Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Youth and the Eucharist

Markov wrote recently, “A little while ago I had posted that I had taken my 3 year old nephew to Eucharistic Adoration. Lately he has been asking me if he could go back to the "little room." The church has virtual adoration in a room. My problem is that my nephew is not Catholic or Christian for that matter. My brother -n-law keeps telling him let's see. I don't say anything because I don't want to step on anyone's toes. I feel that something spiritual is happening to this child. Who knows if he will feel the same way when he grows up. It is really quite unusual when a 3 year old asks to go to Eucharistic Adoration. Any thoughts of what should I do?”

First of all, this is really cool stuff! I always love hearing stories about youth and the Eucharist, but especially the really little ones. It’s pretty uncommon, but it is possible for a kid as young as three to have an experience with the Real Presence. It seems that something happened with your nephew in Adoration. I would recommend talking with his parents about it and tell them what happened, if you haven’t already. Also, it would be good to explain to them what Adoration is; so, this means you will have to explain what the Eucharist is. When I do this with almost anybody, but especially with non-Catholics, it usually gets into the big questions about Christ – who He is, what His Death and Resurrection is all about, and how the sacraments enter into all of it. I truly believe that if our outreach to the “lost sheep” is focused on the Eucharist, then they will ultimately come (back) to Christ the Good Shepherd.

I’ve had a few experiences recently involving youth and the Eucharist that were really quite amazing, thanks be to God. One of them was on last week’s “Encounter” retreat which some of our teens attended. There were several of us priests there to hear Confessions; we started the evening off with Adoration. This was a new experience for many of the (250) teens who were there. I explained what Adoration is all about and why we do it; again, it all goes back to the Last Supper and John 6. They seemed to get it! I was also able to tie in Confession at the end of my talk. By the Grace of God, almost all of the teens went to Confession! Amazing!!

There was a boy who came to talk to me. He is about 15 and has never been baptized. We talked about the Eucharist and he said he believed…! I asked him if he wants to be Catholic, and he said yes. I showed a huge grin, and said softly, “awesome”. It seems as though he had already had an experience of the Real Presence, and it moved him. He wants more of it, and will talk to his parents about becoming Catholic.

I recently talked to a girl who is going off to college next year. She humbly admitted that she was losing her faith and going away from who she is. So, as we chatted outside a chapel with the exposed Host, I focused my questions on the Eucharist in order to see if she still had faith in the Real Presence. She thoughtfully and pensively considered what I was asking. She allowed me to give the teaching on the Eucharist, how ‘this is my body’ means this is my body, when transubstantiation takes place at Mass, etc. She seemed profoundly affected by what was being said, and often glared into the chapel to see the exposed Eucharist. We finished our intense talk by saying that she can take her new-found faith in the Eucharist off to college with her in the Fall, and how much that will help her. Minutes later, I walked into the chapel and saw her quietly and reverently in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. God is good!

I tell these stories because a) they’re really cool!, and b) because they relate to Markov’s situation. To me, it doesn’t matter at what age it happens, if any of us has a REAL experience with the Eucharist, then we get it. We are changed. We’re in and not going anywhere. Christ has us. For a 3 year old, for a teenager, for a young priest, or for an elderly person, it was a real experience because in some way it was an experience of love…or peace…or joy. It was an experience of Heaven on Earth. A little kid can pick up on that…and want it! Hopefully, his parents will allow him to have it again real soon. In the meantime, pray for everyone involved - in the presence of the Lord.


At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many many people struggle with this. Why can't some people experience it? Are we hard-hearted?

On another subject, I just read a book called "The Holy Longing" by a priest named Ronald Rolheiser. It is directed to people who struggle spiritually. I found it very inspiring and helpful. I'd love to hear comments from others who may have read it.

At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 3:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It can be hard when families differ in beliefs. Last year I took my neice, who is my godchild, to confession when she accompanied me and my children to church. It was just before Easter, and since my neice is Catholic, she asked if she should go too. My neice goes to Catholic school and was taught to make confession at least twice a year- so I said go (and thought nothing of it). My sister-in-law was upset. She isn't practicing Catholic and thought my taking her daughter to confession was some kind of commentary on her (my sister-in-law) being a sinner. I would never have thought she'd arrive at that conclusion. I believe my neice felt a need to go to confession, and she seemed almost relieved to have someone encourage her to do so. No words seemed to make my sister-in-law understand. It was a little tense.

At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For any who have seen it, I know they'd agree that FG's committment and enthusiasm are palpable where two things are concerned- youth & the Eucharist. Seeing him react to both in the same place and time is really a treat.

I, too, love hearing the kiddie stories- especially the ones that include their understandings and impressions of the sacraments. They usually include tales of things said and done that put a smile on my face. This post doesn't disappoint- a 15 yr old potential convert, a reaffirmed college bound young lady and 200+ teens for confession (sounds like a very good day for you, FG), and then signs that a 3 yr old may have had an experience that could truly change his life. Good post!

At 5:38 PM, Anonymous Kelly said...

First of all, PRAISE GOD! HE IS AWESOME! From Markov's three year old nephew to the story of the teens on retreat - it is all so good.

I heard our former parish priest share the story of when he first was committed to a middle of the night hour of adoration(perpetual adoration). I can not recall if this happened when he was still a seminarian or perhaps a new priest? He said that he was so sleepy (2am hour) and he could not understand how or what to do for an hour. How to stay awake, first, and then how were other adorers so willing to do this in the middle of the night?
His biggest struggle was with fatigue.
A nun told him that he didn't have to "do" anything. That he was there to just "be" with Jesus in the Eucharist. He then just surrendered his ideas of "what to do" to God. This priest's experience went from "how do I stay awake for an hour" to "how did that hour go by so quickly & this is the most beautiful place to be.....adoring Christ in the Eucharist!" He was experiencing the real presence of Christ on a much deeper level.

This priest is an awesome servant of God. He has been a priest for many years, and we have watched him grow in holiness. He continues to bring many "lost sheep," home.

Anon #1, why can't some people experience it? I do not know the answer to that question. Just having the desire to believe is a sure sign that God is at work.

At 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Luke 10:
Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come.
And He was saying to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

FG is one of the most dedicated laborers. Our family owes you much gratitude for your dedicated service to our Lord. Thank you Father Greg for reaching out to young people. We will continue to keep you and all priests in our prayers.

At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please pray for a friend of mine who is struggling in her faith.


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