Longing Like the Lord

March 4, 2024
Archdiocese of Baltimore

The Vatican began a new initiative this year in which they offer an hour of Eucharistic Adoration
in St. Peter’s Square every second Tuesday of the month on the steps in front of the towering
façade. The purpose of the time of prayer is to put the focus on the reality of Jesus in our midst
and to help pilgrims experience the reality that Christ continually dwells in the world through His
Church. Being a seminarian studying at the North American College, I can walk 10 minutes and
be in the center of St. Peter’s Square.

In October, I went for the first time to this celebration. One of the great things about this event
for a seminarian from the United States is that, in Rome, there is the opportunity to encounter
people from all over the world. On that night, I met a group of three German young people who
seemed to be in line but looked confused. I started to make my way around them and quickly
realized that they were interested in going to “the event.” They turned to me and one of the
young women asked me, “Are there tickets for this?” I responded, “The only ticket necessary for
this event is a heart open to prayer.” I think they were intrigued by this but more excited at the
sound of a free event in such an important place for art and culture.

As we walked up towards the altar, the priest was in the process of exposing the Blessed
Sacrament on the altar. I quickly noticed that this group of three Germans looked very confused.
I approached them and asked if they understood what was taking place and if they were
Catholic. The young man said “yes” while the two girls with him both said that they were
Protestant. I was moved to invite them to worship. I turned to them, feeling filled with the Lord’s
own longing for His children to come to Him, and said, pointing towards the Eucharist:
“That is Jesus right over there. He longs to share Himself with you. I promise you that indeed it
is Him there. This time of prayer will be for an hour, so find a seat and simply bring a heart
willing to receive the gift of Jesus giving Himself to you.”

My prayer during that Holy Hour focused on my insufficiencies and how I needed to surrender
those worries to the Lord who gives me everything in the Eucharist. Jesus answered those
prayers because after prayer, those three German young adults approached me again. The
young man, shaking my hand, said, “Thank you so much for helping us understand what was
going on.” I said, “You’re welcome” and the group of them just stood there for a moment, as
though they were seeking something more from me. However, the strange thing was that even
as they approached me, I could tell that they were not approaching me for my own sake, but
they were approaching me as a man who they believed to know Jesus Christ as an intimate
friend. They saw something in me that I was not seeing in myself.

These people were moved by the time of prayer but did not understand it. And so I found myself
in a position where I had to preach to them anew the kerygma. The kerygma is a fancy way of
saying, ‘the core message of the Gospel’ – the whole reason for all of Jesus’ ministry.
I began to explain that God had created the whole world out of a burning desire to share with
the world His goodness. So many times we fell short of that goodness and so in the fullness of
time, God sent Jesus Christ His Beloved Son – fully God and fully man – to be an image of
God’s desire for His people to be in union with Him. Therefore, we can trust that God is willing to
go to extreme limits to invite us into His joy. I finished by saying that union with God is what will
completely fill us – it is the only thing that truly will bring us happiness and that is why Jesus
gave us the Eucharist. It is a visible sign that Jesus Christ longs to be with us and to share
Himself fully with us.

I was absolutely certain of God’s love for me and these people in that moment. My
insufficiencies disappeared in surrendering myself to God’s own longing, which in a mysterious
way became my own longing – an invitation to peace and rest.

I do not know what happened in their hearts after our conversation. However, what I do know is
that God used that moment to reveal a certain reality of faith to me. The Eucharist is enough. It
is that gift in which God gives us everything we need. It is the absurdity of the perfect God
humbling Himself to be with us and calling us to Himself saying, “Come to me all you who labor
and are burdened and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).

He longs for us and we must ask ourselves if we long for Him and what is keeping us from
giving all as He does. That is one of the reflections that the Eucharistic Revival in the US should
engender in us.

Originally posted Oct. 20, 2023 at Aleteia. For full-length original post:

John is a seminarian at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. His home parish is St.
Mary’s in Hagerstown. Please pray for John.