This Saturday, I joined nearly 25 other young adults in Astoria (Queens, NY) for what many may consider to be an "out of the ordinary" night. Gathered at a local parish, we came together for Eucharistic adoration and benediction. It was sitting in the pew that evening that I realized the radical nature of the gathering. As the world outside of the Church moved at a pace we can hardly comprehend, our hearts sat silent as we witnessed the presence of Christ.
Over the past 2000 years, the Eucharist has been at the center of countless struggles for human rights, has united young people in movements of solidarity, and has brought together human beings on an ordinary evening for an incredible purpose. Kneeling before the Eucharist we prayed in silence, chanted O Salutaris and Tantum Ergo, but more importantly we became aware of the world around us. In this way, we united ourselves not only with Christ, but also with all humanity.
At this very moment, millions are hungry, living with HIV/AIDS and without access to life saving treatments, lack access to basic education, and are homeless: this is the human experience. In a world that suffers from greed and consumerism, it is an experience like Eucharistic adoration that allows Catholics not only to more deeply encounter our faith, but also stand in solidarity with Christ and, therefore, with the entire world. When we adore Christ, we adore the very essence of creation.
Living in a world of fear, for Catholics the Eucharist is the presence of Christ and a constant reminder of the hope that we have for a better world. As Psalm 46 tells us:
God is for us a refuge and strength,
a helper close at hand, in time of distress:
so we shall not fear though the earth should rock,
though the mountains fall in to the depths of the sea,
even though its waters rage and foam,
even though the mountains be shaken by its waves.
The Lord of hosts is with us:
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.
Being with other young adults that Saturday evening, I witnessed a sense of hope that reminded me not to live in fear, but rather to respond to fear with faith. Merely sitting in a pew and adoring Christ is not enough even for Christ himself. Instead, as Catholics it is what we do when we walk forth from that Church that will define our true adoration of Christ. The most radical element of this past Saturday was not merely the two dozen young adults that had given up a Saturday night, but rather the energy and hope with which they left to share with the world. They left the Church that evening equipped with a mindset to be change makers in a world desperately crying out for help.
Standing before the Eucharist, we stood as young people in a time of distress and thanked God for counting humanity among his beloved. Each of us stood there as a human being created in the imago dei and acknowledged our call to be bearers of a message rooted in hope, love, and peace to a world in need.
Perhaps this radical Saturday wasn't that radical after all; instead, the radix (Latin origin of "radical" meaning "root") is faith itself. It is in recognizing the roots of hope, peace, love and change as faith that we come to see that a better world is within reach, because God himself is "a helper close at hand."