Having Faith in the Eucharist

Dear Friends in Christ,

Some years ago, a friend was exasperated with the Church. In his frustration, he exclaimed, “If it weren’t for transubstantiation, I would leave the Catholic Church!” I had to laugh. Firstly, because my friend was absolutely right and justified in being exasperated with the Church at that moment, (more accurately with people in the Church – specifically priests and bishops) and secondly, here was someone who demonstrated that they knew and believed the Catholic Faith, specifically the Church’s faith in the Eucharist. Knowing and believing this, I knew, and my friend knew that he was not going anywhere! “Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you also want to leave?’ And Simon Peter answered, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life!’” (Jn 6:68). This indeed is the treasure of our Catholic Faith. In the Eucharist, we have, and we receive Jesus, the Word made flesh and splendor of the Father, the bread come down from heaven, who gives us His very self in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood.

This weekend, we celebrate the beautiful and incomparable gift of the Eucharist in the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. The prayers of today’s Mass date to the 13th Century when they were composed by St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, in honor of today’s feast. As Catholics, we are blessed in our faith in the Holy Eucharist. Whatever is a challenge in the Church and in the lives of her faithful (and there are many in every age), we have the gift of Jesus Himself to nourish, strengthen and aid us. No matter what life throws at us, we are never alone. No matter what circumstances we must face, we are never defeated when we have Jesus. The Lord promised his disciples as he ascended into heaven, “Know that I am with you always even to the consummation of the world!” (Mt 28:20). The Lord keeps that promise at every Mass and every time we receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. We are blessed to experience the Lord’s real presence in the tabernacle and the monstrance. Jesus, Emmanuel (God with us), is truly with us in his real presence in the Eucharist. Some ask why I get so concerned about reverence at Mass. The simple answer is because Jesus deserves the best that we can offer. When we come to love Jesus and recognize the love he has for us, how can we not want to give him our very best? Here at St. John Vianney, one of the great ways we must show our love for Christ’s real presence is through daily Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. We have Mass every weekday and twice on Tuesdays and Thursdays in addition to our weekend liturgies. Additionally, one of the greatest sources of spiritual strength and grace for our parish is in the Adoration Chapel with Eucharistic Adoration twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

After college, I worked downtown. Like many young adults, I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life (career, marriage, future, etc.). I was looking for answers even though I was not particularly sure about the questions. So, I started going to daily Mass. It was a struggle to get up early, fight traffic and attend the early Mass before work or to squeeze Mass into my lunch break, but it was well worth it. When I felt overwhelmed, I would just go and sit before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. When I was before Jesus, present in the consecrated host, I could say anything or nothing at all. Eventually, the Lord showed me what he wanted for me. I continued spending time before the Blessed Sacrament in the seminary. And now as priest, I still go before the Lord, but now, it isn’t just to fix a problem or get an answer. It is just routine, a wonderful and enriching routine. To be with Jesus, to spend a little time with him and know that he is before me in the consecrated host is a comfort and a solace. At Mass, my mind can get busy offering the prayers, mentally working through the homily and be attentive to the rituals. In adoration, I don’t have to do anything or say a word and neither does Jesus. But I promise you, a lot gets communicated in the silence. It isn’t always the words of the lips or even the words of the mind that do the best to communicate. Often, the most effective and profound communication is from the heart and the heart speaks a language of its own. Cor ad cor loquitor (heart speaking to heart). To be able to be still and be quiet with the one you love and the one who loves you is wonderful. Like Simon Peter and my friend, how can any of us leave when we have come to know and believe in Jesus, who has so generously given us himself in his real presence in the Holy Eucharist! “Lord, to whom shall we go?”

In pace Christi,

Fr. Troy