The Eucharist is the Key to Connection with Others
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life… so that you may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing this that our joy may be complete (1 John 1:1-4).
To glimpse the smallest part of the effects of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist on prison inmates; to be touched even slightly by the infinite love that He has for us sinners as He calls to us, sweats for us, bleeds for us, weeps for us, is pierced for us in the Eucharist; to be drawn into a Mystery so great and universal that it effects in me fellowship with people with whom I would otherwise have nothing in common and might even regard as enemies; I have glimpsed, touched, been drawn into this Mystery, and I want to share the Mystery of the Eucharist with you, that our joy may be complete.
In my college years, as I was falling in love with the Eucharist, I longed to witness a Eucharistic miracle happen on the altar. Today, I see wonders wrought by Our Lord in the Eucharist—though they may look ordinary to the normal eye—far beyond what I could have hoped. As a prison minister, I see people who dwell in darkness and death, who have caused unspeakable trauma to others and who have themselves been traumatized, begin to realize their worth and have a connection to Life, perhaps for the first time, when they are before Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. I see people who previously had no care for learning in school become philosophers when they hear that Communion is not just a representative symbol, but really is Jesus veiled under the species of bread and wine. I see enemies put down their quarrels and become brothers—some at least for a few brief moments and others for life. I see the conversion of sinners.
I work in an environment where almost every problem is too complex to truly solve. I see my brothers and sisters only once or twice a week for a couple of hours. I have to somehow respond to a person’s life crisis in a matter of seconds while I’m trying to get the altar moved and the presider’s chair set up. I see people struggling to stay clean; to leave behind their former life or their gang; to get their work to let them out so they can come to Mass; and I see people who avoid coming because they are too ashamed or too depressed or too overwhelmed to come to Mass, or who simply blow it off because they don’t care and are out doing their hustle.
I see people whose struggles with mental illness, the demonic or both are so deep that a human being cannot fathom it. In the end, I have one consolation and one thing to offer: The Eucharist. Without the Eucharist, I could not direct the prison ministry for the archdiocese. With it, I have more than I need to continue this ministry. The Eucharist is, and always will be, God’s solution to the world’s problems, because in it God gives us His very Self, the Creator and Redeemer of the world. Through the prison ministry the Lord has drawn me into a deeper relationship with Him in the Eucharist. Through the Eucharist the Lord has given me the ability to live the Gospel toward and with my incarcerated brothers and sisters.
I leave you with the maxim the Lord taught me through the Eucharist and prison ministry on how to relate to others through the Eucharist:
- Do you want to not judge someone for their sins? Make atonement to Jesus in the Eucharist. Console his Sacred Heart by an act of love for the sins committed in the world.
- Do you want to learn the mercy of God toward sinners? Make atonement to Jesus in the Console His Sacred Heart, which loves you so much, by an act of love, and He will show you what mercy is, first by pouring the blood and water from His side upon you.