Three-year initiative will promote and inspire understanding of the Eucharist
By Eileen Jevis | Staff writer
While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body” Matthew: 26:26.
According to the Pew Research Center, only one-third of Catholics in the United States believe in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The 2019 study sparked considerable debate in the Church, especially among U.S. bishops.
As a result, bishops across the country launched a National Eucharistic Revival to inspire people to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist. Bishop Douglas J. Lucia kicked off the revival on Saturday, June 18, with a Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse to coincide with Corpus Christi Sunday.
“On this Lord’s day, the Catholic Church throughout the United States inaugurates a three-year period of prayer, catechesis, reflection and action centered on the Holy Eucharist which is the dogmatic constitution of the Church that teaches the source and the summit of Eucharistic life,” said Bishop Lucia. “It’s being called a Eucharistic Revival and is meant to rekindle within us, individually and collectively, a true understanding of what it is for us to gather at the Lord’s table, His holy altar on a weekly, if not daily basis.” Bishop Lucia, echoing the words of St. Paul, “for as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup,” asked the congregants to consider what we are doing here every time we gather for the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup. “And even more, what do we proclaim as you and I go forth literally, fed by the Lord?”
Mary Quilty-Koval is a parishioner of Immaculate Conception Church in Fayetteville. She learned about the Eucharist Revival Mass from the Diocesan Facebook page. “I wanted to participate because I’m somewhat lukewarm in my faith,” she said. Quilty-Koval said it was a joy to attend the Mass. “I was able to receive Jesus, renew my commitment to Him and receive Christ through the Eucharist. I was strengthened by Him and grew closer to Him,” she said. Quilty-Koval said that seeing the priests, deacons, sisters and congregants praying so devoutly gives her hope for the future.
Alicia Calagiovanni, a parishioner and a Eucharist minister at the Cathedral, said she was also extremely impressed with the Mass, the adoration of the Eucharist, and the many faithful in attendance. “I have always believed in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but like some others, I hadn’t thought about it as deeply, devoutly or profoundly as I should.” Calagiovanni said that she hopes the revival will kindle or re-kindle one’s closeness to Christ. “It not only strengthens us as disciples of Christ but inspires and empowers us to do His work on earth.”
During his homily, Bishop Lucia said that as Christians, our remembering is not a passive event where we simply recall what happened in the past. Rather, our remembering is alive and active. “When we follow Jesus and break the bread and share the cup, we not only remember the historical Jesus from the past, but with words and actions, we also celebrate Jesus’ presence with us today as he continues to nourish and sustain us. We remember the past, celebrate the present, and look forward to the future where the reigning God will be fulfilled,” he said.
“This brings me back to the question, how does Jesus act in us and through us and with us every time we gather with our Eucharistic Lord?” said Bishop Lucia. “You may notice that I’m not suggesting that what happens here is merely symbolic. It is not. No matter what polls or popular opinion suggests, the bread and wine that is placed upon this altar table through the working of the Holy Spirit, become for us the very body and blood of Christ. Down through the centuries, our ancestors in the faith have testified to Christ’s real presence — even through the very sharing of their own body.”
“Jesus is a person, both human and divine,” added Sister Beth Ann Dillon, DSMP. Dillon is the director of faith formation and catechesis at St. Mary’s of the Lake in Skaneateles. “This means that every time we receive the Eucharist, we receive it in totality; the body, blood, soul, mind and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Sister Beth Ann said she sees the next three years as a critical juncture in recapturing, reawakening, renewing and reaffirming our identity and relationship with the living Eucharist Lord Jesus Christ. “He is waiting for us! Let us open the door of our hearts when He knocks.”