When God Walks into Our Presence, Everything Changes!

July 8, 2024

If there is one message that Jesus wants us to get as we read the Gospels, it is this: I am here for you always, in your presence, offering you my love. Your relationship with me is the one thing necessary (see Lk 10:42).

We see this when Jesus called Peter. Jesus said to him, “Leave all and follow me!” (see Mt 4:18–22). From that moment, everything in Peter’s life changed as he made his relationship with Jesus the most important thing in his life.

With Martha, anxious and fretful about the work of hospitality that had been left to her alone to extend to Jesus and his apostles, Jesus gently helped her to see that he was the only one truly necessary. He was the Life that fills all life. The joy that far outstrips all other happiness we can create for ourselves.

Pilgrims kneeling before the monstrance in the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage van
Pilgrims on the Serra Route – photo by M. Martinez

The One Thing Necessary

Sister Sophia Grace with the Franciscan Sisters, T.O.R., joined the Eucharistic Pilgrimage in Steubenville, Ohio, on Friday, June 21. That night, as her community had a time of praise and worship, they sang the song “When You Walk into the Room” by Bryan and Katie Torwalt. She reflected: “Jesus might not be walking through every street or even every state, but he is walking across our nation and he is bringing his light, and as he walks this light is fanning out behind him. We might not be able to see it right now, but grace is being poured out on our country as never before and hearts are being changed, healed, and reignited! And those who encounter Jesus or take part in the pilgrimage are hopefully witnessing that nothing matters more than to worship him.”

The excitement, the wonder of the Eucharistic Pilgrimage leads to this “one thing necessary.” Jimmy Velasco, a seminarian and Perpetual Pilgrim on the Serra Route, wants to tell people this: “Jesus waits for you and seeks you! Don’t be afraid to give yourself to the Lord and tell God everything. People are starting to rediscover the beauty of adoration and the desire for silence and stillness. Come to the Lord and don’t be afraid.”

Children, parents, elderly, and nuns walking in a Eucharistic procession wearing rain jackets and using umbrellas
Eucharistic procession on the Seton Route – photo by Edwin Lucero

Children Leading the Way

On June 29, the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama, received the Perpetual Pilgrims on the Juan Diego Route after a month on the road for a four-day silent retreat and a much-needed rest.

Shayla Elm was interviewed by EWTN during their retreat and shared how Jesus’ love had almost caught her by surprise in a true moment of grace. She recounted how, one day, she had watched a little girl get away from her parents and run up to the priests, deacon, and servers and, pointing to the monstrance, asked, “What is that?” The priest said, “That is Jesus.” “And I watched the little girl kiss her hand and then reach up to touch the monstrance. I had a front-row seat to this whole thing. And I said, ‘That is me. That little girl is me.’ I just started weeping.”

On the grounds of Saint Cecilia Convent, Motherhouse for the Nashville Dominicans, another child “led the way.” The pilgrims on the Juan Diego Route had gathered for Eucharistic adoration on the front lawn, where a large, white tent structure sheltered the area set aside as an outdoor sanctuary. Perhaps one of the most poignant images of the day occurred during the adoration time between Mass and the initiation of the procession. Our Lord was placed on the altar for adoration, and a little boy of about four began climbing the steps to the altar. Sister Ann Hyacinth was reflecting as she watched him and thought he was going to go all the way to the monstrance. Instead, the boy knelt on the top sanctuary step and had a very ardent conversation with Jesus. His father came up and offered his hand to his son. The boy finished his prayer and then went down the steps. How beautiful Jesus’ invitation, Sister Ann Hyacinth thought, that we become as little children (see Mt 18:3).

Pilgrims kneeling during Eucharistic adoration at a Marian grotto with a young boy in the foreground
Eucharistic adoration on the Marian Route – photo by Damian Chandla

A Life-Changing Relationship of Love

The Pilgrimage along the Serra Route arrived in Shenandoah, Iowa on June 25 and gathered for prayer in St. Mary’s Church. Father Innocent Montgomery, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal, spoke about the witness of the Perpetual Pilgrims: “These young people are in love with Jesus and as I continue to spend time with them, I am moved because they are a witness to what everyone should be. They’re living a Eucharistic life where everything is centered around Jesus in the Eucharist, Jesus truly present Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in a radical personal love for you. That’s why Jesus has stopped by St. Mary’s today. Jesus has a radical personal love for each and every one of you and he wants to live in a personal relationship with you.”

Sister Sophia Grace, T.O.R., was with a handful of sisters on June 23 at the Steubenville Marina. The Eucharistic pilgrimage was going to continue down the Ohio River, blessing pilgrims waiting at four different spots along the way to Wheeling, WV. “I knelt there watching the Blessed Sacrament being walked onto the boat. As the boat pulled away and was in the middle of the river it stopped, a bell rang, and the bishop blessed us with the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus was a short distance from shore and was blessing us with his presence. Then, before we knew it, the boat was around the bend and out of sight. Jesus was continuing to the next town to bring his saving presence to the people there, and we walked back to our vehicles to continue our day, but we were leaving changed, whether we recognized it or not, because when God walks into our presence, everything changes!

Header photo by Damian Chlanda

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