Let His Eucharistic Love Burn Within You
When we are committed to the Eucharist, we cannot help but to increase our love for God, for our families, for each other and for those in need. Divine Love will be flowing into our souls, giving us the strength to witness to Him in the world.
What nourishes our faith and makes it grow is the Holy Eucharist. Why? Because the Blessed Sacrament truly is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus.
Our lives must be defined by the Eucharist - the divine and sacrificial love of God that picks us up and takes us out of ourselves and brings us into the mission of Christ.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament builds our faith, irradiates our whole being with divine love, heals, resolves difficulties, strengthens, and gives joy. It makes the soul beautiful.
Monsignor Cihak’s Homily Notes
27th Sunday in OT (C)
Christ the King Parish, Milwaukie (2019)
Venerable Fulton Sheen relates a story about faith and the Eucharist. During the Boxer Rebellion in China, the Chinese government sent soldiers to destroy Catholic Churches. A little girl was praying in the back of one of these churches when the soldiers came. They desecrated the church, arrested the priest, broke into the tabernacle and threw the Blessed Sacrament all over the floor - 32 sacred hosts. The priest was placed under house arrest in the rectory. That night, he watched as the little girl quietly slipped past the solider outside the rectory and sneaked into the church. She knelt before one of the hosts on the floor, adoring the Lord for an hour. Then she bent down and consumed the Sacred Host by licking Him off the floor. She did this every night for 32 nights.
On the 32nd night, after she had consumed the final host, she accidentally made a small noise, enough to wake up the rectory guard. The priest watched from his bedroom in horror as the guard martyred the little girl by beating her to death with the butt of his rifle. We don't know her name. We don't know anything about her, other than that we should all pray to be more like her. Her story spread from person to person, then town to town, and eventually made its way to Fr. Fulton Sheen when he was a young priest. He was so inspired by it that he committed himself to making a daily Holy Hour for the rest of his life and a strong promoter of Eucharistic Adoration.
Despite his enormous success as an evangelier, preacher and television celebrity, he told an interviewer shortly before his death that this little girl inspired his work more than any Pope or canonized saint. She kindled a Eucharistic love in him that fed his whole ministry (Melissa Keating, focusoncampus.org)
The Apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith. This request is beautiful as it is necessary. We must believe if we are to follow Jesus and be faithful to Him. We cannot go to Heaven without faith. Jesus responds with an image to teach them about faith: the mustard seed. It is something that seems so little and insignificant in the eyes of the world, but within it packs a huge punch. That little girl shows us.
Faith is like that. It is the beginning of the divine life within us. What nourishes our faith and makes it grow is the Holy Eucharist. Why? Because the Blessed Sacrament truly is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus. We proclaim this truth as we also recognize the distressing statistic recently announced by Pew Research - 67% of Catholics do not believe in the Real Presence. You have heard me preach before in this massive loss of faith in the past 50 years, basically since the late 60s, early 70s. Something has gone very wrong these past 5 decades and all our families have been affected by it in one way or another. There are many factors for this and we should honestly examine them (even if it means recognizing that I have been part of the problem), but whatever the factors, we can all become part of the solution: ask Jesus to increase our faith and become devoted to Him in the Eucharist. Let His Eucharistic love burn within us, like that saintly Chinese girl.
This is the teaching that comes to us from our Lord Himself: “This is my body, this is my blood.” Through the words of Christ through His priest who has had the hands of the Apostles upon him, consecrating him as a priest, the bread and wine change into the Body and Blood of Jesus. This is the testimony of the Bible and the Apostolic Tradition, the constant teaching of the Church. To put it another way, those who think they can have the fullness of Jesus without believing in the Eucharist and the priesthood are rejecting in some way the teaching of the Bible and Apostolic Tradition.
If we are to become holy men, women and children, to become saints, as Jesus desires, we really must give ourselves over to Him in the Eucharist. Our lives must be defined by the Eucharist, the divine and sacrificial love of God that picks us up and takes us out of ourselves and brings us into the mission of Christ. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament builds our faith, irradiates our whole being with divine love, heals, resolves difficulties, strengthens, gives joy, makes the soul beautiful.
This is what I mean when I hold out for us the goal of becoming a Eucharistic parish, a community that finds its source and center in Jesus Christ, truly present among us in the Blessed Sacrament. He unites us. He animates and directs all of our efforts at evangelization, education and serving those in need. In other words, Jesus truly present in the Blessed Sacrament is our foundation, our center and our goal of who we are and what we do. St. John Paul II said “From the perpetuation of the sacrifice of the cross and her communion with the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist, the Church draws the spiritual power needed to carry out her mission.” The Holy Eucharist gives us the love to accomplish the Church’s mission - the salvation of souls.
A deep, intrinsic connection exists between the offering of Holy Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. The Mass is a mystery so bright, so compact, that we aren’t able to take it all in at once as it were. Adoration is that important time where the powerful graces and Presence of Jesus can unfold in our souls, bringing out bodies in close proximity to His, beholding His Eucharistic Face.
What do I do during Adoration? How do I pray? Spend time slowing mind and breathing down, focus on His Presence, He is really there before me. Use your imagination…what does He look like, His eyes, facial expression, how does He look at you? What is in your heart that you want to show Him, often something wordless. Inviting the Holy Spirit to pray inside our souls. Prayer must be honest, no pretending. We pour out our problems and worries. It is recommended to have the Holy Scriptures at hand, begin with prayerfully reading from the Gospels and the Psalms. The Bible is God’s words to us. It is also a good idea to have a good spiritual book at hand (St. Theresa of Avila, even a mystic would always take a spiritual book to the chapel), meditations, spiritual classics like the Imitation of Christ (Kempis), Introduction to the Devout Life (de Sales), Spiritual Combat (Scupoli). When your mind gets distracted, reading a few lines can help focus again. Even if my time before Jesus truly present in the Blessed Sacrament is a stream of distraction and my time is spent bouncing back and forth - that’s still good prayer because simply the effort to pray is pleasing to Jesus and His is at work.
So starting this Thursday we will have Adoration here in the church on the main altar (to show the intrinsic, close connection between Mass and Adoration). We’re starting on Thursdays in order to have greater exposure to our students and also because it was on a Thursday that our Lord instituted the Eucharist. We have sign ups in the back and I pray that all those slots would fill up and that even those who cannot sign up for an hour will still stop by, even for 5 minutes to adore Jesus in our midst.
I would like our parish to become committed to the Eucharist because that will increase our love for God, for our families, for each other and for those in need. Divine Love will be flowing into our souls, giving us the strength to witness to Him in the world. In this Respect Life Month, we ask Jesus to strengthen us to promote and defend the dignity of every human life from conception to natural death. To follow Jesus, to be a Catholic, means to be a People of Life and the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life.
Let us stir into flame the gift of God that has been given to us. A little girl in China shows us the great gift we have been given.