Jesus Showed Me the Way – A Revival Story

Jesus Showed Me the Way

February 16, 2023

Growing up in a large Catholic family, the story of Jesus’ birth was always an integral part of our family’s many traditions. I vividly recall the story of young Mary and Joseph journeying by donkey to the town of Joseph’s ancestors, only to be sent on their way because “there was no room at the inn.” A bit later in their saga, the Holy Family found themselves once again on the road, cradling their young son, whose life was being threatened by King Herod and the Roman occupation forces. This time, they fled not to a distant city, but to a completely different country, seeking shelter and safety in Egypt.

The story of the wandering, homeless Holy Family became such a part of our many Christmas traditions that it lost its heartbreaking poignancy for much of my childhood. In fact, I wonder if as a child I was ever able to truly grasp the harsh reality of that seemingly sweet and sentimental Christmas story.

Yet, I was drawn in by the joy. That joy was confirmed by the witness of the military chaplain who celebrated Mass every Sunday. This priest was so full of the joy of the Lord, his witness of joy celebrating the Mass drew me into my own faith as a young girl. As I entered my teen years, I had such a strong love for Jesus that I tried to attend Mass even daily. Yet, there came a moment when my faith was shaken, and I began to struggle along a path that led me away from my home in the Church.

‍Learning to Trust

At the age of nineteen, as an unwed mother, I was pregnant with my first child. The Jesus story took on a new meaning. I often thought of Mary and her own teenage pregnancy: she was betrothed but not married, navigating circumstances quite beyond socially acceptable norms. Yet she trusted the message of an angel with a firm faith in God.

Mary with Baby Jesus

The touchpoints of Jesus’ life story and my own continued. Several years later, after a difficult marriage, I found myself a single mother yet again, now with six young children. By the grace of God, our little family became the recipients of generous donations of clothing and food from complete strangers! To this day, I do not know who left bags and boxes of items at my doorstep; but I do know that, through the help of others, Jesus was caring “for the widows and the orphans” (James 1:27). Jesus had come to show us the way home—back to his Church—and I was witnessing the love of God in action. I vowed that someday I, too, might be able “to repay the Lord for all the good he has done for me” (Ps 116:12). I experienced a deep gratitude for the help given freely to my young family, and my heart began to soften. As I participated in Mass with renewed fervor, I heard the same familiar words with new ears and saw the same familiar things with new eyes. When I received the Eucharist, I knew Jesus was with me and in me, and believed he was working around me! I came to realize that the love of God, shown to me by complete strangers, had healed me in broken places that I didn’t even know were broken—their love had led me home! I wanted to share the blessings of my faith and my resources with others.

‍Doing Something Beautiful for God

The most recent opportunity presented itself because of the war in Ukraine. Several people in our parish felt compelled to sponsor a family under the Uniting for Ukraine program. This family was like Jesus, Mary, and Joseph fleeing into Egypt. They lost everything in the bombing by occupying forces and had fled to a foreign country for safety. The members of our parish’s Welcome Circle opened our hearts and our treasuries and found housing, clothing, groceries, and transportation for this family. Uniting as Welcome Circle members has brought us all closer together as a parish family, on a mission with a shared goal. Friendships have developed as a result—both among parishioners and with the beautiful family we sponsor. And I have to say that as Christians, there is a deep satisfaction in knowing that together, we have striven to “do something beautiful for God,” as Mother Teresa would say. We are really living Eucharistic lives.

the Eucharist

I never imagined all those years ago that my wanderings would be redirected by the hands of providence not only for me to come home, but also to welcome others home, too! It has been so incredible to experience the humble satisfaction of having helped our own “holy family” from Ukraine find a new place in the world. I am grateful to have been part of something so good, true, and beautiful: to have been given the opportunity to do what Jesus would have done. Our parish family has truly put our faith into action and “our boots on the ground.” Now, each time I participate in the Eucharistic prayer as the priest celebrates Mass, I have an ever-deepening understanding of the words: “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere, to give you thanks, O Lord!”

