Planting Seeds of Personal Encounter

This article was posted on: May 1, 2024

I, like most people, can spend an hour looking at my phone screen without a second thought, but then find myself struggling to look upon our Lord for an extended period.

A Seminarian’s Perspective

“It’s hard to look upon the Eucharist!” This is a phrase that one of my friends exclaimed several years ago as he was growing in devotion to our Lord and His presence in the most holy Eucharist. At first, his observation seemed like an odd sentiment to me, but upon further reflection, I have come to understand he was absolutely correct.

I, like most people, can spend an hour looking at my phone screen without a second thought, but then find myself struggling to look upon our Lord for an extended period. So often we find it easy to spend time texting or Snapchatting with friends but impossible to converse with our Lord while gazing upon His presence elevated in the monstrance before us. Even a mere 30 minutes of eucharistic adoration can seem daunting and difficult, but, as I have learned, with most things in life that are worth doing, some difficulty will be experienced.

Eucharistic Adoration Prepares a Man for Priesthood 

As a seminarian, I am called to be configured to Christ in a unique way. This configuring of a man’s heart into that of Christ comes through various aspects of life, but I would argue it chiefly comes from time spent in front of our Lord; Him gazing upon me and me upon Him in eucharistic adoration. To nurture his vocation, a seminarian spends many holy hours in eucharistic adoration before Our Lord so that his heart may be gradually conformed to the pierced heart of Christ.

I should also note, that it was hours spent in adoration before seminary that made it possible to even begin embracing this countercultural call from our Lord. For instance, a year ago someone asked a gathering of seminarians, “What is the common thread behind your vocations?” At first, this question seemed laughable to me, yet as we discussed our vocational call stories, one by one, we all mentioned the importance of not only prayer but, specifically, eucharistic adoration. Hours of adoration in which we had learned, “It’s hard to look upon the Eucharist!”

While gazing upon our Lord in a quiet chapel may be difficult, it is the place where seeds of vocation are planted and nourished. What an opportunity and joy it is to bring Jesus forth from the confines of quiet chapels to the people in the world in jubilant procession across our country during this National Eucharistic Revival while we proclaim, “Jesus Christ is Lord!” (Phil 2:11)

We Proclaim Christ is Lord and He is Alive 

While these words, “Jesus Christ is Lord!” echo from the lips of every religious, priest and seminarian on Saturday night during vespers, ultimately, all Christians and Christian families are called to allow these words to resound throughout our lives, words and deeds so that others may see, to the glory of God the Father, “Jesus Christ is Lord!”

This is our universal call to holiness, and these same words echoed in the lives of the saints, who conformed their hearts to that of Christ. For example, Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, a Mexican martyr during the Cristero War of 1926 to 1929, died proclaiming the resounding battle cry against an anti-Catholic, anti-clerical state in Mexico as he exclaimed, ¡Viva, Cristo Rey! “Long live Christ the King!” This cry still echoes today against the culture that says we have passed the age of Christianity. This is something I witnessed during the SEEK 2024 conference. As the Eucharist was carried in procession through an arena of 24,000 young adults, those present spontaneously took up Blessed Miguel’s battle cry, ¡Viva, Cristo Rey! “Long live Christ the King!” Exclaiming that we, too, understand Jesus is with us in the Eucharist, that our Lord and King is alive, and that Christ is not dead! In that moment, those of us present understood that when we confess with our lips and our lives that Jesus Christ is Lord and King, we not only experience the “glorious freedom of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21) but also share it with others.

We Walk and Sow with Christ 

During this summer, as part of the National Eucharistic Revival, there will be a procession that passes through our diocese. We will follow behind our Lord to Indianapolis, whether we are physically present or present in spirit, we will exclaim with our mouths and with our lives, “Jesus Christ is Lord!” and ¡Viva, Cristo Rey! At times, this proclamation will be to receptive onlookers and, at other times, to jeers. We may experience Christ’s jubilant entry into Jerusalem or His final steps to Calvary.

Some from other Christian denominations will look on and see only a piece of bread and believe us to be idolaters. Many nones (non-believers), if they observe the processions, will only see what they deem to be a medieval and absurd spectacle of religious fanaticism. For the many people unfamiliar with the truth that Jesus humbles Himself, becoming fully present, (body, blood, soul and divinity), in the eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass, and remains present for us to offer glory and praise to Him through adoration, they too will find “It’s hard to look upon the Eucharist!” But for many within the Church, and those God has prepared to receive the seed of Faith, a seed of personal encounter will be planted—and this is hopeful.

With each footstep across the country, gazing upon our Lord, we Catholics will be a living profession of faith to others. We know following the Lord will inevitably result in experiencing some difficulty, after all, our Lord tells us we must pick up our cross to follow Him (Mt. 16:24), as our hearts are conformed to our Lord’s heart, even the difficulties we experience may be joyfully endured for the sake of our Lord whom we love above all else. It is with this joy, which springs forth from Christian charity, that we will embrace the onlookers and recognize it is with each footstep in procession, each encounter on the path, each hymn of praise to our Lord, that we plant a seed in the soil. As Jesus tells us in Matthew 13, in some places, this soil will be the hard-packed soil of the path; in other places, the ground will be rocky, but in many places, we will be planting seeds in fertile soil.

Ultimately, this National Eucharistic Revival is a moment of hope for the Church in America. Holy Mother Church has given us an opportunity and a command. An opportunity to plant seeds for future growth and the command to tend the present garden and the garden we plant today. We are called to do this by doing what we ought to do as Catholics, nurturing our spiritual life through the sacraments so we can reach out to others.

Seeds Planted Must Continue to be Nourished 

Therefore, we must be prepared to continue nourishing the planted seeds that this National Eucharistic Revival brings to our land. We must return to our home diocese and parishes revived—enlivened and connected to the vine of Church. We must be ready to embrace the difficult work of tending the garden: to continue to tend the seeds of personal encounter, so they spring forth into a fruitful harvest of male and female vocations within the church; to nourish the growth that springs forth in humility and obedience to Christ present in and through His church; to nurture occasions of liturgical prayer and eucharistic adoration which bring forth personal faith; and to wait patiently, firmly professing, “Jesus Christ is Lord!” and ¡Viva, Cristo Rey! “Long live Christ the King!” as we personally discover, “It’s hard to look upon the Eucharist!”

Story by Joseph Glatczak, Seminarian for the Diocese of La Crosse
Published in the May/June 2024 issue of Catholic Life Magazine

To Top