The Eucharist

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Over the next several weeks I am going to spend some time discussing the Eucharist. I am doing this because the Bishops of the United States have initiated a three-year process of Eucharistic Revival. First, it is important for us to ask this question: Why have the bishops done this?

The short answer is simple. There seems to be a great number of Catholics who do not believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This may shock some of you. But, unfortunately, the data is clear. Many Catholics either do not believe in what the Church teaches regarding the Eucharist or, due to no fault of their own, lack a firm grasp of the Eucharist and its implications in their everyday life. In light of this, I believe that Eucharistic Revival is important for the Church, not just for those who lack a full understanding of the sacrament, but to remind all of us that the Eucharist is a gift meant to change our lives. From the document entitled, The Mystery of the Eucharist In the Life of the Church, the Bishops emphasize the transforming power of this Sacrament:

The mission of the Lord’s entire life on earth was to glorify the Father by

bringing us salvation. In the Nicene Creed recited at Mass, we profess:

“For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by

the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” The

salvation offered in the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Christ is nothing

less than sharing in the very life of God, in the communion of love among

the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. There is no greater gift that God

could possibly give us. In Christ, we are sharers in the divine nature. The

Church Fathers referred to this participation in the divine life as

“divinization.” The eternal Son of God made this possible by becoming

man and uniting humanity to his divine Person. St. Augustine explained,

“the maker of man was made man, so that man might be a receiver of

God.” In fact, Pope Francis reminds us that “in the bread of the

Eucharist, ‘creation is projected towards divinization, towards the holy

wedding feast, towards unification with the Creator himself.’”

The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church

In short, this quote and the entire document, and by extension, the Eucharistic Revival, seeks to reinforce these fundamental truths:

  • Resurrection as a present event, that is, an historical event with implications for our lives today
  • The Lord is our sustenance (John 6:53) – The Eucharist is necessary for spiritual nourishment
  • The Eucharist as the Sacrament of the Mystical Body of
  • Christ, the community gathered together to share in Christ’s oblation to the eternal Father

The Bishops of the United States are hoping to remind each of us: 1) The Eucharist is a gift given to us by God himself. 2) The reception of the gift demands a response. One phrase you have heard from me often is that Gospel-giving is always grateful-giving. We have received so much from God, that we in return give of ourselves back to Him.