Jesus, meek and humble of heart.”

To become “meek and humble of heart,” like Jesus, we must first turn to His Face in silent contemplation as Cardinal Sarah explains.

“Contemplative silence is silence with God. This silence is clinging to God, appearing before God, and placing oneself in His presence, offering oneself to Him, mortifying oneself in Him, adoring, loving, and hearing Him, listening to Him and resting in Him.  This is the silence of eternity, the union of the soul with God.” 

“The asceticism of silence reaches its most perfect degree in the life of those who have tasted this encounter with God through contemplation of His Face.  This is a form of nakedness and poverty.  But one gains access to true glory only at this price.  The asceticism of silence allows a person to enter into the mystery of God by becoming little, like a child.” 

“In silence, he cannot be a false god but can merely stand in a luminous face-to-face encounter with God” (The Power of Silence)

Robert Cardinal Sarah’s hand seen through the Manoppello Veil (Photo 2013: Paul Badde/EWTN)

Recently, Robert Cardinal Sarah made a visit to the Sanctuary Basilica of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy.  It was his second pilgrimage to the shrine since since 2013 to see the miraculous veil bearing the Face of Jesus. After his visit, “visibly moved,” he wrote this dedication in the guest book of the Capuchins at the Shrine:

“Here in Manopello we meet the countenance of God face-to-face, and when we look at Him, His gaze cleanses and heals us, God be blessed, Robert Cardinal Sarah 17/7/2017”

Holy Face of Manoppello, photo: Patricia Enk

“When face to face with a God who has become man, how can we not remain silent?” —The Power of Silence by Robert Card. Sarah with Nicholas Diat

Holy Face of Manoppello photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

A Hidden Soul

Sr. Miriam of the Mystical Body, OCD (on Sept.15, 2013)

Mary Julia Seelaus was born August 5, 1923, the second of eight children, in Philadelphia, PA. She attended Holy Child grade school, and Little Flower High School of Fine Arts.  When she graduated, Mary Julia–a talented artist–was hired to do women’s fashion art displays, but a flame that was the love of God burned in her heart, and she soon formed a group of Young Christian Workers, similar to the movement in France at the time.  One day, as she was riding home on the subway from her Christian Worker meeting, she heard a definite call to Carmel in her heart.

So, Mary Julia became a Discalced Carmelite nun, and her name became Sr. Miriam of the Mystical Body, OCD.  She said that “The discovery of the doctrine of the Mystical Body was a great grace for me.  Our loving God and Father has created each of us to be another humanity for Jesus.”  One of her favorite Scripture passages was “I am the vine, and you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”

Sr. Miriam’s New Testament and photo of the Shroud of Turin

Anyone who had the great privilege of knowing this tiny, cloistered nun, knew of her great love and devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, which she shared with everyone.  Sr. Miriam was that part of the Mystical Body who adored and loved the Face of Jesus, to make up for those souls who are indifferent to God, or even hate God. In her little New Testament, now yellowed and falling apart, St. Paul’s words to the Ephesians are doubly underlined, “God’s plan…is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head.” (Eph. 1:10)  A small picture of the Shroud of Turin (glued to a piece of cardboard, with a hanger  carefully cut from duct tape) which belonged to Sr. Miriam, is worn through the surface of the photo, from the top of Jesus’s forehead to His chin, by a thousand kisses bestowed on His Holy Face as evidence of her faithful love and the desire to make reparation for those who did not love Him.

Her eyes sparkled when she spoke of Jesus, and one had the distinct impression that He was always at her side, because Sr. Miriam had the habit of addressing her Beloved out loud. If you asked her for prayers for someone, she would immediately implore Him, in her sweet voice, “O Jesus!  Help them!”

