I was privileged to interview Father Jonathan Meyer who has begun ministering as a National Preacher for the Eucharistic Revival. The revival officially begins in the United States on June 19, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Father Meyer is pastor of All Saints Church in Dearborn County, IN, which includes four historic parishes. He also maintains a presence on the internet with weekly homilies and other teachings. Additionally, Father Meyer has written and published two children’s plays and recently written a chapter for Dynamic Catholic’s book, Beautiful Hope. In his spare time, he coaches Track and Cross Country at public schools. Following is the transcript of the interview.
What role will Eucharistic preachers play in the Eucharistic Revival?
The United States Bishops Conference has never done anything of this sort before. There is a lot of uncertainty. All we had to do is commit to giving two to five talks somewhere. People have to actually request one of the fifty preachers to make the process work. Dioceses or parishes will contact the United States Bishops Conference and request a preacher and the preacher will then be assigned. The best case scenario is that everybody contacts the United States Bishops Conference and requests a preacher and we travel all around the country preaching about the true presence of Jesus.
How did your devotion to the Eucharist develop?
I was born and raised Catholic in a split home in the sense that my dad was Lutheran and my mom was Catholic. My dad converted to Catholicism when I was in 8th grade. I think just because my dad was a Lutheran and my mom was a Catholic my family was very Christian but not outrageously Catholic. We didn’t pray the nightly Rosary. However, we celebrated Advent and went to the Stations of the Cross on Friday. I really never remember in my life being taught about the true presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament until I was in seminary itself.
So my conversion story is a little bit of an interesting one. I went to college my freshman and sophomore year at a state university with the desire to be a track and cross country coach and a history teacher. And while I was at university, I became a non-denominational Christian and grew in a tremendous, tremendous love of our Lord. And it was actually by a non-denominational Christian that I felt called to be a priest. I couldn’t really reconcile why God was calling me to be a priest and my deep love for Jesus which, in my experience, I’d never seen a Catholic have. So I believed that God was calling me to convert Catholics. So, I entered the seminary and I’d never prayed the Rosary in my life, I was pro-choice and I did not believe that Jesus was present in the Blessed Sacrament. And my first few weeks and months as a seminarian were mind-boggling and overflowing with joy as I came to encounter these realities. And I realized that God was calling me to convert Catholics, but Catholics like myself who were asleep to the fullness of the faith and needed to be awakened to the truth.
My Eucharistic awakening took place when my mom gave me her First Communion prayer book and I read from front page to back page. And it was like scales falling from my eyes as I read that Jesus was present in the Blessed Sacrament, that He was present in the tabernacle, and I felt like a fool for not knowing this. Actually I believe it was probably frustration and contempt that no one had ever shared this with me. And I was tremendously thankful to my mother for sharing that First Communion book with me. And from that point on it’s been a constant passion of mine to help people come to know Jesus is truly present, not just an idea that He’s there but the person of Jesus Christ is there, that Jesus Himself is waiting for us with His eyes, ears, the person of Jesus is waiting for us in the tabernacle to come and waste time with Him.
You have Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration at your parish. What are some of the fruits you’ve seen?
I was blessed as a seminarian to come into a knowledge of Perpetual Adoration. A seminarian who was a friend of mine had it at his parish. I, of course, had never heard about Perpetual Adoration. But, once I heard about it—since the Church believes that the person of Jesus is present there—I would go to the chapel quite often. So, as a newly ordained priest, thanks be to God both of my two assignments as an associate pastor were churches that had Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration—Our Lady of the Greenwood and St. Luke’s Church on the north side of Indianapolis. And it was the experience in my priesthood that people went to Perpetual Adoration. It was a norm that people were on the property twenty-four hours a day, cars would come and cars would leave. And I had the opportunity to see my parishioners coming to Jesus all throughout day. And then when I was made a pastor for the first time in 2009, it was the first time that I had a parish that didn’t have Perpetual Adoration. And I realized there was an emptiness, so I began to embark on opening a Perpetual Adoration chapel and so I had the blessing of opening a chapel there. In 2013, I was changed to where I’m currently at and we opened Perpetual Adoration here at All Saints. And my assignment just got adjusted last year in July and I have my eyes set on opening another Perpetual Adoration chapel because I think it’s quintessential—people need commitments and we need a set place to go encounter our Lord in the midst of it.
What are some of the benefits that a parish receives from Adoration?
