Why is the Church in the U.S. promoting a “National Eucharistic Revival” this year?

About 5 years ago, a Pew Research survey revealed that among Catholics who attend Sunday Mass, 37% DO NOT believe in the real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Of this 37%: 60% (that is, 15% of those who come to Sunday Mass) didn’t know that this is the Church’s teaching, and the other 40% (that is, 5% of those who come to Sunday Mass) know it’s the Church’s teaching but do not believe it. I don’t know if our pastorate number is higher or lower than this 37%, but Fr. Steve and I decided to dedicate a good portion of our homilies this weekend to Jesus’ real Presence in the Eucharist.

In the Eucharistic prayer, at the priest’s words of consecration (“This is my body… ”), by the power of Jesus the Word of God Himself, the substance of the bread becomes the “body, blood, soul, and divinity” of Jesus. It’s no longer bread. And it’s not “bread as a symbol” of Christ. It’s actually Jesus Himself. The reality of this change is one of Jesus’ MOST EMPHATIC teachings, found in the gospel of John chapter 6 (John 6:22-71) where Jesus uses the most straightforward language possible, leaving no room for misinterpretation: “For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” In this dialogue with the Jews and his disciples, Luke records Jesus stating flesh 6 times, eat 8 times (using two different Greek words), and blood 4 times. Clearly Jesus was not speaking symbolically because: 1) The Jews said: “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 2) “… after this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.” And 3) Jesus said to His apostles, “Do you also wish to go away?”

There is MUCH, MUCH more biblical and historical and rational evidence for Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist; I’ll be covering some of it in my “Going Deeper” session on January 22 at 7:00 pm in the Maryland Room at Our Lady of the Chesapeake. An addition to the constant 2,000-year teaching and practice of the Church, there’s the life changing experiences for countless millions of Christians and saints. His Presence changes our relationship with Him: more than grace is poured into our body and soul at Holy Communion, the source of grace—Jesus Himself— comes to us in the most profound way conceivable in the Eucharist. We literally become “one flesh” with Him, as St. Paul describes in Ephesians 5:31-32.

This year being the USCCB’s “Year of Parish Eucharistic Revival” across the United States, our pastorate has been offering additional opportunities to foster your time with Jesus in the Eucharist during the week containing the 1st Friday of the month (Monday through Sunday), including Sunday Holy Hours between Masses, small group study and other opportunities (see the bulletin). If you have any other ideas to foster Eucharistic devotion, please contact our pastorate’s Eucharistic Missionary, Chris Sybert, at sybernet@comcast.net. And if you have any questions or doubts that you’d like to discuss, Fr. Steve and I are here for you.

Peace in the Eucharist,
Father Jim