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The Eucharistic Crusade in the United States

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Introduction: The Eucharistic Crusade in the United States. When one makes the Spiritual Exercises in a meditation on the Incarnation, starting the second week they’re asked to see and discover how the three Divine Persons looked down on the whole surface of the earth and behold all the nations in great blindness going down to death and descending into hell.

In today’s world, despite its Christian roots, the demons rule supreme over millions of former Catholics who, as apostates, will certainly be going down to death and descending into hell if they die unrepentant.

Reconversion for them is humanly impossible. Father Hardon calls for a full blown crusade, especially among the young. They are hungry for the truth; the living reality of the presence of Christ for whom all things are possible. When they are taught and believe this there is no stopping them. They will, starting with their families and peers, sweep America literally off its feet and onto its knees. Let’s hear how to get Christ’s army started in order to save millions from hell.

Father Hardon:

Shall we begin will a prayer?

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Mary, Mother of the Sacred Heart- Pray for us.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Our present conference is on the Eucharistic Crusade. First we should make it clear that the Eucharistic Crusade is a special part of the Apostleship of Prayer. Their crusade concentrates on the spiritual and doctrinal formation of children from their youngest years through adolescent. Through the Eucharistic Crusade young people are prepared to live above ordinary Christian life and to become trained in the apostolic spirit of bringing others to know and love Jesus Christ.

To be stressed is that the Eucharistic Crusade is not simply a pious association somehow devoted to the Sacred Heart and to honor the Blessed Sacrament. It is nothing less than a school of formation whose purpose is to train young people—I repeat—from their tenderest years in the fullness of Christian living. It is nothing less than to have the Kingdom of Christ both taught to the young and offer to the young as the great ambition of their lives.

As we know from the gospels, by the 'Kingdom of God, Kingdom of Christ' we mean what the gospel of Christianity makes so clear: that God became man in order to become the King of the Universe. On earth His kingdom is the Church which He founded. In eternity His kingdom is the Church triumphant. On earth however, this kingdom places grave responsibilities for the personal holiness. Holiness of those who call themselves Christians and Catholics. But watch it. Not only to sanctify them individually, but to inspire them to labor (and I mean labor!) for the salvation and sanctification of others.

The Eucharistic Crusade is adapted to the spiritual and mental capacity of young people. Its purpose is to give them a solid foundation for understanding, with their minds, their Christian Catholic faith, and to inspire them with zeal to share this faith with everyone whom God puts into their lives. They are to become clear that no one, no one, no one, ever enters their lives except to be brought closer to Jesus Christ.

So far the introduction. The History of the Eucharistic Crusade. The Eucharistic Crusade began in 1914 at the International Eucharistic Conference in Lourdes, France. Two years later it was formally established in response to Pope Benedict XV appeal to children and teenagers for prayers, sacrifices, and devotion to the Holy Eucharist. Remember, 1914 was the outbreak of the First World War. Since 1914, there have been more death casualties from wars fought throughout the world than in all the previous centuries from the dawn of human history up to 1914.

In other words, as we will see, the Eucharistic Crusade is a crusade! It is therefore a crusade in which the same Roman Pontiff Benedict XV identified himself by name, “I am your captain.” Pope Pious the XII more than once renewed this warm encouragement of his predecessors on the crusade. He further declared that the Eucharistic Crusade is a gift of God which fosters in the hearts of the young a sincere love for God and ardent zeal for souls. Two things to be kept in mind: A deep strong love for God and a correspondingly fervent zeal for souls. Pope John XXIII received a group of three thousand crusaders. He urged them to carry on their apostolate and said that he greatly relied on the crusade movement for the future: both the well-being of the Church on earth and the proclamation of the gospel to every human being.

