May 20, 2022

Evangelization Supplement

Bishop views eucharistic revival as a spur of evangelization

By Sean Gallagher

On the weekend of June 18-19, dioceses across the country will begin a three-year National Eucharistic Revival, which will seek to renew and deepen the relationship of the faithful to Christ in the Eucharist.

The first year will feature events at the diocesan level. In the second year, the revival will be centered on parishes. The last year will start with the National Eucharistic Congress, which will happen in Indianapolis in July of 2024, and will focus on sending out Catholics as missionary disciples into society at large.

The three-year focus will begin in the archdiocese on June 19 in Indianapolis with two Masses celebrated at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., both at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral; a festival of faith, family and service from 1-4 p.m. at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center; and a eucharistic procession to St. John the Evangelist Church. It will then conclude with a holy hour and benediction at St. John. (Learn more here)

Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minn., has led the effort to develop and launch the eucharistic revival in his work as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis.

The national website for the revival, eucharisticrevival.org, includes a video in which Bishop Cozzens speaks about the revival. Viewers can also sign up there for an online course about the Eucharist led by him. More resources are expected to be posted in the future.

The Criterion recently interviewed Bishop Cozzens about how the eucharistic revival will spur evangelization efforts across the country in the next three years.
 

Q. You have spoken about how the mission of the National Eucharistic Revival is to renew and enkindle “a living relationship with Jesus Christ in the holy Eucharist” in the hearts of Catholics across the U.S. How do you see this as part of the overall mission of the Church to proclaim the Gospel and spread God’s kingdom?

A. “The eucharistic revival is coming at a very important moment in the history of our Church in the United States. This is a moment when we need to move from maintenance to mission. The eucharistic revival is aimed to help enkindle the fire of Catholics who already believe in the Eucharist and help to set them on fire for mission.

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith. And Vatican II says in the document on the priesthood, Presbytorum Ordinis, that the Eucharist is the source and summit of every apostolic work in the Church.

“What that means is that it’s by our relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist that we have our hearts set on fire and we become empowered to be the missionary disciples that God is calling us to be.

“Presbytorum Ordinis also says in particular, ‘In this light, the Eucharist shows itself as the source and the apex of the whole work of preaching the Gospel’ (PO, #5).

“So, we draw our desire to preach the Gospel from the Eucharist. But the goal of our preaching the Gospel is that other people would come to the Eucharist, that they would come to be fully united with us in the body of Christ by receiving the Eucharist.

“And in this way, all of us join together in the great work of glorifying God, which the Eucharist allows us to do through our worship united with Jesus’ worship.”
 

Q. You have also spoken about your hope that the revival will “heal, convert, form and unify the faithful through an encounter with Christ in the Eucharist.”

Those are some specific tasks. Would you say that they need to happen first, in order for the Eucharist to be the spur to evangelization that the Lord intended it to be? If so, how do we see the revival promoting these tasks in the life of the Church?

A. “Since the Eucharist is the source and the apex of evangelization, and in order to be fully alive in Christ, we need to be healed, converted, formed and unified. It’s through the Eucharist that we hope people will experience that reality.

“So, we hope that people who are already coming to our churches through this eucharistic revival, through spending time with Jesus in the Eucharist and coming to a deeper understanding of the meaning of the Mass, will experience healing in their lives and a deeper conversion.

“Then, they’ll be formed through catechetical efforts related to the eucharistic revival, including small groups we hope to run in parishes in the second year of the revival.

“Hopefully, then, they’ll be unified through their being drawn deeper into the eucharistic life of the Church as members of the body of Christ.

“It’s our goal, especially in the first couple of years of the revival, to provide opportunities for healing, conversion, formation and unity, and then to bring people together at the National Eucharistic Congress where they can experience that unity powerfully with the whole Church in the United States.

“Then we’ll send them out on mission to help bring this truth and beauty of Christ in the Eucharist to the world.

