I know that I am preaching to the choir here, but I think that emphasis can only be good. It is so imperative and vital and life-giving for us, as seminarians and the people of God, to be deeply and madly in love with Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. I was just talking with someone, and I realized that part of the reason I am at the seminary has become a bit compartmentalized.
In my conversion, the Eucharist was such an integral part of my life. After a month of going to masses, the youth group had a LifeNite which ended with adoration and benediction. At that point I was unable to really know what was going on, or have the vocabulary to really express what I was feeling. I will say this, I knew that there was something so very important before me, and I felt a pull to it. There were so many things running through my head at that particular point in time. I was taking in the experience of being before, what I can now say, Jesus, and watching the devotion and actions of those around me – I don't think, looking back, that I could really put all the pieces together. It wasn't until March 30, 2002, when at the Easter Vigil, I was received into the Church and I received the sacraments of initiation that this experience came to its climax. For those who may not know me too well, I can tend to be a sappy kind of guy, and I was proud of myself, I was doing good – no major waterworks after I was baptized, and confirmed. When I went to receive Eucharist for the first time though, that is when I began to lose it. I was now able to partake, in a very special way, Christ and now let him live in me and transform me. I flashed back to that LifeNite, and I knew why I was drawn towards the monstrance. I knew why those other people around me were there with such joyful, peaceful, faces and spirits.
Over the years, this overwhelming sense would come and go – nothing out of the ordinary. I wish I could say that it never left, but this is where the gifts of knowledge and faith kick in. It is sad and hard for me to admit that it has also been the case that I have not lived up to these experiences. There have been plenty of mornings that I wake up and go to prayer and mass simply because it is what I should (and am expected) to do. There are many times during adoration that I can get wrapped up in life and lose focus on Who is before me. I write these off as normal occurrences, but then when I go back to my room and reflect, it is hard to comprehend that this is so – that I can allow myself to think this way. I need to be living the great experiences and pray for the grace to do so. (This is not to say that my faith is to be necessarily based solely on these experiences for this is also not the case) I can say that I have been blessed with many great experiences with our Eucharistic Lord. It is a few of these experiences that have lead me to the seminary. I am sure that many of us have had many great experiences before the Blessed Sacrament, and I know that it is from Him that we receive the graces and strength to carry on in our lives and vocations. For truly it is in the Eucharist that all things flow from and should lead to. It is "a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us" (Sacrosanctum Concilium 47). It is in this sacrament that we can hope and live. It is my hope and my prayer that we, and all people, continue to look to the Eucharist for strength, encouragement, and love. It is here, in the Sacrificed Lamb that we will take refuge as future priests in the mass, and indeed now. We are called to conform our lives and to be transformed into that which we have received. We are called to live as Christ lives in us.
Now that I have rambled enough on something that we all know, I leave you with these words from the Gospel of Matthew:
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. I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when it drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father. (26:26-29)
May the Heart of Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament be praised, adored, and loved with grateful affection at every moment in all the tabernacles of the world, now and until the end of time. Amen.