The Catholic desire for the authenticity As we live in this era in which we have abandoned privacy, new challenges accompany it: a cacophony of apps that steal our attention on our phones, alarming news, business strategies that commodify attention and new technologies that satisfy any desire man can imagine. The need to detox from the digital noise and recover the essence of being Christian have become significantly relevant. But the question remains, what is the best way to do it?
While many doctrinal aspects can restore the integrity of our Roman Catholic identity, there is one central tradition that will never be given sufficient emphasis: personal devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
A Eucharistic campaign
This idea is not a personal one, since the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has launched "Eucharistic Revival", a campaign for all American dioceses in place since the Solemnity of Corpus Christi on June 19, 2022.
This decision of the Bishops' Conference comes in response to the survey conducted by the PEW Research Center nationally in 2019. This indicated that 69% of North American believers believe that the bread and wine used in the Communion are "symbols of the Body and Blood of Christ". This sobering statistic was made prior to the pandemic of the COVID-19. One can only imagine how much the statistics can give food for thought in this post-pandemic era. Many parishioners, even before the pandemic, were obviating face-to-face attendance at Mass, "Why go to church if my bishop has said he can watch Mass from the television?"
I hear this question and I say to myself: Still? Where do I start? Like the priestI answer directly to God for correcting or not correcting this child of his. But if I correct him, how much gentleness should I use without withholding the truth? In today's prevailing culture, which persists in coddling the minds of Americans, a poorly handled correction can lead an offended soul to abandon for a long time the Bride of Christ. On the other hand, a soul lost through cowardice can jeopardize a priest's eternal salvation. Evangelizing today sometimes resembles juggling eggs, one wrong move and it's all over. Therefore, I am thrilled by the campaign launched by the Bishops' Conference and I fully support it.
Come and see
All we have to do is bring our families, our friends, co-workers and neighbors to Jesus. We leave it to Him, the Physician of souls, to prescribe what is necessary to revitalize them. His visits are like those of the first disciples, John and Andrew, "Jesus turned and, seeing that they were following Him, He asks them, "What do you seek?" They answered him, "Rabbi (which means Master), where do you live?" He said to them, "Come and see.""
Inviting people who have drifted away from the Church to Eucharistic adoration has always been, and continues to be, a powerful antidote for lost sheep, or any sheep. Since I started the "Eucharistic Revival"In my church, I have witnessed incredible graces that give me much hope for the future. Since May 2022, I have been organizing a nightly Eucharistic adoration in my current assignment at the Korean Catholic Center".Our Lady of Peace"in Irvine, California.
I cannot explain how much the members of my church have grown during these last months. I am seeing God's grace bear much fruit through numerous conversions.
But first, I must confess something. When I settled in for my new pastoral assignment at this center on July 1, 2022, I became concerned about the pretentiousness of some members of the parish regarding the liturgy and, in particular, about the Eucharist. Many times consecrated hosts would fall on the floor during Communion. Once one of the parishioners dusted off the host by wiping it on his pants but, in general, there was a feeling of indifference towards the Eucharist and many of the faithful came to receive Communion as if it were just another gesture of an ancient rite.
I recognized then that they could not be totally blamed for their ignorance and that what they needed was to be encouraged to more. So when the nightly adorations began, there was a sudden change in the attitude of many parishioners. They grew in two virtues: docility and humility!
A contagious faith
A group of parishioners who frequently "come and see" Christ in these adorations are beginning to join His Sacred Heart. This group, which is not officially constituted to express their thanksgiving, has grown in piety and has acquired practices for reverencing God that are more traditional. Their presence in the liturgy Sunday Mass has transformed the parish community. Now, a large number of parishioners receive Communion in their mouths, the vast majority kneel to receive Communion, many remain praying for a while after Mass for thanksgiving. I am very grateful to see their sincere desire to accompany Christ during Communion. More and more people are coming to church, the Bride of Christ is purifying herself, and she is more beautiful than ever.
We have much to pray for in terms of the future of the Church during this transition between the Epiphany and Lent of 2023. One thing is certain, however, and that is that the Lord accompanies us at all times and in all circumstances with a simple invitation: "Come and see".
Priest in charge of Our Lady of Peace Church in California, USA