“As Christians we know that we need Christ to be present in our lives. He is our very sustenance as he reminded us: ‘unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you’ (John 6:53) …The Lord accompanies us in many ways, but none as profound as when we encounter him in the Eucharist. On our journey toward eternal life, Christ nourishes us with his very self” (USCCB, The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church, nos. 4-5, Nov. 17, 2021).

The Bishops of the United States have initiated a three-year, grassroots “Eucharistic Revival” of devotion and belief in the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. These words, taken from the much-anticipated 2021 USCCB document on the Eucharist, underscore the plentiful sources of the Catholic Church’s doctrinal teaching and belief throughout its history, beginning with the Lord Jesus’ own words at the Last Supper and repeated at every celebration of Holy Mass: “This is My Body, this is My Blood. Do this in memory of Me.”

The bread and wine consecrated by the priest at Holy Mass are not merely signs or symbols or reminders of the Lord Jesus’ words and intentions as some have suggested: They ARE his very Body and Blood given to us, they ARE his very Soul and Divinity. Their truth does not depend upon our belief. Their truth is the source and motivation of our belief.

In the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church Lumen Gentium, para.11, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council declared the Holy Eucharist to be “the source and summit (fount and apex) of the whole Christian life.” This was not and is not a “new teaching.” It has been and remains the fundamental, non-negotiable teaching and belief of the Catholic Church’s faith from the very beginning.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms that “the Eucharist is the ‘source and summit’ of the Christian life. The other Sacraments and, indeed, all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the Blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch” (CCC, 1324).

As Catholics, then, our whole “way of thinking is attuned to the Eucharist and the Eucharist in turn confirms our way of thinking” (St. Irenaeus, Adv, haer. 4,18, 5:PG 7/1, 1028).

In the three-year Eucharistic Revival that will begin in the United States and in the Diocese of Trenton on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (formerly called the “Feast of Corpus Christi”), the weekend of June 18-19, 2022, Catholics will be invited to prayerfully consider the Holy Eucharist in all its dimensions.

Bishop Anthony Cozzens of the Diocese of Crookston in Minnesota, and chair of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, has indicated that the initiative aims to “renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.” He has called the Eucharistic Revival “a movement across the United States, healed, converted, formed and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist – and sent out in mission for the life of the world.”

Acknowledging the pain and suffering occasioned by the ongoing COVID pandemic, as well as the polarization and divisions encountered in our society, Bishop Cozzens has reflected “right now, the Church in the United States needs the healing and unity that can flow from enkindling our love for the Eucharist. … This is not simply about good teaching but about encountering the living person of Jesus Christ, a transformational experience.”

Here in the Diocese of Trenton, activities related to the Eucharistic Revival at the diocesan level – the first year of the Revival – will be coordinated by Very Rev. Martin O’Reilly, pastor of St. Mary, Mother of the Church Parish in Bordentown, and episcopal vicar for Burlington County, and Mr. Josue Arriola, director of the diocesan Department of Evangelization and Family Life, and the committee they have formed.  

Special Masses, Holy Hours, Adoration, and Benediction as well as homilies, talks, writings and recommended readings on the Holy Eucharist will take place throughout the Diocese and will be communicated to the clergy, religious and faithful through The Monitor, on diocesan websites and social media and in parish bulletins.

It certainly is our hope that all of us in the Diocese will develop a deeper and more profound understanding and appreciation of the gift and mystery of the Holy Eucharist through active participation in weekly and daily Mass, through private prayer, Adoration and devotion to the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in our churches, and through a personal transformation that leads us to bring Christ’s loving presence into our communities. 

As we begin the Eucharistic Revival in our Diocese this June, let’s recall the words of Pope St. John Paul II: “From the Eucharist comes strength to live the Christian Life and zeal to share that life with others!”