Q – The United States is in the midst of a three-year “Eucharistic Revival” campaign to try to inspire greater belief in Christ’s Real Presence. What are some practical ways that my family can practice greater reverence for the Eucharist?
A – A recent study said that only one-third of Catholics believe that Jesus Christ is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. In response, the Church is trying to reawaken what Saint John Paul II calls “Eucharistic amazement”—an awe and wonder in the Real Presence: Jesus, hidden yet truly present in the Eucharist.
How can we do this as a family? Here are some suggestions:
If we knew that someone would be freely giving out a thousand dollars every week at a certain location, we would make sure to be there. Yet we receive something far more valuable—God Himself. The God Who created all the gold in the universe. The God Who loved you into existence. The God Who died to purchase your eternal salvation. The God Who alone can make us happy in eternal life.
The first step to a Eucharistic life is to make whatever sacrifices necessary to get to Mass at least weekly (or more often, if necessary). My father would often go to great lengths to take me and my brothers to Mass after a Scout camp-out. My brother could not try out for an elite baseball team because tryouts were on a Sunday morning. Wherever we went on vacation, my parents made sure to locate the closest Catholic Church. Considering how immensely valuable the Eucharist is, He is worth every sacrifice!
Making sure that our souls are clean from grave sin is a prerequisite to the Eucharistic banquet. No one would sit down at Thanksgiving dinner without washing their hands—neither should any Christian approach the Eucharist without being cleansed in Confession.
Throughout history, Catholics have risked their lives to attend Mass. Even today, there are at least 12 countries in the world where there are significant restrictions on Catholics, such as China, North Korea, and Iran. And yet Catholics are still willing to attend, despite the challenges. Do we have that same hunger for Him? Stir it up in your heart! Realize that we are summoned to the throne room of the King; we receive a front-row seat to the Sacrifice of Calvary. We are indeed allowed to partake in the foretaste of Heaven at every Mass!
Once we have received Him, we ought to spend significant time in prayer. The great evangelist of Rome, Saint Philip Neri, used to send two altar boys with lit candles to follow anyone who left Mass early—recognizing that the person was literally a living tabernacle after they had received Christ! Immediately after receiving Him, we have such a privileged time to share our heart with Him, since He substantially dwells only a few inches below our hearts, in our bodies!
But this prayer to Christ’s Eucharistic presence should last long after Mass is concluded, as well. There was once a saint who wanted to live a Eucharistic life, but could only get to Mass on Sundays. She dedicated Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to a spiritual preparation for Holy Communion. Then on Sunday, she rejoiced that she could receive Him—and spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in thanksgiving for having received Him! So we ought to spend time in prayer throughout the week to thank God for the Eucharist we have received and to prepare our hearts for receiving this gift again!
A Eucharistic life continues with Eucharistic Adoration, which continues the worship of our Eucharistic Lord. Go to Adoration as often as you can. As Blessed Carlo Acutis said, “When we face the sun, we become tan, but when we place ourselves in front of the Eucharistic Jesus, we become saints.” He knew that it was God alone who made us holy, and by being in His presence, He would do the work!
I can testify to this. My parish started Perpetual Adoration (24 hours a day, seven days a week) when I was a teen, and I began to spend an hour in weekly Adoration. It was there that I realized how much the Lord loved me and that I was being called to give my life to Him as a priest. It was a huge part of my own conversion. In fact, my home parish had been in existence for more than 160 years without a single religious vocation from a young parishioner. After only 20 years of Adoration, our parish has produced over 12 religious vocations!
Blessed Carlo Acutis reminds us again, “The Eucharist is my highway to Heaven.”
We do not need to look far to wonder where God dwells and how to find Him—He dwells in every Tabernacle in every Catholic Church in the world!
Father Joseph Gill is a high school chaplain and serves in parish ministry. He is a graduate from Franciscan University of Steubenville and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. Father Gill has published several albums of Christian rock music (available on iTunes). His debut novel, “Days of Grace” is available on amazon.com.
I was driving home when I noticed two street signs that seemed incongruous. The train station and shop signs were pointing in the wrong directions; the exact opposite ones, to be precise. If I were a tourist, a traveler who is not familiar with the suburb, I would have followed the sign and got lost. I guess somebody had moved the street signs as a prank or even as an intentional deception. In our walk with the Lord too, we need to know who is navigating us—God, ourselves, others, or the evil one. If we are not aware of our surroundings, we can easily get lost or misled. This Lent, whose voice will we listen to? Judas…the crowd…Pilate…or Jesus…?
To be good at anything, we have to put time, effort, and practice into it. The same applies to our preparation for eternity. How well are we going to do at the end of year exams if we have put little or no time towards studying during the year? Similarly, how well will we stand up on judgment day when we are held accountable for our lives? In our preparation period on earth for eternity, how much of our life was spent in prayer, good works, and sacrifice? Our Lord paid the ultimate price for our salvation, but we have to play our part. As He has graciously allowed us to be part of that sacrifice, let us not waste this valuable opportunity. He, through Calvary, has given us a chance to be part of His redemption, to be part of His sanctity, consequently allowing mere humans to be called into sainthood. What a privilege! As my mother would always remind us, children, this life of ours on earth, short or long, is but a preparation period, the springboard to eternity. How we fare in the structure of eternal life will be determined not only by Jesus’ death and resurrection, but by every thought, word, and deed we perpetrated during the time we spent on earth.
If your sacrifices are dragging you down and causing you to dread Lent—take heart. Our Lady at Fatima gave the children a prayer which offers compelling reasons to sacrifice. Her words may help dispel your Lenten dreads. The prayer begins: “O Jesus, it (this sacrifice I am making) is for love of You.” Why not borrow those words and make them your own? Telling Jesus you are doing this hard Lenten thing for love of Him may remind you why you are denying yourself in the first place: you are making room in your heart, so that you may love Him more. Further, the prayer helped the children offer their sacrifices for “the conversion of sinners.” You can do the same. When you make a Lenten sacrifice, offer it for a specific loved one who is living far from God. “O Jesus, this is for love of You, for the conversion of......” Praying in Our Lady’s words will not lessen the difficulty of your sacrifices; but, because it sweetens them with love for Jesus and for lost souls, her words may truly help to dispel your Lenten dreads.
I am not one of those holy souls who look forward to Lent. However, I do have a few friends and family members who do. So, I try to take note of why that is the case. Just last week, my mom mentioned she was looking forward to Lent so she could invite her band, who are all senior citizens, to her parish fish fry. She said she’s really looking forward to it, since most of them aren’t Catholic but have mentioned that they like attending fish fries. After enjoying their traditional fish and chips, my mom is planning on reserving a room in the parish hall so the band can make music together after dinner. They call themselves the Silver Foxes and often visit nursing homes together to spread a little joy. My mom is a joyful evangelist, even at age 80! And she has unlocked the secret that Lent is for more than making penitential acts, but it is a time for growing the Kingdom of God by growing the Body of Christ.
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