June 21, 2024

Christ the Cornerstone

Revival is an invitation to enkindle a living relationship with Jesus

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson

Now that we are less than a month away from the 10th National Eucharistic Congress, which will be held in Indianapolis on July 17–21, it is more important than ever that we understand why the Eucharist is so important for the mission of the Church. The purpose of the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ three-year National Eucharistic Revival is “to renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.”

This “living relationship” is the result of a personal encounter with Jesus that takes place when we recognize the real presence of the Lord—body and blood, soul and divinity—in the Eucharist. When we receive holy Communion, and when we adore our Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament, we are privileged to enter into an intimate relationship with the second person of the Trinity. We come close to him, and he shares himself with us in a profoundly personal way.

This experience of divine intimacy is not merely symbolic. It is totally real. Christ’s body and blood become one with us, and we become—really and truly—the body of Christ. No words can adequately express the depths and richness of this mystery, but when we can accept in faith the truth of our oneness in Christ, nothing can stand in the way of our carrying out the mission given to us by Jesus.

The information provided to parishes and dioceses throughout our country explains the purpose of the National Eucharistic Revival this way:

In an age marked by division and doubt, the Holy Spirit is inviting the United States to find unity and renewal through a grassroots National Eucharistic Revival. This movement—discerned and approved by the bishops of the U.S.—is critical to rekindling a living faith in the hearts of Catholics across America, unleashing a new missionary chapter at this pivotal moment in Church history.

The vision underlying the National Eucharistic Revival is: To inspire a movement of Catholics across the United States who are healed, converted, formed, and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist—and who are then sent out on mission “for the life of the world.”

Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens, chair of the National Eucharistic Revival Inc., offers this view of the first Eucharistic Congress in more than 80 years: “Our hope is that the fire which burned in the hearts of the first Christians begins to burn in our hearts in a new and powerful way, so that we can’t help but share with others what is burning within us. When that happens, when we become missionaries to the whole of the Good News of our salvation in Christ, then we fulfill in our time the Great Commission which Jesus has given to us: ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations’ ” (Mt 28:19).

In order to ignite this fire and, more importantly, to sustain it in the months and years ahead, our personal encounter with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist must be truly transformative. It must change the way we understand ourselves and the world around us. This transformation starts with the way we approach the Blessed Sacrament—with reverence and awe, with gratitude and joy, and with the firm conviction that Jesus knows and loves us personally as friends and as sisters and brothers in the one family of God.

Then, once we have received holy Communion, or spent time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, we must live our daily lives fully conscious of the great gift we have been given in the holy Eucharist. The grace of this sacrament should strengthen us in mind and heart so that we can faithfully carry out the mission entrusted to us by our Lord. We have been given this marvelous gift of intimacy with Jesus not to jealously hold onto it, but to share it generously with everyone we meet.

Pope Francis frequently speaks of the Church’s need for pastoral and missionary conversion “which cannot leave things as they presently are.” We contribute to this experience of conversion when we take seriously both the privileges and the responsibilities that are given to us in and through the holy Eucharist.

May the Holy Spirit kindle in us the fire that burned in the hearts of the disciples who encountered Jesus in the breaking of bread on the road to Emmaus. May the same Spirit fill our hearts and minds with a deep knowledge and love of the real presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament so that we can generously share this great gift and so that the Church in the United States might be “permanently in a state of mission” (“Evangelii Gaudium,” #25). †

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