In many ways, high school was the greatest four years of my life. It was a time of transition, trepidation, and great joy! I was pushed hard academically. I was a standout athlete on the wrestling team. I made enduring, life-long friendships.
I also began to question my faith as I sought the path God had destined for my life. I asked difficult questions and pursued meaningful answers. I came to a deep and abiding faith in God but not before my faith had been tested for there is no resurrection without crucifixion.
When this difficult period came, I sought Truth. I did not find real Truth in a society that places “the self” at the center of all meaning and existence. I did not find real Truth in stubbornly opposing the Church’s teaching in faith and morals. I did not find real Truth by getting drunk or high. I did not find real Truth in using a member of the opposite sex as an object for pleasure and gratification.
Jesus calls us to be the “salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” but this is impossible unless we are willing to make a gift of ourselves in response to His love, life and truth. This means saying “no” to a culture that continually lies to and dehumanizes us. Contemporary movies, television and much of today’s music tell the story: they inundate us with tiresome, pointless anecdotes filled with false truths and bogus moral values that say to us, “As long as I am a good person, I don’t need anyone to tell me what to do and how to live.” A society mired in a distorted sense of what true freedom is, says, “I am an end in myself. Therefore, I am free to do what I want, whenever I want, however I want.”
We are called to be so much more! Our spiritual life must flow from the heart of Christ and his call to live the Gospel with both fervor and humility. Humility does not mean thinking less of ourselves: it means thinking of ourselves less. It means making our relationship with Jesus the heart and center of our lives. Whether in the intimate expression of our human sexuality–rooted in the life-long covenant between a husband and a wife–or whether in the intimate expression of celibacy that anticipates the eternal wedding feast in heaven, God allows His children to participate in His creative, life-giving work. This is the Father’s gift to us: to allow us to love as He loves; to allow us to give ourselves to Him fully, completely, and freely just as Christ poured out his love for us fully, completely, and freely on the Cross.
Truth becomes real for us in the Eucharist. Mother Theresa of Calcutta once said, “We cannot separate our lives from the Eucharist . . . Jesus has made Himself the Bread of Life to give us life. Night and day, He is there. If you really want to grow in love, come back to the Eucharist, come back to that Adoration.” The reality of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, as Mother Teresa so beautifully reminds us, is at the heart and soul of what it means to be Catholic. The Eucharist is the principal source of strength and nourishment for our souls precisely because it is Christ himself whom we receive. The truth and power of the Eucharistic Christ–present at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and in Adoration–gives us the perseverance and fortitude to stand up to the convictions and truths of our faith: to be the disciples that Christ calls us to be. The Eucharist is not just important to evangelization: the Eucharist is evangelization!
The Eucharist exists to make us the Body of Christ, to make us the sacramental representation of Jesus Christ on earth. Our being changed into Christ is what the Eucharist is all about, and “because of this, the unity of the Church has a greater depth than any human union could ever hope to achieve . . . The Eucharist is the intimacy of the union of each person with the Lord” (Ratzinger, June 2002). Thus, it is in eating and drinking the body and blood of Christ that we truly become what we receive; and in receiving the Eucharistic Christ, we receive the grace that gives us the courage to say with Saint Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
Truth will come when we love the Lord our God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. Truth will come when we persistently open ourselves deeply to the truth of Christ’s Eucharistic Presence. Truth will come when we ask God to know and to do His will–to help me be that person who He created me to be, made in His image and likeness. In your prayers before the Blessed Sacrament, knock, seek, ask; converse with God just as you would with an intimate friend. Openly share with the Father of Mercy your sorrows and joys, your hopes and fears, your aspirations and dreams, for His love and His truth will never fail. When Truth does come, proclaim with great joy: “I love the Lord for He has heard the cry of my appeal; for He turned His ear to me in the day when I called Him” (Psalm 116:1-2). This is the peace that true freedom brings!
©2011 Aurem Cordis and Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers