Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares celebrates Mass Nov. 1 at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral. The Mass was part of the Oct. 28-Nov. 2 Eucharistic Congress held at the diocese’s mother church. (J.D. Long-Garcia/CATHOLIC SUN)

The Eucharist can be a comfort to those in distress, like the thousands suffering in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, said Marian Father Mark Baron, minister to the Pentagon.

Fr. Baron, who serves as superior of formation in Washington, D.C., spoke about the healing power of the Blessed Sacrament during the Oct. 29-Nov. 2 Eucharistic Congress at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral.

“I had the blues [after Sandy], so I went and sat there in front of the Eucharist,” Fr. Baron said in a keynote address Nov. 1. “There’s an exchange: We give Him our junk — our problems — and He gives us His peace. I don’t know what I would do without the Blessed Sacrament.”

He noted that the Gospels speak of those who physically touched Jesus and were healed.

“Well, when we receive him in Communion, come on! We receive Him and He’s inside of us,” Fr. Baron said. “Give God permission to work in your life.”

God is especially interested in healing people from sin, he said, but God also heals spiritual ailments.

“Sometimes it’s hard to believe in the Eucharist at first,” Fr. Baron admitted, referring to John 6. “St. Peter didn’t get the Eucharist at first, but because he believed in Jesus, he stayed… Stop wrestling with the Eucharist with your mind. But because Christ said it, say with Peter, ‘I believe.’”

The congress featured a Vatican exhibit of eucharistic miracles, a holy hour led by Catholic recording artist Michael John Poirier and 24 straight hours of confession.

“We need to receive Jesus in a state of grace,” Fr. Baron said, calling Catholics to regular confession. “He’s ready to feed you.”

Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares celebrated Mass before Fr. Baron’s talk, and also referred to John 6 in his bilingual homily.

“It reminds us what a precious jewel we have in the Blessed Eucharist,” he said. He noted that the Second Vatican Council proclaimed the Eucharist as “the source and summit of the Christian life.”

The Blessed Sacrament “draws all of God’s holy people to Jesus Christ, who is the same ‘yesterday, today and forever,’” the bishop said, also citing the Scripture where Christ says, “I will be with you always.”

“As the Father gives us the Son, Jesus gives Himself to us in the Eucharist,” Bishop Nevares said. “In Jesus Christ, every time we go to Mass, Heaven is wedded to Earth and Earth is wedded to Heaven.”

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is as close as human beings will come to heaven on Earth, he said.

“In heaven, we will all be brothers and sisters gathered around the heavenly crown, gazing in adoration of the beauty of the Godhead,” the bishop said. “What a precious gift we have in the Sacrament of the Altar. What a precious gift we have in our Catholic faith.”

Fr. John Muir, assistant director of All Saints Catholic Newman Center in Tempe, spoke with teenagers about the miracles of the Eucharist.

“How amazing and wonderfully scary the eucharistic Lord is,” he said. In the eucharistic miracle of Lanciano, the host was transformed into actual flesh and the wine into actual blood. This physical reality confirmed the Catholic teaching of transubstantiation — at every Mass the bread and wine are transformed into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.”

Scientists have tested the blood and confirmed the blood is human blood — type AB, the same blood type found on the Shroud of Turin. And the flesh is real human heart flesh.

The flesh and blood, which were transformed in the eighth century, have been miraculously preserved despite being exposed to natural elements for hundreds of years.

Fr. Muir also spoke of the Miracle of Santarem. “This one has to do with a bad romantic relationship,” Fr. Muir quipped, “which you guys probably know nothing about. This guy was a real jerk.”

This miracle involved a host which began to bleed in the year 1247. This happened after a woman wrapped a host in her scarf and brought It home. She was convinced it would change her husband, who was unfaithful to her. The couple woke up in the middle of the night to find the host shedding brilliant rays of light, and the discovered angels adoring the Host, which was bleeding.

Theresa Serrano, who led a committee to organize the Eucharistic Congress, first approached Fr. Dan McBride, pastor of St. Mary-Basha Parish in Chandler, to have a congress there in 2009. The parish hosted the first and subsequent congresses during Lent.

This year, the congress moved to the cathedral and was held in conjunction with the beginning of the Year of Faith. Serrano said Catholics came from across the diocese for the event. One family came from Prescott.

“If we believe in the Real Presence, then why on Earth would we not spend time with Him?” she said of eucharistic adoration. “We’re so busy. We don’t stop in silence to hear. It’s time to do that.”

Serrano wanted to reach Catholics who’d “pass by the tabernacle without knowing they’re passing by the same body that hung on the cross.” She hopes the congress helped her brothers and sisters in Christ recognize His presence in the Blessed Sacrament.

“Once we believe in the Blessed Sacrament, our Communion is different,” she said. “We want to receive Him, adore Him, spend our life with Him. That’s what I want everyone to experience.”

 

J.D. Long-Garcia is the former editor of The Catholic Sun. He joined the staff in 2004. J.D., a lay Dominican, studied journalism and psychology at Arizona State University, philosophy at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, and theology at the Graduate Theological Union. He's taught classes at the Kino Institute, worked as an outreach intern at All Saints Catholic Newman Center, led a deanery confirmation program in Berkeley, Calif., and served as a catechist for children of various ages. He was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

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