For more information on the USCCB’s Welcome Circle Program, please visit and sign up for an information session.

We Become What We Receive – A Revival Story

We Become What We Receive

In my twenties, I was a member of a Washington, D.C., parish where homeless men and women were regular guests at the Sunday liturgy.

At first, I found this distracting. As a busy working professional, a time-stretched graduate student, and an active parishioner, the Mass was a quiet and sacred refuge: a time to disconnect, to pause from the rush of life, and to find comfort in a familiar ritual. When this refuge was disturbed by a homeless woman re-arranging her belongings and chattering to herself, my first reaction was annoyance: how could I concentrate on what was happening on the altar with all that noise?

Yet, I knew this woman’s name. I had served Rita* warm meals at the parish’s dinner program. I learned some fragments of her story during those times when her mental illness allowed limited conversation.

Subjects of His Love

As I reflected on my dual desires to rest in the quiet and to be attentive to Rita’s presence, my eyes wandered to a statue in the Church: Jesus, with one hand on his heart amidst thorns, enflamed with love, and the other hand extended outward.

For whom did Jesus’ heart burn with love? Toward whom was his hand extended?

A statue of Jesus pointing to his Sacred Heart

I knew immediately the subject of his love and his reach: Me. Those gathered to worship. Rita and the other homeless members of our community. All whose dignity is so easily forgotten.

The liturgy continued; Rita continued her “noise.” I understood that Christ, whose sacrificial act of love we celebrate on the altar, is also present in those whom he loves, especially those who suffer. With this realization, Rita’s chatter became a reminder of those towards whom Christ’s heart and hand were extended, and for whom the sacrifice on the altar was made.

The experience transformed my thinking; it also transformed my actions.

An Imitation of Christ

“In the celebration of the Mass,” the U.S. bishops write, “we are shown what love truly is, and we receive grace that enables us to imitate the love that Christ shows us” (The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church, 34). For St. Augustine: “If we receive the Eucharist worthily, we become what we receive” (Easter Sermon, 227).

With new eyes and a heart more open to love for Rita and her companions, I began to ask: What does it mean to become the Eucharist in a community where some members lack basic necessities? What does love mean in the face of systemic barriers like the virtual non-existence of affordable housing options in D.C. and so many other cities?

Works of Mercy

A woman giving food and drink to a homeless man

In response to these challenging questions, I joined other parishioners to discern how to better put two feet of love in action both by responding to short-term, immediate needs (charity) and by seeking long-term solutions so that all can thrive (justice).

One winter night, I joined other parishioners to assist a city-wide effort to find, encounter, and record the names and stories of those sleeping on the streets. This act of encounter helped us to better understand the many factors which lead to homelessness (such as mental illness, lack of work or healthcare, disability, addiction, and rising rents). The data gathered would help the city prioritize its assistance to the most vulnerable homeless individuals.

On other occasions, the parish joined a network of faith leaders to raise our voices in support of calls to expand the number of affordable housing units in the city. Not only was such action important to families’ ability to feed their families amidst quickly rising housing costs, but it was also an expression of love rooted in our Eucharistic mission.

Reflection Question

This season of Lent, as I reflect on these important experiences, I am asking Jesus in prayer: how am I called—at this moment in time—to imitate Christ’s love, which is present to me in the Eucharist? Towards whom must my own heart and hands be extended? How can I better become what I receive?


Lord Jesus,

You gave your life for us.

Your Sacred Heart is ablaze with love.

Your hand extends towards me, and towards all,

offering love, mercy, and healing.

Sacred Heart of Jesus,

may your love transform me.

Burn away my hesitation

that I may become your love

and radiate your mercy.


The Eucharist in Art

"Return of the Prodigal Son," Bartolomé Esteban Murillo

Lent begins with the invitation of the prophet Joel, “Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart” (Joel 2:12). This Lenten invitation begs a question — what does it mean to return to the Lord?

Jesus gives a profound answer in the parable of the prodigal son that he tells the scribes and Pharisees who complained that he welcomed sinners and ate freely with them. The return of sinners to the loving embrace of God was the divine reason for Jesus’ mission. Jesus’ entire life revealed, in one way or another, the loving mercy of his heavenly Father.

The seventeenth century Spanish Baroque painter, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, delivers an evocative visual homily to accompany our Lenten journeys through this familiar Gospel parable. In a simultaneous narrative, Murillo places in his masterpiece titled “The Return of the Prodigal Son” all the elements of the parable to inspire our Lenten return to the Lord with our whole heart, mind, and soul. 

Reading the painting from left to right, we see on the left a young boy leading a calf with a man holding an ax. They will prepare a lavish family feast to celebrate the return of their long-lost son. On the right, a steward in bright yellow holds a tray with fine clothes, sandals, and a ring, symbols of the restored dignity of the prodigal son. In the outer right doorway, the older son looks intently at the scene with displeasure. He is blind to the in-breaking of divine grace that returned his younger brother to the family.

At the center of the composition, the prodigal son and his father are locked in a tender embrace evoking the heart of Christian faith — God is love! The son kneels before his father, his eyes raised in hope and his hands begging for mercy. His clothes are torn and tattered, and his feet are smeared with mud. He symbolizes humanity, separated from God in self-seeking sin and pride.

The father stoops down to embrace his returning son with wrinkled hands, warmed by golden light, that convey his tender mercy and forgiveness as he rejoices saying, “this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.” Finally, jumping up to greet his returning master is the family pet, a little white dog, a symbol of fidelity and devotion.

Jesus continues to eat and drink with sinners. We who are sinners begin each Eucharist by acknowledging our sinfulness. Asking the prayers of Mary, Mother of God, the angels and the saints, and our brothers and sisters we pray, “I confess to Almighty God. ...” Then we beg humbly for God’s forgiveness as we pray, “Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy, Lord, have mercy.” Each time we pray these words we are welcomed back to the table of the Lord with the tender embrace of a loving father, who rejoices to see his children return to new life again.

Lent Eucharistic Prayer Companions

Eucharistic Prayer Companion for Ash Wednesday: The Journey Home

This Eucharistic Meditation is designed to help you spend 30 minutes to an hour in meditation and silent prayer with Jesus during Eucharistic adoration. Even if you cannot be physically present in a church or adoration chapel with the Blessed Sacrament, you can unite yourself spiritually to the Eucharist as you spend this time in prayer. Visit the page here.

Print a copy here.

The Eucharist and the popes

(CNS photo/Vatican Media)

From the video message of Pope Francis for the National Eucharistic Congress of Indian in Mumbia, Nov. 12-15, 2015

But the Eucharist does not end with the partaking of the body and blood of the Lord. It leads us to solidarity with others. The communion with the Lord is necessarily a communion with our fellow brothers and sisters. And therefore the one who is fed and nourished by the very body and blood of Christ cannot remain unaffected when he sees his brothers suffering want and hunger. Those nourished by the Eucharist are called to bring the joy of the Gospel to those who have not received it. Strengthened by the living Bread we are called to bring hope to those who live in darkness and in despair. “In the Eucharist the Lord makes us walk on his road, that of service, of sharing, of giving; and if it is shared, that little we have, that little we are, becomes riches, for the power of God — which is the power of love — comes down into poverty to transform it” (Homily for the Corpus Domini, 2013).

Pope Benedict XVI’s Legacy of Love for the Eucharist – Eucharistic Theology

Pope Benedict XVI’s Legacy of Love for the Eucharist

After leading the Church as our Holy Father from 2005 to 2013, Pope Benedict XVI’s death on the last day of 2022 has sparked prayer and reflection worldwide. However, our youngest Catholics likely don’t know him very well. Most children either weren’t yet born during his pontificate or won’t have memories of their own. In remembrance of his life, parents and teachers can introduce children to the great work that he did for the Lord and His people.

The Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI

a box of crayons

One of the legacies that Pope Benedict leaves behind is the vast collection of his writings. His books and encyclicals are treasures worthy of study and prayer. The Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, Sacrament of Charity, highlights the gift of the Holy Eucharist. Pope Benedict writes that through the Blessed Sacrament, God reveals his love and strengthens us to love those around us. He says, The sacrament of charity, the Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God's infinite love for every man and woman” (SC, no. 1). The text also connects the Eucharist to all other sacraments, teaches about the liturgy and participation in the Holy Mass, and encourages a Eucharistic life of mission and service.

"Let the Children Come to Me"

a coloring page of a monstrance from Catholic Paper Goods
Download this coloring sheet: English | Spanish

While reading this apostolic exhortation (or any of Pope Benedict’s books) might be a few years down the road for most children, we can still bring the wisdom of his writings to their level. Using short quotes that are rich in meaning, kids can learn from Pope Benedict XVI about the precious gift we have in the Eucharist. Speaking of the well-known Scripture passage from John 3:16, Benedict says, “These words show the deepest source of God's gift. In the Eucharist Jesus does not give us a ‘thing,’ but himself; he offers his own body and pours out his own blood. He thus gives us the totality of his life and reveals the ultimate origin of this love” (SC, no. 7).

Words like these speak richly about our belief in the True Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and are perfect for reflection, especially as children are preparing to receive Holy Communion for the first time or the hundredth time. Pope Benedict also reminded us that something as wonderful as the Eucharist is not meant to be kept a secret. We should desire to share the good news of our faith with others. A child’s natural enthusiasm and joy can be used to reveal the love of God to everyone around them. Pope Benedict writes, “The love that we celebrate in the sacrament is not something we can keep to ourselves. By its very nature it demands to be shared with all. What the world needs is God's love; it needs to encounter Christ and to believe in him. The Eucharist is thus the source and summit not only of the Church's life, but also of her mission” (SC, no. 84).

A coloring page of the Eucharist from Catholic Paper Goods
Download this coloring sheet: English | Spanish

This month, as our culture surrounds us with messages of love in the form of hearts and flowers and chocolate, let’s take a moment to share with our children the greatest gift of love we have received, Jesus himself in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

“In the sacrament of the Eucharist, Jesus shows us in particular the truth about the love which is the very essence of God.”
Pope Benedict XVI

Family Activity Ideas

  • Use the Eucharistic quote coloring pages included in this post with your children. Read the quote and talk about Pope Benedict’s words. Identify the monstrance, chalice, and host. Connect the quote with the love of God and his gift of the Holy Eucharist. [Coloring Sheets: English #1#2#3 | Spanish #1#2#3]
  • Color the quote pages and hang in your home, using them as a reminder of how Jesus shows us his love through his True Presence in the Eucharist.
  • Color the Sacred Heart cards and give them away like Valentines. Maybe stick a few in the mail to family members and hand one to your priest and deacon after Mass.
  • Visit your parish church, kneel before the tabernacle, and say the Prayer for the Faithful Departed for the soul of Pope Benedict XVI: Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
A mom and daughter coloring together

Questions for Discussion

Use these questions to prompt conversation with your children, maybe while using the Eucharistic quote coloring pages or on the drive home from Mass.

  • What are some ways that God shows you that he loves you?
  • Christ is wholly, truly, really, and substantially present under the Eucharistic species at Mass because he loves us! What can we do to show that we love him in return?
  • Around St. Valentine’s Day this month we hear and see lots of things about love. How do you think Jesus wants us to love the people around us?
A child coloring with a parent

Resources for Kids

Help your kids get to know Pope Benedict XVI using these children’s books. Look for copies online or request them from your local library:

Learn more about the life of Pope Benedict XVI with the timeline and coloring pages offered by Catholic Paper Goods:

Resources for Adults

You can read the full text of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis here.

When God Calms the Storm – A Revival Story

Looking for God in the Storm

It was the early evening of the first day of the new year, 2007, and my son and I had just gotten home from visiting my dad, who was in a respite care unit at a local hospital enduring the final stages of his battle with lung cancer. Additionally, he’d suffered a stroke that morning, limiting his movement and robbing him of his ability to speak clearly.

