Herald of Hope

If you travel on the streets of our roadways, or walk within the malls of our shopping centers, you will be confronted by all sorts of people who will identify themselves as associated with their favorite sports team, their colleges, high schools, their military service or a slogan they will promote or agree with. The signs, symbols or words will be on their sweaters, jackets, shirts or their hats. They are proud of their relationship. They want the public to know of their support. At different times during the year, these fans and supporters will show up at pep rallies. They will march in parades. All to demonstrate their solidarity and a show of allegiance.

There are very few moments in our lifetime when we are given the opportunity to show and demonstrate our relationship with our faith. We are all called to be evangelizers, to bring others to know Christ and his Church. However, many of our most cherished signs have been coopted by secular society. I have viewed rock stars and popular figures wearing the cross. Unfortunately, the life that they publicly lead has little or nothing to do with the great sacrificial love of Jesus. I have even seen individuals make a sign of the cross as a joking gesture, failing to realize that the Sign of the Cross is a prayer to the Trinity (don’t joke with the Almighty). Swearing on the Bible no longer carries the understanding that there is a higher accountability if one lies. So what? You may escape the court but never God.

I have often said that in this day and age, we need to be intentional Catholics. What we took for granted in past generations is no longer a given. I would even offer within some Catholic homes we no longer see prominently displayed a crucifix, statues or religious paintings. These depictions do not assure that individuals are living the faith, but these signs and symbols do confront the viewers with the spiritual that is often ignored in our modern world.

Most families are very proud of their heritage. They will search their ancestry. They will often recount stories of family members or of events that occurred. They will celebrate their unity at gatherings, engaged in foods that are favorite family recipes. A family appreciates their connection and are joined together by a common bloodline.

One of my priorities over the last 14 years has been Catholic identity. It is more important than ever to know one’s faith. It connects us to the great mysteries that we celebrate as a people of faith. This understanding of the faith assists us in our responsibility and the necessity of our evangelization to help others know Jesus and his Church.

We are the family of the Church. Every Sunday, we celebrate the greatest single act of love, the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. For 2,000 years, the assembly was made one through the waters of Baptism and they gathered together to listen to the presentation of the history of salvation and to receive the food for our journey through life. As a family, we do have a common bloodline — it is the blood which was shed on the cross for our salvation.

St. John the Evangelist, the patron of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, boldly presented the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. (John 6:56-57) “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.”

It is disturbing that some Catholics claim that they do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1324) instructs us: “The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself our Pasch.” From the Council of Trent: In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist “the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ and therefore the whole Christ is truly, really and substantially contained.”

Belief in the “Real Presence” is essential to our identity as Catholics. Perhaps we have taken for granted this great mystery, or some may have had a nonchalant attitude toward the sacrament. Whatever the reason, we need to capture the reverence and understanding of the significance of this great mystery.

We have an opportunity to demonstrate our allegiance to the Real Presence in the Eucharist. There are very few opportunities to publicly witness our faith, to claim our Catholicism. An opportunity is given to us at the 9 a.m. Mass Sunday, June 23, at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. After Mass, we will have a big Source and Summit National Eucharistic Procession to bring our Catholic faith for all to see. It will be about seven miles in duration and end at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary, where we will participate in Adoration, prayer and light refreshments. You can walk the entire journey or join us along the way or be present for any part of the journey.

Consider this an invite to walk with Jesus. I will be proud to witness with you our Catholic faith and join you my brothers and sisters in challenging our community to recognize the Lord’s presence in the Eucharist.

I hope to see you June 23.


Get all the details on ways to take part in the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage procession in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and register here.

You also can find details in our Catholic Herald overview story and in our story about the Source and Summit Mass and Procession on Sunday, June 23, from our June 13 issue.