EUCHARISTIC REVIVAL Launched in the Archdiocese of St. Louis
The Bishops of the United States are calling for a three-year grassroots revival of devotion and belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. They believe that God wants to see a movement of Catholics across the United States, healed, converted, formed, and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist—and sent out in mission “for the life of the world.”
Taking this to heart, let us reflect on a recently released document of our Bishops.
THE MYSTERY OF THE EUCHARIST IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Washington, D.C.
The document The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church was developed by the Committee on Doctrine of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). It was approved by the full body of the USCCB at its November 2021 General Meeting.
1. On March 27, 2020, at an early point in the global pandemic, Pope Francis walked alone in the rain across an empty St. Peter’s Square to offer prayer for the world in a time of crisis. “Faith,” he said, “begins when we realize we are in need of salvation. We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we founder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars.” Recalling when Jesus was asleep in the boat as a tempest was raging (Mk 4:35-41), the Holy Father said, “The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith.” On that day, Pope Francis presided over the rite of Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction in order to focus our attention on the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. The Pope was reminding us that even in a time of turbulence and crisis, Jesus is present among us, as present as he was long ago in the boat on the Sea of Galilee.
2. In similar fashion, Pope Saint John Paul II reminded us of this ongoing presence when he repeated to us the words of Christ: I am with you always, to the end of the age (Mt 28:20). He proclaimed: “This promise of Christ never ceases to resound in the Church as the fertile secret of her life and the wellspring of her hope. As the day of Resurrection, Sunday is not only the remembrance of a past event: it is a celebration of the living presence of the Risen Lord in the midst of his own people."
3. We call on these inspiring words of the saintly Pope John Paul II as we offer these reflections on the importance of the Eucharist in the life of the Church. We do so mindful of how the pandemic has forced us to stay physically distant from one another and, for a time, to view the celebration of the Mass on a television or computer screen. Many of the faithful appear to have had their faith and their desire for the Eucharist strengthened by such a long separation. At the same time, as pastors we sense that others, having lived without Mass for so long, may have become discouraged or accustomed to life without the Eucharist. In many ways the pandemic is still with us.
4. As Christians we know that we need Christ to be present in our lives. He is our very sustenance as he reminded us: unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you (Jn 6:53).
5. The Lord accompanies us in many ways, but none as profound as when we encounter him in the Eucharist. On our journey toward eternal life, Christ nourishes us with his very self. Once, when told by someone that she no longer saw the point of going to daily Mass, the Servant of God Dorothy Day reflected: “We go eat of this fruit of the tree of life because Jesus told us to. . . . He took upon himself our humanity that we might share in his divinity. We are nourished by his flesh that we may grow to be other Christs. I believe this literally, just as I believe the child is nourished by the milk from his mother’s breast.”
Over the coming weeks, we will return to this document for insight, reflection and prayer.
Sincerely yours in Jesus,
Fr. John Seper