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Bishop Paul Bradley: "The Entire Country Has Been In Awe Following the Pilgrimage"

STEUBENVILLE, OHIO, June 21 — After the Eucharistic Procession though downtown Steubenville as part of the National Eucharistic PIlgrimage's Seton Route and after a period of the 14 Stations of the Eucharist by Father Jonathan Meyer in St. Peter's Church in Steubenville, former Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Steubenville, Bishop Paul Bradley, bishop emeritus of Kalamazoo, gave the following homily, in which he expressed his gratitude for the PIlgrimage's stop in Kalamazoo and then described how Jesus, the Son of God, "so loved the world that He gave us His very Body and Blood to be our spiritual food and drink, and to be the living Memorial of His sacrificial gift on the Cross to save us."


My dear sisters and brothers in our Eucharistic Lord,

On this first full day of Summer, with the heat, humidity and unsettled weather patterns that Summer brings with it, the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage has arrived here in our beloved Diocese of Steubenville. We have been so very much looking forward to your arrival, and it is my distinct privilege, in the name of Bishop Lohse, all the priests, deacons, religious women and men, and lay faithful to welcome you to our Diocese.

The entire country has been in awe as we have been following this Pilgrimage, and the other three Pilgrimages from the four corners of our country, which for more than a month now have been processing with our Eucharistic Lord on the way to Indianapolis where, in less than a month, the 10th National Eucharistic Congress will take place from July 17 to July 21st.

Here in the Ohio Valley, we are honored to be on one of these four routes, and we welcome Our Lord with open hearts, and we give honor, glory, thanksgiving and worship to Jesus' abiding Presence with us in the Eucharist.

These beautiful "14 Stations of the Eucharist" that we have just prayed sum up for us all the ways that, from the beginning of salvation history, we human beings have tried to worship the One God, Who so clearly and consistently reveals Himself to us. As the Twelfth Station of the Eucharist so beautifully reminded us, and as St. John so clearly wrote: "God so loved the world that He sent His only­ begotten Son to save the world so that those who believe in Him might not perish, but might have Eternal Life" (Jn.3:16}.

But in addition, the Son Himself so loved the world that He gave us His very Body and Blood to be our spiritual food and drink, and to be the living Memorial of His sacrificial gift on the Cross to save us, and all the world, from the ultimate power of sin and death, which we commemorate in the Twelfth Station of the traditional Way of the Cross.

This precious gift of the Eucharist, the Real Presence of Christ's Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity — which we are given as our spiritual nourishment in every Mass; which is also the precious Gift of Jesus' Presence with Whom we spend Mass; which is also the precious Gift of Jesus' Presence with Whom we spend this time in adoration — is the same Sacred Presence that accompanies us along these four national Pilgrimages throughout the United States to remind us, and everyone we encounter, that Our God remains with us.

A Eucharistic Procession is a sacramental sign of our desire, as disciples of Jesus Christ, to bring our Lord to the entire world. A Eucharistic procession is an outward expression of our deep internal belief that we are to bring the presence of Jesus into our homes and schools, into our workplace and the marketplace, and indeed into the streets and all the places we go each and every day. As Pope Francis has said, "The Lord comes to our streets in order to speak a blessing for us and to give us courage. And He asks that we too be a blessing and a gift for others."

As we adore the Lord of Life here and now in the Blessed Sacrament, and as we carry Him in Eucharistic Procession through the city streets, country roads, and down the Ohio River, we do so with absolute belief that the Eucharist is the very source and summit of our spiritual strength, no matter what the weather conditions are, or what our life circumstances might be. Jesus calls us to live our faith with conviction, and to stand up for our Faith with courage and joy. We are witnesses to our faith as ''Spirit-filled Evangelizers,'' on fire with love for God and for our neighbors.

Here in this part of Ohio, as in many different places throughout the country, there are as many people living among us who profess no faith in God as there are believers; and there are as many Catholics who have become inactive in the practice of their faith as there are those who do practice regularly. We must be committed, not only to a time of Eucharistic Renewal, but also to an intentional commitment to a renewal of faith, and to a time of evangelization.

Recently, Bishop Robert Barron offered a definition of Evangelization that is very powerful. He said, ''An evangelizer is someone who tells a starving person where to find bread.''

My dear sisters and brothers in Christ, many of our friends and neighbors, even some of our own relatives, are "spiritually starving." Our love for Jesus, whom we encounter personally in the Holy Eucharist, compels us to tell them how they can come to know Jesus, the "Bread of Life," Who will fill the longing of their hearts by coming to know Jesus' love, goodness and mercy.

As God has loved the world so much that He sent His only-begotten Son to be our Savior; and as Jesus has loved the world so much that He gave us His Body and Blood to be our spiritual food, we also take tremendous consolation in knowing that Jesus' final words, as He completed His earthly mission and ascended back to the right Hand of His Heavenly Father, are words of promise: "Know that I will be with always, even until the end of the age" (Mt.28:20).

There is no doubt that Jesus' Promise is realized as we adore Him here in the Blessed Sacrament. But He is not only here. He walks with us as we leave this church to go about our daily lives. He stands with us as we recall past moments of sorrow or grief. He celebrates with us during festive moments of joy. He offers us his healing love and mercy when we are ill. He gives us hope when we don't know what the future holds. And He challenges us to remain faithful and to follow in his footsteps-even when that might lead to suffering and death for the sake of his Gospel.

The best response that we can make to this Precious Gift is thanksgiving and adoration. The way that we can put that thanksgiving and worship into practice is by asking Jesus to accompany us along the remainder of the "pilgrimages" of each of our lives, and to find ways to invite any, and all, that we meet on our pilgrimage — especially those who are spiritually starving — to accompany us along the way.

As this Eucharistic Pilgrimage continues steadily on to Indianapolis, where thousands of our sisters and brothers from all across our nation and other parts of the world will gather to celebrate, may each of us commit our lives to walking with Him, and to sharing the Eucharistic "Bread of Life" with everyone we meet along the way.

And, through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the patroness of this local church, may the joy of our Lord's abiding Presence remain with us, now and always.


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