Teaching Our Faith — Holy Communion – Christ’s Gift to Us

Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre

As the Archdiocese enters the second year of the nationwide Eucharistic Revival and prepares to return to distribution of the Precious Blood from the Chalice, this series of teaching editorials focuses on Communion at Mass.

I am pleased to introduce this series of teaching editorials about Communion at Mass and the great gift of Jesus Christ that we have been given in the Holy Eucharist.

The context of these editorials is two-fold: the Eucharistic Revival observed by the Catholic Church across our nation and my decision to reinstate permission to distribute the Precious Blood to parishioners from the Chalice beginning in June of this year.

We have been without the distribution of the Precious Blood from the Chalice since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While COVID-19 remains with us, the passage of time and the availability of vaccines have greatly diminished the impact on most of our population. Transmission rates remain low in our state, and many dioceses have, by this point, returned to the distribution of Communion from the Chalice without any significant impact on community health. Thus, I announced in late March that parishes may return to the Chalice on the Feast of Corpus Christi, June 10-11, 2023.

This occasion provides a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon the gift of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, especially during this period of the Eucharistic Revival. This three-year process in the United States seeks to renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. 

The revival envisions a movement of Catholics in our nation who are healed, converted, formed and unified by an encounter with Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist and then sent out on mission for the life of the world. 

On the Feast of Corpus Christi this year, we will begin the second year of the three-year process with a focus on parish revival. The parish phase of the Eucharistic Revival will conclude in July 2024 with a National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis, Ind., which will introduce a national Year of Mission from July 2024 to July 2025.

Our diocesan Eucharistic Revival Committee has organized opportunities to foster Eucharistic devotion at both the diocesan and parish level, and this series of teaching editorials is one step in this process of renewal and formation. We seek to use this opportunity of the return of the Chalice to educate and inspire you about all aspects of Communion at Mass. 

In this teaching editorial series, Father Tony Cecil, pastor of St. Raphael Church and a current participant in the University of Notre Dame’s Mathis Liturgical Leadership Program, will write about what we believe about the Eucharist. 

Dr. Karen Shadle, director of the Office of Worship and a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ subcommittee planning liturgical aspects of the Eucharistic Revival, will reflect upon the communal celebration of the Holy Eucharist at Mass. 

Barry Mudd, associate director of the Office of Worship, will talk about Communion under both forms as well as the posture, reverence and responses related to our reception of Holy Communion. 

Art Turner, director of the Office of Faith Formation, will discuss how we are sent in mission and transformed by our reception of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Christian life. Jesus gives us the gift of His real presence in the Holy Eucharist, and He is never far away. Among the many reasons for the Incarnation is the fact that God knows it is difficult for us to love an invisible God, so God became visible and remains visible in the Eucharist. 

In the Eucharist, we experience Jesus as He is now, victorious in a state of glory. Jesus in the Eucharist always exhibits mercy and the healing of our sins. Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us and present to us in the gift of the Eucharist.

However, believing in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist is only part of fully appreciating the gift that is the Eucharist. We must strive to receive it worthily and often. The Eucharist is true food. It nourishes us and strengthens us to face the many challenges of life. 

Just as we need food and drink to sustain our physical bodies, we need the sustenance of Christ really and truly present in the Sacred Host and Precious Blood we receive at Mass to support us spiritually.

Before receiving the Holy Eucharist, make sure you are prepared. Approach the Eucharist with reverence and thanksgiving. If you are aware of serious sin, seek God’s love and mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and ask for forgiveness from anyone you may have hurt. 

To deepen your appreciation of the gift of the Eucharist, take this opportunity to learn more about the Holy Eucharist and strengthen your devotion to it as your parish participates in this year of Eucharistic Revival. 

And finally, go forth and share the gift you have been given through your joyful witness and service to the world!

The Most Reverend Shelton J. Fabre is the Archbishop of Louisville.

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