St Francis Q&A

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Youth and the Eucharist

Markov wrote recently, “A little while ago I had posted that I had taken my 3 year old nephew to Eucharistic Adoration. Lately he has been asking me if he could go back to the "little room." The church has virtual adoration in a room. My problem is that my nephew is not Catholic or Christian for that matter. My brother -n-law keeps telling him let's see. I don't say anything because I don't want to step on anyone's toes. I feel that something spiritual is happening to this child. Who knows if he will feel the same way when he grows up. It is really quite unusual when a 3 year old asks to go to Eucharistic Adoration. Any thoughts of what should I do?”

First of all, this is really cool stuff! I always love hearing stories about youth and the Eucharist, but especially the really little ones. It’s pretty uncommon, but it is possible for a kid as young as three to have an experience with the Real Presence. It seems that something happened with your nephew in Adoration. I would recommend talking with his parents about it and tell them what happened, if you haven’t already. Also, it would be good to explain to them what Adoration is; so, this means you will have to explain what the Eucharist is. When I do this with almost anybody, but especially with non-Catholics, it usually gets into the big questions about Christ – who He is, what His Death and Resurrection is all about, and how the sacraments enter into all of it. I truly believe that if our outreach to the “lost sheep” is focused on the Eucharist, then they will ultimately come (back) to Christ the Good Shepherd.

I’ve had a few experiences recently involving youth and the Eucharist that were really quite amazing, thanks be to God. One of them was on last week’s “Encounter” retreat which some of our teens attended. There were several of us priests there to hear Confessions; we started the evening off with Adoration. This was a new experience for many of the (250) teens who were there. I explained what Adoration is all about and why we do it; again, it all goes back to the Last Supper and John 6. They seemed to get it! I was also able to tie in Confession at the end of my talk. By the Grace of God, almost all of the teens went to Confession! Amazing!!

There was a boy who came to talk to me. He is about 15 and has never been baptized. We talked about the Eucharist and he said he believed…! I asked him if he wants to be Catholic, and he said yes. I showed a huge grin, and said softly, “awesome”. It seems as though he had already had an experience of the Real Presence, and it moved him. He wants more of it, and will talk to his parents about becoming Catholic.

I recently talked to a girl who is going off to college next year. She humbly admitted that she was losing her faith and going away from who she is. So, as we chatted outside a chapel with the exposed Host, I focused my questions on the Eucharist in order to see if she still had faith in the Real Presence. She thoughtfully and pensively considered what I was asking. She allowed me to give the teaching on the Eucharist, how ‘this is my body’ means this is my body, when transubstantiation takes place at Mass, etc. She seemed profoundly affected by what was being said, and often glared into the chapel to see the exposed Eucharist. We finished our intense talk by saying that she can take her new-found faith in the Eucharist off to college with her in the Fall, and how much that will help her. Minutes later, I walked into the chapel and saw her quietly and reverently in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. God is good!

I tell these stories because a) they’re really cool!, and b) because they relate to Markov’s situation. To me, it doesn’t matter at what age it happens, if any of us has a REAL experience with the Eucharist, then we get it. We are changed. We’re in and not going anywhere. Christ has us. For a 3 year old, for a teenager, for a young priest, or for an elderly person, it was a real experience because in some way it was an experience of love…or peace…or joy. It was an experience of Heaven on Earth. A little kid can pick up on that…and want it! Hopefully, his parents will allow him to have it again real soon. In the meantime, pray for everyone involved - in the presence of the Lord.


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