Eucharistic Revival: Eucharistic Amazement

The Catholic bishops of this great country of ours have begun an important initiative that began on June 19, 2022, the Feast of Corpus Christi: a nationwide Eucharistic Revival. As with any spiritual initiative, it must begin with each one of us, reviving our own love and “amazement” in this Sacrament Most Holy, as Pope St. John Paul II wrote:

The thought of [what Jesus did in the Last Supper and on the Cross] leads us to profound amazement and gratitude. In the paschal event and the Eucharist which makes it present throughout the centuries, there is a truly enormous “capacity” which embraces all of history as the recipient of the grace of redemption. This amazement should always fill the Church assembled for the celebration of the Eucharist. But in a special way it should fill the minister of the Eucharist. For it is he who, by the authority given him in the sacrament of priestly ordination, effects the consecration. It is he who says with the power coming to him from Christ in the Upper Room: “This is my body which will be given up for you. This is the cup of my blood, poured out for you…”. The priest says these words, or rather he puts his voice at the disposal of the One who spoke these words in the Upper Room and who desires that they should be repeated in every generation by all those who in the Church ministerially share in his priesthood (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 5).

May our nationwide Eucharistic Revival be for us an opportunity to renewed amazement in the great sacrament, imitating the apostles, as Pope Benedict XVI wrote:

The sacrament of charity, the Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God’s infinite love for every man and woman. This wondrous sacrament makes manifest that “greater” love which led him to “lay down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). Jesus did indeed love them “to the end” (Jn 13:1). In those words the Evangelist introduces Christ’s act of immense humility: before dying for us on the Cross, he tied a towel around himself and washed the feet of his disciples. In the same way, Jesus continues, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, to love us “to the end,” even by offering us his body and his blood. What amazement must the Apostles have felt in witnessing what the Lord did and said during that Supper! What wonder must the eucharistic mystery also awaken in our own hearts! (Sacramentum Caritatis, 1).

In a recent document, Pope Francis also wrote of his amazement that God, in Jesus Christ, has “earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” (Luke 22:15). Amazement and wonder are essential to the Eucharist:

If there were lacking our astonishment at the fact that the paschal mystery is rendered present in the concreteness of sacramental signs, we would truly risk being impermeable to the ocean of grace that floods every celebration… We can encounter God through the new fact of the Incarnation that reaches in the Last Supper the extreme point of his desiring to be eaten by us. How can the misfortune of distancing ourselves from the allure of the beauty of this gift happen to us?

The astonishment or wonder of which I speak is… marveling at the fact that the salvific plan of God has been revealed in the paschal deed of Jesus (cf. Ephesians 1:3-14), and the power of this paschal deed continues to reach us in the celebration of the “mysteries,” of the sacraments… Beauty, just like truth, always engenders wonder, and when these are referred to the mystery of God, they lead to adoration.

Wonder is an essential part of the liturgical act because it is the way that those who know they are engaged in the particularity of symbolic gestures look at things. It is the marveling of those who experience the power of symbol, which does not consist in referring to some abstract concept but rather in containing and expressing in its very concreteness what it signifies (Desiderio Desideravi, 24-26).

Do we marvel every time we enter the church and realize that Jesus has been waiting here for us in the tabernacle? In fact, he instituted the Eucharist 2000 years ago so that he could have this personal encounter with you and me. As St. Josemaría wrote: “When you approach the tabernacle remember that he has been waiting for you for twenty centuries” (The Way, 537).

That is true Eucharistic amazement which will guide true Eucharistic Revival. Let’s begin today!

Father John Waiss is the pastor of St. Mary of the Angels Church in Chicago, Illinois. He is also a member of Opus Dei, the prelature founded by St. Josemaria Escriva.