From the Catholic Sentinel:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Attendance at Mass remains central to Catholics’ faith because they must be nourished by Jesus’ body and blood or they will not remain strong Catholics, said Bishop Peter J. Jugis of Charlotte.
“Take a moment to ask yourself: Why do you go to Mass?” he said in his homily for the closing Mass of the 2014 Eucharistic Congress in Charlotte.
He emphasized that Catholics need the Eucharist to remain focused on Christ and keep their faith alive.
“You need the Eucharist. You need Jesus. If you think you can live a Christian life without Jesus, you are mistaken,” he said at the Sept. 20 Mass. “You are not really living. A Catholic without the Eucharist will not remain a strong Catholic for long. One’s faith will become watered down, if he is not constantly being fed by Jesus.”
The 10th annual congress, organized by the Diocese of Charlotte, focused on the theme “Behold, I make all things new,” from Chapter 21, Verse 5 of the Book of Revelation. It drew an estimated 13,000 people to the Charlotte Convention Center for Mass and eucharistic adoration, confession, educational talks and music Sept. 19-20. [13k!]
“Sometimes if we are not careful,” Bishop Jugis said in his homily, “our Mass attendance can become routine,” a habit that Catholics don’t really think about.
During the congress, 7,000 Catholics participated in a eucharistic procession through downtown Charlotte.
Marie De Mayo, a member of St. Gabriel Church in Charlotte, recalled attendance at the first congress, when 3,500 Catholics processed through downtown — an unusual sight for the majority Protestant region.
“As the procession was moving along Tryon Street that first year, there were a lot of curious stares from non-Catholics, construction workers hanging on windows,” she told the Catholic News Herald, Charlotte’s diocesan newspaper. “Even policemen did not know what to make of the bishop, priests and devout Catholics in total devotion, silence and prayer.”
“As the Lord was passing and families knelt down, there was a hush of the real presence of Jesus blessing the people and the city,” she added.
Now, she said, “after 10 years, the numbers have increased greatly as more Catholics participate.”