Reinvigorating Devotion

Let’s Be Holy Together

It was in the sun of the Eucharist that Ricardo Arguello’s and Maria Laura Restrepo’s relationship developed in these past few years. I have witnessed how through participation together at Mass and spending time together in adoration of the Eucharist these two young adults have found a school of authentic love.

When I interviewed Ricardo and Maria Laura, I learned how they both in different ways had fallen in love with the Eucharist and how, through this love for Jesus, they were led to love each other with what they have come to call a “Eucharistic love.”

Sacred Heart painting

Maria’s Story

Maria Laura, born in Venezuela, moved to the United States when she was eight years old. She says with deep gratitude that it is through her parents’ influence in those early years that her life has been to this day “an ever-increasing walk of faith.”

As a child, Maria centered her life around Mass and Eucharistic prayer, although she admits that she went mainly because her family was going and she was expected to be with them. Her family came to know the sisters, brothers, and priests of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary and often prayed with them. What she most enjoyed in those years was “The Eucharistic Cenacle.” The Cenacle is an experience of the Mass followed by a Eucharistic procession and time for adoration, where those present sit “spiritually” with Mary—as the first apostles did in the upper room—with an openness to the Holy Spirit, guided by the Word of God. This was where the seed of Eucharistic Love began to grow in Maria Laura.

Woman in Eucharistic adoration

Later in her college years, when she was on her own, Maria Laura was in a position to make these faith choices for herself. It was then that her walk of faith truly began to take off. She reflects, “Those first years away from my family were when my personal relationship with the Lord truly blossomed. When I went to Eucharistic adoration every Tuesday evening—even though there were always other people around me in the same room—I felt that it was really me and God. I was able to have a private conversation with just the Lord. I could sing to him. I could speak to him. But, most importantly, it was where I could say, ‘Okay, Lord, what is it that you want to tell me?’ And after that I would simply listen to him.” This time of closeness to God was for Maria a time of much interior joy, patience, and a greater desire to surrender to his plans.

Maria Laura would often ask the Lord, “If you are calling me to marriage, Lord, please send me someone who will support me in my faith and be willing to walk with me along this journey to you.” Then she placed her vocation in God’s hands with trust and allowed him to guide her toward his perfect plan.

Ricardo’s Story

Ricardo Arguello, born in Nicaragua, also came from a deeply religious family. In every event and situation of their family life, he remembers his mom including the Lord. However, Ricardo, from a very young age, rebelled. When Ricardo reflects on this stage of his life, he says it comes down to this: “It’s one thing when your mom tells you that ‘we’re going to Mass’ and brings the family along with her. But when you must go to Mass on your own, then you discover if you, yourself, really want to go to Mass or not. I found out that I didn’t.”

In 2009, much to his mom’s surprise, Ricardo accepted her invitation to go on a pilgrimage to the holy places of Italy. The pilgrimage was led by the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary (SCTJM). From the first days of the pilgrimage, he became acutely aware that, for once, he actually felt truly happy. By the end of the pilgrimage, he could not deny that he had at last found the One who could fill the void in his heart.

Young men on walking pilgrimage

In 2019, now living by himself in Miami, Florida, Ricardo was asked to serve as an altar server on another SCTJM pilgrimage to various places where Our Lady appeared, including Lourdes and Fatima. “I remember being in the sanctuary,” he told me, “near the altar, paying greater attention, being able to freely donate myself to God… I was really moved.” Ricardo couldn’t describe what compelled him. He felt that the Lord desired to communicate something to him. He thought he had everything he needed in life to be happy. There in the sanctuary, however, before Jesus in the Eucharist, was the One that he had been searching for and the One whose Eucharistic Love would bring him true joy.

“It was at this moment,” Ricardo remembers, “that I was overwhelmed by the love of God. I felt that I was not alone anymore. Jesus helped me to see that I was part of something greater, and that I was not meant to be of the world but to be in the world so that I could help those who feel lost to find the love that Jesus has for them through the Eucharist.”

Falling in Love

One day, during a monthly Bible study at a local coffee shop, Ricardo and Maria Laura were introduced to each other. Both were preparing to make the same pilgrimage to the Holy Land and so they soon found themselves together on weekday evenings at Eucharistic prayer events offered by the Servants.

“That’s when we started falling in love,” Ricardo commented. “Basically, it was because we started meeting each other at prayer events every week—just as friends. And that is where we started to know each other more deeply.”

Maria Laura agreed, “I think it is beautiful. We were consistent with the Lord, as friends. And we began to build our relationship with the Lord, as friends.”

Maria Laura and Ricardo praying together

Ricardo recalls that when they first began to officially date, he said to Maria, “Let’s be holy together.” Receiving Jesus in the Eucharist at the beginning of each day and praying together as a couple before his Eucharistic presence as often as they could, they were confident that all else would fall into place and would continue to do so throughout the remainder of their journey and continual discernment on the road toward marriage.

Ricardo concluded, “Ultimately we learned how to love from the love that God has for us in the Eucharist.”

It has been a powerful testimony in and of itself for me to witness the love between Ricardo and Maria Laura grow. They have come to love each other deeply by first learning how much they are loved by Jesus in the Eucharist. It was through Jesus in the Eucharist that they were brought together, and it will be by keeping Jesus at the center of their relationship—in good times and bad times, in joys and sorrows—that he will lead them to continue to live a life of Eucharistic love.