Catholic Summary of The Bishop of the Abandoned Tabernacle: St. Manuel Gonzalez Garcia

St. Manuel Gonzalez Garcia (1877 – 1940) was a Spanish Bishop and founder of the Eucharistic Family for Reparation (UNER).

When Padre Manuel was sent for his first parish mission in Palomares del Rio, he was shocked to discover that no one goes to church anymore due to the political and religious issues of the time but also to find an abandoned tabernacle, covered in dust and cobwebs. While kneeling down before the tabernacle, Padre Manuel had a singular moment of grace in which he realized that Somebody was looking at him, and that Somebody was in desperate need of a friend.

From that moment onward, St. Manuel dedicated his entire life to spreading devotion to the Eucharist. St. Manuel writes:

“For me, this turned out to be the starting point – to see, understand, and feel what would consume the whole of my priestly ministry. On that afternoon, I saw that my priesthood would consist of a work of which I had never before dreamt. All my illusions about the kind of priest I would be vanished. I found myself to be a priest of a town that didn’t love Jesus, and I would have to love him in the name of everybody in that town. I would dedicate my priesthood to taking care of Jesus in the needs of his life in the tabernacle: to feed him with my love, to keep him warm with my presence, to entertain him with my conversations, to defend him against abandonment and ingratitude, to give relief to his Heart with my holy sacrifices, to serve him with my feet by taking him wherever he is desired, and with my hands by giving alms in his name, even to those who do not love him, and with my mouth by speaking of him and consoling others in his name, and by crying out to those who do not want to hear him, until finally they would listen and begin to follow him. This would be a beautiful priesthood!” (24-5).

For St. Manuel, the “abandoned tabernacle” can happen in two ways:

“One, exterior: the habitual and voluntary absence of Catholics who know Jesus (is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament) but do not visit him” (33).

“The second way is by interior abandonment. It is to go to him but not to really be with him. It is to receive him with the body, but not with the heart. It is to go to him saying words, bowing our heads, kneeling down, but not performing these acts of piety with our hearts” (34).

Question to think about: Are you a living tabernacle or an abandoned tabernacle?

St. Manuel recommended using the Gospels to enter into dialogue with our Eucharistic Lord. Remember, there is only one Christ. The Christ of the Gospels is the same Christ of the tabernacle.

“One could object that because his presence there is so mysterious, how are we going to come to know what he says and does? How are we going to discern the secret of his ineffable conversations and actions? Do we have to go to revelations granted to special souls? Do we have to look for miracles or extraordinary manifestations of God hidden in the tabernacle? Who is going to reveal to us those treasures of beauty and their marvels? It is now time to unveil the great revealer of the tabernacle, the great confidant, the intimate friend who can grant us access to that palace of mysterious marvels that is in the tabernacle. Are you in a hurry to know who it is? Its name is… the Gospels! This is the powerful finer that is going to lift the veil from our eyes so we can discover these secrets. This is the messenger that the good God sent us so that our eyes and our ears of flesh could see and listen to what is said and done in the tabernacle. We have no need of miracles or special revelations” (52-3).

St. Manuel called priests to be another living host in the world. His self-giving and availability to souls should resemble that of the Eucharistic Christ. He called such a priest a “Priest-Host”:

“What is a Priest-Host? It is a priest who offers Jesus every day, immolated in honour of God the Father, and with him he offers the immolation of himself. He gives all that he has and gives of himself without expecting anything in return. It is a priest who is gladly sacrificed in his daily Holy Mass in honour of God the Father, with and like Jesus. He gives himself always to souls, like Jesus in the tabernacle and at Holy Communion. A Priest-Host is a living portrait of the Host at Mass and at Communion, from inside as well as from outside. He knows how to suffer injustices without complaining. He knows how to fill with work all the hours of his days without saying, “I cannot do this any more,” until the moment of his death. He knows how to sow much, without getting sad if the harvest turns out to be small. He knows that by himself he is nothing, but united to his illustrious Companion in the priesthood and sacrifice, he is omnipotent!” (110-1).

St. Manuel calls us to live the Mass in order to convert this pagan world back into Christianity:

“This knowledge, reverence, imitation, and delight in the Mass should be so deeply rooted in me that during every hour of every day, it could be said of me: “HE IS LIVING HIS MASS” (115).

“All that a Christian thinks or says should be preceded by this question: Does this harmonize with the Mass? Whatever I think, whatever I do, does it unite me to the sacrificed Jesus of the Mass? … Jesus Christ is offering himself in 300 Masses every minute. We might say that day and night, his arms are opened wide. Jesus Christ does not have any other posture on earth but to have his arms outstretched in the form of the Cross. If this is what Mass is, then I, too, should always have my arms outstretched.” (122).

Before he died, St. Manuel said:

“I ask to be buried next to a tabernacle, so that my bones, after my death, as my tongue and my pen during my life, can say to those who pass by: Jesus is there! There he is! Do not leave him abandoned!”

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