“Living with a heart of thanksgiving is an antidote to the cancel culture we live in,” said Dominican Sister of Saint Cecilia Sr. Mary Agatha to open a women’s gathering centered on the theme of a personal Eucharistic revival.
The April 21 event was part of “Gathered,” a speaker series started by St. Anne, Somerset, parishioner Susie Schmitt. Schmitt, a young professional in marketing, began the initiative last fall to bring women of all ages together monthly for mingling, fellowship and inspiration.
Sr. Mary Agatha was invited in a nod to the upcoming Eucharistic Revival called for by the United States bishops. The Dominican sister teaches at St. Croix Catholic School in Stillwater. A convert to Catholicism during college, she said the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist was an important element of her coming into the church.
The talk was titled, “A Eucharistic Heart – Taken, Blessed, Broken, Given,” referencing verse 22 of Mark’s Gospel, chapter 14. Around 30 women shared refreshments and conversation before the speaker took the podium.
“My English students would laugh that I’m talking about verbs with you,” Sr. Mary Agatha said. “These action words – a Eucharistic heart does all four of those things. I have to know and experience divine love,” she said to explain the being “taken,” recognizing what Christ did to “seize and save” each person.
Reflecting on being blessed, Sr. Mary Agatha suggested how countercultural it is to live striving to see the good and the little gifts all around us. As well, remembering God’s blessings helps, she said, “to remember that the Lord loves me and is with me.”
“Eucharistic Hearts know that they are broken,” she continued, acknowledging this is one of the harder concepts to accept. “Never underestimate the damage done to you by original sin … We live in a fallen world and are in desperate need of grace … Never underestimate how much grace God is giving you in every moment,” affirmed the sister.
“We are all lovable in our mess,” Sr. Mary Agatha asserted and added that living in that realization allows for seeing others, who humanly might challenge us or make us feel lesser than, as other unique persons who are striving for the same happiness, “just like me.”
The speaker said this also leads to allowing one’s heart to be broken by the pain in the world and developing an intercessory heart.
“Eucharistic hearts know they are given,” Sr. Mary Agatha said, “but broken first. That is the prerequisite for being given and shared.”
Sr. Mary Agatha added, “Don’t try to be given before the other steps – they have to follow that right order.”
The advice woven throughout the brief reflections was to spend time with Jesus – the first to be taken, blessed, broken and given. Whenever possible, be with him in his Eucharistic presence in adoration and in the tabernacle.
“We become like those we spend time with,” she said, stating how longingly he waits to encounter those who seek him out. “Jesus wants to transform our hearts. He wants to give himself and you to the world.”
For each of the four words, Sr. Mary Agatha suggested a brief exercise. Each exercise was explained and practiced; her intention was to give listeners something concrete to take away and incorporate as a regular personal practice.
The first, a Litany of Belonging, related to being taken. The exercise was to reflect on “Who does God say that I am? Who am I to him?” and centered on the identity as a child of God and subject of salvation history.
Second, Sr. Mary Agatha offered a Litany of Gratitude exercise. For this she suggested writing down God’s blessings. By remembering that we are blessed, we can, in turn, become a blessing for others.
A Litany of Intercessions and Surrender was the third exercise. The speaker emphasized the “and surrender,” saying it takes time and courage. She encouraged reflecting on personal needs and those of others, doing the same with surrender – acknowledging need and inviting the Lord into that.
Lastly, the exercise for being given was to practice a “Eucharistic smile.” She noted how much she has valued being able to share and see smiles that were hidden for so long behind masks.
“Smile a smile that says ‘I know I am blessed by the Lord, and you are too,’” she added.
The presentation ended with the official Prayer for the Eucharistic Revival:
My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love you!
I beg pardon for those who do not believe, nor adore, nor hope, nor love you.
Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore you profoundly.
I offer you the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which he is offended.
And, through the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of May, I beg of you the conversion of sinners. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
The Eucharistic-themed presentation was second to last in the first eight-month series of Gathered events started by Schmitt at the Somerset Catholic parish.
Speaking with the Catholic Herald, Schmitt shared that some sort of ongoing women’s gathering was something she’d been thinking about starting for a while. It started with her participation at a women’s Catholic conference that encouraged attendees to come up with an action plan using their gifts and talents for the church.
After putting together an online survey to gauge interest, she was pleasantly surprised with the more than 50 responses and the energy around the idea. Her pastor gave his approval, and she decided the series would run monthly from October through May.
Event planning aligns with Schmitt’s marketing background and came naturally to the young woman.
“It’s cool to see how my ‘yes,’ my one step, gave God the chance to take the next 10,” she shared.
One of her primary goals with the group was to establish a multigenerational community of support and friendship. The desire for that sense of community was also influenced by the pandemic.
She clarified that the fellowship that takes place at each monthly gathering is unstructured and meant to provide an opportunity for conversing and getting to know others. Affirming that she’s benefitted from Bible studies and other formation-focused events, Schmitt said having half the event be social is very intentional.
The group meets monthly on the second Thursday of the month, October through May, from 7-9 p.m. Schmitt has sought out local speakers to present on topics that would be of interest and enrichment for women of all ages. There is no cost to attend, but freewill offerings are taken to cover costs.
Schmitt may be contacted at .
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