Pope Paul VI spoke at a crusade rally in Rome. He very strongly praised the crusade and especially for the crusaders deep love of, and devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Unto the present Pontiff Pope John Paul II with his strong endorsement, the Eucharistic Crusade has grown immensely. One nation after another has not only embraced the Eucharistic Crusade but has fostered its emphasis on a program through out the world.

And now the dark side. I am still on the history. For about ten years the crusade existed and operated in the United States. But mysteriously in our country, after some ten years, the Eucharistic Crusade was dissolved during what I call the post Vatican II revolution. One reason for this conference is that I was ordered by my own Jesuit Father General to do everything that I can to bring the Eucharistic Crusade back into existence and activity, as he said, “Your country which desperately needs the Eucharistic Crusade.”

This teleconference is my first public declaration that the Eucharistic Crusade must be, it will be, restored in America. My hope [is] that today’s conference will open the door to what, please God, will be a new era of devotion to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and the Blessed Sacrament as a channel of grace for restoring authentic Christianity to the young members of Christ’s flock. Do they ever need it!

I am speaking in an empty, abandoned convent of sisters. One of thousands in America, where the formally dedicated women religious said, “we are sick and tired of being nurse maids to other people’s children.” What will follow in this conference is a simple analysis of one of the flourishing Eucharistic Crusades in Asia - where not, coincidentally, I am going tomorrow evening and as I have said so often, especially to Mother Theresa’s Missionaries of Charity. For Centuries people from Eastern and Western Europe and from the Americas went as missionaries to convert the people of Asia. Thank God there are now missionaries from Asia now converting us, (dare I say it) paganized Americans. Of course, [since] what I will share with you is being drawn, I say, on the present statutes of a flourishing and successful Eucharistic Crusade in India, we will need some minor adjustments for establishment in our country. But I will draw on the essence of the Eucharistic Crusade to well share with you what we must do in our own nation.

We go on. Standard norms of the Crusade. There are five standard norms (or principles) that the Eucharistic Crusade recognizes for its foundation in the apostolate. First, what we call the spirit of the Crusade. The Eucharistic Crusade does not center around an abstract ideal. Rather it concentrates on a living reality, no one less than the person of Jesus Christ. And here there are two elements in this spirit of the Crusade.

The first element is to grow in the knowledge and love of the Savior. I repeat: the first essential element of the Eucharistic Crusade is to have the young grow in the knowledge and love of the Savior. The second element is to foster again in the young and beginning with the youngest, the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ in others. On the first level, we must remind ourselves that young people have a great power for enthusiasm and admiration.

I am told by psychologists that the single deepest influence on the young is what they call “peer pressure.” In other words, they want to become like those who they know and admire. You might almost say that the young are “hero worshippers” by nature. Jesus Christ is surely the great hero whom the Crusaders ought to admire and imitate.

Jesus has caught the imagination of millions of young people. Captivated their minds and hearts and has raised their enthusiasm as no one else has ever done in human history. It is not coincidental that in God’s Providence that we now have two very young modern canonized saints: St. Dominic Savio, age 15, and Saint Maria Goretti, age 12. And the Church would not— she cannot—canonize anyone unless they have practiced heroic virtue. The young are capable, with God’s grace, of the heroism of following Jesus Christ. Now call it a warning.

The young Crusaders are not to be trained by telling them, “Do this or do not do that.” We train them by filling their minds and hearts with Jesus Christ. By attracting them to His Divine Person. By making them, shall we say, fall in love with Jesus, because they have been captivated by His superhuman beauty.

We want to make our young people totally dedicated to our Redeemer. In the words of the Second Vatican Council, “The focal point of the longings of history and civilization the center of the human race, the joy of every heart and the answer to all its yearnings is Christ. This is what the Eucharistic Crusade is all about. To make young people discover their friendship with Jesus and lead them to intimacy with Him.

That is part one of the spirit of the Crusade.

The second element is to cultivate in the Crusaders a love for Jesus which seeks to bring others either to believe in Christ if they don’t know Him yet, or to draw others closer to the Savior. In other words, the Eucharistic Crusade fosters not only personal love for the Incarnate God but wants to eagerly share this love with others.

