“The Eucharist is the secret of my day. It gives strength and meaning to all my activities of service to the Church and to the whole world … Let Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament speak to your hearts. It is He who is the true answer of life that you seek. He stays here with us: He is God with us. Seek Him without tiring, welcome Him without reserve, love him without interruption: today, tomorrow, forever!” — (Pope St. John Paul the Great’s Address to young people of Bologna, Sept. 27, 1997)
We are completing our first year of The National Eucharistic Revival. The revival came about as a response by the Bishops of the United States to the disturbing news that many Catholics do not understand and/or believe in the miracle of the Eucharist. The revival is a nation-wide effort to bring fallen away Catholics back to the Eucharist, to catechize the faithful to experience the truth of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and for us to stretch ourselves to an even deeper relationship with Jesus. We are called to pray for and seek healing, conversion, formation, and to be unified through an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist so that our lives may be transformed and we may be sent out to boldly proclaim the Good News! “The Eucharist is not an object but a person who is alive and transforms lives. The person of Jesus Christ is at the heart of this Eucharistic moment in the United States. This is the work of revival. It is not an institutional work. We cannot demand revival but we can invite it, pray for it, and respond to it” (Leader’s Playbook, National Eucharistic Revival). We opened the National Eucharistic Revival in the Diocese of Biloxi with the celebration of Mass followed by Eucharistic Procession and Benediction on the Feast of Corpus Christi on June 19, 2022, at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral. During this first year of the Eucharistic Revival, our Diocesan Eucharistic Revival Committee members, Father Michael Austin, Deacon David Allen, Deacon Bill Stentz, Leo Trahan, Ray Lacy, Jan Hamilton, Ricky Molsbee, and Tony Diaz del Valle, have been meeting and planning for the revival. They invited Chris Stefanick, a nationally known Catholic presenter, to share his love of Jesus and the Eucharist with parishioners from all over the diocese in an effort to revive and renew those who attended. The Revival Committee continues to pre-pare and work with parish representatives to enable them to work with their pastors and parish revival committee to plan for the upcoming Year of the Parish. The final year of the revival begins with a National Eucharistic Congress, which will be held in Indianapolis in June of 2024. (Information about how you can attend the Eucharistic Congress will be shared soon.) The National Eucharistic Revival Year of the Parish begins on the Feast of Corpus Christi, June 11. On that day, parishes across the United States are being asked to have a Eucharistic Procession to celebrate, and many of our parishes are taking part. Some will even take processions to the streets of their cities and communities to bring Jesus to the public, and one event will be multiple parishes with the Eucharistic Procession beginning at one parish and ending at anoth-er. The coming year events and celebrations will continue in parishes to increase belief in and devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. In particular, parishes are being asked to focus on four specific areas:
To provide opportunities for personal encounters with Jesus in the Eucharist
Robust faith formation
I will focus more closely on each of these areas in the next four editions of the Gulf Pine Catholic.
What a precious gift we have in the Most Holy Eucharist! As St. Thomas Aquinas writes, “The Eucharist is the sacrament of love: it signifies love, it produces love. The Eucharist is the consummation of the whole spiritual life.” And, like Pope St. John Paul II, we are called to share “the secret of my day.” “Let Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament speak to your hearts. It is He who is the true answer of life that you seek. He stays here with us: He is God with us. Seek Him without tiring, welcome Him without reserve, love Him without interruption: today, tomorrow, forever!” I share with you a prayer and I ask you to pray it often as we continue the National Eucharistic Revival: “Almighty God, pour out abundant graces upon the Church and the world. May the revival of Eucharistic devotion bring about a spiritual awakening, transforming hearts and renewing the face of the earth. Help us to embrace the Eucharist as the source and summit of our faith, and may it lead us to a deeper union with you and with one another. Amen!”