Philippa Martyr: Want to know Jesus more? Eat Him

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A priest holds the Eucharist in this illustration. The “sense of mystery” and awe Catholics should experience at Mass is prompted by an awareness of sacrifice of Christ and his real presence in the Eucharist, Pope Francis said in a document released on 29 June 2022. Photo: CNS, Bob Roller

It was a delight to wake up on Corpus Christi morning and read about the US bishops’ new National Eucharistic Revival. My joy was twofold.

First, it’s a practical step in bringing people back to Jesus Christ Himself in the Blessed Sacrament. This is the real, living core of our faith.

It’s our job as Catholics to build a loving, personal relationship with Jesus through the Sacraments. The best way to do this is to eat Him.

I know it sounds weird, like it did in the first century (John 6:52). But if you are willing to take His very self into your own body, everything becomes easier.

And I mean everything: no matter what crisis you’re going through, or what trauma and abuse has hit you, or how scary the future looks. If you can bring yourself to eat the Truth, your life can and will change for the better.

This is serious stuff, and you have to prepare yourself for it. Eating God casually, or with a sense that you’re entitled to Him, isn’t the right way to heal and grow. In fact, the reverse will happen (1 Corinthians 11:27).

“More and more parishes are discovering that Adoration unites them like never before. Churches are opening more during the day for rostered Adoration. They’re setting up secure Adoration Chapels. “

The second reason I was overjoyed was that it was an example of a bishops’ conference doing something real and practical and Catholic. I know I shouldn’t be surprised at this. But I was.

I’ve said before that our obvious lack of belief in the Real Presence of Jesus is a gaping wound in the heart of the Australian Church. So far, we’ve been shy of looking at that wound honestly.

And yet I know that the Holy Spirit has been driving an authentic Australian revival of Eucharistic belief and devotion for years now. This has been largely ignored by diocesan bureaucrats, so hooray! it’s thriving.

More and more parishes are discovering that Adoration unites them like never before. Churches are opening more during the day for rostered Adoration. They’re setting up secure Adoration Chapels.

Priests are discovering new wells of energy and love in their regular Holy Hours. Young men are discovering priestly vocations by simply spending time in front of the Lord of Hosts.

Women of all ages are the most consistent Adorers in any parish. What woman wouldn’t want to spend time with the one Man who really loves them, woos them, cherishes them, and romances them daily?

Ayla Casey receiving her first holy communion from Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP at the Easter Vigil Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral Sydney.

Priests are also reporting that when people spend time in Adoration, they want to come to Confession more often. Spending time with our humble God, looking straight back at you with utter love, has a way of unlocking even the most hardened conscience.

Sadly, one sector where Eucharistic love should be taught and built up as a habit – our Catholic schools – doesn’t seem to be pulling its weight. You learn by doing. And if you don’t do, then you don’t learn.

What I’ve noticed in our Plenary Council documents is a real unwillingness to go to the one source of healing in our Church that will really work, and work fast, and work miracles.

The Blessed Sacrament isn’t just an optional add-on that we can choose after a busy day of reducing our carbon footprint and preaching to each other in our increasingly empty churches. That formula will empty our churches even faster.

The Second Vatican Council called all of us to grow in personal holiness. You can’t do that without the Blessed Sacrament – without focusing your entire life around eating, drinking, and adoring God Himself.

If we all spent more time with Him in person, everything in the Church would change. Our liturgies would become less banal, because we’d realise that God has already asked us to worship Him in particular ways.

“Our marriages would be more open to children, and to building strong happy families through the self-sacrifice of both husband and wife.”

And who knows? We might start making the liturgy all about God, instead of about ourselves. Imagine the difference in our parishes.

The same goes for our love and sex lives. If we spent more time with Real Love, we’d soon recognise our fake and disordered relationships.

Our addictions and compulsions would shrivel up in the face of the great surge of God’s personal love for us.

Our marriages would be more open to children, and to building strong happy families through the self-sacrifice of both husband and wife.

We would all come to understand the priesthood far better. We’d have more respect for our priests, and they’d have more respect for their divine calling.

There’s a lot of room for change and growth here in the Australian Church. The solution is literally right in front of us.