Painting of Jesus by Sr. Miriam

Before Sr. Miriam died, at the Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Covington, Louisiana, she suffered, as some holy souls do, a great darkness.  She felt that she was unworthy to even receive Holy Communion; she grew smaller and smaller, like a candle about to go out.  The darkness passed and on June 27, 2017, her entrance into eternal life was a peaceful one. The funeral procession to her place of rest at St. Joseph’s Abbey was halted momentarily when a peacock, a symbol of the Resurrection, suddenly flew out of the woods to the middle of the road, next to the hearse which carried her precious body.  The Face of Christ shone so brightly in Sr. Miriam’s soul, which remained always close to the Vine, that it cannot help but continue to bear good fruit.  Sr. Miriam, pray for us!

 

 

Queen Beauty and Mother of Carmel

“How fair you are, O Virgin Mary! Your face is resplendent with grace.” –Carmelite Proper

img_1069Virgin Mary is she who more than any other contemplated God in the human Face of Jesus.  She saw Him as a newborn when, wrapped in swaddling clothes, He was placed in a manger; she saw Him when, just after His death, they took Him down from the Cross, wrapped Him in linen and placed Him in the sepulcher.  Inside her was impressed the image of her martyred Son; but this image was then transfigured in the light of the Resurrection.  Thus, in Mary’s heart, was carried the mystery of the Face of Christ, a mystery of death and glory.  From her we can always learn how to look upon Jesus, with a gaze of love and faith, to recognize in that human countenance, the Face of God.” –Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

 

Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Seeking the Face of Christ through Mary

In the icon of “Queen Beauty and Mother of Carmel,” the Infant Jesus tenderly invites us to look at the face of His Mother, “resplendent with grace.” What makes the Virgin Mary’s face “resplendent with grace?”  It is the light of the Face of Christ – just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, the face of Mary reflects the light of the true sun, Jesus Christ.

Mary is “The glory of Jerusalem, the joy of Israel, the highest honor of our race,” (Judith 15:9) because she sought the face of God, His holy will and pleasure, in all things. Just as it is possible for the moon to shine even in the brightness of day, Mary gives more beauty to the heavens, more glory to God than any other creature on earth.  And when the dark night of faith is upon us and the sun is hidden from our view, Mary is there to enlighten our path and show us the way to her Son, until “In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1: 78-79)

At the present moment, although the world is filled with darkness, we can turn to her for help in seeking His Face and leading souls to Him. Even pebbles on a path on the ground can reflect the light of the moon at night; and so the children of Mary by following her example, “to seek the Face of God in all things,” can guide others through the darkness by reflecting the light of the Face of Christ as does Mary.

It is Jesus Himself who desires that we turn to the face of His Mother. He created her with all the perfection and beauty that would be fitting for the Mother of God.  Her soul, holy, immaculate and unstained by sin, is the perfect mirror in which He reflects His Face. He holds her up to us as the model for all His disciples as He did in Luke’s Gospel:  “While He was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to Him, ‘Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.’” This singular praise of Mary from the woman in the crowd was not enough for her Son.  And so Jesus replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” (Luke 11:27)  Mary is thus thrice blessed, first, in being chosen to be the Mother of God, second, in that Mary heard the word of God and third, because she kept His word in her heart.

Mary holds out to us her Scapular, a sacramental sign of being clothed in her own garment, to place over our shoulders, so that we may imitate her in faith, hope, charity and all the virtues that adorn her soul.  By contemplating the Face of Jesus always, together with Mary, we can do our part in making His Face shine upon our world as well.

Queen Beauty of Carmel
Queen Beauty of Carmel Feast day: July 16th

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

O most beautiful flower of Mount Carmel, fruitful vine, splendor of heaven, blessed Mother of Christ, Immaculate Virgin, we praise and honor you as our Queen and Mother.

Help us to persevere in constant prayer for the needs of our world and share with you in the work of redemption.  Be with us, Holy Virgin, and guide us on our way, as we journey together in faith, hope and love to your Son, Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Amen.

A glorified face transformed in Christ – St. Teresa of the Andes

 

St. Teresa of the Andes, professed Discalced Carmelite nun, born July 13, 1900. She died April 20, 1920, just before her 20th birthday.

