BY BISHOP LOUIS F. KIHNEMAN III
Bishop of Biloxi
“When you have received Him, stir up your heart to do Him homage; speak to Him about your spiritual life, gazing upon Him in your soul where He is present for your happiness; welcome Him as warmly as possible, and behave outwardly in such a way that your actions may give proof to all of His Presence.
Part two of my articles on the National Eucharistic Revival — Year of the Parish, was focused on reinvigorating worship in our parishes, missions, and schools and by our participation in the celebration of the Mass. I shared with you witness of my personal encounters with Jesus in the Eucharist during the celebration of the Mass. I hope you have taken to heart the opportunity to offer yourself, your loved ones, worries, suffering, joy, and blessings when the gifts of bread and the wine are offered to God during the Liturgy of the Eucharist to become part of the sacrifice on the Altar and that you are taking Jesus and your “Amen!” into your daily life. Listen closely to the words of our prayers and truly pray the parts of the Mass you recite by heart, hear them with new ears and pray them knowing that God is pouring His grace and love out to you during the Mass. Each part of the Mass, each prayer, brings us closer to our Lord. When you fully participate in the Mass, our Sunday worship takes on a new energy that stays with us when we leave.
I hope you have prayed about who to invite back to Mass and have extended or have a plan to extend the invitation to that soul.
When you read, reflect, and pray with the Bread of Life Discourse in chapter six of John’s Gospel (22-71) and read the Gospels on the Last Supper, such as Matthew 26:26-28 “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to His disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then He took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” It seems impossible to me that many Christians do not believe in the Eucharist!
Jesus says to us, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” (John 6:35). As humans, we hunger for love — loving, being loved, being accepted, having companionship, and being “seen” as a person. When we think about our hunger and Jesus saying to us, “I am the bread of life,” it is a profound statement of love for us, especially in the context of the Mass and the Eucharist.
In the bread and wine, which becomes His Body and Blood: we have something physical that we can sink our teeth into, both literally and spiritually. It is a giant step in faith. We taste Jesus as the bread of life and it really is a taste of His love. It is a taste of Him who lived on the earth, who died for us and our sins, who rose for from the dead and ascended to the Father. We get to eat His Body and drink His Blood! What an undeserved privilege!
Where else can we have true Holy Moments than in the Eucharist itself? Where else can we have true moments in which the love of Jesus Christ just pours over us?
In addition to reading and praying with God’s word, fully participating in Mass, and receiving the Eucharist, we can also come before the exposed Eucharist in Adoration. Most of our parishes and missions are offering more opportunities for us to come together as community for Adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist with praise and worship. Most parishes and missions also offer quiet times of Adoration, and some have perpetual Adoration (Our Lady of the Gulf Parish, Bay St. Louis; St. Mary Parish, Woolmarket; St. James Parish, Gulfport; St. Alphonsus Parish, Ocean Springs; Sacred Heart Parish, Pascagoula).
Making a Holy Hour is a beautiful way to worship our Lord. When we come before Him, there are so many ways to be with Him. Archbishop Fulton Sheen is credited as “the great prophet of the Holy Hour.” He said, “The purpose of the Holy Hour is to encourage deep personal encounter with Christ. The holy and glorious God is constantly inviting us to come to Him, to hold converse with Him, to ask for such things as we need and to experience what a blessing there is in fellowship with Him.”
If you are worried about “what to do” during a Holy Hour, don’t. You need not “do” anything, just be present to our Lord. Jesus asked Peter, James, and John, to keep watch with Him for one hour. Not to do anything, but to be with Him.
Archbishop Sheen said, “Sitting before the Presence is like a body exposing itself before the sun to absorb its rays.” It is a particular opportunity to simply adore and “listen” to what the Lord may want to tell us. If you would struggle to be still for an hour, start with 15 minutes, Jesus will be there! Or consider attending a praise and worship event with Adoration such as an Hour of Grace at Nativity the first Thursday of the month, or an XLT event (St. James Parish, Gulfport, hosts XLT most Tuesday nights, 7-8 p.m.), or an Adore night that also includes a talk, praise, worship,
confession, prayer teams available, and Adoration, at different parishes around the Diocese during the school year. Check out http://www.biloxidiocese.org/Local-encounter-opportunities and I ask that you also take a little time to read about some recent Eucharistic Miracles that have been scientifically examined by independent labs, and found to be without natural or physical explanation (supernatural origin): Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1996; Tixtla, Mexico, 2006; Sokolka, Poland, 2008, all are consecrated Hosts that have transmuted into heart tissue: http://www.magiscenter.com/blog/contemporary-eucharistic-miracles.
There is so much negative “stuff” going on around us in the world, and we also have our personal burdens and suffering. It can confuse the true meaning of life and the true meaning of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ and to love Him, especially in the Eucharist. The moments when I get a chance to be with Jesus in the celebration of the Eucharist, which is daily, and in Adoration act as salvation from the worries of the world and in the daily struggles of life.
Without the Eucharist, I would not be a priest or bishop. Without the Eucharist, we would not be a Church. Through the Eucharist, we offer salvation to the world. Make time to be with Jesus in the Eucharist. Participate at Mass, experience Jesus in Adoration — you will not regret any time you spend with Jesus!