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the disciples recounted in the Scriptures. Meeting Jesus Christ changed

everything. As Pope Benedict XVI stated, “Being Christian is not the

result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event,

a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”



Pope Francis says, we must be convinced of the importance of this encoun-

ter if we will find the strength share our faith: “It is impossible to persevere

in a fervent evangelization unless we are convinced from personal expe-

rience that it is not the same thing to have known Jesus as not to have

known him, not the same thing to walk with him as to walk blindly, not

the same thing to hear his word as not to know it, and not the same thing

to contemplate him, to worship him, to find our peace in him, as not to. It

is not the same thing to try to build the world with his Gospel as to try to

do so by our own lights.”


Pope Francis invites “all Christians, everywhere,

at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or

at least an openness to letting him encounter them.”


What does it mean to have a “personal encounter with Jesus Christ”?

An encounter with Jesus Christ can come in any way that the Holy Spirit

leads, and the Church provides many ways to experience Jesus intimately

such as through prayer, the sacraments, adoration, Scripture, and the

works of mercy. The public profession of one’s faith through active partic-

ipation in prayer and the sacraments (most especially the Eucharist and

Penance) is essential in living a life of discipleship. The ancient art of

lectio divina

, whereby time is set aside to prayerfully meditate and reflect

on the Scriptures, opens one’s heart and mind, allowing the Lord to speak

through his Word. The Eucharist is the most intimate way in which Jesus

Christ is present to us because he himself is the sacrament. He is fully

present in the Eucharist. Every time we participate in the celebration of

the Eucharist, we enter anew into the truth that Christ gave his very life

for each one of us. When we receive the Lord himself, we are transformed

and are able to become more and more like him. This encounter is at the

core of who we are as Christians, and our hope is to one day join St. Paul

in saying, “Yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).

By his Real Presence in the Eucharist, Christ fulfills his promise to be

with us “always, until the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). By participating in

the Mass, each one of us has the opportunity to encounter Jesus Christ in

the most profound way possible.

Increasingly, we recognize that generosity of spirit and commitment

to charity and justice are vehicles to bring people more fully into a rela-