Eucharistic conference in Grandview draws hundreds

Attendees of the first annual ‘In His Presence’ Eucharistic Conference knelt during a Holy Hour with Bishop Johnston. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

Megan Marley

The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life’ (Lumen Gentium, 11), so what better topic to have a conference on during the diocesan Holy Year of Renewal?

The first annual ‘In His Presence’ Eucharistic Conference was held September 14, the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, at Coronation of Our Lady Parish in Grandview. The morning began with Mass, and a welcome to over 325 attendees by emcee Michael McGlinn of Sistine Films, who also recorded the talks.

Fr. Joshua Barlett, parochial administrator of St. Rose of Lima, Savannah and St. Jude, Oak Grove parishes, gave the first talk on Eucharistic Miracles. He said there are over 100 Vatican-approved Eucharistic miracles—but what exactly is a miracle?

He explained that rather than it being just an extraordinary thing, a miracle is something that cannot be explained by natural law or scientific views. The basic miracle for each of these extraordinary Eucharistic situations is the presence of Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Himself under the appearances of bread and wine.

Fr. Barlett explained that in transubstantiation, the ‘accidents’, or tangible aspects of bread and wine remain after consecration, but the ‘substance’, the essence of what is there, changes.

“In the gift of Transubstantiation that happens at every single Mass, we see the accidents of bread and wine…but the Gift of the Mass is the substance of the thing, its very essence is totally and completely transfigured,” he said.
If we aren’t careful to remember this fact, “being in the presence of Our Lord becomes very casual to us…it’s so easy to get caught up in the things of the world,” Fr. Barlett continued.

Most Eucharistic miracles resulted from an initial lack of respect or disbelief in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Examples he shared included an 8th century miracle in Lanciano, Italy, when a priest doubted the true presence of Christ and both species turned into literal flesh and blood. Blind scientific studies in the 70’s and 80’s by scientists and the World Health Organization on the miracle showed the sample was human tissue of AB blood type, but could not explain how ‘bread’ became flesh!

It makes sense, however, when viewed in faith.

“The Mass itself transcends time and space,” Fr. Barlett said, as an unbloody re-presentation of the bloody sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.

The results from other Eucharistic miracles also point toward this time-transcending reality, such as a 2013 miracle in Poland where the sample tested as AB blood type heart muscle tissue that had undergone some great agony such as crucifixion, and a 1993 miracle in Argentina having the same results with the added information that the sample contained white blood cells requiring a living host, and the sample came from the left heart ventricle, from which oxygenated life-blood is pumped into the body.

Of the latter miracle, Fr. Barlett said Jesus “is saying ‘I am the source of your life, I provide everything you need’; He in the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life.”

In Adoration, we get an opportunity to have a heart to heart with Jesus, quite literally.

“God is trying to speak to you in your heart, He is reaching out in that intimate way in the Blessed Sacrament,” he concluded.

Following a break, St. Matthew, Apostle and Coronation of Our Lady parishes’ pastor Fr. Adam Haake spoke on ‘What the Saints Say’ about Eucharistic Adoration.

Many saints found adoration to be of great benefit to spiritual growth.

“Jesus wants hidden souls, not hiding souls,” he said, noting the difference is humility and love of God vs. acting out of fear of God’s wrath.

Adoration also extends our opportunity to worship beyond just Mass and is an opportunity to ‘spiritually sunbathe’ in God’s grace.

“We live in this culture of work, and Our Lord in His Eucharistic presence stands against that,” Fr. Haake said. As St. Faustina put it, “I will not allow myself to be so absorbed in the whirlwind of work as to forget about God. I will spend all my free moments at the feet of the Master, hidden in the Blessed Sacrament.”

“The first movement of the Church is not ‘get to work’, it’s ‘get to prayer’,” Haake concluded.

Fr. Gabe Lickteig, parochial vicar at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish and Seven Dolors parish and chaplain for the Northwest Missouri State University Newman Center in Maryville, spoke on ‘Fruits of Eucharistic Adoration’.

He said that parishes that have regular adoration see an increase in conversions and vocations to the priesthood and religious life, as adorers grow deeper in their relationship with the Lord through time spent with Him. Personal fruits of adoration can also include greater peace, victory in spiritual battle, healing physically, mentally and spiritually, enlightenment in understanding truths of the Faith, and a ‘Eucharistic pop’ in more people coming to believe in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist.

“There are so many other things we could do—but remember, ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all things will be given to you’… When you read the writings of the saints, they say the more we work, the more we need to pray,” Fr. Lickteig said.

After the Angelus and lunch, Monica Grossmann Arredondo, one of adoration chapel organizers at St. Therese, North parish, gave practical advice on ‘Starting and Maintaining Parish Eucharistic Adoration’. Her parish has had regular adoration hours for 22 consecutive years, with a list of 140 regular adorers and 80 subs.

She said that before starting Adoration in a parish, it’s good to gauge parishioners’ interest—perhaps through surveys, cards or other communication channels. To make sure it’s a long-term, sustainable practice in the parish, it also pays off to plan details such as: When and where will adoration be held? What do we do for holidays, and when folks don’t show up for their holy hour? Who cleans and maintains the adoration location? Who manages the lists of adorers and substitutes? How do we organize and advertise signups for adoration hours? What are unique events or feasts to celebrate with and promote adoration? Can responsibilities for these tasks be distributed among multiple coordinators to prevent overload?

“Getting adoration started may not be easy, but adoration is probably the easiest part of the process,” she said.

Debbie Childress, cursillista and parishioner of St. Andrew the Apostle parish with degrees in social work and substance abuse counseling, gave her lay witness on Eucharistic Adoration and healing.

She explained that there are many aspects to healing, including a spiritual dimension that the world doesn’t always see. Adoration provides a unique opportunity to encounter the Divine Physician, sometimes to be physically healed, but often to heal internal woundedness and to accept and unite sufferings with Christ.

“’Suffering ceases to be suffering when it gains meaning’,” she said, quoting Victor Frankel. “When you can do something meaningful with your suffering it’s joyful.”

The conference concluded with a Holy Hour followed by benediction with Bishop Johnston. After reposing the Sacrament, he thanked the hosting parish and all who helped put the conference together.

“This is one of the many events of our diocesan Holy Year…It’s very much connected to the pastoral plan for our diocese to be ‘One Family: Restored in Christ, Equipped for Mission’. We know that we can’t really accomplish any of the goals of that mutually shared vision without Our Lord, who says ‘apart from Me, you can do nothing—but with Me all things are possible’.”

Attendees enjoyed what the Conference had to offer.

“Your interest was held the whole time, and it inspired you to move forward with eucharistic adoration in our parishes,” said Carol, parishioner at St. James in Liberty. “Our pastor…he’d like to see each Northland parish have a different day so we all have places to go every day.”

“It was wonderful, I loved all of it—it was very enlightening and informative, and it opened your eyes to things you don’t actually realize until someone says it to you,” said Diana, parishioner at Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Joseph, Mo. “It made me stop and think.”

Watch/listen to the talks (recorded by Michael McGlinn of Sistine Films) here!

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Friday
November 22, 2019
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph