Our daily lives often distract us from seeing Jesus’ reality. But Jesus created us for Him, for a life with Him as children of God. The greatest relationship in our lives waits for our attention.
So, we need an encounter with Jesus, a deliberate moment when we turn to Him, see Him, and be with Him. In time, those moments multiply to become a life lived in His presence. We live in a state-of-encounter.
The following authors convey the depth and power of encounters with Jesus Christ, most powerfully experienced in the Holy Eucharist.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Jesus is most present in the Eucharist
“Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who was at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us”, is present in many ways to his Church: in his word, in his Church’s prayer, “where two or three are gathered in my name,” in the poor, the sick and the imprisoned, in the sacraments of which he is the author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister. But he is present most…especially in the Eucharistic species. #1373
Redemptoris Missio, On the Permanent Validity of the Church’s Missionary Mandate, St. John Paul II
Preaching calls us to conversion and invites us to a personal relationship with Jesus
44. [I]nitial proclamation [preaching]…introduces man “into the mystery of the love of God, who invites him to enter into a personal relationship with himself in Christ” and opens the way to conversion. Faith is born of preaching…. 46. Conversion is a gift of God, a work of the Blessed Trinity. It is the Spirit who opens people’s hearts so that they can believe in Christ and “confess him” (cf. 1 Cor 12:3)…
Witnessing in charity helps bring conversions.
20. The Church contributes to mankind’s pilgrimage of conversion to God’s plan through her witness and through such activities as dialogue, human promotion, commitment to justice and peace, education and the care of the sick, and aid to the poor and to children.
Conversion requires repentance and humility.
46. The Church calls all people to this conversion, following the example of John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Christ by “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mk 1:4), as well as the example of Christ himself, who…[said]: ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel’” (Mk 1:14-15).
Deus Caritas Est, On Christian Love, Pope Benedict XVI
In loving our neighbor, we encounter God.
16. [L]ove of neighbor is a path that leads to the encounter with God, and…closing our eyes to our neighbor also blinds us to God.
An intimate encounter with God unites our will with His and turns toward neighbor
17. [O]ur will and God’s will increasingly coincide: God’s will is no longer for me an alien will, something imposed on me from without…, but it is now my own will, based on the realization that God is in fact more deeply present to me than I am to myself.
18. [I]n God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings. Then I learn to look on this other person…from the perspective of Jesus Christ. His friend is my friend. …
The saints…constantly renewed their capacity for love of neighbor from their encounter with the Eucharistic Lord, and conversely this encounter acquired its realism and depth in their service to others.
34. Practical activity will always be insufficient, unless it visibly expresses a love for man, a love nourished by an encounter with Christ.
Sacramentum Caritatis, On the Eucharist as the Source and Summit of the Church’s Life and Mission, Pope Benedict XVI
Our faith grows when we encounter Christ at Mass, in the Eucharist.
6. Awakened by the preaching of God’s word, faith is nourished and grows in the grace-filled encounter with the Risen Lord which takes place in the sacraments… Every great reform has…been linked to the rediscovery of belief in the Lord’s eucharistic presence…
8. In the bread and wine under whose appearances Christ gives himself to us in the paschal meal (cf. Lk 22:14-20; 1 Cor 11:23-26), God’s whole life encounters us and is sacramentally shared with us. … [I]t is in Christ, dead and risen, and in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, given without measure (cf. Jn 3:34), that we have become sharers of God’s inmost life.
19. Here I would emphasize the importance of First Holy Communion. For many of the faithful, this day continues to be memorable as the moment when, even if in a rudimentary way, they first came to understand the importance of a personal encounter with Jesus.
Liturgy is our primary encounter with Christ.
35. [The liturgy is] the concrete way in which the truth of God’s love in Christ encounters us, attracts us and delights us, enabling us to emerge from ourselves and drawing us towards our true vocation, which is love.
We encounter Jesus in beauty: creation, God’s glory, Revelation, love, and liturgy.
35. As Saint Bonaventure would say, in Jesus, we contemplate beauty and splendor at their source. This is…the concrete way in which the truth of God’s love in Christ encounters us, attracts us and delights us, enabling us to emerge from ourselves and drawing us towards our true vocation, which is love. God allows himself to be glimpsed first in creation, in the beauty and harmony of the cosmos (cf. Wis 13:5; Rom 1:19- 20).
35. In the Old Testament we see many signs of the grandeur of God’s power as he manifests his glory in his wondrous deeds among the Chosen People (cf. Ex 14; 16:10; 24:12-18; Num 14:20- 23). In the New Testament this epiphany of beauty reaches definitive fulfilment in God’s revelation in Jesus Christ: (108) Christ is the full manifestation of the glory of God. …
Jesus Christ shows us how the truth of love can transform even the dark mystery of death into the radiant light of the resurrection. Here the splendor of God’s glory surpasses all worldly beauty. The truest beauty is the love of God, who definitively revealed himself to us in the paschal mystery.
