(OSV News) — The Eucharist is the summit of our faith, in which the entire story of our salvation is made real in a miraculous and powerful way. The Roman Missal calls Holy Eucharist the “Sacred Banquet, in which Christ is received; the memory of his Passion is renewed; the mind is filled with grace; and a pledge of future glory is given unto us.”
Yet how often do we have a moment to reflect on this priceless gift? Even in Mass we can become distracted, and what is miraculous and precious becomes routine. The National Eucharistic Revival can be such an opportunity for reflection and for deepening our love for what God has given us — his Son, Jesus, who we receive into our hearts. During this time, we can make a point to focus on the Eucharist — in the Mass, in our reading, in our faith formation classes, and in the quiet of our own hearts. We can use this time well to pay closer attention to this gift.
- The Eucharist and the Mass
At every Mass we are witnesses to a miracle. The Eucharist is not a symbol of Our Lord; the bread and wine actually become the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. At the altar, he truly comes to us, again and again, in his real presence.
Christ himself instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper as a “memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 47).
The Eucharist calls us to memorialize Christ’s passion and death on the cross, the sacrifice in which he won for us our salvation and eternity with the Father. It also is a tremendous sign of our unity as believers. We call it Holy Communion because when we approach the altar, we are acknowledging our unity with Christ, his church, and one another.
Yet these words can only partially express a mystery that is beyond words: “If you understood him, it would not be God,” writes St. Augustine. So, too, with the Eucharist. During the National Eucharistic Revival, we can plumb this mystery more and more deeply — not just when we come together for Mass, but in every situation of life.
The church asks all of us to examine our consciences to make sure we are truly prepared to receive Jesus:
- Are we in a “state of grace,” that is, not aware of any unconfessed grave sin? If not, then we should celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation first.
- Have we observed the one-hour fast from food and drink (except for water and medicine) before receiving Our Lord?
- Do we believe in the Real Presence; do we believe that Christ is present, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity?
- Are we faithful to the moral teachings of the church in our personal and public lives?
Ways to celebrate the Eucharistic Revival
- Corpus Christi processions. The National Eucharistic Revival began on the feast of Corpus Christi in the United States, Sunday, June 19, 2022. The feast of Corpus Christi began in 1246 in France and became a feast for the entire Western Church only 18 years later. It was itself meant to be a celebration of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharistic feast. In this centuries-old Catholic tradition, the faithful form a kind of “parade” to honor the Body and Blood of Christ, singing Eucharistic hymns as they march in a church or other public setting as a testimony of their faith.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Churches are celebrating Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. During Exposition, Catholics spend time praying and worshipping the Lord in the Eucharist while the Host is exposed on the altar.
Adult Faith Formation. Throughout the revival, parishes around the country are offering programs and other types of study on the Eucharist. Catholics are encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities to join with others in deepening their faith and understanding of the Eucharist.
- More ways to draw closer to Jesus in the Eucharist
- At Mass. When we recognize that Jesus himself is present in the Blessed Sacrament, we come to realize that participation every week at Sunday Mass (or Saturday vigil Mass) is more than an obligation. It is a privilege! When you are in the presence of the Consecrated Host, pray with heartfelt sincerity, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” With St. Thomas, who touched the wounds of the Lord, simply say, “My Lord and my God.”
- Make a spiritual communion. When we desire to receive Jesus in the Eucharist but are unable to do so, we may make what is called a “spiritual communion.” Wherever we may be, we need only ask the Lord to come into our hearts and renew his life within us. We can then spend a few moments in prayer and praise, and then resolve to receive Communion as soon as possible.
- Before the tabernacle. Jesus is present in the Host reserved in the tabernacle. We can take time out regularly to visit a church and talk to him there. Make it a “Holy Hour.”
- In an adoration chapel. Many churches provide a place where the Blessed Sacrament remains exposed for prayer and adoration every day — sometimes even around the clock (the latter is known as “perpetual adoration”). This arrangement provides an excellent and ongoing opportunity to draw close to Jesus in his Eucharistic presence outside Mass. If possible, sign up for a regular time to visit the church or chapel.
- Through learning and teaching. Abundant resources are available for study. Ask pastors or directors of religious education for suggestions about literature, recordings, broadcasts and websites that teach about the Eucharist.
- Cultivating an attitude of gratitude. Finally, keep in mind that the word “Eucharist” literally means “thanksgiving.” In Holy Communion, as Jesus gives himself to us, we give ourselves to him as well in gratitude. His sacrifice on the Cross — presented on the altar — takes away the sins of the world and makes possible for us a life of intimate union with God.