by Fr. Joshua Lobo
In a church in Italy just meters away from the Pope's summer residence at Castel Gandolfo is a small side chapel with a sign that captures your attention as soon as you enter. Without any explanation the sign in Latin reads Fons Consolationis - fount of consolation. Almost immediately your eyes fall to a statute of the Lord Jesus, just below the sign. His Sacred Heart is exposed, His finger is pointing to the wound in His Heart made by the thrust of the Centurion’s spear on Good Friday. The look that the sculptor depicted on the Lord’s face and the way His finger points to the exact place of the wound answers the natural question that is raised in your mind: it’s as if He’s saying, here is the fount of consolation.
Pope Francis says, “The person who experiences consolation never gives up in the face of difficulties because he or she always experiences a peace that is stronger than any trial.” Earthly life is filled with difficulties and trials but imagine if strengthened by God’s consolation we could face them all with peace. God desires to give all his children the consolation that comes from His Sacred Heart. “Come to me all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
God’s consolation is the deepest kind, it is something that the world in many ways tries to replicate, but never can. The Lord is inviting each of us in moments of tiredness, anger, frustration, discouragement, fear, loneliness, restlessness, etc. to seek the consolation that comes from His Heart. His consolation desires to find a place in our heart. Instead of seeking after the mirages in the desert of this world, we can ask the Lord for the grace to draw close to Him, the true oasis of consolation. The Lord has left us His Real Presence in the Eucharist and we know that where He is, there His Heart is as well. It is only right then that when we need consolation, we go to Him in the Eucharist, found in the tabernacles of our Catholic Churches.
"God desires to give all his children the consolation
that comes from His Sacred Heart." - Fr. Joshua Lobo
Over and over, the Saints urge us to spend time with the Lord, present in the Most Holy Eucharist, and they marvel at the peace they experience. St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuit Order said, "To withdraw from the world and repose with Jesus in the Tabernacle is my delight; there I can hide myself and seek rest. There I find a life which I cannot describe, a joy which I cannot make others comprehend, a peace such as is found only under the hospitable roof of our best Friend."
As Christians, our time of adoration is important not only for ourselves, but for others. As we draw close to Jesus, He will draw close to us and to those we carry in our hearts; those who are sick, suffering, or fallen away from the Church. We can even ask the Lord that by our drawing close to Him, He would draw others who are not yet Christians or Catholics close to Him as well, for He himself said 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). If our friends and family, culture and world have drifted far away from the Lord and His path, it will be the faithful worship of Christians before the Blessed Sacrament that will draw them back. For Jesus has said to His followers, “You are the salt of the earth… you are the light of the world (Matthew 5:13,14). Before he would go out to preach and work amongst the people of India, St. Francis Xavier would spend many nights in adoration before the Holy Eucharist. St. Monica would make frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament, outside of Mass, to pray for the conversion of her son who became the great St. Augustine. St. John Vianney’s parishioners would see him in the late hours of the night keeping vigil by the Blessed Sacrament and praying for their conversions. In like manner, all the saints throughout history have been sanctified by the Eucharist and by the time they have spent in Jesus’ presence. The lasting fruit they have borne in the world is testimony to the effectiveness of this practise. If we abide in His Love we too will bear much fruit (John 15 1-12) and the first fruits of abiding in His love are a consolation and peace within our own hearts.
The “secret” of the Saints is their willingness to continually go to the Fount of Consolation, the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus which is found in the Eucharist. It is the source of their fruitfulness and of their personal joy and peace and zeal. From the Eucharist they drew unspeakable spiritual strength to face every trial and bear faithful witness to the Lord. This great fount of strength and consolation is available to us all. This time in history can be a great time of fruitfulness for the Church if faithful Christians heed the call of Christ and following the example of the Saints draw close to the Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist. We do not need to be discouraged by the evil we see around us, for if God is for us, who is against us? (Romans 8:31) No matter how far the world seems to go off course we can remain at peace remembering that God is working (John 5:17) to draw all things back to Himself (John 12:32) and that where sin increased, grace abounded all the more (Romans 5:20). All we must do is come before the Lord and seek His friendship and company. He will do the rest and when He sees fit, He will inspire in us the right course of action. The sign in the chapel fons consolationis was not just a statement but an invitation to the world. Especially in this month of the Sacred Heart, we ask God for the grace to trust Him that His consolation will truly satisfy us and will be our deepest joy. We ask for the grace to respond to His invitation to be with Him in the Eucharist. From this encounter, our lives will be a magnificent witness and a great testimony will shine forth to the world: O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him (Psalm 34:8).
Fr. Joshua Lobo is a priest for the Archdiocese of Toronto, currently on studies in Rome. Fr. Lobo was born in Bombay, India, and moved to Toronto in 1994. Immediately after graduation from university, he entered formation at St. Augustine's Seminary of Toronto. Fr. Lobo was ordained to the priesthood in 2020.