Time For a Change

Going to Mass as a kid and a teenager, I definitely did not always think that the Eucharist was literally Jesus. I didn’t think it was a symbol, but I didn’t realize that the Eucharistic wasn’t someTHING, but someONE. It was a bit like my relationship with God. I knew that God existed, and that he made me, and I might have even known that God loved me, but I didn’t think he was important in my life.  And while I went to Mass with my family when I was a kid, and even altar served, my first step toward knowing more about God came when I went to different youth events at my church. It was good to be accepted and cared for, and I went on a few Catholic retreats as a result.

Then I was invited to a Catholic Youth Conference in the US called Steubenville, and I decided, pretty casually, that I’d go. I didn’t think much of it at the time. One of the big events at the conference was time of Eucharistic Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. I had gone to Adoration before, when I was preparing to get confirmed, but it wasn’t a big deal to me. At least, it wasn’t as big a deal to me as some of the other people at the conference, who were really excited for Adoration for reasons I couldn’t figure out.

The conference was different from anything I had experienced before. It was mostly outside, in big tents on the grounds of a beautiful Marian shrine in Massachusetts. There were a number of talks given by lots of young, faithful, and excited people. Before Adoration began, there was a talk about Christ’s love for us, and how He showed it to us on the cross. It spoke to me in a very clear way, and  it prepared me to encounter Jesus.I had been to Adoration before this, but nothing had changed or happened. I mostly just sat there, and knelt at times too. This time, in a big tent with 3,000 other people, it was different, but not just in a size way. As the priest was processing through the tent, I looked at the monstrance, and thought about Jesus’ sacrifice and love. While I was looking and praying, I had a deep sense of God’s personal love for me, specifically. I compare it to a radio with a dial on it, when you’re looking for a station. You hear a lot of static, but if you come across a radio station, music can come out so clearly, and suddenly. Before, I hadn’t heard anything clearly, but when I opened my heart up to Christ, I suddenly got a deep sense of His love, and it was amazing. I still remember it, over 7 years later. After I left the tent, I remember walking around the grounds of the shrine at night and just being so overjoyed by Jesus’ love for me, something I hadn’t experience in that way before.

God’s True Presence in the Eucharist changed who I was, through my encounter with Him. I stayed involved in the Church throughout high school and university. God even took me from Nova Scotia to Saskatoon! When I look back on my life, I am able to confidently say that the evening that I knelt in front of Jesus present in the Eucharist, my life changed direction, steering me closer to God, and closer to the life he wanted for me.

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