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Day 54 — Bearing Fruit from Communion with the Eucharistic Vine of Christ

YORKVILLE, INDIANA, July 10 — The Seton Route Pilgrims of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage had a day to focus on the fruitful communion Catholics are called to have as branches attached to Christ the Vine.

Their day began with Mass at St. Martin Church in Yorkville, Indiana.

Father Roger Landry, Seton Route chaplain, was the principal celebrant of the Mass and preached the homily. He mentioned that the Mass was the 12,000th Mass he has celebrated since his priestly ordination.

In his homily, Father Landry noted the continued celebration of All Saints Parish's 200th anniversary and the theme of inheritance and legacy, both of which are summarized in the first reading from Hosea as a "luxuriant vine" meant to bear abundant fruit. Israel hadn't been bearing that type of fruit, but in fact bad fruit through idolatry. Jesus himself picked up the image in St. Matthew's Gospel (not today's Gospel) in the Parable of the Tower in the Vineyard, in which the tenants to whom the Master had leased the vineyard expecting produce at the proper time manhandled, stoned, and killed his servants, and executed his Son to gain his inheritance, an image of how Jesus himself would be treated when he came to help us bear fruit that will last.

In the Gospel of the Day, which involves the calling and the commissioning of the twelve apostles, we see ourselves in the list of names chosen by God and sent out as laborers in his vineyard. And we see a hint of the passage from disciples to apostles, which is the means by which our faith is meant to grow and bear fruit. So often in the Church, Father Landry said, we don't take adequate advantage of our inheritance. He cited pilgrim Marina Frattaroli's pre-conversion study of French Gothic Cathedrals mainly as monuments to medieval Christianity rather than houses built for the celebration of Mass and the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament. We look at them as sterile and static rather than life-giving.

To grow in faith, Landry said we can learn from the five stages of Christian growth detailed by the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean in the 2007 Aparecida document edited by the future Pope Francis: encounter, conversion, discipleship, communion and mission. All five have clear Eucharistic links. We encounter Jesus in Holy Communion and adoration. That encounter leads us to see that we're not who we're supposed to be and we resolve with God's grace to change. We do that in the penitential rite every Mass. We then become Jesus' disciples and strive not just to know but to live by his teaching, which he helps us to do in the liturgy of the Word. The fourth stage is communion, which Jesus tries to bring about through our becoming one body, one spirit in Him. The final stage is mission when Jesus sends us out to share what we've received, which is the commission for which he blesses us at the end of every Mass.

After Mass, the Pilgrims had a private holy hour in which Seton chaplain Fr. Giuseppe Siniscalchi, CFR, preached a meditation on the theme of community that flows from communion with Christ in the Holy Eucharist. He said community life flows from what we keep our eyes on. If we maintain them on others' defects, community life will suffer. If we keep them on their strengths, it will go better. If we keep them on Christ and in him look at others, then it has the chance to become a real communion.

At night the Seton Pilgrims split into two groups: half went to an event with youth at St. Joseph Church and the other half went to an event with young adults (18-35) at the 8 Top Bar and Grill.

At the Young Adult Event, Seton Pilgrims Marina Frattaroli and Zoe Dongas gave witness testimonies and then answered questions together with pilgrim Christoph Bernas and Seton chaplain Father Landry.

Frattaroli shared how she is a recent convert to the Catholic faith and how she has taken a risk in coming on this pilgrimage because she's supposed to be studying for the New York State bar exam. But she was persuaded that Jesus is more important and that it was worth it to prioritize him. She encouraged her fellow young adults to recognize that he is the pearl of great price, and like the woman who poured precious aromatic on his feet, and unlike the Rich Young Man who wasn't willing to make a radical commitment, to make a radical choice to follow him.

"I've actually come to see that it's a huge gift that God has given me," she said. "I'm here to tell you that I've never been more joyful, I've never been more satisfied. And I'm more proud of being a daughter of the king. I'm doing what I dreamed to do as a girl, and I'm doing what's best of all, I'm walking behind him and glorious presence. If you sacrifice something for him, he will repay it manifold. Wherever you are in life, it is not too late to start that journey. God is constantly going to give you the opportunity not to be the rich young ruler, to be a person who buys the pearl, to be the one who pours out the ointment. Now's the time to do it. We as young adults can give that precious gift of our whole life now because we have so much ahead of us. And so I'm encouraging you to do it."

Dongas gave her background of coming to grow in faith and, like Frattaroli, said that she had taken a real risk to come on the pilgrimage, giving up her job in ministry in New York City when she had to make a choice between keeping it or coming on pilgrimage. She opted for the pilgrimage.

She told a story of a man named Kevin whom she met in the Kensington section of Philadelphia whose difficult life she saw partially transformed by Jesus' visit in procession to that neighborhood, which is the opioid capital of the United States.

She likewise shared how incredible it is to travel with Jesus across the country, on foot, on boat and in adoration within the pilgrimage van.

Meanwhile, Pilgrims Amayrani Higueldo, Natalie Garza and Dominic Carstens, along with Seton Chaplain Fr. Giuseppe Siniscalchi, CFR, and Br. Damien Joseph Novak, CFR, participated in the event for the youth of All Saints Parish. They played volleyball with the young people and chatted with them before moving to the chapel for prayer.

The hour long adoration night began with a witness from Carstens about the mind blowing reality of the Eucharist. “Either the world is crazy or we are,” Dominic exclaimed. The night continued with song and guided prayer in front of the Eucharistic Jesus.

Midway, Garza shared a pilgrimage story about how Jesus taught her the importance of friendship with him and his Mystical Body, the Church. She recounted how on an 18-mile day a fellow pilgrim helped her carry on. In the same manner, Jesus gives us friends to help us continue in this journey of life.

The night ended with exposition followed by more time for mingling. The young were reminded about Jesus’ particular love for them and that Jesus was doubtless encouraged by their participation. The Revival that is happening in the Church, the Seton team shared, is taking place in hearts young and old alike.


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