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Reviving our Decaying Faith

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Our Eucharistic faith stinks right now. Like, literally. I will not repeat the sad statistics regarding Eucharistic belief and piety: we have heard them before, and we all know there is need for revival. The Church in America—laity and clergy alike—have called for it, and by calling for revival, we are admitting that the cultural state of our faith is dead and decaying. And decaying things stink. Literally.

When I think about revival, I think about Lazarus in John 11. Lazarus, our Lord’s dear friend and Martha and Mary’s brother, had been dead for four days when Jesus made it to Bethany. After a beautiful and heart-wrenching dialogue with Martha, our Lord was invited to the tomb by the same words with which He invited His own disciples to follow Him: “Come and see.” Jesus arrived at the tomb groaning within Himself. He asked for the stone to be rolled away, but Martha protested (in the lovely English of the Douay-Rheims version of Holy Scripture): “Lord, by this time he stinketh.” But a little pungent odor never stopped the Lord of glory. The stone was rolled back; He gave thanks to His Father; and, by the mighty power of His Word, He commanded the dead man to life: “Lazarus, come forth.”

Lazarus knew the power of revival—he was a dead man revivified, whose life became a testimony to the Lord’s power. The sad state of his stink actually redounded to God’s glory. Well, Church in America: our Eucharistic faith stinketh. How many American Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist? How many worship and live accordingly? We are in a state of decay, and we have been for some time. Far from a cry of despair, however, this is a deep groan of hope. We need to make a journey with the Lord; we need to hear His powerful Word; and we need to be brought back to life for the glory of God.

For the past few months, this is exactly what we have been doing. Our Lord, in His humble disguise, has been making His way through our country, and thousands of Catholics have walked with Him. But maybe we’ve waited too long: couldn’t we have done this when we were just sick instead of stinky? This was exactly Martha and Mary’s objection. Why didn’t Jesus save Lazarus when He was just sick? All we know is what He tells us: it is so that we might believe and so that God might be glorified. Let’s not play the blame game over the sorry state of Eucharistic faith; instead, let’s trust that God is up to great things for those on pilgrimage with Him.

The Eucharistic pilgrimage concludes with the Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis. I am hoping and praying that God has life-changing graces for the participants. Maybe you’re reading this and cannot attend. Is revival in store for you? Will the Lord work in a big way in your life? Only if you let Him.

Each and every week, the Lord asks us to make a Eucharistic pilgrimage of sorts by commanding us to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. At each Holy Mass, the same Voice which commanded Lazarus to come out of His tomb speaks through His priests, commanding bread and wine to become His Body and Blood. Yet how often do we make this journey with hearts closed by routine, expectation and concerns about what is secondary? Our Lord weeps over our sinful decay.

If you want revival, you have to do the difficult work of letting the stone be rolled away from your interior cave. You must come face to face with all that stinks in your own heart—not that of your neighbor or this country, just your own. Go to confession if you need to (you have to at least once a year!), and the next time you receive our Lord Jesus Christ in Holy Communion, let in the King of glory, and let Him call you back to life.

FATHER JACOB LINDLE was born and raised on the west side of Cincinnati and is a graduate of Elder High School and the University of Notre Dame. Ordained a priest in 2022, he served Mary, Queen of Angels Family of Parishes (Champaign and Logan Counties) for two years as parochial vicar. He was assigned to further studies in Rome, starting July 1, 2024, in the field of patristics.

This article appeared in the July 2024 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.


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