As the American Church embarks on a three-year Eucharistic Revival, Dr. Timothy O’Malley joins the Busted Halo Show to discuss his new book “Becoming Eucharistic People: The Hope and Promise of Parish Life.” O’Malley is a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ executive planning team for the Revival, as well as director of education at the McGrath Institute for Church Life and academic director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy.
O’Malley assesses the need for this Revival in light of the current polarization of the Church and world. He says, “I think the heart of what it means to be Catholic is the Eucharist, right? The Communion of love that we receive from Christ is the Communion of love we share with one another, and can the Church really put a focus there?”
He notes how each parish needs to examine what their focus is, saying, “There is this sort of culture that every parish has, and is it inspired by the self-giving love of Christ, or is it not? Or where can it be more inspired?” This requires honest discussion and discernment of our own communities’ strengths and weaknesses.
Another element of both the Revival and becoming a Eucharistic people surrounds the topic of reverence. Father Dave delves into the topic saying that, “There is a lot of division even in our world and in our Church, even among us as Catholics, and some of it comes down to this: that person isn’t reverent enough.” He notes that a lot of baggage comes with this word, and often leads to us judging one another’s faith.
O’Malley gives his definition saying, “I think reverence is treating the things we do in worship as real, something is at stake in them…my body is involved in that, my life is involved in that. It’s not just play-acting, it’s not just carrying out the requirements of celebrating Mass, it’s not just a job. Something is at stake, the lives of men and women that want to unite themselves to Jesus.” He continues that this kind of reverence requires us to look within ourselves rather than passing judgment on others. If a parish can live this kind of reverence, then others will be attracted to it.
He shares more ways that a parish can foster this kind of culture, including offering proper Eucharistic formation. This formation is not just about teaching doctrine, but also about what we can learn about the Eucharist through art, literature, and music as well. Another way is a term O’Malley calls Eucharistic Solidarity. “Do we recognize that the parish is not reducible to a building, but it’s a neighborhood?” He asks, “Do we know our neighbors, including our parishioners and those who live in our neighborhoods…Are their joys our joys, are their sorrows our sorrows?”
“We represent to the world and the world comes to know Jesus through us,” he continues. “The way I often describe this book is, do our parishes and our parishioners recognize their vocation to transform every crack and crevice of the cosmos into a space defined by love?”
O’Malley’s book is the latest in the Engaging Catholicism Series from the The McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University Notre Dame. “We’re trying to deal with knotty doctrines,” he says, “the kind that people sort of struggle with, and that’s one of the goals of our series.”