National Eucharistic Revival launches June 19

Corpus Christi Sunday is kick-off for three-year national campaign

By Archbishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone

In his work, “Western Culture: Today and Tomorrow,” Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI masterfully diagnoses the most influential problems that we face in our Western civilization. Yet, not giving over to despair, in the face of such challenges, Benedict offers an alternative vision for tomorrow based on uniquely Christian hope. Remembering Europe not merely as a geopolitical entity but as a project that stretches through time, he recalls the notion that throughout its history Europe was tasked with mission. In other words, at its best, Western civilization was not static, but a project, the striving after an ideal, even a hope. And the hope that it carried forward was a graced vision for what can be achieved through the proclamation of the Gospel both internally and brought to all corners of our world. As heirs to that civilization, Benedict invites us to recall this heritage which is no less than a mandate to mission.

There is hope to be found – if we are to rediscover the missionary zeal by which the West for 2,000  years found life and purpose.

But what is that life, that purpose?

The Second Vatican Council famously articulates the Eucharist as the source and summit of the Christian life. If that is the case, which as Catholics we firmly believe, then it seems entirely reasonable that a return commitment to our mission would entail a recovery of that which gives us the most life, the most purpose, that is, the Eucharist. To remember the mission of our great civilization, in many ways, is to recall the importance of the place of the most Blessed Sacrament in our societies, in our parishes, and in our lives.

However, in an important way, this invitation is also not naive. It must take into account the realities of being Catholic in the 21st century. Hence, it is a call to reevaluate where we find ourselves across different levels. As members of the Body of Christ we belong to a universal Church, a worldwide Catholic family; this gives us the chance to reevaluate ourselves as a nation, as a people, as an archdiocese, as a parish, as a family and, finally, as individuals. Renewal is possible. But where do we start?

We begin with the possibility, the hope, for revival. The bishops of the United States (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) have endeavored to encourage a nationwide Eucharistic Revival. As many know, the 2019 Pew study indicated that merely 30% of Catholics fully believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Seeing this as a clarion call for revival, the bishops across the nation have called all of us to rediscover that source and summit of our lives. This new initiative is a grassroots campaign to rekindle the love and devotion for the Eucharistic heart of Jesus Christ.

Invitation to Corpus Christi procession at St. Dominic Church in San Francisco.

The Revival will take place in three phases over the course of the next three years. Every Catholic diocese, parish, school, apostolate and family will be invited to renew their passion and love for our Lord in the Eucharist. The Revival officially launches on the Feast of Corpus Christi, June 19, 2022. Over the next three years, dioceses across our nation will host Eucharistic congresses and processions. Parishes will increase or begin Eucharistic Adoration. Families and friends will gather in small groups to learn and pray together. Filled with the flame of charity from the reception of Jesus in the Eucharist, missionary disciples will go to the margins, recognizing the mystery of Jesus’ presence in the poor and the suffering.

All of this will culminate in the first National Eucharistic Congress in the United States in almost 50 years, July 17-21, 2024. For the conference, thousands of Catholics will journey on pilgrimage to Indianapolis to personally encounter Jesus in the Eucharist and be sent back out into their parishes and communities back home.

Pope St. John Paul II reminds us that “the Church draws her life from the Eucharist.” This is another way of saying that the Church draws her life from the Eucharistic sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We cannot separate the Eucharist from sacrifice – just as we cannot separate sacrifice from the Holy Mass. A revival of the Eucharist, then, is nothing less than a revival of that which is the very life of the Church, which is found in her greatest prayer: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In rediscovering the vital role of the Eucharist we are at the same time rediscovering the place of the Holy Mass in the life of the People of God.

Celebrating Mass outside during the pandemic at St. Peter in the Mission District.

As we begin to come out of these years of pandemic, such a nationwide revival is clearly providential. I ask all of you to join me as together we rediscover our heritage, our mission. With faith in Christ, and moving forward in Christian hope, this Eucharistic Revival will be an answer to the need to rekindle our collective sense of mission and to find within it the very source and summit of our lives, the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

Finally, it should not be lost on us that the very last lines of the Holy Mass, by which the precious gift of the Eucharist is given to us, entail the very command to mission that is so integral in shaping our civilization, “Ite missa est.” The Mass, indeed, sends us forth. May these very words of the Holy Mass be for us our own call to mission as we seek to bring ourselves and all those whom we meet to the love found in the Eucharistic heart of Jesus Christ.