The year was 1980, and I was so excited because the movie “Superman II” had been released. I had already seen the first Superman movie and was completely invested in the character, story and the idea of being able to fly. After watching the second movie, I remember thinking even more intently about how great it would be to fly like Superman. Somehow, I convinced myself that if I really believed, I could fly as well.
One Saturday, I made the decision that not only was I going to fly, but I would gather my friends to bear witness to this amazing event. My buddies were huddled in my driveway and my “runway” was the little strip of land that separated our driveway from our neighbor’s driveway. I walked to the back of our yard and visualized my flight plan, which was to run as fast as I could toward the street and then, when I reached the curb at full speed, leap headfirst into the air with my arms straight out.
I knew the first “in-flight” task that I would need to accomplish was to pull up before I hit the house across the street. I then planned to do a few circles around the neighborhood and land at the feet of my awestruck audience. Every part of my plan went perfectly until right after the leaping headfirst step. I did jump headfirst with my arms straight out, and I did fly for probably just under a second. It was then that gravity, my arch-nemesis, attacked me! Not only did I hit the street, but, apparently, I had enough speed during takeoff that I skidded across the street. I still wonder whether the humiliation or the road rash was more painful.
I share this story with you because it is the one time in my life that I had absolute faith in something. Looking back, I wish I could have that same unwavering faith in my relationship with God. Over the years, I have reflected on this and concluded that the reason I did not have that total faith in God then is that I could not see Him. But this is not true!
In 1998, when I entered the Catholic Church, I said, “I believe in the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist.” This statement begs me to ask these questions of myself:
- • Do I really believe this, or am I just saying it because I am supposed to say it?
- • If I truly believe it, how reverent do I receive Him in the Eucharist?
- • If I truly believe it, then why am I not going to Mass and spending time in adoration every chance I get?
- • If I truly believe it, wouldn’t I understand that He is the answer to everything?
Are these questions the same questions that you have asked yourself or are currently asking yourself? These questions led our diocese to host a eucharistic rally called “the ANSWER” on June 7, 2024, at the La Crosse Center in La Crosse.
“the ANSWER” Eucharistic Rally
The rally will start with a eucharistic procession as our diocese meets the Diocese of Winona-Rochester on the Cameron Street bridge, situated on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Our procession will continue into downtown La Crosse and arrive at the La Crosse Center for a full day of discovering and embracing the gift of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
On the day of the rally, there will be various activities such as Mass, adoration, confession, vendor and exhibitor displays, music and talks from engaging speakers, including Chris Stefanik and Immaculée Ilibagiza. We expect to host more than 3,000 attendees, including youth, young adults, adults, families and faithful from the Diocese of La Crosse and beyond. Our “the ANSWER” rally is gaining national attention and is definitely worth attending. In fact, other dioceses are planning to join us for “the ANSWER.” Will you join us?
Think about it: Throughout your entire life, you have been searching for answers to the meaning of life, your purpose, your dreams and your difficulties. Fortunately, we have been given the answer to all of these questions. This eucharistic rally will provide you with an opportunity to connect with Jesus, who is the answer, on a deeper level. During the early registration period, which runs from Dec. 15, 2023, to Feb. 29, 2024, the cost is only $15 per person. After Feb. 29, the cost will increase to $20 per person. You can register and pay online, and if you want to gather a group of more than 10 people, you can download the group registration form, complete it and mail it back to us with a check for the number of tickets you require. You can check with your parish to see if they’re already organizing buses. For more information and registration links, please visit https://diolc.org/the-answer/.
The Marian Route
The eucharistic rally kicks off the six-day National Eucharistic Pilgrimage that will travel across the Diocese of La Crosse as part of the Marian Route. The Marian Route is the northern branch of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, beginning in Lake Itasca, Minn., on May 17, 2024. Pilgrims will arrive in the Diocese of La Crosse on Friday, June 7, 2024, for the eucharistic procession to the La Crosse Center and “the ANSWER” eucharistic rally.
For the next five days, pilgrims will walk the procession route across the diocese with stops in Sparta, Wisconsin Rapids, Hewitt, Marshfield, Colby, Abbotsford and Wausau. At these locations, there will be opportunities to attend daily Mass, eucharistic adoration, other inspirational speakers and exhibits, drawing closer to our Lord. You can find more information about the entire six days the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage will be in the Diocese of La Crosse by visiting https://diolc.org/pilgrimage/.
I had a conversation with Maria Benes, who is the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage project lead for the Marian and Serra Routes. She explained why the Diocese of La Crosse is attracting attention for its work. Because one of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage’s goals is to create encounters with Christ, our diocese has been intentionally engaging all age groups, the Hispanic community and the Hmong community to have the pilgrimage be as broadly attended as possible. During the pilgrimage stops, our diocese is highlighting individuals, such as Father Joseph Walijewski, Sister Thea Bowman and Blessed Brother James Miller, who are on the path to sainthood.
Whether you are questioning your belief in and understanding of the Eucharist or if it is the source and summit of your life and faith, this event is for you. The truth is, no matter where you are in your faith journey, the Eucharist is a gift to all. Therefore, this event is open for everyone to participate and experience the joy of this divine gift.
Think about it: Throughout your entire life, you have been searching for answers to the meaning of life, your purpose, your dreams and your difficulties. Fortunately, we have been given the answer to all of these questions.
Registration is open for “the ANSWER” at: diolc.org/the-answer
Director of the Office for Family Life
Published in the January/February 2024 issue of Catholic Life Magazine