This could be remembered as the year of the Blessed Sacrament
In a memorable speech to World Youth Day Pilgrims in 2011, Pope Benedict XVI compared the effects of the Eucharist to those of nuclear fission. Transubstantiation, Benedict suggested, is “meant to set off a process which transforms reality, a process leading ultimately to the transfiguration of the entire world, to the point where God will be all in all.”
In these dramatic words, Benedict was describing a sort of butterfly effect, whereby the conversion of the heart can have unimaginable effects on individual Catholics and their families and communities. If he was right, there could be no better news for the Church in England and Wales than a rise in Eucharistic devotion.
Is such a thing taking place? At least visibly, it seems so. September’s National Eucharistic Congress in Liverpool, Adoremus, is hoping to host 10,000 pilgrims. And that weekend will have an impact beyond the North-West: Catholics in Plymouth diocese who can’t face the five-hour drive will be able to attend events closer to home. On the same weekend (September 7-9), at the request of Bishop Mark O’Toole, every parish will have a Eucharistic procession.
Christ the King Church in central Plymouth, meanwhile, will be a venue for hours of Eucharistic Adoration over that weekend, and has also been designated as a permanent shrine of the Blessed Sacrament.
Another new shrine, meanwhile, was officially inaugurated on Sunday, the feast of Corpus Christi – at the London church of the same name. In his sermon, Cardinal Vincent Nichols praised the “extravagant beauty” of the recently renovated church, adding that extravagance was the right way to express love for the Blessed Sacrament. “That beauty will call people into this sanctuary, into this glimpse of heaven, and speak to their hearts with its message of eternal comfort and calm, in a world so often lacking in both,” the cardinal said.
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