A household common room became a room of enlightenment on Wednesday evening, Feb. 8, as the Rev. Sean Sheridan, T.O.R. discussed the Eucharist as a concept of humility, in light of Franciscan spirituality.
Fishers of Men household hosted a talk in their common room titled by Sheridan on the Eucharist. The night began with the T.O.R. invitation to prayer, the same prayer which the friars recite each day in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Following a handout distributed to attendants before the talk began, Sheridan expounded upon the transcendent nature of the Eucharist.
“The Eucharist is the source and summit of who we are as Catholics,” said Sheridan, employing a phrase which he noted is present in the Catechism, but which first originated from the Second Vatican Council.
Sheridan cited the importance that St. Francis placed on the Eucharist in his own life, as well as the saint’s efforts at the Fourth Lateran Council to more formally recognize the Blessed Sacrament as an invitation of grace.
“Francis was an active participant in that discussion,” said Sheridan. “He had a very strong Eucharistic spirituality.”
The T.O.R. next explained the origins of the Eucharistic prayer as is derived from the narrative of the Last Supper. In that the Catholic Church currently celebrates Liturgical Year A, Sheridan elected to read from Matthew 26:26-29.
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread,” Sheridan quoted, concluding four short verses later. Sheridan next read from the Gospel of John, noting the presence of the Bread of Life Discourse in place of the institution of the Eucharist found in the synoptics.
“Jesus is giving his disciples an example to follow,” said Sheridan. Sheridan drew parallels between the disciples of Christ and students of Franciscan University, giving the example of service with the washing of the feet.
Sheridan said, “Jesus becomes Eucharist for us, and encourages us to be the servants of each other. Through the service we do for each other, we put Eucharist into action.”
Sheridan said the Eucharist is important because of its existence as the lifeblood of Catholicism. Sheridan gave the example of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
“(Mother Teresa) insisted that her sisters participate in a daily Holy Hour,” said Sheridan.
Sheridan said it was because so much of their ministry brought them into contact with Jesus in the poor and the lepers.
“We might fool ourselves into thinking we keep secrets from God,” said Sheridan. “But the more generously we give in response to what God gives to us, the more we live out the Eucharist in our daily lives.”
After reciting and discussing excerpts from St. Francis’s “Letter to the Entire Order” and St. Bonaventure’s “Major Legend,” Sheridan concluded as he had begun: with an insistence that those listening take to heart the Franciscan understanding of the Eucharist.
“Hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves, so that he who gives himself totally to you may receive you totally,” said Sheridan, quoting Saint Francis. Sheridan mentioned with a smile that the quote was featured on the backs of the cards distributed at both his solemn profession of vows, and at his installation as president of the university.
“I can’t think of any location where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved in more spaces in a confined area than right here, at Franciscan University,” said Sheridan, reminding students to take advantage of such opportunities not only for the reception of the sacrament, but for adoration both in the Portiuncula Chapel and in dormitory chapels.
Those who receive the Eucharist “are eternally changed, forever,” said Sheridan, before taking questions from those packed into the space, and overflowing into the dormitory hallway.
By both example and speech, university president Sheridan emphasized a position of meekness, one he exudes on a daily basis.
In following the Franciscan charism of humility, Sheridan said the graces of the Eucharist are poured out toward a simple end: “to do those things that we need to do every day.”