Pope Francis, in his recent homily on the Solemnity of the Epiphany, mentions the crisis of faith in our lives and in society at large has something to do with the eclipse of desire for God. We need to recover our desire for adoration, for being in the presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Pope Francis reminds us: “At the end of the Magi’s journey came the climactic moment: once they arrived at their destination, “they fell down and worshiped the Child” (cf. v. 11). They worshiped. Let us never forget this: the journey of faith finds renewed strength and fulfilment only when it is made in the presence of God. Only if we recover our “taste” for adoration will our desire be rekindled…For our desire for God can only grow when we place ourselves in his presence…We should not neglect adoration, that prayer of silent adoration which is not so common among us.” (Homily, 6 January 2022)
The Bishops in the United States in their recent document, “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church”, are calling on American Catholics to reawaken their Eucharistic faith, by entering more deeply with faith and love into the mystery of the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, the Church’s most precious treasure. The document ends with a beautiful exhortation: “Brothers and sisters, let us thirst for the Lord who first suffered thirst for us (Jn 19:28). Let us adore Jesus who ever remains with us, on all the altars of the world, and lead others to share in our joy!”
Eucharistic adoration and participation in the sacraments are sure ways to grow in holiness, as stated in the Encyclical of Saint Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei: “how worthwhile it is to carry on a conversation with Christ, for there is nothing more consoling here on earth, nothing more efficacious for progress along the paths of holiness.”
The Ordinary of the Sacramento Diocese, Most Reverend Bishop Jaime Soto, in April 2021 also emphasizes this in a pastoral letter, Call to Holiness: “As the Church and the World struggle to emerge from the dismal cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic, Christ awakens us to our baptismal dignity. We are to be the salt of the earth and light of the world, reflecting the holiness of Christ…We are transformed by the sacraments of Christ into the Lord’s sacramental presence in society. In this sense, to be holy is to be Christ’s sacrament in the world, to be a sign and an instrument of Christ for others, to be the salt that revives the saddened soul and the light that awakens a weary world.”
The lives of the saints show us the importance of the Eucharist in their lives. Venerable Bishop Alphonse Gallegos, Augustinian Recollect, former auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento, California, is no exception.
It is probably not by chance that Bishop Gallegos served in the Diocese of Sacramento, where he loved to adore Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, Santísimo Sacramento. Gallegos would often say upon returning from his travels to Sacramento, “I am glad to be back home in Sacramento, my little piece of heaven, ‘El Santísimo Sacramento, mi pedacito de cielo’.”
Gallegos was a Eucharistic man; he celebrated Mass with great reverence and inspired others to want to be with Christ, in the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist was his hidden treasure: Gallegos spent hours before the Blessed Sacrament daily, rising early to converse with Christ, beginning his day with a renewed desire for God and to strive for holiness. He did this by “being the Lord’s sacramental presence in society, being an instrument of Christ for others, salt that revived the saddened soul, a light that awakened the weary,” but most of all bringing joy and hope to others, as testified by the witnesses for his cause of canonization.
May we grow in our faith and love for the Holy Eucharist and our desire to be holy. As the Servant of God, Fr. Jenaro Fernandez, Augustinian Recollect, would say: “If I am not holy, what do I want my life for?”