So, particularly from Perpetual Adoration, you clearly see an increase in people coming to daily Mass, you see people come to Confession, you see people begin to read the lives of the saints, because while there at Adoration after praying the Rosary or reading the Scripture they then begin to read the lives of the experts of the spiritual life, so you see a great deepening. But then you also see great community. Most people don’t associate it with Perpetual Adoration, however it’s very true. People who have Perpetual Adoration will have small intimate conversations before and after each hour with the person who is replacing them. And sometimes the deepest prayer intentions are shared. And I am very convinced that it really does build great community. I believe that vocations are fostered. At our parish particularly, without my asking it, a direct fruit of Perpetual Adoration has been a group of people at my parish on Saturday morning that meet together and now are doing door to door evangelization. They knock on doors and they will all attest to the fact that they were led to do door to door evangelization because of Perpetual Adoration. Their time with Jesus eventually led them to ask the question “How do we share Jesus with others?”
Could you give readers advice on spending time before the Blessed Sacrament?
It is important to have a scheduled routine to get there, prior to Mass, after Mass, a committed hour. I talk to a young adults about spending ten minutes with our Lord and making a routine to spend time with Him.
Try to sit in silence realize that He is there and you are there. There is a great story of St. John Vianney. He asked a parishioner who made long visits every day in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament what he said to our Lord. The man replied, “I say nothing to Him, I look at Him and He looks at me, and we are happy.” Ultimately, a great goal of adoration is just to be with God. Of course, we can read Scripture, we can pray the rosary, we can read books, but I think that one of the most beautiful things at adoration is just to sit with Jesus.
And when our minds wander or we start thinking of other things to try to just refocus our minds oftentimes using what I refer to as ACTS (Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication). So, Adoration – I love you, Contrition – I’m Sorry, Thanksgiving – Thank You, Jesus, and Supplication – Jesus, this is what I need. If you have 20 seconds at Adoration you can say all of those. Or, you can spend ten minutes telling Jesus how much you love Him, ten minutes asking for forgiveness, ten minutes telling Him what you’re thankful for, and ten minutes asking Him for what you need. ACTS can be a great blessing for people who are waiting to enter into that time of silence. And lastly the saints, we have our blessed brothers and sisters who sit with us in adoration, I think it’s important for us to remember that they are with us in Adoration. St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John Vianney, St. Josemaria Escriva—their Eucharistic writings and devotions and prayers can be such an aid to us to help us focus on Jesus.
What suggestions do you have for parishes, priests, and laity about how they can help with the Eucharistic revival?
First and foremost, it has to be an individual conversion. So make sure that your relationship with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is where it should be. So, we ourselves: Do I genuflect with reverence? Am I attentive at Mass? Do I pray with reverence at Mass? Do I also then live with Eucharistic joy? The two ugliest things in the world are someone in the service industry who doesn’t have joy—so a waiter or a waitress or a stewardess or a nurse. The second ugliest thing is a Christian who is trying to promote the Gospel but doesn’t have joy. The Eucharistic revival is going to take place by individuals who encounter Jesus, believe that Jesus is truly there, and then want to go and share this unbelievable truth with joy. Individuals need to clearly reflect upon their own relationship with Jesus and how to live that.
Second, to get involved. So, to be involved in your parish when it comes to the ability to be involved with liturgical ministries, or be involved with focusing on how we decorate our Churches so that the focus is on Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament or Jesus in the tabernacle, or to get involved in Perpetual Adoration or an apostolate for Perpetual Adoration, beginning to encourage adoration. I speak with so many brother priests and they will say things like “I would love to have more adoration in my Church, but I can’t get my people to go.” So, if you are an individual who believes in adoration, then maybe God is inviting you to talk to all of your brothers and sisters and relatives and friends in the parish and to get them to sign up for adoration so that the priest will have adoration more commonly and more regularly.
I would also say that what needs to happen in the Eucharistic revival is catechesis in the parish. There are so many Bibles and book studies and small group studies that you can do that focus on the Eucharist. And anyone can start one on their own. You can just call up five people and say “Hey, we’re going to do a study on The Jewish Roots in the Eucharist, The Fourth Cup, or The Lamb’s Supper by Scott Hahn, and I’m going to make a difference in four people’s lives. And then they can make a difference in other people’s lives.
And I think also we need to pray and fast for priests and pray and fast for vocations. If there are no vocations there are no priests. And if there are no priests there is no Eucharist and if there is no Eucharist there is no Church. So, praying and fasting for vocations and praying and fasting for our priests to have joy to witness to the Eucharist. Try to make a difference in your parish to recruit and train altar servers that will bring glory to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.