Because of the Eucharist, I know that no matter what happens in my life — no matter how well or how badly things go — I will always have everything that I need because of Jesus' real presence. It's the promise that I can live life to its fullest, no matter how pleasant and joyful or difficult and challenging things are, because in the Eucharist, I can always be close to Jesus.
I was blessed to have grown up with the habit of attending Sunday Mass and knew that our faith was important. But still, I hadn't fully understood or sensed the reality that Jesus is fully present in the Eucharist. I knew Communion was important, and I probably had been taught the Church's teaching on the real presence, but it wasn't something I had personally experienced or internalized, I guess.
When I was in eighth grade, I had the opportunity to attend a Steubenville youth conference, and I encountered Jesus in a powerful way during adoration. I can't recall the specific details of how the night took place, who spoke, what songs we sang, or any of that, but I do remember that while 2,000 or so other teenagers and I prayed and worshiped during that time, I was fully convinced that Jesus was real and that he loved me — and that his love was worth everything. I remember coming home from that conference and trying to read my Bible more often, learn more about my faith, listen to Christian music, etc., because I wanted to do things that would help me be closer to him.
This desire ultimately led to me becoming very active in my parish's youth ministry, my school's campus ministry, and before heading off to college, I served on a leadership team at the same conference that had been so impactful for me four years prior. Following Sunday Mass, at the final session of that conference, our team was going to be on stage and we were all waiting to be ushered on when a volunteer frantically looked at me and told me they needed someone to be with the Blessed Sacrament — there were consecrated hosts from Mass in the tabernacle, and whoever was tasked with being with the Blessed Sacrament apparently was unable to stay. She asked me to be the replacement, and I (admittedly, a little reluctantly) said yes and followed her down a backstage hallway to a little room where the tabernacle was stored with a candle beside it. The volunteer who was there prior to me left and I took her place and sat before Jesus, all by myself, in a pretty unglamorous room, while I heard muffled bits of the excitement and energy of the final conference session. And I knew I was in the best place in that whole arena…that I got to be before the King of Kings, in a uniquely intimate way, and that, moving forward, that would always be the best place I could be.
I sat before him, in awe of the privilege that it is to be close to him, and that experience has consistently drawn me back to Jesus’ Eucharistic presence through every moment of my life. Since that moment, I’ve struggled in my faith, strayed from my convictions, returned with greater zeal, and experienced several ups and downs. But that quiet little moment with Jesus is a memory he has used to continually draw me back to his presence. I’ve even had the gift of working for several organizations where a Blessed Sacrament chapel is in the actual building I work out of. I spent the moments before my wedding with my husband in the Blessed Sacrament chapel at our parish. I’ve prayed the most honest prayers through heavy sobs and discerned major life changes in that same chapel.
I have experienced extended time in adoration on more recent retreats where Jesus revealed the ways he has provided for me, never let me go, and always drawn me into fuller life. And most recently, I’ve begun to invite Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament — particularly when I receive at Mass — to meet me in places of woundedness and brokenness, and he has shown me the most tender love of all.
There was a period of my life when I looked back on my experience in eighth grade and thought that maybe I had imagined it, or that maybe he wasn’t as good as I had convinced myself. But praise God for that intimate little moment I experienced a few years later. In that moment, I became convinced that being close to the Eucharist was the greatest good I could have on this side of heaven, and the times that I have drawn close and let Jesus draw close to me have confirmed that truth over and over again.
Experience it for Yourself
Jesus is truly present. Jesus is always with you. Sit in his presence and open yourself up to his voice.