The Search For What We Truly Want

The Search For What We Truly Want March 12, 2024

I was able to see the recently released Cabrini movie and enjoyed it very much. It tells the story of a strong, determined Catholic woman and how she fulfilled her mission in life. Was St. Frances Xavier Cabrini just trying to help immigrants? Was she driven by a desire to give greater visibility to women serving in the Church? Sometimes, it takes time to discover what we truly want. Mother Cabrini clearly knew what she wanted.

I thought the movie explored well the role of women in society and in the Church. It also gives all of us food for thought about the treatment of immigrants in society. The movie was very well-done, though it was a missed opportunity to speak about one of Mother Cabrini’s truest love: the Eucharist. Now, I don’t fault the movie for failing to dive into this theme. Focusing on the role of women in society and immigration are sure to bring in greater crowds than highlighting the Eucharist. I am truly pleased that they showed her Catholic faith in a positive light and as the great motivation for all the tremendous things she accomplished. What did Mother Cabrini want?

Deeper Motivation

Was Frances Cabrini really looking to just take care of the poor when she traveled to America, or was she motivated by something deeper? It seems that she had in her heart the same disquiet that we see in the Greeks from today’s Gospel– “We would like to see Jesus.” (Jn. 12:21) They have come from afar. They are not part of the society and culture surrounding Jesus, and they have no right to have a one-on-one conversation with him. Nevertheless, their great desire overcomes their human respect, and they ask to meet him. The saints are remembered for their great works, but these all begin with and spring forth from an encounter with Christ. We should also look for this same kind of encounter with Jesus. We should repeat in our hearts the words the Greeks spoke to St. Philip: we want to see Jesus.

The desire to know God truly, that is, to see God’s face, is innate in every human being, even in atheists. And perhaps we unconsciously have this wish simply to see who he is, what he is, who he is for us. However this desire is fulfilled in following Christ, in this way we see his back and, in the end, we see God too as a friend, in Christ’s face we see his face (Pope Benedict XVI, 16 January 2013).

What We Truly Want – to See God

During all of history, human beings have tried to see God. The pagans made visual representations of their deities in the little idols we visit at anthropology and archaeology museums. The quest to truly see God is a huge topic in the Old Testament that has always fascinated me. I appreciate especially the figure of Moses and his quest to see the face of God. For us as Catholics, the desire to see God translates well into the Catholic activity of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

Monstrance Shows the Eucharist
What we truly want: Jesus | Courtesy:

Putting God in the Center

Too often, when we enter into an unfamiliar Catholic church, we have to search for the tabernacle. The Code of Canon Law gives some guidance to the placement of the tabernacle.

The tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved is to be situated in some part of the church or oratory which is distinguished, conspicuous, beautifully decorated, and suitable for prayer. (Code of Canon Law, 938.2)

The place where the Eucharist is reserved should be conspicuous; after all, “We want to see Jesus.” The Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in clearly visible place suitable for prayer, and should also be beautifully decorated. Recently, I had a reminder about how beautifully decorated our tabernacle is. Last week, we had a sizeable men’s congress here at St. Philip’s. Several men commented to me about how impressive the church looked, and the way the renovation of the altar area highlighted the beauty of the tabernacle. We should not forget this. It is important to reflect on and appreciate the beauty of the church and especially of the Tabernacle.

We should have Jesus at the center of our experience in the church. Whenever we enter the church, we should remember that we are here to see Jesus and that others are looking for him too. This belief should affect the way we act in church. We should preserve silence, saving our conversations and greetings for outside, before and after Mass. We know that here in the church, we should desire to be very quiet so we can hear the voice of God.

Witness of the Saints

Mother Cabrini is famous for the 67 schools, hospitals, and orphanages that she founded all over the United States and South America. However, the most important thing she ever cultivated was her lifelong and devoted relationship with Jesus. In the same way, each of us should be growing in our own relationship with Jesus. How much effort do we put into spending time with Him? In the spirit of St. Frances Cabrini and her love for the Eucharist, are we willing to make a weekly adoration appointment to discover what we truly want?

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About Fr. Nicholas Sheehy, LC
Fr. Nicholas Sheehy was ordained a Catholic priest in 2013 for the Legionaries of Christ. He has been involved in youth work including missions, retreats and apostolic outreach in Germany, Italy, the United States and Central America. He is passionate about the New Evangelization and formation for young adults and married couples. He is a spiritual director and retreat director, offering marriage preparation and marriage counseling through the Divine Mercy Clinic and Family Center. He is currently Executive Director and Chaplain of the Newman Center at St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Pasadena, California. You can read more about the author here.
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