The Crusaders may be called Christ’s army. Their aim is to extend the Kingdom of Christ, first in their own country, and then throughout the world. So dominant is this apostolic spirit that it fosters the ambition to make Jesus Christ known, loved and served in every human being on earth.

The Eucharistic Crusade is therefore apostolic by its very nature, as the name Crusade indicates. Just as the Crusaders of old mobilized in order to deliver the Holy Land, the Crusaders of today want to deliver souls from the moral captivity in which millions are now enslaved. More still, the Crusade has a spirit of conquest. It is nothing less than a holy campaign. It is not for nothing that the mystical body on earth is called the Church Militant. I am afraid (and I mean it) that for most Catholics the expression “Church Militant” is just a pious phrase.

The Crusade enlists the youngest members in Christ’s mystical body, which is the Church Militant, in order that they may be deeply aware of their military heritage and, shall I add, their military responsibility. No one who calls himself a Catholic is excused from being enlisted in Christ’s army. And as we have said in more than one conference so far the devil has never (so my friend the Chief Exorcist in Rome tells me) never in the history of the world has the devil been more successfully active than today. Not for nothing did he tell me, “Father you may never have heard this but it is not just individual persons who are possessed by the devil but whole nations need to be exorcised.”

Remember we are identifying the chief qualities of the Eucharistic Crusade. Second feature - Eucharistic education. The center of the Christian life is the Holy Eucharist as the triple sacrament of the Sacrifice of the Mass, Holy Communion and as Real Presence. This is also the center of the Eucharistic Crusade as catechesis. The Crusaders are to catechize. One document after another of the Second Vatican Council is clear [about] the primacy of the Eucharist in Christianity. Thus for example we are told in the document on the Church, “The Eucharist is the font and apex of the whole Christian life.” Or again the council document on the liturgy declares, “From the Eucharist as from a fount graces poor forth upon us and the sanctification of human beings in Christ and the glorification of God is achieved in the most efficacious way.”

For these obvious reasons the Eucharistic Crusade strives to make the teachings and truths in the mystery of the Eucharist as the basic norm for the education of the young. Whatever else the young learn they must learn the meaning of the Blessed Sacrament. I think I have said this before, maybe in one of our conferences, my first all night vigil before the Blessed Sacrament exposed was at the age of four. My mother went to the shrine of Our Lady of Consolation in Keri, Ohio. She spent most of the night on her knees. Being still so young she tucked me up and I slept through the night in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord.

Let me tell you, my Mother spending the night adoring our Lord has deeply penetrated the mind of her son. That’s why we are having this conference. Let’s be clear then, catechetical instruction is an integral part of the Eucharistic Crusade. Crusaders are to be taught the fullness of revealed truth. Let me repeat: they are to be taught the fullness of revealed truth. And now, since so many professedly Catholic educators are saying and writing: 'You don’t tell the young children everything which is in Divine Revelation. You don’t teach them the fullness of Christianity until they grow up in years.'

What a tragedy. You teach them the fullness of Revealed Christianity from their earliest years. As my Mother again told me, Johnny, I taught you how to kneel before you could walk.” The center of this Divine Revelation which is to be taught to the children, and the foundation of everything else we believe, is the mystery of faith. The Latin - Mysterium Fide, which is Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Those that believe in the Eucharist believe everything else which Christ has revealed. Those who do not believe in the Holy Eucharist (I mean what I am saying!) do not really believe anything which Christ has revealed.

The young people are to be trained to see that their leader Jesus Christ is living and sacrificing Himself in the Blessed Sacrament. They must be made to understand that Jesus is not only an historical memory. He is a living reality with whom the Crusaders are to unite themselves heart to heart.

