Eucharist as the center of our lives.
The lives of the saints and blesseds show us the importance of the Eucharist on our journey as disciples of Jesus. Many testify to the power of the Eucharist in their lives. We see the fruits of Holy Communion in their lives of faith, hope, and charity. It was their intimate union with Jesus in Holy Communion and frequently their prayer before the Blessed Sacrament that nourished and strengthened them in their journey to heaven. They teach us that “growth in Christian life needs the nourishment of Eucharistic Communion, the bread for our pilgrimage until the moment of death, when it will be given to us as viaticum.”
Blessed Carlo Acutis
Blessed Carlo Acutis, a young Italian teenager, who died at the age of fifteen and was beatified in 2020, used to say: “The Eucharist is my highway to heaven.” Blessed Carlo attained sanctity at such a young age because the Eucharist was at the center of his life. He attended Mass daily and prayed each day before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration. He discovered the joy of friendship with Jesus and brought that joy, the joy of the Gospel, to others. He was an apostle of the Eucharist through the internet. He said: “To always be united with Christ: This is my life’s program.”
St. Jose Sanchez del Rio
Likewise, St. José Sánchez del Río, a Mexican teenager who was martyred at the age of fourteen and canonized in 2016, was so filled with love of Christ and his Church that he was willing to give up his life rather than renounce Christ and his Kingship. While imprisoned, St. José Sánchez del Río was able to receive the Blessed Sacrament when it was smuggled into his cell along with a basket of food. Strengthened by this viaticum, he was able to endure torture and to remain faithful to Christ when his captors told him he must renounce his faith or be executed. He replied to his persecutors: “My faith is not for sale.”
We encourage all, especially our young people, to learn about the lives of these holy teenagers. In the midst of many distractions in our life, Blessed Carlo and St. José Sánchez del Río teach us to focus on what is more important than anything else.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
There are many people who have been attracted to the Catholic Church and entered the Church because they came to believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Our first U.S. born saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton, is one of these converts. She was drawn to enter the Catholic Church after she witnessed the devotion of Catholics to the Blessed Sacrament. She wondered about that devotion. God’s grace led her to faith in the Real Presence. While still an Episcopalian, she found herself at worship in her church in New York looking out the open window and praying to Jesus in the tabernacle one block away in a Catholic church.
On the night after her entrance into the Catholic Church and her First Communion, St. Elizabeth Ann wrote in her journal: “At last GOD IS MINE and I AM HIS.” For the rest of her life, her deep faith and pioneering service to the Church in our young nation was nourished by the Holy Eucharist.
The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church, USCCB, 51-54
Listening to Your Heart
Upon heading into a recent retreat, I had been contemplating changing how I received the Eucharist. I had just begun reading Bishop Hying’s book, Love Never Fails. Right away in the beginning, he mentions about the Person of Jesus Christ and his passionate pursuit of us. He talks of sacred romance and how people glow when they are in love.
I had never thought about my relationship with the Lord in this way. This led me to the contemplation of receiving the Eucharist in a different and more intimate way than I had done my whole life, which was receiving in the hand. I brought what was weighing on my heart to that retreat and into a spiritual direction meeting offered by our parish priest to the retreat members. He counseled me on listening to what it was that God was placing on my heart.
Later that evening, our retreat group participated in Adoration in a small chapel. A kneeler was placed just a few feet from the altar. Once Adoration had begun, I reflected on scripture that came into my mind, then a pull to come closer. I approached the kneeler and knelt down. I was unsure of what would happen next, but knew I had to be there. My heart began to pound so strongly that I felt everyone in the chapel could certainly hear it.
Never in my life had I been so physically close to the monstrance. A profound feeling of confirmation for what had been on my heart came to me… I felt a beckoning from the Lord to take that next step to deepen our relationship. With great joy, I did receive the body of Christ on my tongue the very next morning at mass at the Marytown chapel, where there is perpetual Adoration.
I do not believe this to be a coincidence. Reflecting back on the past few months, I know God was preparing me for just the right moment and location for this life-changing experience. I was fed in a way that has led me to a new sense of hunger that only He can fill. For me now, receiving my Lord feels like the embrace that we as humans long for but only Christ can offer through the reception of the Eucharist.