Celebrating the source and summit of our Catholic faith, the Eucharist, the Catholic Church in the United States is embarking on a three-year Eucharistic Revival, a grassroots initiative in response to the Holy Spirit’s invitation to renewal.
Marking this momentous occasion, Catholics from across the Diocese of Saginaw joined Bishop Robert Gruss for a special Inaugural Mass on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, June 19, at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption in Saginaw.
Following Mass, the faithful participated in a eucharistic procession, in which a consecrated Host (the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ) was placed in a monstrance and carried by Bishop Gruss as he solemnly processed around the block as hymns were sung. The procession paused five times as the Blessed Sacrament was placed on a table and incensed, while Bishop Gruss led the faithful in prayers.
The hymns selected (“Taste and See,” “Bread of Life from Heaven,” “I am the Bread of Life,” “One Bread, One Body” and “Take and Eat”) were chosen by the Diocesan Music Committee and based on the five eucharistic hymns receiving the most nominations from pastoral musicians across the diocese.
“Throughout the Eucharistic Revival, the Diocese of Saginaw will use these refrains and hymns at diocesan liturgies,” said Director of the Office of Liturgy Father James Bessert. “Parishes are encouraged to do likewise as we ponder the great gift that is the Eucharist.”
The Eucharistic Revival across the country began with similar eucharistic processions on this day when the Church “commemorate[s] the great gift of Jesus’ very self, which he left for us in the most sacred sacrament of the Eucharist,” Bishop Gruss noted.
During his homily, Bishop Gruss highlighted the Catholic Church’s doctrine that the Eucharist we receive at Mass is truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus himself. Bishop Gruss also noted that recent Pew Research Center and DiscipleMaker Index surveys reflect a sad decline in the belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
“If people really believed in the gift being offered, the Catholic churches throughout the world would be packed every week,” he said. “This Mass, this Eucharist is an intimate, personal, deep encounter with Love, Love Incarnate in Jesus – here given to you and to me. In the words of St. Mother Teresa, ‘Once you understand the Eucharist, you can never leave the Church. Not because the Church won’t let you but because your heart won’t let you.’ You will fall in love with the Lord in ways not thought possible.”
This is one of the goals of the Eucharistic Revival: to increase an understanding of the Mass and the Eucharist so as to foster greater devotion to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament -- to help the faithful fall even more in love with the Lord through encountering him in the Eucharist.
“Our communion in this Sacrament of Love is an encounter with the Crucified and Risen Jesus in a very intimate way,” Bishop Gruss said, adding that there is no greater union in life than that.
“In the Eucharist, Jesus is as close to us as he was to those people who walked with him on the dusty roads of Palestine. In fact, he is even closer,” he said, referencing the day’s Gospel about the miraculous feeding of the 5,000. “Those people received bread from his hands, but we receive the Lord himself. What more could Jesus have done to show us how passionately he wants to be near us, to guide us, to strengthen us?”
Bishop Gruss continued with his hope for the Eucharistic Revival:
“My prayer is that each of you fully engage these next three years, making the most of all the opportunities available, and allow Jesus to draw you deeper into this great mystery of his love in ways never experienced before, whereby we are transformed by this union with him, which leads to eucharistic adoration. We not only receive his sacred Body and Blood, but we adore him in prayer. Kneel before Jesus to say, ‘You are my everything. You are my Lord. You are my deepest desire.’”
He went on to explain that Jesus seeks to call others back to the Church through each of us, the faithful.
“Our union with Christ in the Eucharist, both a gift and grace, makes it possible for us, in him, to embrace fully his mission of love and mercy. When we come to understand this great mystery celebrated in the Eucharist and participate fully each time we gather, our lives will never be the same,” he said. We come to understand more deeply the Father’s love for us in Christ Jesus. Our desire for spiritual union with the Lord deepens. Our own sacrificial love intensifies and expands. Our aspiration to serve the Lord grows. We seek to live his mission more faithfully as his missionary disciples. These are the very fruits of our Holy Communion.”