Scott Pederson
Seminarian, Diocese of Superior

Editor’s note: This is the final article in a series on the Eucharistic Revival taking place across the nation. The initiative culminates in a National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis this summer.

Matthew 26:26 states, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’” Mark 14:22 states, “While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, ‘Take it; this is my body.’” Luke 22:19 states, “Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.’” John states good things, but not an institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Instead, John offers the Bread of Life discourse. Jesus says in John 6:51, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

An understanding of “my flesh for the life of the world” often develops from a personal encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist. Personal and practical, an ordered, alliterative description, are how I will present opportunities for an encounter with the Eucharist, Jesus universally present. The presence of Christ stems from a practical and personal institution as described by the Synoptic Gospels about 2,000 years ago. I feel fortunate to participate in this same Eucharist as it has been handed on through the centuries.

A part of my story about encountering the universality of the Eucharist began in college when a friend and I took a road trip that included visiting several cathedrals. The variation of styles, locations and artwork impressed me. This impression has informed a decision that when road-tripping, even if it takes longer, I will try to find beautiful cathedrals or churches to visit. The most moving of these was a road trip to Alabama.

Now for a short side note about running. I like running. Specifically, I like trail running, and traveling to races often offers an opportunity to see places I wouldn’t otherwise think of going, such as Alabama. Despite a growing number of runners and most people knowing a runner, runners are still seen as a little off, or a better phrase: quirky. I agree this is true. It is not a new idea by any means. During biblical times, it was even considered unbecoming of adults to run.

Despite this aversion to running, in the parable of the prodigal son, the father runs to his son. The other biblical support for running as a decent pastime are all of St. Paul’s comparisons of the Christian life to running a race. The Christian life is not easy, yet through perseverance we can finish the race.

Returning to the story about racing in Alabama brings me to an experience in which God ran to meet me. It required my agreement, but he called and I listened. Before traveling, I had looked at places to stop, including churches and cathedrals. One location I considered before leaving was the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama. It was along my route, but I chose not to put it on my itinerary. Well, my itinerary went out the window, figuratively not literally, as I was driving by the sign to the exit. I felt a call to stop and did exactly that. As I drove several miles from the highway to the shrine, I didn’t know what to expect. As I drove down the road to the shrine, I still didn’t know what to expect. As I walked across the plaza in mid-May in Alabama wondering why I left my air-conditioned car, I only slightly knew what to expect. As I walked into the shrine’s chapel, I realized Jesus was asking me to keep him with me on my journey. The chapel was cool and quiet and peaceful, with Jesus exposed for perpetual adoration. Like all the cathedrals I had visited and seen, Jesus calls us to stop and visit for a while, resting in his presence.

This presence is especially seen in the unique locations of many cathedrals. Some are atop a hill, drawing the eyes upward, helping to lead the mind toward God. Others are nestled amongst massive buildings, offering a reprieve from the hustle and bustle. In all these places, it is important to remember that these buildings are where Jesus comes to meet us at Mass and stays in the Eucharist. He is running to meet us no matter where we are.

This portion of my personal story encountering Jesus universally present in the Eucharist continues, which is part of the beauty of the encounter. It keeps happening. The same is true for each and every one of us. Until we finish the race, keeping Jesus beside us for the journey is necessary. This leads to the practical of the alliterative personal and practical themes. The best part is I get to use another word beginning with “P,” pilgrimage. It is all too easy when on vacation or traveling to leave everything behind. Instead a place to focus is on the universality of the Eucharist. Almost wherever we go, Jesus is sacramentally present and asking that we let him walk, or run, with us. He wants to be brought into our hectic lives.

The other option is to take time to go to Jesus beyond our routine. The church is massive and varied, yet offers us places to get away for a little while. My story includes visiting many cathedrals, and I still feel the Diocese of Superior has one of the best. It is worth a pilgrimage from anywhere in the diocese. Another semi-local cathedral worth a visit is the Cathedral of St. Paul. While important to each diocese and the universal church, cathedrals are not the only option for pilgrimage. We are also blessed because Wisconsin is home to multiple shrines to Mother Mary, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians. These places reserve the Blessed Sacrament, which means while we may go to visit Mary, she will bring us to her son. Therefore, as we are brought or run to Jesus, let me conclude with short prayer. Jesus, you beautifully instituted the Eucharist, help us to run to you in the Eucharist and accept your call to be members of your body, the church, through our reception and adoration of the Eucharist.

Scott Pederson
Seminarian for the Diocese of Superior