Journeying with Jesus and the Eucharist

In my previous few articles, I’ve shared with you the various elements we’ve incorporated thus far into our parish observance of this year’s Eucharistic Renewal, which have contributed to a robust and joyful celebration of Jesus present in the Eucharist.

In September, we held a Living Communion Mini-Retreat offered by the co-organizer of the Living Communion Initiative. In October, we observed our Forty Hours Devotion, which began with a moving Eucharistic Procession in the local neighborhood, continued with our parishioners and school children participating in various holy hours and Evening Vespers, and concluded with a Mass celebrated by Fr. Bill Lies, C.S.C., our provincial superior, and a parish social. In October, we also gathered parishioners for a Holy Hour Against Racism, as recommended by the U.S. bishops.

In November, we participated in the exhibition, “Body & Blood: Contemplations on the Eucharist,” at nearby Holy Cross College. During Advent, we sponsored a Taizé prayer during our regular Monday evening holy hours of Adoration. In my February and March articles, I explained the prayer stations we observed in our Eucharistic Procession and the ways in which we tailored school participation in the 40 Hours Devotion toward the various grade levels of our school children.

In this article, I’m pleased to share with you our experience of the “Jesus and the Eucharist Small Group Study” that we offered our parishioners beginning the week before Ash Wednesday and continuing throughout Lent. Wishing to make it as convenient as possible for our parishioners to participate in this program, we offered it twice a week on Tuesday morning and Wednesday evening, and we were pleased with the number of parishioners who participated in the program. This seven-week series aimed to “immerse participants in the kerygmatic proclamation and unveil God’s saving work in the Eucharist.”

Session 1, “What’s Our Story?”, focused on the Bible as the story of God’s love for us, who created us out of love, redeemed us by his love, and transforms us in his love.

Session 2, “Who Is Jesus?”, looked at Jesus as both God and man, revealing who God is in relation to us. Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” He asks this same question of us: who do we say Jesus is?

Session 3, “Am I Saved?”, discussed salvation as a gift from God through Jesus Christ, which requires our “yes.”

Session 4, “Why the Church?”, explained to the participants that Jesus didn’t simply leave us a written message or instruction manual to follow. Instead, he gave us a living, dynamic Church where we encounter him personally and allow ourselves to be transformed into his likeness.

Session 5, “God Is with Us,” discussed how God’s presence in the Old Testament foreshadows the gift of the Eucharist, one of the seven sacraments of the Church. Jesus established the Eucharist to give us strength and accompany us at every moment of our earthly journey. 

Session 6, “The Story of the Eucharist,” explained that the story of the Eucharist can be traced throughout Scripture from Genesis to the present day. It explored how the Cross is the new Tree of Life and the Eucharist is its fruit.

Session 7, “Bread for the Journey,” explained that the Eucharist sustains us on our spiritual journey. Our participation at Mass through the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist is an offering of thanksgiving to God. We are then sent forth to share what we have received.

We condensed these two-hour sessions into one-and-a-half-hour meetings to make them more appealing and practical for parishioners to attend. As a testament to the quality of the program — and, I would like to think, to the sense of fellowship among our parishioners — many participants remained after the sessions ended to continue discussing the themes. The program was well received by those who participated, which has led our parish Eucharistic Revival team to discuss possible programs next Advent and Lent for ongoing Eucharistic study and spiritual formation for our parishioners.

During Lent, we also displayed in the back of the church an exhibit of Eucharistic-themed drawings created by students in our middle- and junior-high classes. The exhibit was also well received by our parishioners, who were impressed with the quality of the drawings. This project was but one of several initiatives in our school this year to assist our students in growing in their understanding and appreciation of the Eucharist.

Our parish Eucharistic Revival team meets once a month to continue planning short- and long-term activities for our parish’s Eucharistic revival — during and beyond this year’s national Revival. I look forward to sharing with you in future articles some of these events.

Eucharistic Revival Prayer
Lord Jesus, you make the world radiant with the splendor of your presence. You embrace our humanity, so that we may share in your divinity. You reveal yourself to us as the Living Bread that comes down from heaven. Share your heavenly light with me, O Lord, so that I may see you in the Eucharist. Fill me with awe and wonder for the gift of your Body and Blood in Holy Communion. Through the mystery of the Eucharist unite our hearts to yours, that we may be a sign of communion for the whole world and may live with you forever.

Published on April 5, 2024

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