That is why the Eucharistic Crusade is so intimately bound up with the devotion to the Sacred Heart. Jesus Christ is on earth in the Holy Eucharist. He sees us with human eyes and loves us with His human heart.

The motto of the Crusade can be expressed in five words: prayer, sacrifice, the Eucharist, understanding, and the apostolate. Even a short paragraph on each of these features will help us see what the Eucharistic Crusade is all about.

Crusaders are to pray. Their principle apostolic prayer is the morning offering. And how undeserving can you be? I was told to compose a morning offering for the members of the Eucharistic Crusade in the United States which is to be reestablished. The young people are to offer up all their actions, sufferings and joys to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. They are to ask Him to make His reign over souls more deep by increasing the love for Him in souls and extending this love to the farthest reaches of the globe.

Second motto - Crusaders are to sacrifice. Sacrifice is the surrendering of something precious out of love for God. Our most precious possession (how well I know) is our own sweet, oh so sweet, free will. From their youngest days Crusaders are to be trained in the beauty of surrendering their wills to the will of God. To the will of God who became man. The main reason God became man was to have a human will. Why a human will? So that when He was dying on the cross He might, with His will, surrender His human life to His heavenly Father. Without the will there is no sacrifice.

Next feature of the motto - Crusaders are devoted to the Holy Eucharist. The English word, devotion, used so widely. I think it is just as widely not understood. The heart of the word devotion is vot, and it is the first syllable of the word votoum in Latin. Votoum, in Latin, means 'that which my will chooses and chooses wholeheartedly.' The Latin word votum means vow, where we bind ourselves to a promise we make to God. All of this is locked up in the devotion of the Crusaders to the Holy Eucharist. This devotion, which is essentially in the will, must be founded on the mind. The mind believing, the mind understanding.

I do not hesitate saying that the Catholic Church is going through her most serious crisis in twenty centuries, and at the heart of this crisis is the widespread loss of faith in the Real Presence of the living Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. This means that the priesthood becomes unnecessary and faith in the Mass and in Holy Communion and the Real Presence has become for many, millions of once believing Catholics, the remnant of an archaic religion which is on its way to extinction. And that, I repeat, is why so many parishes have closed in so many diocese.

The young people from their earliest days must be taught and trained to not only believe that the Eucharistic Christ is on earth today, but, in spite of their youth, they must be told about the hostile spread of what they call Eucharistic heresy which has become so prominent in countries like our own and has deeply, deeply, deeply affected the Catholic priesthood.

The young should hear about St. Tarcissus. Remember, the young boy who died in Rome in the 3rd century. He was at most ten years old. An acolyte who was carrying the Holy Eucharist to the Christians awaiting martyrdom in Roman prisons. He was caught, shall we say “red handed”. He resisted the desecration by the soldiers as he was carrying the Holy Eucharist. He was cut to pieces on the spot. Children should be told about this.

Another motto of the Eucharistic Crusaders - Crusaders understand their faith. Instruction in the faith cannot begin too early. Crusaders should be taught not only what Catholics believe but should have it explained to them, of course according to their capacity to understand. But let me tell you, children can have a deeper understanding of the mysteries of the Faith than a genius in his sixties.

With so much unbelief spreading like a plague throughout the world the young crusaders should have it explained to them what their faith includes, what it teaches and all [that is] revealed by God. Part of this catechetical instruction is to have the children, what shall I say, familiar with the devotional side of Catholicism. Nowadays, in one still professedly Catholic Church after another, devotions have almost disappeared. They should know about Our Lady, the angels and the saints. The rosary and the scapular, holy water and sacred vessels. They should know about kneeling and genuflection. And no matter what, as we have said in a previous conference, no matter what the priest should tell the people not to kneel during the words of consecration, teach the children to kneel! And genuflect before Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.

They are to be taught the Angelus. They should be taught aspirations to the Lord. They should be taught about the poor souls in Purgatory, [about] the lives of the saints, especially the young saints.

