PROVIDENCE – The sacrament of holy Communion is an intimate and powerful way to connect with Jesus Christ. It’s a message Father Edward J. Wilson of SS. Rose and Clements shared Saturday at a presentation at the Eucharistic Congress.
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Through receiving the Eucharist, the parish pastor explained to at least 100 guests that Catholics are able to dispel absences they encounter in their daily lives, as well as enrich the lives of others.
“There is absence in every human heart,” Father Wilson said. “But at every Mass we attend, our hearts are filled with Jesus Christ. When we are aware of it, that experience can be overwhelming.”
Despite a busy American culture that presents a great temptation to hurry time with prayer, Father Wilson said, it’s important to prolong that moment as long as possible. Mass is an opportunity to strengthen the bond with the Holy Spirit.
“The Mass is a love story – it’s a love song,” he said.
The Eucharist separates people from hatred and evil, and also removes venial sin every time it is received. He encouraged members of the assembly to think of their hearts as giant mansions, with rooms and doors, yearning to be opened to Jesus.
“Our Eucharist spiritually is all about pulling those doors open,” Father Wilson said, also noting the importance of Reconciliation, a great gift that further frees people of sin. “We want to invite Jesus to every experience of our lives – past, presence, and what’s yet to come.”
Other ways to fill the absences people experience is by uniting with the universal church. Bitterness among other parishes and cultures weakens individuals, as well as the church as a whole. Valuing and appreciating differences is healthy for the soul.
“We are one family,” he said. “So many absences happen when we start to compare ourselves. Everyone is unique and plays a unique and important role in God’s church. All of us are needed, and we need one another.”
Committing to the poor, whether they are hungry for food or spirituality, along with being filled with zeal to preach the Gospel, are essential to alleviating absence. Sharing that joy is key.
“We need to preach the Gospel and the Eucharist teaches us to do that,” Father Wilson said.
He also said it is important to live in the here and now, as opposed to dwelling on the past. Holding grudges or negativity only holds people back in life – and in faith.
“Forgiveness is so critical for the Eucharist,” said Father Wilson. “The Eucharist is all about forgiveness. Let go of the hurts that others have given to us and leave it for God to take care of.”
Most of all, said Father Wilson, believing in the promise of future glory plays a big role in dispelling absence. Resurrection is the end to all despair.
“We need this virtue – this virtue of hope,” Father Wilson said. “Hope is the rock solid certainty that Jesus will be true to His promise.”
Jennifer Hettrick, a freshman at Martyr Ecclesia College, as well as a parishioner at St. Philip in Greenville, believes in this promise. She said Father Wilson’s presentation reminded her of this fact.
“It really helped me to realize the importance of living with a Eucharistic-centered life in order to be a servant of God and to [help me] bring Christ to others,” she said.
Madge Thombs, a professor at Roger Williams University and president of the Serra Club, which promotes vocations in the diocese, also was touched by Father Wilson’s words. She enjoyed the “concrete way” he helped her understand methods to overcome absence via the Eucharist.
“It was really practical advice that made us think about what’s missing in our lives and how it can be filled with the Eucharistic presence of Jesus,” said Thombs, a parishioner at St. Teresa Church in Tiverton. “It was so wonderful.”
Mary Bonneville of St. Peter Church in Warwick agreed. She was inspired by Wilson’s passionate presentation.
“It was beautiful,” she said. “He’s passionate [and] you can sense his experience of the presence of Christ.”
The women also spoke of the benefits they received during the Year of Faith. Hettrick and Thombs said they earned more courage to defend the faith as often as possible.
“I really took a deep conviction of wanting to be more enthusiastic about sharing my faith, and not back down when people question me about it,” Hettrick said, while Thombs said, “often times as Catholics, we’re not comfortable doing that, and we really have to become more comfortable.
Bonneville summed it up by saying her faith in the Lord has deepened dramatically during the Year of Faith.
“For me, it’s been a year of growing in awareness of God’s limitless love,” she said. “He just desires to be with us. The faith journey is truly a love affair with our Creator.”