by Ken Rolheiser
The Eucharist as our gift

For centuries the Christian churches in their missionary work have successfully employed the kerygma – repentance and turning to God. Today a new emphasis on the Eucharist is emerging.

“When we receive our Lord in Holy Communion, we are fed, then sent forth to be Christ’s emissaries to those we encounter — in our homes and neighborhoods, at work and in our greater communities. 

“…the bishops of the United States have invited all U.S. Catholics to participate in a [three year] National Eucharistic Revival. It is a call to renew — or perhaps even spark for the first time — each Catholic’s understanding of and devotion to the Eucharist” (Patrick E Kelly Supreme Knight of Columbus).

The 61.9 million American Catholics and the Canadian Catholic Church face the same crucial need for renewal since only 31% of Catholics believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. (Pew Research Center).

What keeps us from embracing the love of Christ in the Eucharist? Jesus said: “Anyone who does eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day” (John 6:53-54).

Jesus is still trying to break through to us about the reality of the Eucharist. Miracles abound - Lanciano, where the host that is Christ’s body turned into flesh, and scientific tests determined it to be heart tissue. And this flesh knows no decay even after 1200 years.

More recently at a Eucharistic Congress at Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, some years back, a dark storm cloud was approaching the outdoor site. Cardinal Leger turned to the gathering and prayed briefly in English, “Let us pray for a good temperature.” The cloud split in two and passed by on both sides leaving the gathering in peace.

The U.S. National Eucharistic Revival set out a plan to deepen our encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist. The First Pillar of the revival is to Foster encounters with Jesus through kerygma and the Eucharist. Kerygma is the proclamation of the Good News to invite conversion and repentance, bringing about our salvation.

The Second Pillar of the Revival is to “Contemplate and proclaim the doctrine of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist through the Truth of our teaching, Beauty of our worship, and Goodness of our accompaniment of persons in poverty and those who are vulnerable.”

Not only is God present in our neighbor, but God leaves a trail of hints that lead to him. “The whole earth is a living icon of the face of God” (St John Damascene). We find God in our search for truth, for goodness and for beauty.

The Third Pillar is to Empower grass roots creativity at every level - parishes, dioceses, and the country as a whole. We have to allow the teaching to take root and flourish in our own hearts and souls so we can share the truth with the people immediately around us. 

The Fourth Pillar is to Reach the smallest unit: parish small groups and families…“As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live” (St John Paul II). We develop faith in the family by fostering devotion through sacramentals like the rosary. 

The Fifth Pillar is to Embrace and learn from the various rich intercultural Eucharistic traditions, like Eucharistic Holy Hours, adoration, benediction, Communion Procession…

“The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything” (Julian of Norwich).

(577 words)