Finally Crusaders are to be apostles. It cannot be over emphasized or said too often that the Eucharistic crusade is a crusade. The young people are to be instructed and inspired to share their Catholic faith with everyone, and I mean everyone, who enters their lives.

It is not so much to say that the Crusaders are to have it explained to them what the greatest of the Greek fathers of the Church teaches us: On the last day when Our Lord comes to judge the living and the dead we shall be judged and either saved or lost on our practice of charity. But, now the greatest of the Greek fathers of the Church, Saint John Chrysostom, he says that charity to which Our Lord not merely invites us but commands us, is the charity of feeding not the hungry in body. Our deepest obligation, our strongest duty, is to feed the human spirit which is desperately hungry to be nourished with food for the soul.

Our salvation therefore depends on our practice of apostolic charity by sharing God’s revealed truth with the human minds that are literally starving, starving to death to know Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Crusaders are to be trained, I repeat, from their earliest years to have a great desire to save souls. Already as young children they are to be inspired to influence members of their own family, companions at school, their playmates and in fact everyone whose life they touch. How pleased I was to read that a young girl in grammar school in England won a famous prize but it was decided that a leading women promoter of abortion would confer the prize on this girl. She told the authorities 'I will not accept the prize from a woman who promotes murder.' What that child said has made international headlines.

Speaking from experience, I cannot exaggerate the influence that children have over their elders, their parents, their teachers, their older members of their family. G.K. Chesterton, the great convert, again in England, to the Catholic faith, does not hesitate to say that what is wonderful about childhood is that anything in childhood is a wonder. “Childhood”, says Chesterton “is not merely a world full of miracles, it is a miraculous world.” Children can work miracles here, miracles of conversion. God uses children to perform these wonders of bringing back the lost sheep to His flock. God uses children to produce saints. To know this is to begin to understand the power of God’s grace working through children to bring souls back to God and inspire tepid Christians to grow in sanctity.

Our closing section - The Sacred Heart and the Eucharistic Crusade. To understand the Eucharistic Crusade we must explain the relationship between the Sacred Heart and the Holy Eucharist. Without going into a deep doctrinal analysis it seems best to explain to the young people something of the history of the modern devotion to the Sacred Heart. After all, the Eucharistic Crusade is a branch of the apostolate of prayer which is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

A good place to start is to quote from Pope Pious XI who published the historical document of the Sacred Heart. Its title: The Most Merciful Redeemer. Wrote the Holy Father, “As formally Divine Goodness wished to exhibit to the human race, as it came from the ark of Noah, a sign of the renewed covenant between them, so in our time, our troubled times, while that heresy held sway which is known as Jansenism, the most insidious of all heresies, enemy of the love of God and of that filial affection for Him, for this heresy preached that God was not so much to be loved as a father as to be feared as an unrelenting judge.”

At this point, those who are training Crusaders should explain briefly but clearly, the devotion to the Sacred Heart in the modern world came into existence in order to overcome the widespread heresy of Jansenism, identified by the Vicar of Christ. According to the Jansenist, God created the human race into classes - those whom He eternally planned to bring to Heaven, and those whom He eternally planned to damn to Hell.

It was St. Margaret Mary a member of the Visitation Order founded by St. Francis de Sales who brought us our modern devotion to the Sacred Heart. But the founder of the Visitation Order was the most outspoken opponent of Jansenism.

One last word, Jansenism now is widely rampant in the modern world. How we need devotion to the Sacred Heart and for the young, the Eucharistic Crusade, to stem the tide of the demonic war being led by the evil spirit against the followers of Jesus Christ.

Lord Jesus, inspire your bishops, your priests, your religious and your lay faithful with a great devotion to your Sacred Heart. And inspire them to bring the youngest members of your flock to join the Eucharistic Crusade for the 21st century.

May God bless you and my promise of prayers.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Copyright © 1998 by Inter Mirifica

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