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Why We Still Need a Eucharistic Revival
My Parish Talk on Missio Dei's book The Eucharistic Revival Project
Why did I help write this book?
Let’s talk about that Pew statistic—only 30% of Catholics believe in the doctrine of the true presence of the Eucharist. Well, can we find fault with the 70% who’ve rejected the Church’s teaching on the purpose of the mass and the Eucharist? In my opinion, no. During the Covid-19 Pandemic, how did the Church respond? It locked the doors to what the Vatican II council stated is the source & summit of our faith—the Eucharist. The faithful were told by the Church, the source & summit of our faith was not essential.
Naturally, I think many Church leaders in retrospect have concluded closing parishes from the faithful was a mistake. And such, was one of the catalysts for the USCCB calling for a Eucharist Revival. (Please see note below)
It’s important for Catholics to understand the sacraments were materially given to us by Christ to infuse us with spiritual grace because our humanity is both flesh & soul—that’s our nature; that’s what it means to be human. Have you ever heard the phrase, “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” It is one of the most nonsensical phrases I’ve ever heard come out of someone’s mouth.” Fr. Dwight Longenecker remarked, “it’s like saying I like food, but I hate cooking.” Furthermore, it’s the long way for saying, “I’m agnostic—or I believe in something, but I’m not sure what something is”
This gets back to the question, as Catholics, why do we physically come to the mass to be fed spiritually?
St. Augustine reminds us religion is a virtue—the religare or “to bind,” the Order of the Mass binds us to God—that is point of these rites from Baptism to the last rites. We were made, both flesh & soul, in the image of God for the purpose to live in divine friendship with Him—but humanity brought sin, disobedience, and death into the world. The good news is God did not abandon us. Although our disobedience runs very deep, God in His wisdom knows we need a balm to heal us and bind us back into divine friendship with Him. So, God does this through innately human ways because he knows each one of us better than we know ourselves. For example, let’s take the mass, We begin with storytelling, one of the most foundational human arts in the Liturgy of the Word. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we bring ordinary objects of bread and wine, a communal meal, and God turns them into the sacrament of profound grace.
The mass is the place where we can bring life’s joys and difficulties and the Lord gives them meaning and purpose. It is the place on earth where God lifts the veil between heaven & earth. This is the mystical event where each and everyone us are brought back to the single sacrifice of Good Friday and joined together in the mystical body of our Lord Jesus who takes our sins & offers His Body for us out of divine love.
In my research for one of my chapters for the book, I wanted to go back to the earliest historical understanding of the Eucharist, which is found in St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul’s letter was written before any of the gospels. The consensus of historians, which includes non-religious people, this is an authentic letter of St. Paul written in 53-54 A.D. which is around twenty years after the death of Jesus. St. Paul is not an eyewitness of the events of the last supper. He writes in First Corinthians, “23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,”—the key phrase being ‘for I received from the Lord.’
St. Paul is indicating this is an established oral tradition at the time he is writing to the Corinthians within twenty years of the events of the Last Supper. I think many of us can recall events of great importance in our lives twenty years ago or less. So, the very words of institution of the Eucharist said at every mass by the priest, who stands in the person of Christ, have a strong historical pedigree.
In many Protestant circles, St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans is the magnus opus—Paul’s greatest work. In some respect, as profound as the theology of justification is in Paul’s Letter to the Romans, The First Letter to the Corinthians is the practical work, or the modus operandi, of the Church—that is the great work of the Church, which is the source and summit—the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In fact, liturgy means “work for the people” in Greek.
I write in the book on Paul’s letter to the Corinthains, “St. Paul’s theology of the Eucharist begins with his juxtaposition of the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons (1 Corinthians 10:14-22). Paul uses the forms of two Greek words, κοινωνός and μετέχω, which the New American Bible translates as “participants” and “par-take.” The words St. Paul uses carries religious significance to both 1st century A.D. Christians and pagans present in Corinth. During this period, the religious use of the word “participants” is expressed in the ancient sources as “one who takes part in something with someone.”
What we can learn historically from St. Paul’s use of the words participant and partake is exactly how the Catholic Church understands what is going on at the Mass with the celebration of the Eucharist. It’s important to reiterate that every one of us who eats of the Sacred Body and drinks the Precious Blood are participating in the event of the single sacrifice of Jesus on Good Friday—we are being sacramentally fed with God’s grace as Jesus atones for our sins. “St. Paul is stressing to the Corinthian community that these are unique words, and of vital importance, for the rite and institution of the Lord’s Supper in the context of participatory worship of the day. (historically) There is a great importance for the authorial audience and today’s Catholics and all Christians to understand the origin and tradition of the Eucharist because it invokes its normative practice in Christianity”—which is not symbolic worship—it is participatory worship.
We participate mystically at Christ’s single sacrifice on the cross on Good Friday every time at the mass. Do you want to see the Lord? You see Him every time you’re here at mass. When Father raises, the host do not hesitate to exclaim in your heart, “My Lord, and My God,” & “I have seen my salvation.” Thank You.
If you like a copy of The Eucharistic Revival Project, please visit the link below to get a copy. And, if you are an Amazon Kindle Unlimited member, you can read this great book at no extra cost.
 After I gave the talk to the parish, my pastor did address the parish saying I brought a good point about the pandemic; however, it’s hard to say what the right response was because of so many deaths during the early days of the pandemic, in his opinion, due to people not following protocols. I’m not going to opine on that specifically. I will say that St. Paul tells the Philippians “death is gain,” (Php 1:20–21) and Kierkegaard using the narrative of Lazarus argues the Christian does not fear mortal death because true death is giving into fear and despair against the virtue of hope, which is what I’d assert happened to many leaders in the Church during the pandemic. Kierkegaard writes, ““Thus, from a Christian point of view, no earthly, physical sickness is the sickness unto death, for death is indeed the end of the sickness, but death is not the end. If there is to be any question of a sickness unto death in the strictest sense, it must be a sickness of which the end is death and death is the end. This is precisely what despair is…the torment of despair is the inability to die.”(Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness unto Death). Personally, I was considered an essential worker during the pandemic. I wasn’t given the choice to stay home like many people. I wished during the pandemic the Church would have at least given me the choice to attend mass and take on any risks for the Lord.
 ESV-CE, 1 Co 11:23.