The Good Steward — What can we expect from a Eucharistic Revival?

Daniel Conway

For decades now, Mass attendance on Sundays and Holy Days has been declining. Added to this is the fact that studies show that many, perhaps most, Catholics do not understand the most fundamental teaching about the Eucharist. Thanks to the pandemic, when Masses frequently had to be live-streamed, participation in the Eucharist was too often limited to making a “spiritual communion,” rather than actually receiving the Body and Blood of Christ.

To make matters worse, the reception of Holy Communion has become a political issue. Should political figures or celebrities who identify as Catholics but who defy church teaching in ways that are considered scandalous be denied Holy Communion? Or does using the Blessed Sacrament in this way further diminish the reverence and respect due to the Body and Blood of Christ, who came to save sinners and righteous people alike?

Confronted with these overwhelming issues, the bishops of the United States have decided that what we need is a Eucharistic Revival. This revival was launched in dioceses throughout this country on June 19 (Corpus Christi) as a time of spiritual renewal focused on the Eucharist.

The stated purpose of this revival is to “renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.” To accomplish this, the Eucharistic Revival seeks “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.”

To heal, convert, form and unify people who are deeply divided on fundamental issues will require nothing less than a miracle. Thank God, in the midst of these troubled times, Jesus is present, reminding us that he is more powerful than any social, economic or political storm. Jesus desires to heal, renew and unify his scattered flock, and he has given us two irreplaceable gifts to help us open our hearts and cooperate with him. These two priceless gifts are the Eucharist and the Holy Spirit.

By uniting us around the source and summit of our faith — the Holy Eucharist — the Holy Spirit achieves the unthinkable. God’s grace experienced in and through the Eucharist brings us the healing and hope that seem so far removed from our daily lives, especially when we have lapsed in our observance of this great mystery of our faith.

The American bishops hope that a National Eucharistic Revival will occasion a joyful, expectant, grassroots response to the Holy Spirit’s invitation to overcome the sins of doubt, despair and indifference that have caused the current decline in participation in the life of our church.

The question is: Will we be open to the working of the Holy Spirit, who seeks to enkindle a missionary fire in the heart of our nation, as we reconsecrate ourselves to the Holy Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith?

Dan Conway is a member of Holy Trinity Church, serves as a member of The Record’s editorial board and is a writer, consultant and stewardship educator.

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