When I read this phrase, "Take me with you," I thought it might refer to the sentiments of a disciple seeking to journey with his master, like Elisha walking with Elijah before Elijah was taken up (2 Kgs. 2:2) or what the Apostles might have felt when Jesus said to them, "Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later" (Jn. 13:36). Actually, this phrase, "Take me with you," is the title of a book, the compilation of 13 notebooks written by Servant of God Vera Grita, a Salesian Cooperator. They are the words Jesus said to this holy woman, asking her to welcome His presence in her heart, family, the school where she taught, and all the places she would go. This little twist of interpretation, from a disciple seeking to journey with the Master to the Master asking to go everywhere with the disciple, caught me by surprise. It expresses the humility and patience of Jesus, the deep friendship He wants to have with every person, and His desire to continue the mission of announcing the Good News to every creature. How do I answer when Jesus says to me, "Take me with you," as I head to the office, visit a confrere, or spend some time with family and friends? I have to admit that my soul might say, "Come along," but honestly my habits would respond, "You stay here, and I’ll be back later," or "I’ve got this under control." Vera Grita felt that Jesus was asking her to help Him move out of the church made of wood or stone and move into the hearts of all people. Through mystical experiences, the Lord communicated to Vera her work of the "living tabernacles."
The Rector Major draws attention to Servant of God Vera Grita in this year's strenna. He writes that her life "attests first of all to an all-embracing Eucharistic orientation, which became explicit, especially in her final years of life." He concludes, "Today’s world attests to a great need for the Eucharist."
The marvelous witness of Vera Grita made me question, "What are our communities doing to respond to the world’s great need for the Eucharist?" How are we helping people become living tabernacles? Of course, every community has daily Mass, usually with parishioners, colleagues, or young people present. Two-thirds of our Salesian presences offer Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament open to the public on a regular basis. In almost all our works, there are extraordinary ministers of Communion and lay ministers who bring Communion to the sick or elderly. Some of our churches or chapels are able to stay open during the day so people can make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. The Marian Shrine will host the Vatican Exhibit of Eucharistic Miracles, from Thursday, May 4, through Tuesday, May 9. Some Salesian presences will organize a Eucharistic procession for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. We are doing a good amount to help people to encounter Jesus, present in the Eucharist. How do we help them become living tabernacles, willing to "take Jesus with them" wherever they go?
The Catholic Church in the USA is well into the first year of a three-year National Eucharistic Revival. The emphasis this year, until the Solemnity of Corpus Christ on Sunday, June 11, is participation in diocesan events. Beginning Sunday, June 11, the next year will put emphasis on participation in parish or local events. This year concludes with the National Eucharistic Congress on July 17-21, 2024, in Indianapolis, IN. The final year, which lasts from July 21, 2024, through Pentecost 2025, will be a year of going out on mission. Inspired by Vera Grita, our Salesian Family can make a valuable contribution to the Eucharistic Revival. We can tell the story of Vera Grita, follow her example of living with an all-embracing Eucharistic orientation, and further the work of the living tabernacle by forming missionary disciples.
God bless you all,