I have been fortunate to have grown up in a family that was totally in love with God and had a profound and deep abiding passion for Jesus in the Eucharist. I do not ever remember a time when this was not a part of my life and was not a source of strength and hope in the darkest moments.
From the time I was a very young child, I desired to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. When others were playing house or dress up, I was practicing receiving Communion with Necco Wafers as a poor stand-in. Then the day came! I remember when I was 7 and taking my First Communion, the feeling of "being one with Jesus." I felt I could walk on air with the elation and joy of having FINALLY received Jesus in this way.
I can honestly say that He has worked in and through the Mass and the Eucharist all of my life. As a teen and young adult I would go to the Franciscan University of Steubenville to attend their youth conferences. Our precious Lord is very present and very real as the monstrance is processed through the participants on the Saturday night of the weekend. There are times still that if I am in a crowd and I close my eyes I am able to imagine myself back in the tent (I am dating myself) with a few thousand of my closest friends reaching out toward the risen Lord in the Eucharist there. But His presence was not only real there, He remained very real in the tabernacle of my own parish and when sitting there in adoration.
I have had many different tracks in life. At one time I had the privilege of being in a religious community whose life was completely Eucharistic centered. As active contemplatives, we would have adoration daily as a community and our rule included an hour of private contemplation daily as well. On Fridays, we were silent and each sister had an hour of private prayer in front of the Lord in the monstrance. It was not uncommon for me, during my daily solitary hour, to find my favorite corner tucked up close to the tabernacle where no one could see, and I would be "alone" with our Lord. There was more than one occasion that I had scared one of my fellow sisters by moving from my spot. During this time, our community was just forming, and I myself was in formation. I would spend a lot of time alone in the convent while the sisters met with the Bishop to discuss the rule. Often I would retreat to my corner in the sanctuary and bring along with me my sewing. My thought was, "I would do this with an earthly husband, would my heavenly husband mind?" While there I would pour out my heart with the concerns and the struggles as well as the joys of the days. When I am sad or stressed I can still close my eyes to this day and be there, in my mind, hidden with the Eucharistic Lord. It is my "safe place."
My life took a turn and I was called out of the convent. Eventually, I found myself as logistical organizer for Steubenville East at The National Shrine of Our Lady of LaSalette in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Once again I was at the service of our Eucharistic Lord in the very setting that meant so much to me in my own teenage years. I remember one particular weekend — it was Saturday night — the forecast was for severe lightning storms that evening. This was particularly difficult as our entire venue was held in huge tents. Even the sleeping accommodations were huge tents. The priest that organized the site with me and I started praying. We could see the storm clouds gathering and we could see lightning in the distance. We knew the pinnacle of the weekend was the Eucharistic procession. We continued to call on the Lord's protection for the 2,500+ youth and youth ministers present on the grounds. We witnessed the clouds part with darkness on the horizons all around us, but we were not touched. There were lightning strikes in the neighboring towns, but our "holy hill" remained untouched by even a slight rain shower. But what would I expect? The King was in the tent!
I am happily married now and my wonderful husband also has a devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and a fantastic love for the Mass. This is something I feel very blessed to share and to be able to grow in holiness together. It is yet one more gift of a God who is so in love with us that He would desire to stay in the most humble of appearances, simple bread. Together, we attend Sunday Mass and, when we are able to, adoration.
Most recently in this past year, I have felt a powerful stirring in my being. Somehow I know that God is doing a powerful work on a grand scale through the Blessed Sacrament. Everything inside of me feels as if it is reaching for Him and as if I cannot do enough for Him. I do not know where He is leading me in this, I do not need to know. All I do know is I need to cling to Him as never before and find Him, as always, in the Eucharist.