I felt like one of the disciples in the boat on the stormy sea, being tossed around by the waves, desperately trying to row to the other side with the wind against us. In my mind, I went back to the past year in which we’d rowed our way through the sea of biopsies, scans, doctor appointments, chemo treatments, procedures, holidays, and a few trips to visit extended family. But the wind had picked up speed these past few weeks: the cancer had stopped responding to treatment, blood clots had formed in his lungs, and his doctor told me of the kind of death he would most likely suffer, adding: “I wouldn’t wish this kind of death on my worst enemy.” And now this—a stroke, robbing him of what little ability he had left.

IV Drip

Just a few years earlier, we’d lost Mom to this same disease and I admit to wondering this day—"God, where are you now?”  

I didn’t have to wait long for his answer.

A Prayer Offered with the Eucharist

Shortly after arriving home from the hospital, the phone rang. It was a nurse at the hospital saying that Dad was suffering from chest pains, and that it would be best if we came back to the hospital right away.  

Although Dad was a very faith-filled man who taught us kids to love the Lord and see Jesus in other people, he wasn’t Catholic. It was my dearest desire that Dad experience the grace of the sacraments of the Church before he died. Our priest, Fr. Tim, had asked me several weeks earlier if Dad wanted to join the Catholic faith but when I asked Dad, he was a little hesitant, saying, “I don’t think so right now, thanks.”

Person holding a patient's hand

I once heard Mother Angelica of EWTN fame speak on how if you’re really praying hard for something, you should bring it with you when you receive the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist. Consequently, for the past several weeks, every time I received the Eucharist—taking the Body of Jesus into my hands—I offered him up to God in exchange for Dad to have the desire to join the Catholic faith.

On the way to the hospital that evening, we called our priest, Fr. Tim. Would he come and give Dad a blessing or pray over him? He agreed, asking once again, “Do you think he’d like to become Catholic?” Heavy-hearted, I replied, “I don’t know. I don’t think he’s changed his mind.”

The doctor met us in the lobby of the hospital and explained how serious Dad’s health was and that he had requested no unnecessary treatment due to his advanced cancer. She seemed to be preparing us for the worst. My husband and my two brothers and I entered Dad’s room. He was in pain but so glad to see us. We gathered around his bed; I held his hand and told him Fr. Tim was coming. In my mind, I imagined Fr. Tim offering Dad the very sacraments that I had been praying for him to receive. But would Dad be open to them?

Jesus Climbs into the Boat

Suddenly, I had this overwhelming urge—a physical sensation welling up in my body—that I had to ask Dad just one more time if he wanted to become Catholic, but I was hesitant. I didn’t want Dad doing it for love of me—I wanted him to do it for himself. And I’d just asked him a few weeks before. Could this sudden, overwhelming urge be God nudging me? Was he working to answer the very prayer I’d brought before him each time I’d received the Eucharist for weeks now? Dare I hope?

I pulled my brothers out of the room and discussed this “feeling” I had and my reluctance to ask Dad. My oldest brother, who wasn’t practicing any religion at the time, said simply, “I’ll go ask him.”  

And that’s when Jesus climbed into the boat with us.

My brother came out of the room a few minutes later saying, “Yep, he does!”

Stunned, I asked, “Are you sure you understood him? He’s had a stroke, you know. He can’t speak well…” to which my brother replied, “I told him to squeeze my hand if he wanted to become Catholic and he squeezed it three times!” Oh, the joy that filled my heart! Jesus was powerfully answering the prayer I’d so hesitantly brought before Him in the Eucharist.  

Hands holding

The priest came, and Dad was received into the Church, confirmed and anointed. He made a Spiritual Communion because his illness prevented him from receiving the Blessed Sacrament. I sat by Dad’s side holding his hand through it all, hardly able to comprehend the holiness of the moment. We prayed the Lord’s Prayer together one last time.

The storm’s winds that had been blowing so fiercely died down, and Dad rested peacefully through the night.

