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LOVER OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

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Saint Paschal Baylon

Paschal Baylon was a man who felt close to God when contemplating the beauty of the world He created. It was a love of nature that drew him to devote his life to the love and service of God.

Born in 1540 in the Spanish kingdom of Aragon, his parents were poor, hard-working farmers who could not afford to educate their son. From a very early age he had to tend the sheep, meditating and praying in the solitude of the countryside, and developing a love for our Blessed Lady. He had a great thirst for learning and every day, when he went to work, would carry with him a book he had been given, hoping to meet someone who would teach him to read.

Perhaps it was his love of nature which attracted him to the Franciscan Order, along with the opportunity to live a life of work as a shepherd. He was always cheerful, ready to do what he was told, and practised poverty to a very high degree. Above all he was noted for the many hours he spent before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, gaining knowledge and wisdom that led many important people from all over Europe to meet him and seek his counsel.

He had a simple, trusting and loving relationship with God, and he gave sound advice on the subject of prayer. "God desires above all things to shower His blessings upon us and we in our turn must have a confident faith that He will give us all we ask." Paschal warns us, however, that we have to listen to God. I am sure that there are many times when we are at prayer God must say to us, 'I wish you would keep quiet and hear what I have to say. My words to you are far more important than what you have to say to Me.' Paschal would also say that when we pray we must ask for what accords to God's will instead of frivolous and selfish things which He knows are not good for us.

Paschal sometimes had to travel on business for the Order: he was sent to the Chapter in Paris and had to pass through Huguenot country where he was attacked. Struck on the shoulder with a stone, he never recovered from the wound. He died near Valencia on 17 May 1592, aged only 52.

Obedience and gratitude were the hallmarks of Paschal's relationship with God. His life can be summed up in his own words, "When you receive God's gifts, offer your whole self back to Him and recognise your deep need and lowliness." It was through contemplating God's many gifts that Saint Paschal Baylon achieved a holy life.

He has been chosen as the patron Saint of Eucharistic Congresses because of the many hours spent in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

What can we ask of this simple saint who was imbued with the spirit and wisdom of God? May I suggest a love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and silence in prayer to allow us to hear God speaking to us.