I consider my deepening relationship with Our Lord in his Eucharistic Presence to be one of the most profound blessings in my life and I have to say, it is all his doing. I have to admit, I become emotional even as I write these words because the Lord has blessed me so deeply as he has drawn me closer to his Sacred Heart in the Eucharist. As I begin to share, I must pause to acknowledge the role of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, the mother of every priest and the woman that has become my mother in a profound way. I was blessed with a natural mother who started me on the path of faith and I pray she is overjoyed to know how kindly the Blessed Virgin has placed her mantle of intercession and love over me. I have to credit Our Lady and Our Lord with the wonders they have wrought in my life.

All of the above begins to speak to how significant a deepening relationship with Christ in the Eucharistic is for every person in the human family. It is deeply tragic that too many in our time have lost this golden thread of truth. Hopefully, this broken reality enhances the deep gratitude we feel that by the grace of God, we do know the truth of the Eucharist. Let us humbly seek to evangelize the world with this profoundly good news.

In prayer I often find myself wondering why me? Why do I find myself drawn so deeply into Eucharistic faith and coming to know the Lord more and more profoundly? The answer of course, is the complete and resounding gift of grace. 

Domine non sum dignus, “Lord I am not worthy,” is simply a statement of fact for me and for every person. I suppose the question “why me?” is a natural response but it highlights the reality that it is rather daring to even ask the question. The best approach is to simply be profoundly grateful for the free gift of God’s love. 

In this context developing an ever deeper relationship with Our Lord and his Eucharistic Face becomes a must. To know him is to love him. And one is compelled to grow closer to him as we become more aware of the mystery of his great love for us.  

Moving on from wondering why I have been so blessed, a profound responsibility begins to dawn on me. I’m reminded of a phrase my mother often repeated: “Of those who have been given much, much will be expected.” She said this in the context of our Catholic faith and I have come to know just how weighty this statement is. The Lord has given us himself completely and as we come to know him it begins to dawn on us that we must be willing to pour ourselves out as he poured himself out. Completely! 

My journey into Jesus in the Eucharist has challenged me to seek ever deeper reverence for him in every facet of his presence with us. If you feel called to deeper faith in the Real Presence of Jesus on the altar at every Mass, I urge you to join me in seeking a more profound devotion to him. We can never plumb the depths of his love, but in striving, a wondrous transformation can happen for us and for our world. Jesus promised he would never leave us and I know he has kept his promise. Let us turn to him and live fully as people of his promise.

By Bishop Joseph E. Strickland

Bishop Strickland was born the sixth child of Raymond and Monica Strickland in 1958. He grew up near Atlanta, Texas, where the Strickland’s were founding members of St. Catherine of Siena Church. On June 1, 1985, Strickland was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Dallas by Bishop Thomas Tschoepe at St. Monica Catholic Church. Upon the creation of the Diocese of Tyler in 1987, Father Strickland joined the presbyterate of the new diocese and was named the first vocation director in March of 1987 by Bishop Charles Herzig. In August of 1992, he was assigned to study canon law at Catholic University of America. After completing his licentiate (JCL) in canon law in May of 1994, Father Strickland was assigned by Bishop Edmond Carmody as pastor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler. He was appointed judicial vicar for the diocese in 1995 and was named a Prelate of Honor with the title of Monsignor by Pope John Paul II in 1996. In September of 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named Msgr. Strickland as the fourth Bishop of Tyler. He was consecrated as bishop on November 28, 2012 by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.