These words were the title of the Apostolic Letter of Saint John Paul II on the Year of the Eucharist, which was observed from October 2004 through October 2005. They are words taken from today’s Gospel: “Stay with us, Lord, for it is almost evening.” (Luke 24:29) In that document Saint John Paul II offered this reflection:
Amid the shadows of the passing day and the darkness that clouded their spirit, the Wayfarer brought a ray of light which rekindled their hope and led their hearts to yearn for the fullness of light. “Stay with us,” they pleaded. And he agreed. Soon afterwards, Jesus’ face would disappear, yet the Master would “stay” with them, hidden in the “breaking of the bread” which had opened their eyes to recognize him.
In the Eucharistic sacrifice, the Mass, the Paschal Mystery is made present again. In the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle, the Paschal Lamb remains among us. Saint John Paul II went on to say:
Amid our questions and difficulties, and even our bitter disappointments, the divine Wayfarer continues to walk at our side, opening to us the Scriptures and leading us to a deeper understanding of the mysteries of God. When we meet him fully, we will pass from the light of the Word to the light streaming from the “Bread of life,” the supreme fulfillment of his promise to “be with us always, to the end of the age.” (Cf. Matthew 28:20)
At the center of the Church’s life, the Eucharist inspires us to look beyond our time to the eternal life of the world to come:
Through it Christ makes present within time the mystery of his death and resurrection. In it he is received in person as the “living bread come down from heaven” (John 6:51), and with him we receive the pledge of eternal life and a foretaste of the eternal banquet of the heavenly Jerusalem.
At this time most are not able to celebrate and receive the Holy Eucharist in person. I hope this “eucharistic fast” will deepen everyone’s desire to receive holy communion when it is again possible. However know that the divine Wayfarer continues to walk with all of us during these troubling days.
This Friday, May 1, is the patronal feast day of our diocese, Saint Joseph the Worker. Pope Pius XII established this feast day in 1955 to Christianize May Day, which in communist countries was supposed to be a holiday for the workers, the proletariat. In 1960, while building the new St. Joseph Cathedral in La Crosse, Bishop John P. Treacy decided it would be appropriate to name the new cathedral after this new feast of Saint Joseph and to observe the patronal feast day on this date, because ours is a workingman’s diocese. Now, in the midst of this pandemic, Bishop Callahan is inaugurating a Year of Saint Joseph in our diocese beginning on Friday with a Mass at the Cathedral. His pastoral letter regarding this observance is included elsewhere in this bulletin. So let us keep the intentions of our bishop and the needs of the Church in our diocese in our prayers this week and throughout the coming year.
This would have been the weekend for First Communion at St. Charles, and Confirmation next weekend for the entire deanery. Unfortunately these events have had to be postponed. Nevertheless let us remember these young people in our prayers as well as all who are experiencing turmoil in their lives for whatever reason, especially because of all the disruption caused by the current crisis.
May God bless his people with peace.