June 8, 2010 // Uncategorized

Holy Eucharist, the Church’s most precious treasure

Courtney Hammoud, a resident of the Center for the Homeless since last July, was welcomed into the Catholic Church this past Easter after attending R.C.I.A. at St. Monica in Mishawaka. Center for the Homeless Director Steve Camilleri says the residents celebrated with her when she shared her good news on Easter Monday.

Center for the Homeless
On the evening of Memorial Day, I had the pleasure of visiting the Center for the Homeless on Michigan Street in South Bend. The executive director, Steve Camilleri, invited me to participate in their weekly community meeting. The meeting began with the presentation of the colors, followed by announcements by Steve and others. Then I was invited to share some thoughts and answer questions. After closing with a prayer and blessing, I had the opportunity to meet several of the residents.

I was truly impressed by the wonderful work of this center. It not only provides food and a shelter for the homeless, but also a multitude of services to help people who have encountered various difficulties in life. I met and spoke with two men who were celebrating 18 months of sobriety, thanks to the assistance of the center. Other guests receive educational assistance and various life skills. I was very impressed by the individualized attention each guest receives. Each person is treated according to their unique situation and particular needs, whatever circumstances precipitated their homelessness. The Center for the Homeless appears to me to address the root problems of homelessness and is committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness. I am glad our diocese supports this wonderful place.

Visit to the University of Saint Francis
I have been to the University of Saint Francis a few times since coming to Fort Wayne, but my first “official” visit was on June 2. I celebrated the 12:05 p.m. Mass there, followed by lunch with the sponsoring religious congregation, the Sisters of Saint Francis. Sister Elise, the president of the university, then gave me a wonderful tour of the beautiful campus. It was an enjoyable afternoon, an opportunity to learn more about the educational and spiritual life programs at our Catholic university in Fort Wayne. We are blessed to have the University of Saint Francis in our diocese. I am looking forward to returning there in the fall for a few events.

This week I finished the busy Confirmation season. I celebrated Confirmation Masses at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Elkhart, Our Lady of Hungary Church in South Bend, and St. Patrick Church in Ligonier. It was my first visit to all three of these parishes. I have really enjoyed visiting so many of our parishes through the celebration of these Confirmation liturgies. Let us pray for all the young people of our diocese who received the gifts of the Holy Spirit this spring through the sacrament of Confirmation. May they open their hearts to these gifts and be faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus and strong members of His Church.

Discernment retreat for men
This past weekend, Deacon Terry Coonan led a retreat for young men discerning the call to the priesthood. It took place at the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Francis in Mishawaka. As always, the sisters spoiled us with their great hospitality and delicious food! I was very edified by the faith and zeal of the young men thinking about the possibility of seminary. I enjoyed an hour session with them in which I spoke about obedience, chaste celibacy and voluntary poverty, important aspects of the life of a priest. A question-and-answer period followed. It was enjoyable to talk to some of the men over meals, learning about their lives and interests. I pray that each one will be open to God’s call, whether it be to the priesthood, religious life, marriage or the single life. Of course, I am hoping that God is calling several of them to serve as His priests here in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend!

Solemnity of Corpus Christi
The highlight of my week was the celebration of the beautiful Eucharistic feast of Corpus Christi this past Sunday. St. Matthew Cathedral was filled for the diocesan Hispanic Mass I celebrated at 1 p.m. After the Mass, we processed with the Blessed Sacrament to Our Lady of Hungary Church. It was a beautiful, prayerful and reverent Corpus Christi Procession. I couldn’t believe when we ended that it was about 5 p.m.! We sang hymns to our Eucharistic Lord, prayed the holy rosary and received Benediction at different locations along the way.

We cannot thank God enough for the great gift of the Holy Eucharist, the Church’s most precious treasure. While carrying the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance, my heart was filled with joy and thanksgiving. Carrying our Lord, I felt the whole diocese was present in our prayer. The devotion of our Hispanic brothers and sisters was also a source of great joy for me.

St. Thomas Aquinas called the Eucharist the greatest of the miracles of Jesus Christ. St. Peter Julian Eymard, the founder of the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, wrote that the Eucharist “is superior to all the other miracles in its object and surpasses all the others in its duration. It is Jesus’ permanent incarnation and perpetual sacrifice. It’s like the burning bush burning on the altar forever. It is the manna, the true bread of life which comes down daily from heaven.”

The Second Vatican Council also affirmed the greatness of this sacrament when it proclaimed that “the Most Blessed Eucharist contains the Church’s entire spiritual wealth, that is, Christ Himself, our Passover and living bread. Through His very flesh, made vital and vitalizing by the Holy Spirit, He offers life to men.”

I encourage all the people of our diocese to be faithful to Sunday Mass, especially during these upcoming summer months. If you are going away on vacation, please be sure to check out the churches and Mass times at your destinations. For those who are unable to attend Holy Mass due to sickness or frailty, I invite you to watch Mass on TV if possible, making at that time a spiritual communion. The Eucharist is the center of our lives! We cannot live without it, because we cannot live without Christ, who is indeed the Bread of Life come down from heaven.

I also encourage all to make visits to the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacles of our churches and also in those churches where the Blessed Sacrament is exposed on the altar for adoration. In His Eucharistic presence, our Lord remains miraculously in our midst. Let us not be afraid of silence in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Adoring Christ in the Eucharist, we listen to God who speaks to us in our hearts. In our busy and noisy world, we need the inner silence found in Eucharistic adoration where we are centered on Christ, on God who is love.

This Friday, we will celebrate the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Pope Paul VI called the Eucharist “the outstanding gift of the Heart of Jesus.” It is the greatest of all the sacraments, a sacrament of love par excellence.

“May the Heart of Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament be praised, adored and loved with grateful affection at every moment in all the tabernacles of the world even until the end of time! Amen.”

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