This is the fourth of a four-part series on understanding one of the difficulties we will face in implementing a Eucharistic Revival and how we may overcome it.
In this series of articles, we have been looking at the fact that in trying to help people to enter into a deeper relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist during a Eucharistic Revival one of the factors we must contend with is the lack of common categories of understanding that make it difficult or impossible for those who do not share our realistic, sacramental, and moral view of the world to understand what we are talking about when we speak of the Eucharist and of our encounters with Jesus in the Eucharist. We saw that Jesus and the saints have faced similar problems and that, in these situations, they nudged the curious, encountered the wounded, made a simple proclamation of the Kingdom of God to the uninterested, and made a bold proclamation to the hostile. Keeping in mind the strategies already suggested, let us now look at how we can face this situation in our day. To this end, I would like to suggest the following strategies.
1. Personal Conversion and the Witness of Word and Deed
If I am going to help others to understand a realistic, sacramental, and moral view of the world, then I need to be immersed in that view of the world and formed by it. I need to read Sacred Scripture and the Church Fathers and the lives of the saints so I can see the world from that perspective. I need to pray and participate in the sacraments so that I can receive the graces available for my further conversion and so that I can be formed by prayer and by the prayers of the Church. I need to be transformed by my encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist. I need to strive, with the help of God’s grace to live everyday trying to enact this view of the world in my words and deeds so that I can be that light in the darkness that I am called to be, where I am so transparent to His workings that the light of Christ can shine through me. Knowing my weakness and tendency to fall back into sin, I need to approach this life with humility, relying on the forgiveness, grace, and mercy of my Savior. Those who see my life but do not share my view of the world should be puzzled by the way I live and talk, and, in this puzzlement, a space for grace can arise.
2. Opportunities for Encountering Jesus
Opening such spaces for grace allows for people who are far from understanding Jesus and the Kingdom of God a place to encounter Jesus. Such an encounter with Jesus is a crucial part of beginning to understand the world from a graced perspective. We can encourage and foster such encounters with Jesus by helping people to pray, offering aid for people to enter into the sacraments with openness to the action of God, and guiding people into situations such as retreats where people often open themselves to these encounters. People need to not just attend Mass but to be given opportunities and aid to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist. The need for such encounters is present not only in those who are not attending Mass but also for everyone in our parishes. We are so surrounded by a worldly conception of reality (as described in the second article of this series) that all of us are infected by these views, and, so, all of us need to return to the fount of Truth, to Jesus Himself, encountered in prayer, the sacraments, and holy conversation.
3. Personal Interaction
Holy conversation, intentional spiritual conversation and interaction in individual and small group encounters, is key to building trust and building authentic Christian friendships in which we can help one another to more fully see and embrace Christian categories of thought. To move from one set of categories to a conflicting set of categories, to move from a worldly view of reality to a Christian view of reality, is usually neither a rapid nor a sudden move. It takes time to see and understand the Christian view of the world. It takes time to ponder it and to see its implications for daily life. It takes effort and repeated attempts to live according to this view of the world when all of our habits and our inclinations have been broken and distorted by sin and by false views of reality. Hearing from and being supported by others who have encountered and been transformed by their encounters with Jesus in the Eucharist can help people to be open to the grace of Jesus and to process their own encounters with Him. Support from individuals and small groups of people who have and are walking on the same road and are committing to helping one another along that road can be a crucial aid to those who are working on seeing and living according to Christian categories of understanding.
4. Reform of the Faculties
Seeing and living according to Christian categories of understanding of reality will obviously involve a reform of the how we think (intellect), but it also requires a reform of our desires (appetites) and how we act on them, and of how we make decisions (will). What is at issue here is the relationship between these aspects of how we engage with the world (the faculties). In the current, worldly view of reality, reason is atrophied and impotent; appetite rules and will is employed as its enforcer. On this view, what I feel, unrestrained by moral limits, is most important, and appeals to reason are unlikely to alter that approach to life. Instead of pursuing this line of approach, I suggest that it will be more effective to, in a carefully considered way, help people to appreciate and be transformed by the Truth of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist by beginning with a reform of the appetites and will and then moving to a reform of the intellect. This is a strategy that begins with encounter with Jesus, moves to relationship with Jesus, and then moves to deepening of understanding.
5. Start with a Committed Few
If we are to help people have these encounters with Jesus and then move to relationship with Jesus and to deepened understanding as their faculties are being reformed so that they move from worldly categories of thought to Christian categories, we need to have relationships with them. Given the nature of the current worldly categories of thought, pronouncements from authority and attempts to move people through this path in groups will not be effective. Instead, we will need individuals who have undergone deep conversion and are mature disciples, have been formed and understand the war we are in, are able to accompany others through this process, and are humble and docile to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Having a few people in each parish who have these qualities will bring about a True Eucharistic Revival. In the Eucharist, Jesus comes to us individually, and we should be willing to do that as well to bring others to Him.
We know the treasure that we have in the Eucharist, but unless the people of our world today can develop ears to hear what we are saying, we will not have a True Eucharistic Revival. Let us pray for these efforts, that we will be able to effectively grow in our relationship with Jesus and that we will help others to do so as well, helping them to develop ears to hear. Here we have suggested not a full list but some suggestions on how to approach this effort. Let us follow the Lord as He guides us each to the way in which we can help in this effort, placing our trust in Him, through the intercession of our patronesses, Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Thérèse.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Dr. Seth Wright
Director of Missionary Discipleship
Image by 8photo on Freepik
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