Jazmine Okolo, 18, is studying to be a teacher at the University of Glasgow. She writes about how the Eucharist has always sustained her.
My perception of the Eucharist as a child was not hugely different from my perception today.
As far as I can remember, I always had a belief in the True Presence. This was largely due to the Faith of my parents, watching Catholic television programs, and receiving catechetical instruction from my parish church.
In fact, I can vividly remember feeling a sense of peace and joy after receiving Jesus at my first communion. However, this appreciation for the True Presence has deepened as I moved into the adolescent phase of my life.
As an adolescent, I started to attend Mass on some weekdays and Saturdays as well as Sundays. This in turn allowed me to receive Jesus more often which provided me with a great sense of consolation.
Furthermore, I also started to attend Eucharistic Adoration more of ten which also aided me spiritually.
This was particularly important for me during this time as it seemed that my ‘easy’ spiritual life from my childhood was fading away. I was now faced with the challenges, struggles, and temptations that are present during teenagerhood.
I had also come to terms with the fact that I am a broken, weak and sinful individual in desperate need of a Saviour.
Thankfully, during this time, I found solace and strength in the frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist and Eucharistic Adoration.
I could visibly see the difference in my level of willpower to do good when I received the Holy Eucharist and adored the Lord in adoration compared to when I refrained from doing so.
Therefore, I can wholeheartedly agree with Our Lord’s statement in John’s Gospel: “Apart from me, you can do nothing”. I could see in my own life and at present that I am incapable of doing any good without Eucharistic strength.
I also identified further benefits of the Eucharist as an adolescent such as an increase in charity toward God and Neighbour.
I noticed that my human tendency to be unloving and irritable was lessened when I would receive Jesus.
On the contrary, my irritability and annoyance toward God and others would be more prevalent when I received Jesus less often. This highlighted to me that I need the Eucharist to grow in love. Thus, my appreciation for the sacrament was further increased.
In addition to recognising the benefits of Eucharistic reception, I also began to develop a desire for reverence for this Sacrament in my later adolescent years.
I realised that this Sacrament deserves our greatest devotion and reverence since it contains the living Jesus.
If Jesus was seen in his earthly form today at every Mass, would we not strive to show him our devotion and love through displaying interior and exterior signs of reverence for Him?
Moreover, reverence has also allowed me to understand that I need to treat Jesus as a proper friend. We love and respect those who are dearest to us, how much more shall we respect and revere Jesus who is our greatest friend?
My relationship with the Eucharist is still growing. I am still not perfect when it comes to admiration and reverence for the Eucharist and am striving to continue to develop in this area.
Nevertheless, I am grateful to God that He has allowed me to fall in love with Him in the Eucharist and deepen my love and appreciation for the sacrament.
I would invite anyone reading this to consider how their Faith in the Eucharist could be re-kindled. Drawing from my own experience, the Eucharist, the True Presence of Jesus, is an important aid in our spiritual life.
I would also like to invite people who are actively involved in the synodal process to think and reflect on how to preserve a Eucharistic-centered Church. Ultimately, a Church that is Eucharistic-centered is a prevailing Church as it nourishes its people with a live-giving Sacrament that will support them in their struggle towards holiness and sanctity, and enables them to be lights of Christ in a Christ-less society.