The Eucharist offers strength, blessings to all who believe in Christ's Real Presence, Bishop Jugis preaches
CHARLOTTE — "You need to be ready to continue your work of bringing Christ to others, of evangelizing this culture."
In his homily for the closing Mass of the 2015 Eucharistic Congress, Bishop Peter Jugis entreated more than 13,000 people in the Charlotte Convention Center – the largest crowd ever recorded at the annual event – that their faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist can sustain them in these "challenging" times for all people of good will.
"There is so much division and conflict," Bishop Jugis said. "The society in which we live is broken by sin, and we experience this brokenness every day. And yet the Lord is depending on us to bring His message to this culture. How do we do this?"
Catholics must proclaim the Gospel with joy, and to do that they must be nourished with the Eucharist, he said. Jesus, he reminded everyone, "is always with us in the Eucharist."
"We have come to the high point of the Eucharistic Congress," he noted, "the celebration of the holy sacrifice of the Mass. All of the events of the Congress lead up to this point."
"Your reverence and devotion for the Blessed Sacrament shows how deep your faith is in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist," he told the thousands of Catholics gathered in Hall A for the closing Mass after two days of Eucharistic Adoration, a Eucharistic procession through the streets of uptown Charlotte that lasted more than an hour and a half, and catechetical talks and fellowship for parishioners from across the 92 parishes and missions which comprise the Diocese of Charlotte.
"Thank you for the reverence and devotion to the Eucharist you have shown at this Congress," Bishop Jugis told them.
The bishop recounted the story of Franciscan Father Leo Heinrichs, who was murdered during Mass in at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Denver, Colo., in 1908. During Communion, a man went up to the altar to receive the Host, but then spat it out into his hand and threw it back at Father Heinrichs. As the Host fell to the floor, the man fatally shot Father Heinrichs. As the stunned parishioners watched, the priest spent his dying moments picking up the Blessed Sacrament and putting the bits into a ciborium at the foot of the altar.
"As he lay on the floor of the sanctuary dying, his last gesture was to point at the remaining hosts," Bishop Jugis said, and beg the parishioners to retrieve them.
"Talk about the depth of one's faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist," Bishop Jugis said.
"Christ is present, the whole Christ – His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, His Real Presence," he continued, noting the Gospel reading from Mark Chapter 14. That Presence brings with it too many blessings to count, he said.
Then, the bishop asked, "What spiritual blessings are you taking with you from this Eucharistic Congress? Are you going forth with a joyful heart?"
Catholics must go forth with "renewed hearts," a stronger sense of their faith, and deeper gratitude to the Lord for the blessings they enjoy, he said. With that renewed strength, joy and faith, Catholics can confidently evangelize the culture.
"You need to be ready to continue your work of bringing Christ to others, of evangelizing this culture," he urged them.
— Patricia L. Guilfoyle, editor