“For her God is infinite joy. This is the new hymn of Christian love that rises spontaneously from the soul of this young Chilean girl, in whose glorified face we can sense that grace of her transformation in Christ.”

–Pope St. John Paul II, canonization homily for St. Teresa of the Andes in 1993

“Look at Him!”

“Jesus alone is beautiful; he is my only joy.  I call for him, I cry after him, I search for him within my heart.  I long for Jesus to grind me interiorly [like wheat] so that I may become a pure host where he can find his rest.

I want to be athirst with love so that other souls may possess this love.  I would die to creatures and to myself, so that he may live in me. Is there anything good, beautiful or true that we can think of that would not be in Jesus?  Wisdom, from which nothing would be secret.  Power, for which nothing would be impossible.  Justice, which made him take on flesh in order to make satisfaction for sin.  Providence, which always watches over and sustains us.  Mercy, which never ceases to pardon.  Goodness, which forgets the offenses of his creatures.  Love, which unites all the tenderness of a mother, of a brother, of a spouse, and which, drawing him out of the abyss of his greatness, binds him closely to his creatures.

Beauty which enraptures…what can you think of that would not be found in this Man-God?  Are you perhaps afraid that the abyss of the greatness of God and that of your nothingness cannot be united?  There is love in him.  His passionate love made him take flesh in order that by seeing a Man-God, we would not be afraid to draw near hm.  This passionate love made him become bread in order to assimilate our nothingness and make it disappear into his infinite being.  This passionate love made him give his life by dying on the Cross.  Are you perhaps afraid to draw near him?  Look at him surrounded by little children.  He caresses them, and presses them to his heart.  Look at him in the midst of his faithful flock, bearing the faithless lamb on his shoulders.

Look at him at the tomb of Lazarus.  And listen to what he says to Magdalene: ‘Much has been forgiven her, because she has loved much.’ What do you discover in these flashes from the Gospel except a heart that is good, gentle, tender, compassionate; in other words, the heart of God?  He is my unending wealth, my bliss, my heaven.”

—St. Teresa of the Andes

“Truly Seeking God” – Benedictines and the Face of Christ

Illumina Domine Blog - Devotion to The Holy Face

“It is Your Face, O Lord, that I seek.” (Ps 26:8)

St. Benedict St. Benedict, Feast Day July 11

In the Rule of his Order St. Benedict gives the key to discerning a true vocation in those seeking admittance to the Benedictine Order: “Let us examine whether the novice is truly seeking God.” (Ch. 58, Rule)  Since the Order’s inception, up to this day, the sons and daughters of St. Benedict have taken for their motto “Ora et Labora.” This “Prayer and Work” for many Benedictines is truly seeking the Face of God in the “prayer” of contemplation and the “work” of reparation to the Face of God covered with the blood, wounds, dust and spittle of  blasphemy–to stand, together with the Blessed Mother, before the endless crosses on which the Son of God continues to be crucified.  If there is a common thread among the holy men and women…

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“The Monstrance of the Heart”

Joachim Cardinal Meisner (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

December 25, 1933-July 5, 2017

Requiescat in Pace

“The Face is the monstrance of the heart.
In the Holy Face the heart of God becomes visible.”
–Joachim Cardinal Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne, 4.4.2005
Joachim Cardinal Meisner with Veil of the Holy Face of Manoppello (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

 

Jesus’s Self-Portrait

The Beatitudes by Carl Bloch

Did you know that there exists, in this world, a self-portrait of Jesus?  Yes, it is true. Pope St. John Paul II has written about this self-portrait in Veritatis Splendor, and so did Pope Benedict XVI in Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus painted this masterpiece of Himself on a mountain, where He prayed “face-to-face with the Father.” On the mountain of the Beatitudes, Jesus painted in deep, rich hues, a self-portrait of crucified love for us to contemplate and imitate:     

The Beatitudes

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.  Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Mt. 5:1-12)

