SACRAMENTO, Calif. — June 17 is the feast of Corpus Christi — when Catholics celebrate their belief that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist, the consecrated Host distributed at communion, kept in tabernacles and displayed in monstrances.
But the Eucharist attracting a lot of visitors year-round.
Dominican Father Robert Goedert knows. He's priest promoter for Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration International, a lay group located in La Habra, Calif. He told the Register that adoration has “definitely” increased in recent years in the United States.
And he explained that “last year was extremely busy.”
The trend is not limited to any area, but is nationwide, he said. From Baton Rouge, La., to Portland, Ore., Father Goedert has made the rounds helping parish priests and parishioners to set up perpetual adoration, often signing up hundreds of parishioners at each church he visits.
After the Second Vatican Council, Father Goedert explained, there was a tendency to say that “anything before Vatican II was wrong and old,” but he says: “It was the lay people who brought it back.”
And the support of John Paul II certainly helped.
Father Goedert cited the Pope's repeated statements on the importance of adoration, and especially those at the Eucharistic Congress in Seville, Spain, in 1993. The Holy Father said: “I hope that the fruit of this congress results in the establishment of perpetual eucharistic adoration in all parishes and Christian communities throughout the world.”
Where people have heeded the message, the results have been phenomenal.
Some priests worry that “it's something else that they are going to start that's going to fail,” said Father Goedert, but he emphasized that it will work “if you've got people committed.”
One example of the remarkable success of eucharistic adoration is the Parish of Sts. Peter and Paul near Denver, where Father Goedert says the pastor told him that since beginning eucharistic adoration, “Sunday and weekday Mass attendance has doubled, and the collections have tripled.”
Even in Las Vegas, hardly the first place one would think to look for this sort of thing, Father Goedert says that adoration saved St. Bridget's Parish.
“A priest was sent to close the church down,” recalled Father Goedert, but he says, the priest started eucharistic adoration at the parish, “and five years later he was building a new church there.”
Father Goedert has no shortage of stories about such miraculous happenings, from those who convert to the faith because of eucharistic adoration, to those who find solace in the midst of a crisis. And because of people's diverse schedules, Father Goedert strongly recommends that parishes implement perpetual adoration, since the majority of people are unavailable during the day.
One of the most incredible things, he says, is that Eucharistic adoration draws in everyone, from college students at University of California at Davis or Oregon State University, to the elderly, to young married couples who make the time to visit Christ every week at 1 in the morning.
And two late weeknight trips to adoration chapels, one in Alhambra, Calif., near Los Angeles, the other in Santa Clara, Calif., near San Francisco, bear this out.
In the former instance, a half dozen people, many under 30 years old prayed quietly before the Eucharist; in the latter instance, there were over a dozen people with all age groups represented.
That young people are drawn to the Eucharist is no surprise to Patrick Tapia, 25, who works with Life Teen, a Catholic youth group at San Gabriel Mission in San Gabriel, Calif.
He said adoration is important both to himself and to the teens he mentors. “[Eucharistic adoration] allows me to commune directly with Jesus, since I am literally in the presence of his body,” he explained.
As for the teens who attend adoration, the results are spectacular, said Tapia.
“I have seen teens transformed by it,” he said, remembering that at one retreat a particularly disruptive teen-ager underwent a “transformation [that] was startling.” This young man “was in tears as he prayed before the Eucharist. He perceived that he was really letting Christ into his life. And today,” Tapia noted, “he is still an active participant in the Life Teen ministry.”