The days of the Eucharistic Congress, Adoremus, are going to be a time of special grace for the Catholic Church in England and Wales. I urge everyone to join in this great celebration of the Eucharist, God’s greatest gift to us, His family.
The events in Liverpool, on September 7-9, will be memorable and moving. Great numbers will gather on each of these three days. I think there may still be a little space for the key events on Saturday. Do come if you can. And if you are staying at home, then join in the pilgrimage taking place in Liverpool in spirit and in prayer.
The Eucharist takes us to the heart of our faith. The celebrations and processions of Adoremus will enrich that faith and our love for the Lord. They will be powerful moments in which we can express the love we have for Jesus who has chosen, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to be with us always in the precious Sacrament. In the Eucharist, he is present to us in the very action of offering himself to the Father as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. In the Eucharist, his sacrifice becomes an abiding reality at the heart of our world, opening for us a true vision of our purpose and destiny in life.
To be before the Blessed Sacrament, to share in the Mass, to be filled with a profound devotion for his Real Presence, is to be before the still hidden, yet revealed, mystery of God’s love and mercy. We see, yet we don’t see. We taste and touch, yet are still to be absorbed into that mystery. We rely totally only on “trusty hearing”, for the Word spoken to us is the Word of God who does not deceive and cannot be deceived: “This is my body, given for you. This is my blood poured out for you.”
The Eucharist, then, is to be contemplated constantly. In Liverpool, we will strive to understand this great gift more deeply. We will give heart and mind to prayer and praise. We will enter its deepest dynamic: that of sharing in the mission given by the Father to His beloved Son to bring the fullness of life and light into our needy world.
This sense of mission was first appreciated by Cardinal Manning in July 1847, when he visited Malines in Belgium. Still an Anglican, he was on his way to Italy after recovering from a long period of illness.
In Malines Cathedral, he attended Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction. Reflecting on it later he wrote: “The procession gave me a strong feeling of the reality of the Incarnation and of their (Catholic) way of witnessing to it.” Indeed, devotion to the Blessed Sacrament was to play a great part in his journey into the Catholic Church, for he saw in such devotion not only a manifestation of true doctrine but also an expression of a profound life of faith.
Much later in life, in 1891, in his old age, he wrote that there was so much more to becoming a Catholic than accepting the decrees of the Council of Trent. He wrote: “That is only a very small part of it. Becoming a Catholic really means becoming again as a little child and having a new heart.”
In Liverpool we too will seek a new heart, for our faith, for our mission, for Our Lord.
When we gather around Jesus, present in the Eucharistic Sacrament, we should always remember that important title and role which is his. He is forever our intercessor, our mediator, our high priest (Hebrews 9:12), who carries our prayers and our tears to the very heart of our loving and Heavenly Father.
Speaking at Westminster Cathedral in 2010, Benedict XVI commented on the mission which is to flow through our lives from Christ himself. He said: “Let us pray that the Catholics of this land will become ever more conscious of their dignity as a priestly people, called to consecrate the world to God through lives of faith and holiness.”
He continued: “I invite you once more to look to Christ, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection. I invite you to unite yourselves ever more fully to the Lord, sharing in his spiritual sacrifice on the Cross and offering him that ‘spiritual worship’ (Romans 12:1) which embraces every aspect of our lives and finds expression in our efforts to contribute to the coming of his kingdom, building a society truly worthy of man, worthy of your nation’s highest traditions.”
May Adoremus enrich the life of faith in our time, strengthen our sense of mission and foster our hope of heaven.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols is the Archbishop of Westminster.
This article was first published on July 19 2018, and is republished ahead of the National Eucharistic Congress this weekend, 7-9 September 2018. Find out more at www.liverpoolcatholic.org.uk/adoremus