The Eucharist is the Answer

For twenty-five years, between 1993 and 2018, I traveled hundreds of days each year visiting parishes and speaking at conferences around the world. During that time, I visited more than 3,000 Catholic parishes in the United States to speak. 

From my earliest days on the road, I recognized a pattern, a phenomenon—an observable fact—that demonstrated new life could be breathed into parishes and explained how it was happening. That phenomenon was Perpetual Adoration Chapels. It wasn’t just an idea. It was living and breathing. It had been implemented in lots of communities and was bearing abundant fruit.

There is something powerful about giving people a quiet place to spend time with God. These peaceful places of refuge from the busyness of life and noise of the world were a soothing balm for parishioners’ souls. They provided a place to reestablish priorities. It was somewhere to focus on what matters most in a world driven mad with distractions. A place simply to be with Jesus.

Did I notice other initiatives having powerful renewal effects in parishes? Yes, another trend I noticed was the outsized impact Christ Renews His Parish was having on parish renewal. But nothing was more powerful than the impact I saw Perpetual Adoration Chapels having on parishes.

But it isn’t enough just to build an Adoration Chapel. The introduction of an Adoration Chapel into a parish was more successful in some places than in others. Why?

Those parishes that were most positively impacted by an Adoration Chapel were those that had an active ministry surrounding it. Those standout parishes were dedicated to inviting and encouraging new people to participate every month. They tried to get everyone in the parish involved in some way, rather than having the same few people who do everything in the parish sign up for the time slots and then putting it on autopilot.

I have seen so many lives transformed by Perpetual Adoration Chapels. Those people then engage in their marriage, family, work, and parish on a whole new level as a result, continuing the ripple effect of Christ’s presence in the world.

We shouldn’t be surprised. It shouldn’t be a grand revelation. It should be obvious. Give people the chance to spend time in the presence of Jesus and their lives will be changed.

It’s simple. It’s beautiful. And it works. Give people the chance to spend time in the presence of Jesus and their lives will be changed.

All those years I spent on the road I saw more proof of this phenomenon at youth gatherings. Get 1,000 young people together, 2,000, 5,000. Turn the lights off, light some candles, and set Jesus in the monstrance in an elevated place in the middle of those young people. There is complete silence. Their souls cherish the silence to reflect upon their lives. And one experience like that can convince a person to make time for quiet prayer and reflection every day for the rest of their lives.

We need to create more unique opportunities for people to encounter Jesus.

Do the same thing at World Youth Day in Denver, Manila, Sydney, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Krakow, Lisbon—with hundreds of thousands of young people, and the impact is overwhelming. Five million young people gathered for World Youth Day in Luneta Park in Manila, Philippines, leading Guinness World Records to recognize it as the largest crowd for a live event in human history. Five million people in contemplative silence amidst a world gone mad. It was awe-inspiring. 

Many people encounter Jesus for the first time in their lives in Adoration. This is where they have their first deeply personal experience of Jesus. They may have heard about Jesus their whole lives, they may have been receiving Jesus in the Eucharist every Sunday, but there is something about the experience of Jesus in Adoration that leads people to know Him. This shift from knowing about Jesus to knowing Jesus changes everything.

And once they are awakened in this way, the Holy Spirit leads them to live their faith and participate in all types of ministries. This is where we begin to see the differences between highly engaged Catholics and disengaged Catholics. The more disengaged a Catholic is, the more they treat the faith like a consumer. More engaged Catholics take on the heart and mind of a disciple, constantly looking for ways to share the joy they have found with everyone who crosses their path in life. 

I have become convinced that the renewal of the Catholic Church will be a Eucharistic renewal, or there will be no renewal at all. There is simply no other way.

The world has many problems. The Church has many problems. You have many. I have many. Is it possible that the Eucharist is the answer?

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