When I first heard that the Catholic Bishops in the United States were calling for a three-year Eucharistic Revival for belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, a song began to play in my heart. That song, released in 1965 by artist Jackie DeShannon and songwriter Burt Bacharach, is titled “What The World Needs Now Is Love.” The chorus to this catchy, peaceful tune proclaims that love for everyone is the cure for the world’s ills. Over 57 years later, a quick glance at the news or numerous social media feeds will bring us to the quick conclusion that the world has not yet found love for everyone.
As the world continues this search for love, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has declared the next three years to be a Eucharistic Revival that began on the Feast of Corpus Christi 2022 and continues until the fall of 2024. The revival’s mission is, “To renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.” In other words, the Church is offering all of us the answer to DeShannon and Bacharach’s hit song; to find and discover love in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
This love presented to each and every one of us is not a superficial love with warm, fuzzy feelings and a promise of eternal peace on earth. Instead, this love is Jesus: truly present body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist as he says in the Gospel of Luke, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.”
Throughout my life, the Real Presence has helped guide my heart on many major life decisions. As a college student, I spent many nights on my knees adoring the Blessed Sacrament, praying for Christ’s guidance on what educational path to pursue and study. Without this time and prayer during adoration, I believe I never would have fallen in love with the Eucharist and been guided to an eventual degree in the field of Theology from Saint Gregory’s University. At other times, I have prayed for a spouse, sighed over frustrations, complained about life, shared joys, shed tears, and remained in silence before the tabernacle.
My reasoning for all this time spent before the Blessed Sacrament is because for me, the Real Presence of the Eucharist is a continuation of the words from the first chapter of the Gospel of John, “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” The Word, fully human and divine, the author of all creation, still dwells amongst us in the Eucharist to this day in the tabernacles and on the altars of the nearest Catholic Church. That Jesus can be entirely present in his humanity and divinity in something as simple as bread is truly a mystery. However, when considering God humbled himself to become a man to save us from our sins, a theme of humility begins to emerge that for me is so irresistible, I cannot help but think I am following a divine blueprint when humbling myself before the Eucharist in prayer.
To contribute to the revival, I wanted to share three Scripture verses with a brief reflection and application to contemplate the mystery of the Eucharist and apply it to our daily lives:
1. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” John 6:54
We can spend an inordinate amount of time trying to escape the inevitable final breath we will all take. Death is certain. Death is final. Death is coming. Death, however, is not undefeated. Jesus defeated death once and for all through his own death and resurrection. He gives us his own flesh and blood to eat and drink in the Eucharist to partake of this victory over death with him. He invites us to drop the dread and avoidance of our final breath. Eternal life has won. Come to the feast and consume him that consumed death.
I sometimes feel dread at the thought of death. I think that I need to start exercising more, eating right, or visiting different doctors to prolong my life. However, at Mass, I receive victory over this fear because I receive Jesus who defeated death. I find that spending time after communion reflecting on Christ’s victory over death brings me an even greater appreciation of the mystery I have just received.
2. “They are to make a sanctuary for me, that I may dwell in their midst.” Exodus 25:8
Mary is the first Tabernacle that held the Eucharist. She who held Christ so close to her heart in her womb, who felt every movement and kick as he shifted positions within her, was the first to adore Christ. She spoke to him, caressed him, and watched over him. She does the same for us. When we ask for Mary’s intercession, we are asking the same person who cared for the well-being of the Incarnation to intercede for us. God allowed her to care for him, we should as well.
I often ask for Mary’s intercession in my life for others. I have asked her to watch over family members, friends, co-workers, and people I run into on a daily basis. I pray that she cares for them like she did for her child, Jesus. She will never abandon them or leave them without hope.
3. “And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.” Luke 24:30-31
After breaking the bread, their eyes were opened and Jesus vanished from before the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Though visibly not present, the Bible does not state that Jesus vanished from their presence. He simply disappeared from their sight as he was still entirely present and “recognized” in the Eucharist.
The disciples longed for Jesus to stay with them and share a meal. Jesus gave them something even better by opening their eyes to his eternal presence that is with them always and continues to be with us always in the tabernacles throughout the world.
LISTEN: Be a Eucharistic PeopleI like to think the longing the disciples felt to spend time with Jesus is the same longing I feel to spend time with Jesus in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. If you have never done so, I invite you to try it at your local Catholic Church.
The world truly does need love more than ever now. The Eucharistic Revival presents each of us with an opportunity to discover this love in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. What we will find is that this is a love that is truly for everyone.
Note: All scripture verses are from The New American Bible.