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Pope Francis tells American priests: ‘Do not leave the Lord of the tabernacle alone’

Pope Francis meets with the National Association of Hispanic Priests at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on Nov. 16, 2023. / Credit: Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Nov 17, 2023 / 09:23 am (CNA).

The presence of Jesus in every tabernacle points us to how we can serve our suffering brothers and sisters who share in Christ’s passion today, Pope Francis told American priests this week.

In an audience with the National Association of Hispanic Priests on Nov. 16, Pope Francis shared his advice for living a Eucharistic prayer life ahead of the upcoming National Eucharistic Congress to be held in Indianapolis in July 2024.

“Do not leave those who suffer alone. Do not leave the Lord of the tabernacle alone. Convince yourselves that you cannot do anything with your hands if you do not do it with your knees,” Pope Francis told the priests.

Drawing from the life and testimony of both St. Manuel González and Blessed Carlo Acutis, two patrons of the National Eucharistic Revival in the U.S., Pope Francis underlined the importance of prayer in Eucharistic adoration.

Quoting González, the pope said: “In every tabernacle, in every consecrated chalice, we see the cross being raised, and he asks us: ‘Can we do something to relieve the suffering of Christ today? Do it, do it as soon as possible.’” 

“But do it knowing that ‘the Passion will be the companion of the Jesus of your tabernacles’ in every suffering brother and sister, and what God asks of you is not to leave them alone.”

Pope Francis compared the back and forth between Eucharistic prayer and service to others in the life of a priest to a game of pingpong.

Pope Francis meets with the National Association of Hispanic Priests at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on Nov. 16, 2023. Credit: Vatican Media

“Adoration, Eucharistic silence, and intercession before the tabernacle. And then yes, service. But it is like pingpong — one thing leads to another, one thing leads to another.”

“St. Manuel tells us that Jesus does not demand of us that we prevent the Passion, but that we give him glory in the midst of it.”

St. Manuel González García (1877–1940) was a bishop amid the Spanish Civil War who was known for his strong devotion to the Eucharist. After his episcopal ordination in Seville, he said: “I desire that in my life as a bishop, as before in my life as a priest, my soul should not grieve except for one sorrow which is the greatest of all, the abandonment of the tabernacle, and that it should rejoice for one joy, the tabernacle, which does not lack company.”

On his tomb in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel of Palencia Cathedral, it is written: “I ask to be buried next to a tabernacle, so that my bones after my death, like my tongue and my pen in life, may always be repeating to those who pass by, ‘Jesus is here! Jesus is here! Do not leave him abandoned!’”

Pope Francis said that González is a model for how to read the “living book” of Christ, seeking him in Scripture in silent adoration.

“In the United States, a National Eucharistic Congress is being prepared for next year, and Blessed Carlo Acutis and St. Manuel González have been chosen as its patrons, both of whom excelled — like so many saints of the Church — in the art of reading this living book, before the tabernacle, in the silent, kneeling school,” the pope said.

Pope Francis met with the National Association of Hispanic Priests at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on the penultimate day of the group’s annual conference held in Rome this year from Nov. 14 to 17.

The National Association of Hispanic Priests is a priestly association founded in 1989 with the goal of providing a national forum for Spanish-speaking priests and supporting their pastoral ministry in Latino communities in the U.S. Father Juan Jose Molina Flores from the Archdiocese of San Antonio currently serves as the president of the association. 

“Always return to Jesus’ call to serve, at the disposal of others,” Pope Francis told the priests.

“Surrender yourselves to the One who has called you to give yourselves, and only asks you for fidelity and constancy, with the certainty that it will be he who will complete the work and make your efforts bear good fruit,” he said.

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