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 | By FAITH Catholic Staff

The Eucharistic Congress

Remembering who we are as Catholics

FAITH Catholic engaged Eucharistic Congress speaker Katie Prejean McGrady to ask what she believes will be the impact of the congress on the life of the Church and how to carry that momentum going forward.

 

What impact do you believe the Eucharistic Congress, as the culmination of the Eucharistic Revival movement, will have on the life of the Church in the U.S.?

When I was in middle school, the National Catholic Youth Conference was held in Houston, just a couple hours from my hometown. My mom brought me, along with three charter buses full of teens from my hometown. Walking into the Astrodome, being surrounded by thousands of other young people who were there for the same reason I was — to celebrate our Catholic faith — was at once overwhelming and uplifting. Overwhelming in the sense that I don’t think I’d ever seen so many people in one single place. Uplifting because I knew we were there with a shared love of Jesus in the Eucharist.

My career has given me the chance to feel that sense of overwhelm and joy many times over the years, and whether I’m in the crowd participating or on a stage speaking, I’ve seen the great value in bringing together a large group and celebrating the same thing. You feel, in that space, a joy and an encouragement, knowing you aren’t alone. Because it’s so easy to feel isolated and alone in the living of our faith. At Mass on Sunday, we’re surrounded by like-minded believers, but then Monday through Saturday, as we live life (which is often busy and full), we can forget that faith that should ground us and be the source of all we do. So, this chance to gather in such large numbers, for a full five days, will be, I believe, a remarkable chance to feel less alone and remember who we are as Catholics: people rooted in a love of the Eucharist. 

I think the congress this summer will be not just a culmination of so much work with the Revival, but will actually be a launch pad — to not just chase the “high” of being with others, but to recognize that when we know we are not alone (because so many others believe what we believe and long to live a Catholic life to the full) we can live that faith more every day. I think that will be the fruit of this gathering in Indianapolis: to remember what it’s like to look around, see thousands of others who are just like you, and to know that you can live this love of the Eucharist more each day and that so many others are doing that too.

How can we, as Catholic communicators, continue the momentum of personal transformation and renewed devotion to the Eucharist from the congress?

Events can be just a “drop in the bucket.” The cool thing happened, now we all just move on with our lives. Continued conversion requires continued conversation, and Catholic communicators are the leaders of that conversation. Whether it’s stories of people who came to the congress, or the testimonies of attendees and speakers and event planners, it can be a chance to showcase the power of these five days. Sharing the various resources and ongoing formation that will continue long past the event in Indianapolis can be the launch pad for people to keep growing in their love of the Eucharist.

In what ways can Catholics prioritize the Eucharist in their lives and in their homes? 

When my grandfather died in March, my three-year-old daughter, Clare, kept asking me “where is Papa Gus?” And even though we kept saying “Papa is with Jesus now,” she wasn’t satisfied. Every time she’d say, “No, he’s in the ground at the cemetery.” She was being very literal in her understanding of where her great grandfather was. We buried him on Holy Saturday, and so on Easter Sunday morning, as we sat in the pew at Mass and listened to a homily about the empty tomb, I could tell Clare was getting confused. 

Sure enough, after Mass, Clare had questions. “If Papa Gus is in the ground, where is Jesus?” And after a few minutes of trying to explain to her that Jesus’ tomb is empty, but Papa Gus’ isn’t, she said, “But where is Jesus right now?” She was trying to equate the two. Papa Gus is in the cemetery in his tomb. We can go visit him there and feel him in our hearts. That’s what we’d explained, time and time again. But now, she wanted to know where she could go visit Jesus. I caught myself saying, “Baby, I don’t know where Jesus is.” And then it hit me. I do know where Jesus is. And so, I turned and pointed to the tabernacle, behind the altar, and said “Jesus is right there.”

Jesus is right there. He has an address. He is in the tabernacles of the world, waiting for us to just come and say hello. We forget that, so easily, because it’s become familiar. Jesus is there, always, and so it becomes less important as time goes on for us to be there. We, in a lot of ways, take it for granted that our Lord has made himself so small and accessible that we can go visit him in our churches. That we know where he can be found! 

This is how I think we bring a love of the Eucharist home — we make it a priority to go where Jesus has made himself available, and visible, to us. Whether it’s making a regular holy hour in Adoration or swinging by for a few minutes in front of the tabernacle in the midst of a busy day, taking time to go “where Jesus is right now” should become a familiar habit. 

Spending time preparing for Sunday Mass, by reading the readings and then discussing the homily, can make the hour in the pew something that has an impact long past leaving the parking lot. Taking time to go to daily Mass on occasion can remind our families that just a little bit of time given to the Lord can be multiplied tenfold. 

 

Katie Prejean McGrady 

is a speaker, award winning author and host of The Katie McGrady Show on the Catholic Channel on Sirius XM, as well as the host of the podcasts Ave Explores, Like a Mother, and Family Mass Prep on Hallow. Katie writes for LaCroix International and Blessed is She. She lives in Louisiana with her husband and daughters.