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March 11March 11
“The Eucharist, the very body and blood of Jesus Christ, is our fuel. It’s what makes us run as Catholics. It is the very life source of our energy, strength, power and salvation. It is from the Mass that the Lord instructs us … ‘Start your engines’ … in order to go forth as missionary disciples into the world.”
The words that Archbishop Charles C. Thompson wrote that were shared during homilies at June 19 Masses on the feast of Corpus Christi at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis spoke to the greatest gift of the Catholic faith—the Eucharist.
And the witness shared by hundreds of people of faith during the two liturgies, a service project for Ukrainian refugees, and a eucharistic procession through the streets of downtown Indianapolis, followed by a holy hour and Benediction at St. John the Evangelist Church, confirmed that those who took part believe in the true presence of Jesus Christ—body, blood, soul and divinity—in the sacrament. (Read our news story about the event here)
But this was only the beginning of what we pray, as Archbishop Thompson wrote, is a successful three-year effort “to renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the holy Eucharist.”
The June 19 events kicked off the National Eucharistic Revival in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, which will culminate with the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis on July 17-21, 2024. An estimated 80,000 people are expected to attend that four-day gathering. Along the way, there will be parish, diocesan and regional events across the U.S. to deepen Catholics’ relationship with Christ in the Eucharist.
Our faith calls us to be eucharistic people, but a 2019 Pew survey showed 69% of all self-identified Catholics in the U.S. said they believed the bread and wine used at Mass are not Jesus, but instead “symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” The survey also revealed just 30% of Catholics believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Bishops across the U.S. believe a lack of catechesis led to this disturbing revelation, and last November, they approved a statement on “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church,” which was addressed to all Catholics in the United States and “endeavors to explain the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.”
The life of the Church in central and southern Indiana includes our Latino brothers and sisters, those who celebrate the liturgy in French and Tagalog, and the Korean, Vietnamese and Burmese dialects that are representative of our archdiocesan family. They were all highlighted in the June 19 liturgies at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, and many of them participated in the eucharistic procession afterward, which law enforcement estimated at more than 500 people. By the time the group reached St. John, many others had joined them, filling the church to capacity as around 1,000 people all knelt in adoration to take part in the holy hour.
Each of them—and all of us—are among the missionary disciples called to spread the Gospel message of bringing the kingdom of God to all who cross our path. And the body and blood of Christ gives us the strength to fulfill our charge.
As Archbishop Thompson wrote, “The Eucharist is the very nourishment of divine grace that sustains us in our mission to go forth in ministry and service to others.”
Our lives of faith can also be strengthened, the U.S. bishops noted in their statement, in the worship we offer the Blessed Sacrament through eucharistic exposition; adoration and Benediction; eucharistic processions; and forty hours devotion.
Pope St. John Paul II wrote in his 2003 encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia” (“On the Eucharist in Its Relationship to the Church”), “It is pleasant to spend time with him, to lie close to his breast like the Beloved Disciple and to feel the infinite love present in his heart. If in our time Christians must be distinguished above all by the ‘art of prayer,’ how can we not feel a renewed need to spend time in spiritual converse, in silent adoration, in heartfelt love before Christ present in the Most Holy Sacrament? How often, dear brother and sisters, have I experienced this, and drawn from it strength, consolation and support!” (#25)
As the source and summit of our faith, the Eucharist is transformative. It is the person of Jesus Christ.
We pray this three-year revival helps more people of faith embrace this reality and enter more deeply into a relationship with our Lord in the Eucharist.