By PATRICK METTS | Published February 16, 2023
We often hear of the importance of “encountering” Christ in our faith life. Our faith teaches us that there are numerous ways in which we can do this: through serving the poor, the sick, or the imprisoned, also in the gathering of the church or the Body of Christ, in the person of the priest and lastly through the sacraments of the church.
The seven sacraments are those means by which we are brought into union with God, in which we encounter him in a tangible way. The Eucharist, of course, is the “source and summit” of our faith, the means by which we are brought into intimate communion or encounter with Our Lord.
As I reflect on my own encounters with Christ throughout my life, I can remember in middle school the joy I had while censing the Eucharist as an altar server during adoration. And then in high school, I witnessed the profound power of Jesus working in others during a eucharistic procession at the Steubenville Youth Conferences. It strikes me, however, that the most impactful experience of Christ in the Eucharist came not during these brief moments of encounter, but during a time in which I personally made a commitment to daily Eucharistic adoration.
I believe it was my sophomore year of college when a friend and I challenged each other to make a daily Holy Hour. Our schedules were fairly flexible during college, however, there were always other things happening on campus that could have pulled us away from our commitment. One thing was certain, I was not going to be outdone by my friend, who had just as much a competitive nature as I did.
It took time to build the habit, and even to get used to sitting in silence for an hour, but the fruits of that time affected me profoundly. I have the vivid memory of sitting quietly in the adoration chapel and feeling perhaps like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, with my heart burning within me. I was encountering Jesus in eucharistic adoration in a very personal and intimate way, as I had never experienced him before.
This experience in college had a profound impact on my prayer life as an adult. I had made an effort to seek out Jesus, but he surprised me by responding in such a super-abundant way. So often, I would put the focus on my efforts at prayer or encounter, but in this time of consistent eucharistic prayer I saw that Christ was the one seeking me. He was looking to encounter me each time I went to be with him. This small realization has helped shape my understanding of the eucharistic Jesus.
We know that God, because of his infinite love for us, humbled himself and became incarnate in the womb of Our Blessed Mother. Furthermore, he was born in poverty and complete vulnerability and was laid in a manger filled with straw. However, that was not enough for our Lord. He wants to be so close to us that he comes to us under the appearance of bread and wine and is laid on a paten during Mass. He does this because he wants to encounter us. He desires to be so intimately close to us that he gives his body and blood as our food and drink.
What an amazing God we have to give of himself in such a profound and radical way! How do we respond to such radical and self-giving love? How can we seek to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist during this time of Eucharistic Revival? He is always ready and available, all we need to do is to give Our Lord the time and space to encounter us.
In his address to the young people of Bolonga, Italy in September 1997, St. John Paul II said, “Let Jesus, present in the Blessed Sacrament, speak to your hearts. It is he who is the true answer of life that you seek. He stays here with us: He is God with us. Seek him without tiring, welcome him without reserve, love him without interruption: today, tomorrow, forever!”
Patrick Metts, LPC, is an associate director of the Office of Evangelization and Discipleship and a member of the archdiocesan Eucharistic Revival Task Force.