Baltimore, Md., Nov 15, 2022 / 14:42 pm (CNA).
The outgoing president of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference stressed the importance of the Eucharist — Christ’s body, blood, soul, and divinity present under the appearances of bread and wine — during the spiritual trials of today.
“What holds us together, what makes us one, is the Eucharist,” Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles said Tuesday while addressing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) fall general assembly in Baltimore.
He recognized the importance of the bishops’ Eucharistic Revival, which encourages a relationship with Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
“The Eucharist is the mystery of our Creator’s love, the mystery of his desire to share his divine life in tender friendship with each of us,” he said. “So, let’s open the doors in all our churches, and let’s invite our people back, to come and see how much Jesus loves them.”
He delivered his presidential address minutes before the bishops elected a new president, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, and vice president, Archbishop William E. Lori, to lead the USCCB. Their three-year terms will begin at the conclusion of the general assembly on Thursday.
In his remarks before stepping down as president, Gomez stressed that “it’s been a privilege to serve this conference and the family of God in our country.”
He went on to identify the “challenge of ministering in this moment” as maintaining perspective.
“We live in a noisy, distracted media culture,” he emphasized. “And our society has moved hard and fast toward an uncompromising secularism; traditional norms and values are being tested like never before.”
Citing Pope Francis, he added: “The trials of this age are spiritual. There’s a struggle going on for the human heart.”
This age is an apostolic moment, a new opening for the Gospel, and an invitation to a deeper conversion, he said.
“All of us are being called to step up and to open every door for Jesus Christ, to shine his light into every area of our culture and society; to bring every heart to a new encounter with the living God,” he said.
The Catholic bishops’ role here, he added, is crucial.
“It is not inevitable that our country will fall into secularism,” he urged. “The vast majority of our neighbors still believe in God.”
Citing Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement, he also said that today’s challenges are not new.
“Now more than ever, the Church needs a bold pastoral strategy to communicate the Gospel, to use every media platform to turn hearts and minds toward Christ, to call our people to be great saints,” he said.
“Holiness has always been the hidden force in human history,” he added. “The kingdom grows through men and women who are passionately loving the world, as God so loved the world.”
Gomez called for raising a new generation of saints, or “holy men and women in every area of American life.”
Citing another Servant of God, Sister Thea Bowman, he said that this moment is “about remembering that we’re in this together, that we belong to God, and that we’re all called to be saints. It’s about each one of us doing what God is calling us to do to build his kingdom.”
He concluded by citing the Venerable Frederic Baraga, the first bishop of what is now the Diocese of Marquette, Michigan. His words, engraved in one of the chapels in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., read: “This is all I desire, to be where God wants me to be.”
Gomez added: “Brothers, let us have only that desire — to be where God wants us to be, and to do what God is calling us to do.”
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