The beauty of the liturgy is part of this mystery; it is a sublime expression of God’s glory and, in a certain sense, a glimpse of heaven on earth.
Extend silence after the homily and Communion
50. [T]he precious time of thanksgiving after communion should not be neglected: besides the singing of an appropriate hymn, it can also be most helpful to remain recollected in silence.
Witnessing, testimonials, and catechesis
64. It is first and foremost the witness who introduces others to the mysteries. Naturally, this initial encounter gains depth through catechesis and finds its source and summit in the celebration of the Eucharist.
84. The love that we celebrate in the sacrament is not something we can keep to ourselves. By its very nature, it demands to be shared with all. What the world needs is God’s love; it needs to encounter Christ and to believe in him.
97. Let us encourage one another to walk joyfully, our hearts filled with wonder, towards our encounter with the Holy Eucharist, so that we may experience and proclaim to others the truth of the words with which Jesus took leave of his disciples: “Lo, I am with you always, until the end of the world” (Mt 28:20).
88. In the Eucharist, Jesus also makes us witnesses of God’s compassion towards all our brothers and sisters. … In all those I meet, I recognize brothers or sisters for whom the Lord gave his life, loving them “to the end” (Jn 13:1).
Adoration prolongs and intensifies the grace experienced at Mass.
66. The act of adoration outside Mass prolongs and intensifies all that takes place during the liturgical celebration itself. Indeed, “only in adoration can a profound and genuine reception mature….”
Veritatis Splendor, St. John Paul II
Seeking truth and meaning ends in an encounter with Truth Himself.
7. “Then someone came to him…“. In the young man, whom Matthew’s Gospel does not name, we can recognize every person who, consciously or not, approaches Christ the Redeemer of man and questions him about morality. For the young man, the question is not so much about rules to be followed, but about the full meaning of life. This is in fact the aspiration at the heart of every human decision and action, the quiet searching and interior prompting which sets freedom in motion. This question is ultimately an appeal to the absolute Good which attracts us and beckons us; it is the echo of a call from God who is the origin and goal of man’s life. …
In order to make this “encounter” with Christ possible, God willed his Church. Indeed, the Church “wishes to serve this single end: that each person may be able to find Christ, in order that Christ may walk with each person the path of life”.
Faith encounters a lived truth, a relationship of love and life.
88. [F]aith is a lived knowledge of Christ, a living remembrance of his commandments, and a truth to be lived out. … Faith is a decision involving one’s whole existence. It is an encounter, a dialogue, a communion of love and of life between the believer and Jesus Christ, the Way, and the Truth, and the Life (cf. Jn 14:6).
Encounter Jesus in the holiness of others; “the word lived.”
107. [T]he life of holiness which is resplendent in so many members of the People of God, humble and often unseen, constitutes the simplest and most attractive way to perceive at once the beauty of truth, the liberating force of God’s love, and the value of unconditional fidelity to all the demands of the Lord’s law, even in the most difficult situations.
How Catholic Art Saved the Faith, Elizabeth Lev
Art encounters us with God’s truth, beauty, and goodness
- Art is useful in evangelization, the mission of the Church and her faithful to telling the great story of our salvation. …
- Art can bring clarity. … [T]he tradition of belief and the tradition of beaty go hand in hand, ultimately meeting in transcendentals: truth, beauty, and goodness.
- Art is uplifting. …
Certainly, the written word, the sacraments, and the power of preaching form the core of the Church’s mission, but art plays a very important role with people, who tend to privilege the gift of sight. (6-7)
God is Near Us, Ratzinger
Eucharist is the highest reality
The Eucharist is more real than the things we have to do with every day. … This is the yardstick, the heart of things; here we encounter that reality against which we need to learn to measure every other reality. (87-88)
Homiletic and Pastoral Review, 9/14/15, Fr. Navone, SJ
Beauty attracts us to the excellence, perfection of God.
Beauty is the attractiveness of excellence whether material, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, or artistic. … Christian faith is the eye of love that enjoys the vision of God’s beauty….that is happy to see God in all things.
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 3:16)
Collected Works: Theology of the Liturgy, Pope Benedict XVI
Corpus Christi reflections
It is only because God himself is the internal dialogue of love that he can speak and be spoken to. Only because he himself is relationship can we relate to him; only because he is love can he love and be loved in return. … Ultimately, then, Corpus Christi is an expression of faith in God, in love, in the fact that God is love. … [It] tells us: Yes, there is such a thing as love, and therefore there is transformation, therefore, there is hope. And hope gives us the strength to live and face the world. (417)
Conversion: Spiritual Insights into an Essential Encounter with God, Fr. Haggerty
Conversion is a personal encounter with the mystery of God Himself.
At the heart of every conversion is an encounter with the mystery of God himself. We come to know that God is utterly personal and real in his mystery, with eyes of a secret penetration cast upon our soul. (21-22)
God moves the heart over time to a moment of conversion.