Winds of Doubt Continue to Blow

But, like the disciples, there was a part of me that still doubted. Was Dad resting comfortably because of the grace of the sacraments or the newly-installed morphine pump (the machine that administered the drug that relieved pain and gave the sensation of being able to breathe)?  

Several times that long night, I got out of the recliner and walked over to Dad’s side to adjust the oxygen mask, knowing how hard it was for Dad to breathe without it and wanting to make him as comfortable as possible. During one of my bedside vigils, the nurse came into the room lit only by the glow of a light in the side of the wall and stood next to me, gently and quietly taking Dad’s vital signs. She and I both commented how peacefully he was resting.  

“That morphine must be doing the trick,” I whispered. Startled, she glanced over at me and said,

“He hasn’t used that pump all night.”

What? How was that possible? He was in so much pain and struggling so hard to breathe before the priest came. What had changed?

Peace in God's Perfect Timing

Jesus had shown up. His grace was present in the sacraments that gave Dad the peace he needed. And that’s when I, like the disciples in the boat in the storm-tossed sea, was completely astounded.

Painting of two sailers on a boat in calm waters

Dad passed away a few hours later: calmly, peacefully, and prayerfully.

God had answered my prayer brought before him in the Eucharist at the perfect time and in the perfect way. And I realized: God doesn’t come too early, and he doesn’t come too late. He comes just when we need him the most.

Barb Schmitz is a parishioner at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Brooks, MN.

How to get involved in the Eucharistic Revival

Excited by the journey ahead?

The Eucharistic Revival is a Spirit-led, grassroots movement powered by people like you who answer God's invitation to prayer and action! Here are four ways you can get involved today. What part is God asking you to play in this great work?

1. Listen

Throughout this three-year Revival, ask the Holy Spirit to inspire you with unique ways you can use your gifts and talents to revive your own community! Join us as we listen for the Good Shepherd's voice.

2. Pray

No matter how many plans we make or how much work we put in, the Revival is first and foremost the work of our Lord and all the results belong to him. Join us on our knees as we invite this renewal!

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3. Learn

Dynamic Eucharistic Preachers are visiting dioceses across the US, as well as sharing insights and inspirations through this newsletter. These priests help cultivate the National Eucharistic Revival within our country by guiding hearts to individual conversion. Use the resources on the revival website to help deepen your relationship with our Eucharistic Lord.

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4. Attend

The National Eucharistic Congress will be the event of the decade! You'll want to register early to secure your spot and lodging. Save the date for July 17-21, 2024, and subscribe to event notifications so that you can plan ahead!

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What is the Eucharist?

What is the Eucharist?

The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. The term “Eucharist” originates from the Greek word eucharistia, meaning thanksgiving.

In the celebration of the Eucharist, bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit and the instrumentality of the priest. The whole Christ is truly present -- body, blood, soul, and divinity -- under the appearances of bread and wine, the glorified Christ who rose from the dead. This is what the Church means when she speaks of the "Real Presence" of Christ in the Eucharist.

Where is the Eucharist mentioned in the Bible?

The Lord Jesus, on the night before he suffered on the cross, shared one last meal with his disciples. During this meal our Savior instituted the sacrament of his Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the ages and to entrust to the Church a memorial of his death and resurrection. The Institution of the Eucharist is written down in the four Gospels below: 

Matthew 26:26-30

Mark 14:22-26

Luke 22:14-20

John 6:22-59 (The Bread of Life Discourse)

Revive Podcast for Eucharistic Revival – Episodes 1-4

Revive with Fr. Agustino Torres

Franciscan Friar of the Renewal Fr. Agustino Torres, along with professional actress by day youth minister by night Solanyi Rodriguez, wade through some of the biggest Catholic conundrums and catechesis fails, all through the lens of the source and summit of the Faith: the Eucharist.

Join Fr. Torres, Solanyi, and their special guests for honest conversations on how to right-size, recommit to and revive our understanding of the Mass and relationship with Jesus with a little humor and a whole lotta love. Official podcast of the USCCB’s National Eucharistic Revival ( and an OSV Podcasts partner (

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