I fully support this endeavor. Our Church is in dire need of revival. However, it would sure be nice to see someone address the elephant in the room with honesty and forthrightness. Who declared that the Church was nonessential in 2020? Who stood by and did nothing to refute that declaration?
If the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, how could we stand idly by and allow the government to say that people will have no access to the sacraments? We didn't even put up a fight. In my opinion, the Eucharistic revival needs to begin at the top. Do the bishops truly believe in the power of the sacraments?
I recognize that the bishops were in a very difficult situation. Protecting the health of the people was the perpetual mainstream media narrative being shoved down our throats. The lust for power and control by members of the government elite further exacerbated this situation. However, we need to acknowledge that the precedent has now been set and will most likely haunt us again down the road. The Church has been deemed nonessential in the eyes of the government. Walmart stays open. Your Church does not.
A little bit of candor would go a long way at this point. People were told for a year or more that the Sacraments were not essential. Now, the Sacraments seem to be very important again. Looking back in hindsight, would the bishops have responded differently to the pandemic knowing what they know now? I have no idea. The topic doesn't ever seem to come up at that level, at least in public view. What will be the response of Church leadership when the next societal shutdown happens?
Could we at least acknowledge the pain and anguish that God's people felt when the Church seemed to vanish at a time when pastoral care was most needed? Can we acknowledge that a lack of faith may have played a role in some of the decisions made? Isn't it true that rather than trust in the power of the Divine Physician, we catered to fear and government coercion in our pandemic response? Was there a balance between common sense protective actions and access to Sacraments that we failed to achieve?
We allowed people to die alone in hospitals and nursing homes without receiving the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick (Last Rites). Do we no longer believe in the power of the Apostolic Pardon that is contained within that Rite? Do we no longer believe in the power of Viaticum? Is food for the journey to eternal life no longer important? These travesties happened in Catholic hospitals and nursing homes just as they did in secular ones.
I invite you to pull up the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. In particular, I invite you to go to the page where the strategic plan is located.
The fifth co-equal strategic priority according to their website is this:
• Pandemic Recovery: Promote the healing of the personal, spiritual, and societal wounds of COVID-19 through the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ, the Divine Physician.+
Once again, these are nice words. Hearing the words "Divine Physician," makes me wonder if we really believe that. If we truly believed that Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist (Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity), would we have allowed people to suffer and die alone without receiving the Divine Physician in Holy Communion? Would we have denied people access to the pardon of their sins through the presence of the priest who acts in "Persona Christi" in the Sacrament of Penance, or by administering the Apostolic Pardon during the Sacrament of the Sick?
The ripple effect of this goes into other components of our faith as well. If we examine the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, we may find some other ramifications of the Church being declared nonessential. For instance, what does "Bury the Dead" really mean for us as people of faith? Is it just getting a deceased person placed into the ground, or is it much more than that? What are the shortcomings of this work of mercy if we only allow ten people at a funeral? Once again, we offered no resistance to these arbitrary restrictions.
Eucharistic Revival will not happen just because we offer a program. It will happen when we start living our lives in such a way that demonstrates our belief in the power of God's grace made visible through the outward signs of the sacraments.
Finally, I recognize that the Eucharist comes to us through the consecrated hands of the priest. I am grateful for our good and holy priests. I am also grateful for those who excel in their ability to preach a solid message of faith in the homily. Apparently, many priests across the country have been enlisted to help preach the message of Eucharistic Revival between now and the event in 2024. Thank you for your service. You can see the list here:
What is the role of the deacon in the Eucharistic Revival? We are supposed to have one foot in the sanctuary proclaiming God's Word, and one foot in the world being a minister of God's goodness in charity to others. That sounds like a perfect opportunity to be a witness of the faith out in the world after being nurtured by the Proclamation of God's Word and nourished by the Body and Blood of our Lord in Holy Communion at Mass.
Unfortunately, not one deacon from across the country is included in the list of Eucharistic Preachers. This is another missed opportunity by the Church to capitalize on the lived experience of the deacon in the secular world. The Eucharistic Revival that happens in the church building does not simply stay confined in those walls. The people are sent forth at the end of Mass to live it in the world. Is there not a solitary deacon in the whole country who has the faith, knowledge, and skill necessary to compose a homily with a message geared toward Eucharistic Revival and deliver it with power and conviction to God's people?
Lent is a time for renewal and growth. The journey never seems easy. I get frustrated at times. (You may have picked up on that in this post.) Someone asked me yesterday on Ash Wednesday, "What are you giving up for Lent?" We had a nice discussion about Lenten resolutions and penance. I then walked the Stations of the Cross alone after everyone had left church. I got to the ninth station where Jesus falls the third time. There it hit me. A lot of days I feel like wanting to "give up" rather than giving something up. Jesus demonstrates clearly what it means to take up one's cross. We have to keep going my friends. We can't give up. Our world is crumbling, and I want our Church to be a beacon of light and hope. It is up to you and I to help the Church shine.
My encouragement to you today is to take ownership of your personal spiritual journey. Seek out the necessary resources to help you. Surround yourself with people desiring holiness. Put on the full armor of God.
"Forty years I endured that generation. I said, 'They are a people whose hearts go astray and they do not know my ways.' So I swore in my anger, 'They shall not enter into my rest.'"
~Psalm 95: 10-11