I am very interested in the Eucharistic Revival initiated by the United States Catholic Bishops. There has been much discussion lately regarding the understanding of the Real Presence among Catholics. So, when I heard about the Revival, I took some time to look at my own understanding of the Real Presence and how I came to understand it in my faith journey.
As a young adult if I had been asked if I believe in the Real Presence I would have said yes without hesitation. If there was a follow up question asking me to explain, I would have said that it is a mystery of our faith and, as Catholics, we believe in the Real Presence. As I look back, the more important question would have been how it has affected my life. I would have struggled with that one. As I think about my life during those years, I would say I treated my knowledge of the Real Presence like a known fact told to me by someone I trusted, my Faith Formation teachers in my youth.
What I have realized as my faith developed is that the mysteries of our faith cannot be catalogued as known facts. These are beliefs which are continually being revealed to us by our Lord. Most importantly is that we must be open to that revelation throughout our life. As I continue to reflect, the belief in the Real Presence was revealed to me when I began visiting Nursing Homes.
My wife and I joined the ministry originally to visit once a month, however it wasn’t long before we were going every week after Sunday Mass. We would take the Eucharist to the Catholic residents and sit with them after they received. To see how much they longed to receive Jesus and the peace that it brought to them allowed my belief to grow stronger in the fact that Jesus was present with them. I also felt the grace that Jesus had given me in my reception of Communion as I left Mass to go and do what he wanted me to do; to take the Eucharist to those in need.
The time that we spent with the residents after they received the Eucharist allowed me to understand that I should spend more time with our Lord after receiving Communion. Reflection on the Eucharist allows me to feel his grace and understand what he needs me to do.