Between Amens —
Eucharistic Revival

Dr. Karen Shadle

On Sunday, June 19, 2022, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, the Church in the United States begins a Eucharistic Revival.

Every diocese in this country has been asked to mark the occasion with a Eucharistic procession and to embark on a year of intense focus on the Eucharist through catechesis, devotions, service and prayer. All are invited to join us following noon Mass at the Cathedral for a procession with the Blessed Sacrament through the streets of downtown Louisville. After a time of adoration, Archbishop Shelton will offer Benediction at 3 p.m. in the Cathedral.

As I have mentioned in previous columns, the Eucharistic Revival is in large part a response to troubling data showing that Catholics’ belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is in crisis.

It would be a mistake, however, to assume that this initiative is about “them” — those non-believing, non-churchgoing Catholics. The Eucharistic Revival is also about “us,” the faithful churchgoers and believers, and all who are somewhere in between.

It is about us because going to Mass and assenting to doctrine are not enough. We are each called to live an authentically Eucharistic life. What does that mean?

For starters, it means that we must stop compartmentalizing our faith. This is a particular challenge for me. I toggle too easily between different versions of “self,” making time for God only when it’s on the agenda. The “practical atheist” believes in God but lives as if God does not exist. He dutifully attends Mass on Sunday but ignores his faith for the remaining 167 hours of the week.

On the contrary, God is the source of every part of life. The goal of the Eucharistic Revival, as I see it, is to move the Eucharist back to the center — not just of our churches but of our very lives. Making more time for prayer is a good start. But let us also seek a more Eucharistic approach to family dinner, to budgeting and to committee meetings. Let us allow the encompassing love of Christ to inform our social media usage, our health and wellness and our weekend plans. This is exceedingly more difficult than simply going to Mass.

The Eucharist is very political. When you hear “Eucharist” and “political” in the same sentence, you might think of the headline-making controversies about prominent politicians being denied Holy Communion or being called upon to repent of positions antithetical to Church teaching.

That is not what I mean. The Eucharist is political because it infuses the life of the polis – the city, the state, the nation, its people, its policy. It is not a “church thing” but a “world thing.” Frankly, we might conclude that the Eucharist at present is not nearly political enough. It needs to be more visible, intrusive and consequential. It needs to be in the streets and more obviously formative of our everyday lives. This is the sort of revival the Church desperately needs.

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