“The revival will encourage healing, conversion, formation and unity through our prayer experiences that we will help dioceses and parishes do through our catechesis, through small groups and, most of all, through the celebration of the Eucharist and eucharistic congresses, both at the diocesan and national levels. This will help to emphasize the unity that we all have as Catholics around the Eucharist.”
 

Q. How do you foresee the revival being important for the Church in the U.S. and its mission of evangelization in the particular cultural context in which we find ourselves at this time?

A. “I believe that we are in a moment of crisis in the Church in the United States. Certainly, we have seen the crisis in eucharistic faith among Catholics. But there is also the crisis of disaffiliation, which is so dramatically affecting our country.

“But we know from the history of the Church that moments of crisis are also moments where renewal is ready to happen.

“We hope to begin to light a spark by inviting people to come to the center of the faith, which is found in Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, to be strengthened in their relationship with him and to experience healing, conversion and formation so that then they can go out and be ready to stand against the cultural currents of our day.

“The answer to this time of crisis is the same answer that the Church has always had in times of crisis: the holiness of God’s people. When we look at the history of the world, it was in times of crisis that God sent saints. And the Eucharist is the source of our sanctity in this life because it brings to us Christ himself.

“We hope to strengthen the eucharistic life of the Church and, therefore, to produce more saints who will be ready to face the particular culture challenges before us.

“It’s also true that, in this time of secularization, materialism and a false dichotomy between faith and science that the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist goes directly against those realities.

“For it teaches us to value heavenly things. It teaches us how God comes to inhabit our Earth and transform it. It teaches us how he wants to transform our daily lives through teaching, how to live lives of self-gift, as he does for us in the Eucharist. These particular aspects of the Eucharist are very important to the current need for evangelization.”
 

Q. How do you hope that the eucharistic revival will equip and empower Catholics across the U.S. to reach out in our contemporary culture to share the Gospel effectively with other Catholics who may no longer be practicing their faith, or who have no church home?

A. “This reaching out beyond the boundaries of the Church is really the goal of the third year of the revival.

“We hope to empower Catholics with practical tools about how to share a testimony, how to invite people into a relationship so that they can share with them about life in Christ, how to invite people to evangelistic events where people might experience the power of Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist.

“We hope during that third year of the revival to really turn our focus toward helping our Catholics become missionary-minded in going out to the peripheries, especially seeking out those who are most in need of Christ’s mercy and inviting them to the conversion that leads to full life in Christ.

“We will do this through providing resources throughout the third year of the revival and encouraging practical opportunities for people to create evangelistic opportunities and also to accompany others.

“It’s very important to remember what St. Paul VI said in his apostolic exhortation, ‘On Evangelization in the Modern World,’ which Pope Francis quotes all the time. Pope Paul said, ‘In the long run, is there any other way of handing on the Gospel than one person sharing their personal faith story with another?’ (#46). We hope to empower Catholics to be able to do that.”
 

Q. How do you see the eucharistic revival as being pivotal in the Church in the U.S. proclaiming the Gospel in the coming years?

A. “The eucharistic revival is born from the idea which Vatican II stated, that the Eucharist is the source and apex of the whole work of preaching the Gospel. In this time of crisis in American faith life, it’s important for us to focus on the true heart of our life as Catholics, the source and the summit.

“It’s important to invite people to come to know Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist, to come to know his real presence, to come to know the power of his sacrificial worship, to come to know that, if we learn to live a eucharistic life, it can transform our daily lives into an evangelistic powerhouse for Jesus.

“It’s very important that we focus on the foundation of our life as Vatican II encouraged us to, so that we are strengthened for the important work of evangelization that is ahead of us.

“If we can strengthen the core of our Catholics to come to know the power and the beauty of the teaching of the Eucharist, it will transform their lives and turn them into the missionary disciples that our Holy Father Pope Francis is calling us to be in this day and age.” †

 

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