My Flesh for the Life of the World
The Eucharist makes the Church. This simple statement of belief is at the heart of what it means to be a Catholic Christian. The Church is the community of the baptized who gather each Sunday to do as Jesus commanded: to participate in His sacrifice on the cross and share a sacred meal together in His memory.
Jesus could have chosen to remain with us in any way, and indeed is present to us in so many ways throughout our lives. But He chose this special way, under the simple appearances and manner of ordinary, common food – bread and wine – to dwell with us, literally WITHIN us. Jesus took the most routine and mundane of daily activities – eating – and bestowed upon it a dignity unparalleled; in our celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass.
Yet, we are experiencing a literal “crisis of faith” regarding the Eucharist. Regular participation in Mass is in decline nationally, and even as the pandemic continues to wane, we are nowhere near the level of Mass attendance of just two years ago. Also of concern is a recent national study showing that only a minority of Catholics believe in traditional understandings of Christ’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament.
To this end, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) are calling for a three-year grassroots revival of devotion and belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. They believe God wants to see a movement of Catholics across the U.S., healed, converted, formed and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist—and sent out in mission “for the life of the world.”
The first year, which began on June 19, is a diocesan phase. Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr celebrated Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains and a Eucharistic procession followed to mark the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (traditionally known as “Corpus Christi”). This kicked off the diocesan phase.
As part of the pastoral planning process, Beacons of Light is taking place in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati over the coming years, Archbishop Schnurr established the first principle—Eucharist—in these words: “The Mass is the source and summit of the whole Christian life. Accordingly, the Eucharist is the essential moment for building up and strengthening the parish community, along with the sacraments and other celebrations of the paschal mystery—the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Summer of 2023 will begin the parish phase of the Eucharistic Revival. During this time, Families of Parishes will be invited to participate through special activities, opportunities for
prayer and formation, Eucharistic worship outside of Mass and more. Families of Parishes will begin to assess their liturgical life, including the celebration of Mass, and plan to more fully realize the vision of truly being a Eucharist- centered community.
The final of the Revival’s three phases begins in 2024 at the national level, featuring a national Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis. You can find more about these three phases and the entire Eucharistic Revival at https://eucharisticrevival.org.
Over the coming months, The Catholic Telegraph will feature personal witnesses from ordinary Catholics about the Eucharist’s power in their lives. Our archdiocesan initiative TOGETHER can help you learn more about what we as Catholics believe about the celebration of the Eucharist. I encourage you to reflect on the meaning of the Eucharist in your own life. Next Sunday as you go to Mass, make sure to give thanks to God for the great gift of Jesus’ abiding presence in our Church.
This article appeared in the July 2022 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.