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Deepening Eucharistic Revival by Bishop Andrew Cozzens

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Many people have asked me if leading the National Eucharistic Revival deepened my own relationship with Our Lord in the Eucharist. Indeed, yes! It has been a profound grace of the Revival, and I hope that’s true for many others too. In fact, I believe our Eucharistic Revival will only truly be fruitful if those who already believe in the reality of Christ in the Eucharist deepen their love and appreciation of this mystery that leads us to share in His life. Why do I say this? Because I believe the Eucharist shows us who we are and teaches us how to live. Let me explain.

I often speak about a paradigm taught by Pope St. John Paul

II that helps me understand my life. It is the three aspects of life that I need to hold in proper order: Relationship, Identity and Mission. First and most important in my life are my relationships: my relationship with God is foremost, with friends and family next in importance, and then those whom God sent me to be in a relationship with. These relationships, especially the foundational one with God, teach me who I am. When I am secure in who I am, then I know what I must do. My mission flows from my identity, and my identity flows from my relationship. I can discern my mission, what I must do today or in my life broadly, only when I know who I am; and I learn who I am not from what I do but from my primary relationships.

It is a great temptation to take our identity from what we do or at least from relationships that are not primary. In this false paradigm, I judge myself valuable when I succeed in my work, achieve a certain status or financial security or experience being “liked” on social media or in a friend group. These external things are never stable places to build my identity, but I am often led to do so because of brokenness or obstacles within my most basic relationships. We call this “looking for love in the wrong places.”

The healing of my identity and of my life will come from healing my relationship with God, the one who made me. The more I come to know who I am before the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the more I am able to act in the freedom of love in my daily life. Knowing I am loved leads to deep security and frees me from the temptation to seek false security and false loves.

Here is where our understanding of the Eucharist can strengthen us: The Eucharist teaches us our mission and who we are. It first teaches that we are God’s beloved—the one for whom He gave up his life. In the Eucharist he says to us, “This is my Body given for you! This is my Blood poured out for you!” We should receive this personally because He does it for each of us. Second, it teaches us who we are through our communion. We become one body with Him; by eating His flesh and drinking His blood, He comes to live in us. This reveals our mission. We are called by this union to make Him present through our love each day. We are to be His body in the world. In the Eucharist we can experience the depth of our profound relationship with Him, who we are and how we are called to live. This is His plan for the world’s salvation today.

I firmly believe that, as we deepen our relationship and identity through our Eucharistic Revival, the Lord will strengthen us for the mission we have ahead.

Most Rev. Andrew Cozzens is the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Crookston and Chairman of the National Eucharistic Congress Board of Directors. He is the chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis where, on behalf of the bishops, he is leading a three-year National Eucharistic Revival. Additionally, he serves as the chair of the board for NET Ministries, St. Paul’s Outreach, The Institute for Priestly Formation and the Seminary Formation Council.

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