Almost three years ago, on March 27, 2020, just a few weeks after worldwide COVID lockdowns, Pope Francis led the world in a time of Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction, broadcast around the globe, from St. Peter’s Square in Rome. During those early, anxious days of confusion and uncertainty, our Holy Father took the lead to help us all look to Jesus the Healer, present in the Eucharist, for encouragement and strength.
As we watched Pope Francis, at once solitary and in radical solidarity on that Roman dais, lifting up the Eucharist, we prayed along with him at our home. I remember being filled with comfort and peace. I thought of Jesus’ promise at the end of Matthew’s Gospel to be with us always. He has kept that promise in a unique and profound way through the gift of the Eucharist.
For Catholics, so many of the moments that make up the warp and woof of our lives’ deepest meaning are connected to the celebration of the Eucharist. We bring our newborn children to be baptized within Mass and the baptism ritual itself leads us from the doors to the ambo where God’s Word is proclaimed, to the font, and ultimately to the altar. Many Catholic marriages are celebrated in the context of the Supper—wedding banquet (Rev. 19:9)—of the Lamb. Catholic funerals are usually cele-brated in the context of Eucharistic liturgy. We sense in our bones that Jesus is present with us in an extraordinary way through the Eucharist and organize the meaningful moments of our lives to be in his Eucharistic presence.
The bishops of the United States have called us as a parish and each one of us personally to Eucharistic Revival over the next three years. A major way that our parish will respond to this call will take place this Lent. Our parish will participate in an initiative called Living the Eucharist. Each one of us will be able to deepen our love and participation in the Eucharist through this process.
A centerpiece of the process is the invitation to participate in a small faith-building group. Small groups of 6–12 people will meet once a week for the 6 weeks of Lent. These groups will be facilitated by a fellow parishioner who will be trained in leading Living the Eucharist gatherings. The gatherings will happen at various times during the week to facilitate everyone’s busy schedules. Some of the gatherings will be here at the church and some will be in leaders’ homes. We will have sign-ups for small group participants after the Masses for the next two weekends. At the weekly sessions, participants will learn about how to participate more fully in the Mass and will develop skills to better listen to and pray with the Scripture Readings at Mass.
Everyone will be encouraged to take home a daily prayer guide for the season of Lent called From Exodus to Easter. These will take the place of the diocesan Black Books this year. Everyone will be asked to tithe 10–15 minutes of their day to Lenten prayer using the daily guide to assist them. This time of reflective prayer can be personal or done as a household.
Starting this weekend, everyone will be asked to pray for the fruitfulness of this Lenten parish-wide Eucharistic Revival. Please prayerfully consider how God is calling you to participate in Living the Eucharist this Lent. Allow yourself to use this opportunity to be stretched, to grow in communion with Jesus, present with us always in the awesome gift of the Eucharist.