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An Invitation to Revival

New encounters with Jesus in the Eucharist

By Mallory Smyth
Catholic Author and Speaker

In my early 20s, a friend invited me to the New Orleans Museum of Art to see an exhibit of Pope St. John Paul II’s visit to New Orleans. After years of living with no faith and three years as an active Protestant, I had recently reconnected with my Catholic faith. I accepted the invitation with a bit of hesitancy as I still grappled with many questions and preconceived notions about Catholicism.

I wandered through the halls with my audio tour guide companion and learned about the pope’s visit. The exhibit was what I had expected it to be. The encasements were filled with priestly garments, chalices, pictures of the Holy Father, and other items recognizable to anyone raised Catholic.

The experience was pleasant enough, but then I entered a new room and beheld an encased monstrance, taller than me and absolutely magnificent. The monstrance was gold and encrusted with jewels, with two silver angels on each side of the Eucharist’s holding place. It was an heirloom fit for royalty, and it annoyed me. My first thought was, “This is outrageous. Why does the Catholic Church always have to go over the top? Imagine how much money we could give away if we just toned this stuff down a bit.”

After I finished my thought, my audio kicked in. “This monstrance was created for the 1938 Eucharistic Congress of South Louisiana. In the year leading up to the congress, the Archdiocese of New Orleans sent letters to all the faithful of the South Louisiana region asking them to donate precious metals and jewels to create this Monstrance. Families around the Bayou region sent in gold, wedding rings and family jewelry. The artist melted the jewelry and created this monstrance to hold the Eucharist.”

My eyes filled with tears as my pride took a hit. This beautiful, extravagant monstrance was a gift from the lay folk of South Louisiana to their king, Jesus Christ. These men and women were not wealthy. They had just experienced WWI and were amid the Great Depression. They had so little to spare, but their desire to create a magnificent holding place for the Eucharist awoke in them radical generosity. Incredible.

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Instead of leaving the museum annoyed that day, I left challenged. I wanted to see Jesus the way those Cajuns did, worthy of the best I have to offer. And I wanted that love for Jesus to spill into my understanding and reverence for the Eucharist.

This year on June 10, the Archdiocese of Denver will launch the Parish Year of the Eucharistic Revival, and I invite you to the same challenge I gave myself all those years ago.

How do you see Jesus? Do you see him as a King worthy of the very best you have to offer? Do you have a real relationship with he who went to the cross and rose from the dead so that you could know him? And what of the Eucharist our Church calls the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ? Have you experienced Christ in the Eucharist?

No matter your answer to these questions, this year, you are invited to rekindle your love for the Eucharist — to rediscover exactly who Jesus is, fall more deeply in love with him, and allow his presence in the Eucharist to penetrate every single part of your life.

So then, let us get started because what we believe about Jesus will directly determine the love and reverence we hold for the Eucharist.

Colossians 1:15-17 offers us an all-encompassing picture of the Son of God:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Sit with these words. Reread them. Let them open your eyes to Christ’s majesty. He is the image of the invisible God. This means that if we want to know what God the Father is like, we look to Jesus. He is the first-born of creation. All things were created through him and for him. This means that Jesus Christ is the center of the universe and history. Everything is about him, and everything is for him. It is because of him that all else holds together in creation.

Through the wondrous gift of the Eucharist, Our Lord seeks to enter into your very being, every part of you, offering you the grace of his transformation.

Can you even wrap your mind around such a God? What else can we do but honor and revere him? Jesus is so far beyond our comprehension, yet at the same time, the scriptures reveal that he did not choose to stay in the cosmos. He came down from Heaven and entered into this mess.

Philippians 2:6-8 tells us: “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

Jesus, whose magnificence is beyond our comprehension, entered the world’s brokenness to get to you. Yes, you, with the darkness of your heart that only you know about, the past that you seem not to be able to let go, and the small failings that you would like to hide. You, with all your baggage, matter to our Lord so much that he left Heaven and became a man to enable you to have a relationship with him.

And here is the incredible part. Jesus did not stop there. Through the Eucharist, he continually joins himself to humanity in every place and generation. Through the wondrous gift of the Eucharist, Our Lord seeks to enter into your very being, every part of you, offering you the grace of his transformation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1324, tells us: “The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’ The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.”

The Eucharist is Jesus Christ, veiled in flesh and blood, made available to you to become one with you. As we enter the Parish Year of the Eucharistic Revival, I invite you to meet him in the Eucharist. I invite you to let him into every part of your life. Offer him your very best, worship, reverence, love and intimacy, and see the difference he makes in your life.

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