Sometimes as a bishop you feel the incredible weight of the need for a New Evangelization. One of those moments was when a 2019 study from the Pew Research Center revealed that as many as 70% of Catholics don’t believe in or understand the depth of Christ’s real presence and love in the Eucharist. The weight of that reality pushed the bishops of the United States to begin a three-year Eucharistic Revival, which we hope will affect the Church at every level—the diocese, the parish, and even the national level—culminating in a National Eucharistic Congress on July 17-21, 2024, in Indianapolis.
The Eucharist is the key to evangelization. As Vatican II said, “The other sacraments, as well as with every ministry of the Church and every work of the apostolate, are tied together with the Eucharist and are directed toward it. The Most Blessed Eucharist contains the entire spiritual boon of the Church, that is, Christ himself, our Pasch and Living Bread” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 5). The preaching of the Gospel finds its source and summit in the Eucharist, because the Eucharist teaches us the essence of the Christian life. In the Eucharist we receive the unmerited and overwhelming gift of Jesus Christ, who offered himself to the Father for my salvation and who offers me his very flesh and blood in order to make me one with himself and give me eternal life.
Christians learn from the Eucharist that their life too is to be an offering. This is why the Eucharist is both source and summit. It is the source of my life where each day I can experience his love poured out for me, where I can receive his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. In him I receive anew the strength of his life and love to transform me. The Eucharist is also the summit where I have the incomparable privilege of participating in the perfect act of worship of Jesus Christ, whereas both priest and victim he offered a perfect sacrifice of love in his body to the Father that pays the price for the sins of all the world. Because he said, Do this in memory of me, and gave the power to his apostles to stand in his person at the altar and re-present his own sacrifice, all of us, by virtue of our baptismal priesthood, are able to unite our sufferings, our joys, our sacrifices big and little, to the one true sacrifice of Christ.
When we come to understand this, Mass becomes also the summit of our life where the daily gift of our life for Jesus takes on true meaning. This is why Saint John Paul II said, “The Eucharist is the secret of my day. It gives strength and meaning to all my activities of service in the Church and to the whole world.” This is why Pope Benedict XVI said, “Christians, in all their actions, are called to offer true worship to God. Here the intrinsically eucharistic nature of Christian life begins to take shape…. There is nothing authentically human—our thoughts and affections, our words and deeds—that does not find in the sacrament of the Eucharist the form it needs to be lived to the full” (Sacramentum Caritatis, 71).
This is what it means to live a Eucharistic life: to learn that as I receive the love of Christ poured out for me, my whole life must become worship, united to his worship at Mass. The Eucharist forms me to live my life as a gift for others. As Pope Francis has often made clear, “In the end, and the end of our solemn Eucharistic liturgies as well, only love will remain. Even now, our Eucharistic celebrations are transforming the world to the extent that we are allowing ourselves to be transformed and to become bread broken for others.” May our participation in this Eucharistic Revival form our hearts to live a truly Eucharistic life, given for him.