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Sister Cheryl’s Advent retreat day will prepare us for Christmas

Many people think that preparing for Christmas involves decorating their home, buying presents and cooking family favorites. Ursuline Sister Cheryl Clemons believes there is a more important preparation that people skip.

“If people don’t find some way to prepare for Christmas spiritually, then it is only the stress, the bustle, the cooking,” Sister Cheryl said. “Without preparation, it’s difficult to have the spirituality of Christmas.”

To provide that preparation, Sister Cheryl is leading a one-day Advent retreat on Dec. 3, 2022, titled “The Eucharist Continues the Incarnation: Insights from the Saints.” The focus on the Eucharist dovetails with the upcoming three-year National Eucharistic Revival being led by the nation’s bishops.

A Pew Research study issued in August 2019 showed that 69 percent of self-identified Catholics said they believed that the bread and wine used at Mass are not Jesus, but instead “symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” The other 31 percent believed in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, known as transubstantiation.

“I think it jolted the bishops to see that,” said Sister Cheryl, who serves on the Diocese of Owensboro’s Eucharistic Devotion Revival Committee. “There were a number of people during Covid who really missed the Eucharist. For others, it became comfortable not to come to church.”

Sister Cheryl’s retreat, held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mount Saint Joseph Auditorium, offers a chance for time apart to reflect on how the Eucharist – the sacramental presence of Jesus with us – continues the mystery of the Incarnation, when the eternal Word of God took on human flesh. Each preparation for Mass and Communion is a kind of “mini-Advent” for welcoming God-among-us, she said.

Retreat members will be offered insights from various saints in Catholic history who have been particularly devoted to the Eucharist. These include Saint Augustine and Saint John Chrysostom, wrote about serving the poor rather than making golden tabernacles. Saints Athanasius and Irenaeus both wrote about the importance of the Incarnation. Saints Peter Damian, Thomas Aquinas and Francis of Assisi wrote about the importance of the Eucharist as a “remedy for the sick.” The female medieval mystics, such as Saint Gertrude the Great, had a passionate devotion to the Eucharist, Sister Cheryl said.

She hopes to have a Eucharistic procession and a period of adoration, but those details are not settled yet.

The $45 fee includes lunch. To register or for questions, email [email protected], or call 270-229-2006. You can register online below.

Register for The Eucharist Continues the Incarnation