Around the world, countries are engaged in devastating wars and conflicts, the coronavirus pandemic is well into its third year and the daily news is full of reports of shortages, scandals and tragedies. But the hundreds of people who participated in the celebration of Corpus Christi Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, joining with Catholics across the country to begin the National Eucharistic Revival, have chosen to set their sights higher, on the source of all hope and comfort – the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
“God is present everywhere, in every time,” said Vasyl Lushchyk, a parishioner at St. Mary Protectress Ukrainian Catholic Church in Apopka. Lushchyk’s home country of Ukraine is currently embroiled in a war with Russia, leaving the local community concerned for the safety of their friends and family and for the future of their country. “We all pray for our country in these turbulent times. We’ve noticed that much more people are visiting our church since these times began… they just want to get more comfort in Jesus by visiting a church,” said Lushchyk.
A group of parishioners from St. Mary’s were among the nine cultures represented on Sunday, June 19. Traditionally, the Mass is followed by a Eucharistic procession throughout the grounds of the Basilica, stopping at various altars of repose from each ethnic community. Though the stormy weather meant the procession was moved indoors, each group had the opportunity to approach the altar and offer praise and Eucharistic Adoration to Jesus in the monstrance with traditional songs, dress, and symbols from their country.
“Our community presented our culture through national clothes, and beautiful, pious song,” said Father Roman Kuzminskyi, administrator of St. Mary’s. “For us, this event will be dedicated to prayer for the suffering Ukrainian people, soldiers and all volunteers.”
Other communities showcased included Brazil, Haiti, Africa, Poland, Philippines, Korea, Vietnam and India, each worshipping in a unique way, filling the Basilica with the sounds of instruments and joyful singing in many different languages, but united as the Body of Christ in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
“To us, myself and my wife, the most meaningful moment was at the end when all the communities approached the altar and did homage to Jesus, singing. The variety was so beautiful,” said Wagner Rogero, a member of the Brazilian community at Resurrection Parish in Winter Garden. “The Eucharist is Jesus. Every time we receive the Eucharist, we receive Jesus into our body and our heart. Because of our faith in the Eucharist, we believe that we will be guided and protected during these very difficult times.”
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ launched the beginning of a three-year National Eucharistic Revival, with the mission to, “renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist” and to “inspire a movement of Catholics across the United States who are healed, converted, formed, and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist—and who are then sent out on mission for the life of the world.” Diocesan events will be held throughout the next year to respond to the Lord’s personal invitation to each of the faithful.
“In the Gospel today from Luke, Jesus is reaching out to the people, He loves them. He’s spiritually feeding them. He’s physically taking care of them and even in their hunger He feeds them with five loaves and two fishes,” said Bishop John Noonan in Sunday’s homily. “My dear people, the greatest gift we have ever received from God is the love of His Son Jesus Christ. The greatest gift we can return to the Lord, is to receive Him in love.”
Bishop Noonan also reflected on the words spoken by Pope Francis during that morning’s angelus prayer, noting the Eucharist is both a gift and an invitation to love and serve as Jesus did.
“There is hunger for food around us, but also of companionship; there is hunger for consolation, friendship, good humor; there is hunger for attention, there is hunger to be evangelized,” said Pope Francis. “We find this in the Eucharistic Bread – the attention of Christ to our needs and the invitation to do the same toward those who are beside us. We need to eat and feed others.”
This year, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi fell on Father’s Day, which Bishop Noonan explained beautifully illustrated the relational aspect of the Eucharist, that it is a relationship of love that feeds both body and soul. Just as earthly fathers give their love and support to their families, so too does the heavenly Father pour out His abundant love in the Eucharist.
“We’re asked to come together to remember, to believe, to trust that when Christ comes to us in the Eucharist, He comes to us in reality, to help us, to lead us, and to guide us out of love,” concluded Bishop Noonan. “May the presence of Christ in His Eucharist, continue to help us, to believe, to trust, but above all, to love.
For more information on the National Eucharistic Revival in the Diocese of Orlando, visit: www.orlandodiocese.org/eucharistic-revival
By Elizabeth Wilson, a Florida Catholic Correspondent, June 21, 2022