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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

jugisOur Eucharistic Congress brought us together as a diocesan family to celebrate our Catholic faith, and especially to celebrate our faith in Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist. Jesus comforts His apostles with His promise, “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age,” and the Holy Eucharist is one of the marvelous ways that He fulfills His promise and remains always with us.

Other religious bodies have annual meetings or annual assemblies where they bring together all their members to conduct the business of their church. How about for us Catholics? The Eucharistic Congress is our annual assembly where we also conduct important business of the Church, namely the business of attending to your spiritual life – feeding the soul.

There is a special spiritual benefit that is gained by coming together as a diocesan family to celebrate our faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. We are spiritually renewed by being in the company of thousands and thousands of our brothers and sisters from across the diocese. Our hearts and souls are rejuvenated by this large gathering of the faithful during the congress, especially at the Eucharistic Procession, the Eucharistic Holy Hour and Holy Mass. It is a time of spiritual renewal, all centered on the Eucharist.

This year we are celebrating the Year of the Immaculate Heart in our diocese, to honor the 100th anniversary of the Blessed Mother’s appearances at Fatima in 1917. The theme for the Eucharistic Congress, therefore, was chosen to reflect this Marian direction of the year. The congress theme was taken from the song of praise that Mary spoke at her visitation to her cousin Elizabeth: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” Mary’s soul does indeed proclaim the greatness of the Lord because her soul is completely filled with God’s light and grace. There is no trace of sin in her. She is the Immaculate Conception.

We may apply Mary’s words to ourselves. Our souls begin to proclaim the greatness of the Lord in a unique way at our baptism, when sanctifying grace comes to abide in our souls. We become children of God, adopted into God’s family, living in His friendship. As we continue in life, the Holy Eucharist nourishes God’s divine life within us. Our souls continue to proclaim the greatness of the Lord because Christ’s Body and Blood sanctifies us. Christ lives in us, as He says: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.”

The Holy Eucharist enables us to grow in holiness. The Holy Eucharist enables us to proclaim the greatness of the Lord.

May the fruits of this Eucharistic Congress be multiplied throughout our diocese. In imitation of the Visitation of the Immaculate Heart to her cousin Elizabeth, let your souls, let your lives, proclaim the greatness of the Lord to everyone you meet.

Bishop Peter Jugis is the fourth bishop of Charlotte and the founder of the Diocese of Charlotte Eucharistic Congress.