October 28, 2005

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Remember to pay homage to Jesus
in the Blessed Sacrament

As October comes to a close, so does the Year of the Eucharist. I recall the special eucharistic event we had planned for Victory Field in Indianapolis last June. It was rained out so we packed into Old Saint John’s downtown for eucharistic adoration, concluding with Benediction and a procession led by first Communicants from parishes around the archdiocese. I thought of the saying from the Bible, “And a child shall lead them,” and the words of Jesus, “Let the children come to me.”

I prayed that rainy day that it would be a moment to inspire and encourage us in our faith and devotion; that is my prayer for us as we conclude the Year of the Eucharist. Remember why the late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, designated a year of the Eucharist.

First, he wanted us to treasure the incomparable gift that Jesus gave us before he died.

Secondly, he wanted to emphasize the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of our Christian faith.

Thirdly, he wanted us to refocus our reverence and regard for the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, not only at Mass, but also in the tabernacles of our churches.

Finally, he wanted to draw our attention to the importance of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

The agenda for the reflection of the International Synod of Bishops just concluded in Rome pretty much mirrored this fourfold agenda.

When we celebrate the Mass, the Lord’s Supper celebrated at the beginning of Christ’s Passion becomes present among us and for us. Through the Eucharist, we have the crucified and resurrected Jesus with us on our pilgrimage through the world. Jesus asks only one thing: the “amen” of our living faith.

Pope John Paul said, “Eucharist must be preceded by prayer. And from it, prayer emerges to infuse our every apostolic work.” He made the connection that Eucharist and works of charity are inter-related.

In his letter for the Year of the Eucharist, the late pope referred to the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They received the first catechesis on the crucifixion, resurrection and Eucharist. After the death of Jesus, they were discouraged and were returning home to their old ways. They met a stranger who walked with them—we know it was Jesus—and he patiently led them in a reflection on the Word of God, which helped them understand the “events of the day.” Their hearts were on fire. A chance invitation for the stranger to eat supper with them—“Remain with us,” they said—made all the difference. In the breaking of the bread, they recognized Jesus.

Two important teachings about the Eucharist can be detected in the Emmaus story. Pope John Paul II focused on the words “Remain with us.” In the Real Presence of his Body and Blood, the Blessed Sacrament remains with us in our tabernacles. When we find ourselves discouraged, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus who wanted to give up, we can go to our nearest church to spend time with Jesus, who remains with us.

We inherited our Catholic faith and the Eucharist in humble beginnings on the banks of the Wabash here in Indiana. Our faith reaches back to our past—back to Christ and the apostolic age. From there, our Catholic heritage came to us in Indiana by way of Europe gifted by our immigrant ancestors in the faith. We were blessed by the saintly leadership of our first bishop, the Servant of God Simon Bruté, and by Blessed Mother Theodore Guérin, the valiant foundress of the Sisters of Providence, both from the banks of the Wabash. These holy pioneers had a profound devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

In his last message before he died, Bishop Bruté wrote to his people: “May the children of the Church remember that faith cannot save them without works, nor the grace of the sacraments reach their souls without the requisite conditions and preparations.”

We are to leave the legacy of our faith and the Eucharist for generations of children to come.

The witness and intercession of Blessed Mother Theodore inspires us to hand on the faith to our children and our neighbors. She lived the call to evangelize by establishing an extraordinary system of Catholic education and religious formation. We continue that heritage.

Our humble beginnings are a striking reminder that God’s grace provides for our needs.

As we conclude this Year of the Eucharist, let’s continue to pay our homage to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament with the humble spirit of Bishop Simon Bruté and the holy determination of Blessed Mother Theodore. Surely they join us in our mission still, but there is another greater than these in our midst: It is Jesus the Lord! †


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