Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre called on members of the Hispanic and Latino communities — who filled St. Rita Church Sept. 3 — to keep the excitement and innocence of a child when it comes to attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist.
He celebrated the opening Mass for the IX Encuentro with the theme La Eucaristía: El Banquete por Excelencia (The Eucharist: The Banquet par Excellence). Participants spent the day listening to presentations and discussing the importance of the Eucharist.
The archbishop began his homily by drawing the congregation’s attention to the sixth chapter of the Book of Luke, where Jesus is questioned about the sabbath. For Catholics, he said, Sunday is the sabbath — a day set aside to rest as well as to worship God. People have gotten away from
the tradition of keeping the sabbath, he said.
“Sunday is a day for us to rejoice in our relationship with the living God and to come together as one family in faith to celebrate the Eucharist, which is the highest form of worship that we, as Catholics, undertake,” said Archbishop Fabre.
He shared a story about a child who was too young to attend Mass but still had the sense that his family was taking part in something special as they left each Sunday. The child would get upset when his parents left.
“If only we could keep that kind of innocence of a child with regard to participation in the Eucharist. The faith of a child who knew something was happening special and his family attended Sunday after Sunday and he longed to be a part of that,” said the archbishop.
“Do you, my brothers and sisters remember that longing? … That is the childlike innocence and childlike faith that should be at the very heart of us every time we approach the Eucharist,” he said.
The archbishop noted that the U.S. church recently launched the three-year Eucharistic Revival — a national initiative by the U.S. bishops to increase the understanding of the real presence in the Eucharist.
The initiative is meant to revive that childlike excitement for the Eucharist, he said, to “recapture the excitement of those children who, receiving first Communion, are just overjoyed that finally they can participate in the Eucharist and receive the Lord,” he said.
Archbishop Fabre thanked his listeners for their participation in the IX Encuentro, which he said provides time to examine, strengthen and embrace the “call to Eucharistic revival” and a “call to renewed Eucharistic faith.”
Eva Gonzalez, who serves as director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry, said this event was the office’s small contribution to the national initiative on the Eucharist.
“It’s in the Eucharist that we are strengthened, and nowadays some don’t believe in the real presence,” said Gonzalez during an interview. “It’s important to gather around the Eucharist table. It’s important for everyone to come together as individual families and as one big ecclesial family.”
Following the Mass, participants spent the day listening to presentations and taking part in small group discussions.
One of the presentations was delivered by Oscar Castellanos, who serves as director of parish renewal at Marian University in Indianapolis.
Castellanos spoke to young adults and families about the importance of the Sunday liturgy and how to overcome some of the obstacles that prevent them from taking the sacredness of Mass into the other six days of the week.
Home life, especially for families with children, can be chaotic, he said during an interview about his presentation.
“We might think of Mass as just one more thing on a schedule,” he said. “If we do not have a meaningful experience on Sunday we will not be able to replicate that during the week.”
He offered lessons from the celebration of Mass that are important to recreate in the home.
- The Mass is a meal. Families don’t enjoy meals anymore, he said. Mealtime is where families get to listen and share fellowship, where they cook together and clean the dishes together. It’s the only opportunity for kids to share their day.
- Promoting a sense of sacredness. We believe that the altar and tabernacle are holy places, he said. “In reality, the church tells us family life is sacred and our homes are domestic churches. Everything I do at home should be holy,” Castellanos said.
- Mission, ministry and love for and service to others. At home, “What are the chores? How do we manifest we love each other? If we’re not loving and serving each other at home, it’ll be difficult to practice it” elsewhere, he said.
- Listening. “How are we fostering an attitude of listening in our family? What are we doing in the week to make sure we’re listening?” he asked.