COLBERT: Youth hunger for the Eucharist
April 12, 2022
(Photo by James Ramos/Herald)
“If we get in front of the sun, we get a suntan, but when we get in front of Jesus in the Eucharist, we become saints.”
These words from Blessed Carlo Acutis are quite applicable to youth ministry today. Over the last decade or so, there has been a renewed interest in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in many youth ministry programs. It is now commonplace at most retreats and conferences for young people today.
We live in a very busy and very noisy world. Helping the young Church to encounter the Risen Lord in the Eucharist provides them with the nourishment they need to live as disciples in the world. In the Vatican II document, Lumen Gentium, we are instructed that “Taking part in the Eucharistic sacrifice, which is the fount and apex of the whole Christian life, they offer the Divine Victim to God, and offer themselves along with it.
Thus, both by reason of the offering and through Holy Communion, all take part in this liturgical service… Strengthened in Holy Communion by the Body of Christ, they then manifest in a concrete way that unity of the people of God.” Therefore, primacy is given to the celebration of the Mass and the reception of Holy Communion. For too many young people, their experience of Mass is often defined as boring. I’m convinced that if we do three things that we can turn that attitude around.
First, ongoing catechesis on the meaning of full, conscious and active participation in the Liturgy. Second, make a concerted effort to connect the experience of the real presence at Eucharistic Exposition to the altar at Mass. When young people are more excited about adoring the Risen Lord in the monstrance than receiving Him, body, blood, soul and divinity, in Holy Communion, we have missed the boat. Third, it is important to ensure that Sunday Mass is youth-friendly. What constitutes a youth-friendly Mass?
Nothing more than what should occur at every Mass.
- Be welcoming.
- Exceptional music that is appropriate to the various movements in the Mass.
- A homily that includes them.
- Reverent but not “stuffy.”
- Including properly trained young people in the regular schedules of lectors and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (following Archdiocesan guidelines).
Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, then, is an extension of the Sacred Liturgy.
This happens in two ways:
Eucharistic Adoration is silent private prayer before the Blessed Sacrament housed within the tabernacle… Eucharistic Exposition is the public liturgical ritual whereby the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in the monstrance or ciborium for the veneration of the faithful. By its nature as a liturgical ritual, Eucharistic Exposition consists of the liturgical rites of Exposition, Adoration, Benediction and Reposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The period of Adoration includes songs, prayers and readings to mark the time and to help direct the attention of the faithful. Suitable periods of silence are also required.
A homily or reflection is also appropriate. (Office of Worship, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston)
In my experience, Eucharistic Adoration is rarely included in the faith formation of adolescents. I believe this is a missed opportunity. Developing this practice in young people will serve them well as they leave our programs and enter adulthood. It is important that our young people leave us knowing how to pray on their own. Eucharistic Adoration will be readily available to them, whereas, for most, Eucharistic Exposition, will not. Learning to be with the Lord in silence is a great gift to our youth.
Our young people are hungry for the Eucharist. We are called to provide both excellence in their encounters with the Eucharistic Lord as well as fidelity to the rubrics. In that way, like Blessed Carlo Acutis, they can proclaim, “The Eucharist is my highway to heaven.”
Timothy Colbert is the director of the Office of Adolescent Catechesis and Evangelization.
Teen Talk: Why is the Eucharist important to you?
“The Eucharist is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. The Eucharist is so instrumental in our lives. Without the graces we get from Him weekly, we would be lost. Sometimes the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is overlooked.”
– Andrew, Mary Queen (Friendswood)
“The Eucharist is our Savior, Jesus Christ. I used to take the Sacrament for granted, but after going to AYC, I realized His importance. I realized that I used to see the Eucharist and just say: ‘Yeah, that’s Jesus.’ without even thinking. But that’s literally Jesus! That’s our Savior who was crucified for us! I have a whole different perspective on it now. I thank God for opening my eyes and helping me to see Him in everything…”
– Michael, Sts. Simon & Jude (The Woodlands)