The Beatitudes, Pope St. John Paul II says in Veritatis Splendor, “are a sort of self- portrait of Christ, and for this very reason are invitations to discipleship and to communion of life with Christ.”  In Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI describes the Sermon on the Mount as a “hidden Christology.” He writes, “Anyone who reads Matthew’s text attentively will realize that the Beatitudes present a sort of veiled interior biography of Jesus, a kind of portrait of His figure.  He who had no place to lay his head (Mt. 8:20) is truly poor; he who can say, “Come to me…for I am meek and lowly of heart” (Mt. 11:28-29) is truly meek; he is the one who is pure of heart and so unceasingly beholds God.  He is the peacemaker, he is the one who suffers for God’s sake.”  

The brushstrokes of the Master are the Christian virtues by which He reveals His Face: Justice, Mercy, Humility, Meekness, Purity of Heart.  Jesus painted this self-portrait as an invitation for those who seek His Face to follow Him as His disciples, calling us to communion with Him, accompanying Him to the Cross. 

“If you say, ‘show me your God,’ I should like to answer you, ‘show me the man who is in you’… For God is perceived by men who are capable of seeing Him, who have the eyes of their spirit open…Man’s soul must be as pure as a shining mirror.”  –Theophilus of Antioch 

“Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Mt. 5)
Holy Face “Il Volto Santo” of Manoppello, photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

Thy Glory in Beholding

O Lord, wealth of the poor, how admirably You can sustain souls, revealing Your great riches to them gradually and not permitting them to see them all at once. When I see Your great Majesty hidden in so small a thing as the Host, I cannot but marvel at Your great wisdom.”                      –St. Teresa of Jesus

Host viewed through the Veil of Manoppello in Italy. Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN

Adoro Te Devote

Jesu, quem vellum nuns auspício,/Oro, fiat illud, quod tam sitio,/Ut te revelata cernens facie,/Visu sim beatus tuae Gloria.  Amen.

Jesus! Whom for the present veiled I see,

What I so thirst for, oh, vouchsafe to me:

That I may see Thy Countenance unfolding, 

And may be blest…

Thy Glory in beholding.  Amen 

Cardinal Tagle elevates the Eucharist at a Solemn Mass in honor of the Holy Face of Manoppello, Italy (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN)

There is a wonderful book by Dr. Brant Pitre called “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist – Unlocking the Secrets of the Last Supper”  which sheds light on the great Mystery of the Eucharist, and the connection to the Old Testament “Bread of the Presence” otherwise known in the Old Testament as the “Bread of the Face of God”–the earthly sign of God’s Face veiled–because no one could see the unveiled Face of God and live. Three times a year, Dr. Pitre writes, the priests in the Temple would “remove the Golden Table of the Bread of the Presence from within the Holy Place so that the Jewish pilgrims could see it.” (Exodus 34:23; 23:17) Then the priest would elevate the holy bread before the people saying, “Behold God’s love for you!”  The Bread of the Face, was a sign of God’s love because it was a sign of His everlasting covenant.  “…this holy bread was a living visible sign of God’s love for his people, the way earthly people could catch a glimpse of the ultimate desire of their hearts: to see the Face of God and live, and to know that He loved them.”  “And just as the old Bread of the Presence was also the Bread of the Face of God, so now the Eucharist would be the Bread of the Face of God.” It is through His Face that we enter into the relationship of love with God.

Robert Cardinal Sarah gazing at the Eucharistic Face of Jesus at the Basilica Sanctuary of the Holy Face (Photo: Paul Badde/EWTN
“The Face of Christ is the supreme revelation of Christ’s Mercy.”–Pope Benedict XVI photo:Paul Badde/EWTN

“Behold, you do see Him, you touch Him, you eat Him…to receive Him into your heart…He upon whom the angels look with fear, and dare not gaze upon steadfastly because of His dazzling splendor, becomes our Food; we are united to Him, and are made one body and one flesh with Christ.” –St. John Chrysostom 

What greater sign of His Love than the bread and wine become His Body and Blood?