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Join me for a powerful public witness to our faith at Behold KC

Joseph F. Naumann is Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann

During this Easter season, many of our children are receiving the Eucharist for the first time. It is beautiful to witness their enthusiasm and excitement to receive the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

It is almost 70 years since I made my first Communion. I still have memories of that day. My family was very excited for me. I was showered with gifts and congratulations. I had been well prepared for the sacrament. I was aware that I was receiving Jesus, the Lord of lords and King of kings. I longed to receive God that day.

I also remember being underwhelmed with the actual taste of the Blessed Sacrament. It was not distasteful but just very ordinary. I am not certain what I was expecting. At the time, my favorite foods were probably M&M’s, Hershey’s chocolate and ice cream. Though my favorite foods have remained constant through my lifetime, hopefully my faith has matured during those almost 70 years!

The Eucharist is a continuation of the Incarnation — God immersing himself into our humanity. The Creator of the cosmos reveals a remarkable humility by choosing to become an embryo in the womb of Mary, being born into the humble circumstances of Bethlehem, growing up in the small, insignificant town of Nazareth, spending most of his adult life as a laborer — a carpenter — and exercising his public ministry in a small geographic area that was in the obscure backwaters of the mighty Roman Empire.

The Second Person of the Triune God further humbled himself by submitting to the cruel humiliation of being executed as a common criminal on Calvary. Why? In order that you and I might know the depth of God’s love for us and have access to divine mercy. It is this great act of amazing love that is made present to us at each and every Mass.

It should not surprise us that this God, who pursued us by becoming a human being in order that we could share in his divine and eternal life, would also devise a way to be present to human beings through all time. Nor should it startle us that Jesus chose to make himself present to us in a very humble and unassuming manner.

The church in the United States is in the midst of a three-year national pastoral initiative to foster Eucharistic Revival, a reawakening for the miracle that occurs at each and every Mass. St. John Paul II wrote his last encyclical letter on the Eucharist in the hope of fostering among all Catholics what he termed “eucharistic amazement.”

In his encyclical, St. John Paul quoted St. Ignatius of Antioch, who described the Eucharist as “an antidote for death and a medicine for immortality.” Meditate on those words for a few moments. Every time we receive holy Communion, we are receiving “an antidote for death and a medicine for immortality.”

On Saturday, May 4, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas is co-sponsoring with the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri a local experience of Eucharistic Revival. Behold KC promises to be an inspiring and historic eucharistic celebration in the heart of Kansas City.  It will be held on the North Lawn of the World War I Museum and Memorial, across from Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri.

The site is a historic gathering place for the Kansas City metro community — a place of celebration and civic pride. It is also a place where last February, during the Super Bowl victory celebration, we were tragically reminded of our broken world and our desperate need for God’s mercy and healing.

The date and site were chosen because, on May 4, 1941, when our nation was on the verge of entering World War II, tens of thousands of Kansas City Catholics gathered for prayer and eucharistic adoration at this same place. We want to reclaim prayerfully and consecrate this space as holy ground for the people of Missouri and Kansas.

Behold KC will begin at 4 p.m. with local choirs leading us in prayer with inspirational music. Priests from both Kansas and Missouri will be available for the sacrament of reconciliation (confessions) from 4-6 p.m. The rosary will be prayed at 6 p.m. and Mass will be celebrated at 6:30 p.m. After Mass, from 8-9 p.m., there will be a time of eucharistic adoration. The closing ceremony will be at 9 p.m. Behold KC will conclude at 9:30 p.m.

Please go to the Behold KC website for more information about the event, parking options and other important details. Plan to bring your own seating (camp chairs, blankets, etc.), as there will be only limited seating available.

I have given pastors permission to cancel their Saturday evening vigil Masses so that our priests and parishioners can attend. Of course, our parishes will have their usual Sunday Mass schedule. For the convenience of elderly parishioners, some parishes will have Saturday evening Mass.

Several parishes will have buses transporting parishioners to Behold KC. Please check with your parish about plans to participate, as well as confession and Mass schedules for the May 4-5 weekend.

This is an incredible opportunity to join with Catholics from Kansas and Missouri to pray together and celebrate the gift of the Eucharist. It is also a chance to give witness of our faith in God and our love for Jesus to the entire Kansas City Metro community.

It always intrigues me that people will gather in the tens of thousands for athletic events. In the case of football, in the freezing cold, people gather hours before a game to tailgate. Tens of thousands show up for concerts of celebrated musical artists.

They not only show up for these events, but they pay a small fortune for the privilege to attend. Just a week ago, Sporting KC played a soccer game with tens of thousands in attendance at Arrowhead because the legendary soccer star, Lionel Messi, was playing for the opposing team.

I am praying that thousands of Catholics will show up for Behold KC on May 4. What a beautiful opportunity for each of us to give public witness to the importance of our Christian faith and our love for the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. There is no cost, other than your time.

In 1979, when Pope John Paul II made his first pastoral visit to Poland, more than a million people crowded into Warsaw’s Victory Square for the celebration of Mass. Still under the rule of atheistic communism, more than a million people began to chant: “We want God!” This was the beginning of the collapse of communism in Poland and the end of the so-called Iron Curtain that kept so many enslaved to godless regimes.

On May 4, we will have the opportunity to make a powerful public statement that God is at the center of our lives, that we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, that we love the gift of our Catholic faith and that we believe and treasure the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

In a culture and a society that in so many ways seems to be turning away from God, we have the opportunity to proclaim that Kansas City wants God, loves God and worships God. Jesus Christ will be present — body, blood, soul and divinity. How about you? Do you have something more important to do than receive an antidote for death and a medicine for immortality?

About the author

Archbishop Joseph Naumann

Joseph F. Naumann is the archbishop for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

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