Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator  

Shock overwhelmed Father Charbel Jamhoury when he read a report in September revealing that approximately 30-31 percent of Catholics do not believe the Eucharist is truly the body and blood of Christ.  

Eucahrist.jpg

His disappointment was understandable, as the Eucharist is personal to the St. Agnes Church in Baton Rouge pastor for several reasons, including a random encounter with a fellow priest in Italy in 2010. So Father Jamhoury went to the pulpit over the course of several weeks in late September and October to deliver powerful messages regarding the Eucharist.  

His bulletin messages during that time also focused on the body and blood of Christ being present during the Mass, and that theme spilled over into Advent.  

Wanting to go “deeper and deeper,” Father Jamhoury decided to focus this year’s Lenten reflections on eucharistic miracles.  

But Bishop Michael G. Duca encouraged Father Jamhoury to go even further, advising him not to go straight to the eucharistic miracles but first develop the concept of the Eucharist from the Bible, and the fathers of the church.  

“The image became clearer and clearer,” said Father Jamhoury, and born out of his prayers was a declaration of 2020 as “Adoremus! The Year of the Eucharist” at St. Agnes.  

“By renewing our focus on, and increasing reverence for and devotion to the Holy Eucharist, St. Agnes Church hopes and prays that its members, friends, visitors and the entire community will be inspired to worship God more reverently by actively and purposefully allowing Jesus in the holy Eucharist to speak intimately and personally to each in our own hearts,” he said. “I think the Eucharist will only help us to understand our true identity as consecrated people called to consecrate in holiness and love the people of God especially (in) our daily prayers.”  

Father Jamhoury outlined several goals for the year, including studying Scripture and papal documents through prayer; asking Mary and saints to instruct parishioners for active participation in the Mass; meditating on the intimate link between the Eucharist and the cross; receiving Jesus in Communion with great desire; and adoring Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament.  

“Jesus is not an idea or a feeling or a memory,” Father Jamhoury said. “Jesus is a living person, always present among us.”  

Ten monthly evenings are scheduled, with the first held in January, that include adoration from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the church, followed by refreshments in the cafeteria. Beginning at 7 p.m. and scheduled to last one hour, a video of a Dr. Brant Petri lecture will be shown and discussed, with each week offering a particular theme.  

Some of the topics include introducing the Eucharist, the Garden of Eden and sacrifice, the sacrifice of Isaac and the Passover Lamb. 

No presentations are scheduled in March and April because of Lent.  

“My intention is to gather our parish community, one heart and body, and read and hear about the Eucharist from Dr. Petri,” Father Jamhoury said. 

Additionally, an hour of adoration specificially dedicated to praying for vocations, especially in the Diocese of Baton Rouge, is scheduled on the first Saturday of every month from 9-10 a.m. 

Lenten reflections are scheduled each Wednesday of Lent after the 5:30 p.m. Mass. Included in the reflections are praying the Divine Mercy chaplet and reading one of the recent eucharistic miracles. 

“This year presents for our parish an opportunity to meditate, pray and listen to the Lord and also to preach the Gospel and evangelize, bringing people back to a relationship with the eucharistic Lord,” Father Jamhoury said. 

A personal encounter while on pilgrimage a decade ago in Italy inspired Father Jamhoury’s thirst for a greater knowledge of eucharistic miracles. He said while visiting St. Legontian Church in Lanciano, the site of the first eucharistic miracle, a priest that was a stranger to Father Jamhoury walked up to him and said, “You trust.” 

“I was shocked and curious to know why,” he said. “In my mind this guy does not know I’m a priest. I followed him to his office.” 

The priest handed Father Jamhoury brochures regarding eucharistic miracles which piqued his interest. 

“I started to read more and more about eucharistic miracles,” he said, which has ultimately led to a special 2020 for his parishioners. 

“This is (God’s) plan for St. Agnes: a place where we are invited to discover our wickedness and to confess our illness and wait to be touched by his healing hands,” he said.