ORLANDO | More than 1,000 faithful gathered to listen to three very different speakers share insights regarding the Eucharist at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Sept. 8. As part of the Diocese of Orlando 50th anniversary jubilee, honoring the Year of the Eucharist, The Gift of Sacred Mystery delved into the Eucharist as gift, as sacred and as mysterious encounter.
Speaking of the Eucharist as gift, Bishop William Wack, C.S.C., of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee admitted he was baffled by those who say, “I don’t get a lot out of the Mass. It’s the same thing every week.” His reply came in a familiar song: “Look beyond the bread you eat, see your Savior and your Lord. Look beyond the cup you drink, see His love poured out as blood.” He emphasized, “This is God before us. This is where we have to let go of our senses and trust Jesus. We will never ever understand it, but we must believe because Jesus said it and it is our salvation.”
As Catholics believing in the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, Bishop Wack stated that this presence can be life-changing if we are open to it. “We are ambassadors for Christ,” empowered by the gift of himself in Holy Communion, he said. “Through our prayers and our gestures we are drawn into the mystery that is Christ.” To believe anything else leaves us with empty promises.
Quoting the famous Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor he said, “If it’s just a symbol, then we are only symbolically connected with Christ… then we are not present to Jesus’ death and resurrection… we don’t have forgiveness for our sins or the promise of resurrection.”
Sister of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Sister Maria Teresa Acosta explained, “It is this sacrifice that makes Eucharist the Sacrament of love. When we speak of the Eucharist, we are talking about what is most sacred, the heart of love of our Lord.”
From popes to saints who encountered the sacred heart of Christ, she unpacked the reality that, “The Eucharistic heart is the living sign of the kingdom of love… a kingdom that takes place in the soul of men, where nothing external can remove it.”
She added, “To participate of the Eucharist is to allow His love to transform us, to transform our heart. This is how each one of us can participate in the celestial kingdom on earth – to live the path of love which is the only way we can conquer evil.” This loves invites a response, a “self-offering” she explained, “to be great witnesses of love, to be authentic, courageous, faithful…”
Bishop Robert Reed, Auxiliary Bishop of Boston and President/CEO of iCatholic Media Inc. could not agree more. He likened discipleship to being in traffic. “Being a disciple of Jesus is not a spectator sport,” he noted. “We have to use our blinkers. People need to know who it is that we are following and where it is that we are going.” He acknowledged the difficulty of this task at the current crossroads.
“We are like the first apostles, sent, empowered to fearlessly change this corner of the Lord’s vineyard… When we love our children, are faithful to our spouse, live good and holy lives as consecrated men and women, when we fight to protect the unborn, when we care for the dying, advocate for the immigrant, turn our back on the devil as he tempts us to degrade ourselves and our bodies, when we sit in quiet prayer or make a good confession…—for others we are using our blinkers. We are letting people know that Jesus is the reason for our being in every season,” Bishop Reed said.
“There is nothing more important in life than that we help each other get to heaven, to the kingdom,” he emphasized. “You can be living the dream…, but if in the end the gates of heaven do not swing open for you, then it was all a colossal waste of time.”
Bishop John Noonan concluded that it is a life of prayer that allows us to be open to the mystery and to fulfill it. “We are Catholic. We are followers of Jesus Christ and we believe in the great gift that God has given us, the sacred mystery that nourishes us, strengthens us and leads us to the greatest place of all, to be with God in heaven. The greatest gift is that you bring Jesus Christ within you.”
As Sister Acosta so aptly stated, “This (Eucharist) is the eternal banquet. It is a mystery to behold, a mystery to be shared, a mystery to be lived.”
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic – September 8, 2018