In truth, therefore, conversions are never entirely sudden coming out of nowhere, even when they seem to ignite an explosively new force within a life. The hidden chiseling of the hand of God has usually been at work for an unknown time; concealed touches have been laid upon the heart; the trailing of the soul has taken place into its shadowed hours, sometimes for long periods of time, even for years. (24)
During conversion, we long for solitude with Jesus
At the time of a conversion, the first deeper hungers for God are felt for the mystery of God, and the result can be a quiet urgency to seek time in prayer alone with him. A need takes hold in the soul to unfold layers of silent mystery that wrap around the presence of God. … The desire is strong to remain simply quiet in God’s presence, for instance, speaking very little, savoring the sense of blessing. (36)
After conversion, God challenges us to be transformed. It needs a response.
For, along with the invitation to seek him and to taste his truth in a personal way, God seems to pose a more radical and distressing question. … A sacred possibility burns in those days that a soul may not realize sufficiently….to belong completely to God? to give entirely to God? (45)
The need for Confession
Conversions dangle on a thin thread unless a soul perceives that a return to sin remains an open, easy possibility. This may be why conversions strong in emotion do not always prove lasting. Conversions full of emotion are sometimes too confident of never falling again. … Conversions that endure are different, in part because emotion plays a secondary role. These conversions show a more sober experience of divine mercy. (56-57)
Conversion must patiently and humbly root out self-love.
Self-love does not die so quickly. It is not excised simply with the repentance of sins and a sincere confession. Long after the disappearance of particular sins in a life, a soul may still struggle with deep seated tendencies of egoism and selfishness. (67-68)
Our hearts join God’s mercy and Cross. Our sins caused His suffering.
The mercy of God cannot be separated from the suffering that Jesus Christ endured at Calvary. An enormous cost permeates the divine offer of mercy to souls. That cost is not something we must pay, but it is something we should never forget. We are forgiven all the sins for which we repent in a conversion, but this truth implies our recognition that precisely these sins tore apart the body of Christ on the Cross. (73-74)
God will retreat in silence into our soul; we find him through prayer.
Once the soul responds to God’s call and instruction, the voice of God descends into a silence and a place of mystery within the soul. … God prefers, it seems, that we allow him to lead us one step at a time, blindly clinging to the whisper of his voice. … We have to cling to a hand that leads us only one short day at a time. (117)
New depths come alive in our interior soul once we place ourselves unreservedly in the hands of God. … Now the soul plunges ahead,…casting itself into God and changing forever as a result. … A person now belongs to God…. (152)
Transformation finds Jesus crucified dwelling in our soul, prompting imitation.
We sense with a deep, intuitive certitude that he is inviting us to a special friendship we have not as yet known. There is one condition necessary—we must offer ourselves to his crucified love. The souls that do so will find that they cannot look at him anymore without the wounds of his crucifixion before their souls. … [His wounds] beckon us to offer ourselves for the sake of others…all out of love. (164-165) … This…takes all suffering in life and transforms it into an exchanged gift of love. (166)
We receive in the Eucharist not just the presence of Our Lord, but the presence of the Passion of Jesus Christ crucified into our soul. … We can never separate the reception of the Eucharist from a real encounter, an encounter by touch, with the wounds of Our Lord. … The Eucharist is not meant for comfort; it is meant to draw a soul to greater sacrificial offering. (218-219)
Conversion brings a desire for a relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist.
There is no deep conversion in a Catholic life without a new perception of the Eucharist. The attraction for Our Lord’s presence is suddenly sharp and vivid when we place ourselves near a tabernacle. … The Eucharist is Jesus Himself, and the need to remain never far from him is often implanted by grace in the depth of our soul at the very outset of a conversion. This favor is meant to be a permanent grace. (205-206)
The essential beauty of Catholic life is found here, in the accessibility of our God to the quest for a deepening personal encounter with him. The presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist offers the most immediate occasion for this direct encounter with God. (207)
St. John of the Cross: Master of Contemplation; Fr. Donald Haggerty
We encounter our Lord within our souls when we die to self.
[We must] conceal ourselves from our own attention, to escape from self-regard and preoccupation with our own experience in prayer if we are to encounter our Lord present in concealment within our soul. “Yet you inquire: Since he whom my soul loves is within me, why don’t I find him or experience him? The reason is that he remains concealed and you do not also conceal yourself in order to find and experience him” (Spiritual Canticle I.9; 33-34)
Seek a deeper encounter with God than a felt experience.
The usual approach in prayer for most people is to seek a personal encounter with God, and by that is meant ordinarily, a felt experience of his presence. The desire for some form of personal contact with our Lord is strong for any soul of Christian faith. … He offers us his personal presence in deeper prayer even as he remains concealed in mystery. We must look to a depth within God to realize the nature of a concealed encounter with him. (39)
We need an open, vigilant, and sensitive heart to know Jesus’ real presence.
Only with an open, vigilant heart that is sensitive to the hidden yet very real presence of the Lord can one remain faithful and just in a world that is so contrary to the faith. (On Love, Ratzinger, 55)