WALKING BY FAITH TOGETHER | The Catholic Exponent
MOST REV. DAVID J. BONNAR
Bishop of Youngstown
Note: The first phase of the Eucharistic Revival has included Holy Mass and Eucharistic Processions in each county of the diocese. The Trumbull County gathering was Oct. 23 at St. Mary & St. Joseph Parish, Warren, with Bishop David Bonnar presiding. The Portage County gathering is Nov. 13 at 11 a.m. at St. Patrick Parish, Kent, with Father John-Michael Lavelle, vicar for missionary discipleship, presiding.
Recently I was invited to St. Paul’s School, North Canton to celebrate Holy Mass with the school children and then meet with them and tour the school. That experience was food for my soul and brought me back to the days when I was a parish priest with a school.
Following the celebration of Holy Mass, I met with two different age groups of students. They had a host of questions for me but many of them centered around the theme of favorites. For example, what is your favorite food? What is your favorite sport? Who is your favorite sports team? What is your favorite pet?
When I came home and prayed over that wonderful experience, I continued the line of questions around the theme of favorites. In fact, I found myself wondering about my favorite bible passage.
What is your favorite bible passage?
My favorite bible passage comes from Luke’s Gospel. It is the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. If you recall, these two disciples are talking about all that had just happened. They lost their friend Jesus. He suffered a brutal and innocent death.
Lo and behold, as they speak about their loss, they encounter a stranger who opens the Scriptures to them. They are so comforted by his words and presence that they ask this stranger to come into their house with them. “Stay with us,” they say.
The stranger enters the home, and they break bread together. In the breaking of the bread, their eyes are opened, and they come to see that this stranger is none other than Jesus himself. What a surprising encounter!
I find this story to be very timely for our reflection. First, the image of Jesus walking with the disciples is a powerful one for us to behold in this time of the Synod on Synodality. As we walk together, it is important for us to note that Jesus always walks with us. Even though we may not recognize Jesus, he walks with us. We need to pray for the eyes of faith to see him in the face of one another—especially the strangers who come into our midst.
Second, this is a beautiful story for us to behold in this time of Eucharistic Revival. Every time we participate in Holy Mass our eyes are opened. It is the ultimate “eye opening” experience because the Eucharist has a way of opening our hands and hearts so that we may become more like Jesus. We also come to see that, after suffering and death, there is always new life in the resurrection.
In this first phase of the Eucharistic Revival, we have been visiting a different parish each month in the six counties of our diocese to celebrate Holy Mass followed by a Eucharistic Procession. The purpose of the Eucharistic Procession, apart from honoring Jesus, is to open our eyes to the reality that we are all sent forth to take Jesus out into the world and proclaim the joy of the Gospel. Pope Francis reminds us that we come so that we may go. As we go forth out into the world, we are called to be Christ in our thoughts, words and deeds. In other words, to love one another as Jesus loves us.
In the second phase of this first year of the Eucharistic Revival, we will be visiting a different church each month to conduct a Holy Hour with Exposition of the Holy Eucharist and Benediction.
At the heart of this experience will be Eucharistic Adoration. We will adore our Lord in the monstrance on the altar.
Eucharistic Adoration is an integral part of the tradition of the Church. Recently I visited Saint Philip and James Parish, Canal Fulton, and they were observing all-day adoration. Adoration provides a quiet space to be with our Lord and be one with him.
When I was a parish priest, I worked with the faithful to erect a Eucharistic Chapel for the purpose of Eucharistic Adoration. People would sign up for designated times and pray throughout the day. The beauty of that experience is that it yielded four vocations to the priesthood. Studies show that parishes that foster Eucharistic Adoration become a seed bed for religious vocations. It is my hope and prayer that more of our parishes will embrace this tradition in the life of the Church which contains not only promises for today, but tomorrow as well.
Adoration of our Lord need not be confined to a church or chapel. Every Christmas we are reminded of this when we sing those words from “O Come, all ye faithful,” most notably, “ O come let us adore him.” Every day provides a wealth of opportunities to adore our Lord.
Some time ago, as I was praying the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer book of the Church, I encountered this prayer. “Father, because Jesus, your servant, became obedient even unto death, his sacrifice was greater than all holocausts of old. Accept the sacrifice of praise we offer you through him, and may we share the effects of it in our lives by striving to do your will, until our whole life becomes adoration in sprit and truth.” (Office of Readings, Saturday, Week IV, Volume IV)
True adoration of our Lord cannot be compartmentalized. Whether we are in Church or outside of Church, wherever we find ourselves on our journey, we need to work at making our whole lives one of adoration. As we continue our journey in this time of Synodality and Eucharistic Revival, let us pray for the grace that our eyes will be opened so that we can go forth and joyfully adore our Lord.