We begin with a quote from Saint Peter Julian Eymard. He is known as the Apostle of the Eucharist, and he spent his life tirelessly promoting love of the Blessed Sacrament.
“Alas, it is but too true: Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is not loved!
He is not loved by the millions [of people who have left the Church or who oppose the Church,] who either don’t know anything of the Eucharist or have no notions about it.
Among so many thousands of creatures in whom God has placed a heart capable of loving, how many would love the Blessed Sacrament if only they knew it as I do!
Must I not at least try to love it for them in their stead?
Even among Catholics, few, very few, love Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. How many think of Him frequently, speak of Him, come to adore Him?
What is the reason for this forgetfulness and coldness? Oh! They have never experienced the Eucharist, its sweetness, the delights of His love.
They have never known the goodness of Jesus!
They have no idea of the extent of His love in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Some of them have faith in Jesus Christ, but a faith so lifeless and superficial that it does not reach the heart, that it contents itself with what is strictly required by conscience for their salvation. And besides these last are but a handful among so many other Catholics who live like moral Pagans as if they had never heard of the Eucharist.”
Right now the Church needs apostles of the Holy Eucharist: Catholics who deeply love the Holy Eucharist, Catholics committed to prayer before the Holy Eucharist, Catholics ready to sacrifice and pray beyond the bare minimum we owe to God in justice. All that we do must begin and end with Jesus Eucharistic. Our hope across these next eight weeks is to ignite a zealous love in our hearts for Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and our primary means for this transformation will be through frequent Holy Communion and Adoration of Jesus in the Monstrance. Every week, we will gather in Christian fellowship to encourage each other, hold each other accountable, challenge each other, and pray for each other. God is on earth. He never left. Let us cling to Him in the Blessed Sacrament and be consumed and purified by the white hot fire of His Eucharistic love.
Each week there will be a spiritual challenge proposed in addition to our weekly baseline commitments. We should keep one another accountable on this challenge and carry it through the length of this exercise and beyond. These challenges are an invitation for us to embrace the basic spiritual practices that all Catholics are called to. The challenges will build on each other, and they will help us to establish a personal rule of life that we can follow after the spiritual exercise ends. Discernment is necessary in the undertaking of these weekly challenges. We should pace ourselves and not take on too much too fast, or we may become overwhelmed or discouraged, which often leads to abandoning the progress we have made.
This week, the challenge has multiple parts.
- If it has been more than three or four weeks since our last Confession, we should prioritize receiving this Sacrament in the next week. Even if we are not in a state of mortal sin, Confession along with Holy Communion are the principal wellsprings of the grace that is necessary for us to advance in love of God. A suggested Confession frequency for those serious about growing in their love of God is at least once a month. As Fr. Hardon reminds us, only heroic Catholics have any chance of survival.
- Let us commit to staying for at least 5 minutes after every Mass to offer a proper thanksgiving to God Incarnate who we have just received.
- After our thanksgiving, let us avoid socializing until we are outside of the church as a matter of due reverence to Jesus who is present in the Tabernacle and within us.
- Let us be more intentional about genuflecting whenever we pass before Jesus in the Tabernacle or Monstrance. Unless we are carrying something or our health does not allow it, a genuflection, not a bow, is proper reverence for the incarnate God-man that stands before us. When Jesus is exposed in the Monstrance during Eucharistic Adoration it is a good practice to genuflect with both knees instead of with one knee. Finally, if the Tabernacle is opened for any reason, we should immediately stop what we are doing and kneel before our Lord until the Tabernacle is closed. These are the most basic practices of reverence due to Jesus who is hidden in the Blessed Sacrament.
- Observe the required Eucharistic fast. Per Canon 919, “One who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception of water and medicine, for at least the period of one hour before Holy Communion.”
Week 1 Challenge Summary
- Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation as soon as possible (see Confession Primer) (see Distrust of Self and Confidence in God Primer)
- Stay for 5 minutes of prayer after every Mass to make a sincere thanksgiving for Holy Communion
- Avoid socializing inside the church before, during, and after Mass
- Genuflect reverently to Jesus in the Tabernacle or Monstrance whenever entering or exiting the church, entering or exiting the sanctuary, or passing before Him. If the Tabernacle is opened, stop what you are doing and kneel until it is reclosed.
- Abstain from all food and drink, with the exception of water and medicine, for at least one hour before receiving Holy Communion.
Primers For This Week
(suggested but optional)
- The Spiritual and Psychological Value of Frequent Confession
- Distrust of Self and Confidence in God
- Mental Prayer and Spiritual Reading
Readings For This Week
- Introduction: The Holy Eucharist, The Presence Sacrament
- The Truth of Christ’s Real Presence
- The Church’s Eucharistic Doctrine up to the Sixteenth Century
- Why are we focusing on the Eucharist?
- What evidence have you noticed demonstrating that there is a crisis of faith in the Real Presence?
- Do you believe that this crisis is the central crisis in the Church and why?
- Did you learn anything new about the Church’s doctrine regarding the Holy Eucharist?
- How might solidifying your intellectual understanding of the Real Presence impact your ability to make acts of faith in God’s revealed Truth?
- What expectations or hopes do you have for this spiritual exercise?
- Do you feel called to this week’s spiritual challenge, and do you have a plan to undertake it?