This Advent, begin a eucharistic revival in your heart
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
With the conclusion of our diocese’s Year of the Eucharist on Dec. 8, we now focus on bringing the Eucharistic Revival more deeply into each of our parishes and the lives of our parishioners. I continue to hear much glowing praise and appreciation for our historic and memorable Diocesan Eucharistic Congress celebrated with 5,000 people at the BOS Center in Springfield on Oct. 28, which was certainly the high point of Year of the Eucharist. Rather than let this event become simply a happy memory that we recall with fondness, we should strive for our Diocesan Eucharistic Congress to be a continuing source of inspiration for a deep devotion to our Eucharistic Lord in our parishes and in our hearts.
We can do this by implementing the four pillars of the National Eucharistic Revival, which are:
- Personal Encounters: Bring your people to Jesus.
- Reinvigorating Devotion: Receive Jesus. Worship Jesus.
- Deepening Formation: Learn and preach the truth about Jesus.
- Missionary Sending: Go out and bring Jesus to the world.
Let us look at each of these pillars in more detail.
First, Personal Encounters involve attentiveness to the Ars celebrandi, that is, promoting beauty in the liturgy in order elevate the minds and hearts of those who attend Mass, helping them to match their interior disposition with the externals of what is being celebrated. In this regard, I encourage re-reading my first Pastoral Letter, Ars celebrandi et adorandi, On the Art ofCelebrating the Eucharistic Liturgy Properly and Adoring the Lord in the Eucharist Devoutly.
Second, Reinvigorating Devotion involves attentiveness to the Ars crescendi in Dei gratia, which I explain in my second Pastoral Letter, On Building a Culture of Growth in the Church. Parishes are encouraged to create opportunities for people to come face-to-face with the Living God, for example, through eucharistic adoration.
Third, Deepening Formation involves robust formation to help people understand and accept the amazing reality of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Fourth, Missionary Sending means to mobilize Catholics in the pews, with each parishioner reaching out to at least one person with the message of Christ’s Eucharistic love, inviting someone who is unchurched to join us, or inviting someone who has fallen away from the practice of the faith to come back. I offer a number of substantive reasons for active participation in the Catholic Church in my third Pastoral Letter, Ars vivendi et moriendi in Dei gratia, On the Art of Living and Dying in God’s Grace.
All three of my Pastoral Letters are available online at https://dio.org/bishop/pastoral-letters/. More information about the Eucharistic revival in our parishes is also available online at https://www.eucharisticrevival.org/lead.
The motto of the National Eucharistic Revival is, “Revival Starts in Your Own Heart.” This Advent season, as we prepare for Christmas, is a good time for us to reflect on how to deepen our devotion to our Eucharistic Lord in our own hearts. In this regard, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a French abbot, theologian, and one of the most influential figures of the 12th century, wrote that “there are three comings of the Lord. The third lies between the other two. It is invisible, while the other two are visible. In the first coming He was seen on earth, dwelling among men. In the final coming all flesh will see the salvation of our God, and they will look on him whom they pierced. The intermediate coming is a hidden one; in it only the elect see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved. In his first coming our Lord came in our flesh and in our weakness; in this middle coming he comes in spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and majesty. Because this coming lies between the other two, it is like a road on which we travel from the first coming to the last. In the first, Christ was our redemption; in the last, he will appear as our life; in this middle coming, he is our rest and consolation.”
As we celebrate the first coming of Christ at Christmas and look forward to His final coming at the end of time, let us resolve to welcome Christ into our hearts in His middle coming to us by receiving holy Communion at Mass on Christmas and every time we go to Mass.May God give us this grace. Amen.