SOCIAL MINISTRY OFFICE
“It is the Church that makes the Eucharist, but it is more fundamental that the Eucharist makes the Church.” (Pope Francis, homily on the occasion of the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ 2022 [Corpus Christi])
Many Catholic churches are facing declining attendance and growing religious disaffiliation. In response to these challenges, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has launched a Eucharistic Revival Project as part of its 2021-2023 Strategic Plan. The initiative is described in its document, “Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope,” which hopes to revitalize “the Eucharist as the source and summit of who we are and what what we do as Catholics.” Every diocese in the United States is called to participate in this initiative by reassessing its Eucharistic activities beginning at the parish level. A range of resources are being collected and created for this Eucharistic renewal, including homilies and inspiring videos.
During this year’s Angelus homily on the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Pope Francis emphasized that the Eucharist is fundamental to the Catholic Church and its mission. In St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father shared his thoughts on the Gospel passage of the feast on the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, focusing on how to understand the experience of the real Eucharistic presence of Christ in our daily life:
“The miracle of the loaves and fishes does not happen dramatically, but almost quietly, the bread increases as it passes from hand to hand. And as the crowd eats, they realize that Jesus is taking care of everything. It is the Lord present in the Eucharist. In fact, the Lord takes all our needs to heart, starting with the most basic. And he wants to set an example for his disciples, saying, ‘Give them something to eat.’ Our Eucharistic worship comes to life when we care for our neighbor as Jesus does. There is a hunger around us for food, but also for companionship; there is a hunger for consolation, for friendship, for good humor; there is a hunger for attention, there is a hunger to be evangelized. We find this in the Eucharistic Bread.
Here in Hawaii, our Diocese of Honolulu provides a valuable resource for Eucharistic renewal through an award-winning video that explores the full meaning of the Eucharist. As part of the “One Ohana” religious education series on the sacraments, Bishop Larry Silva describes the Eucharist as “the signature sacrament” of our faith, which gathers, nourishes and sends us to bear witness to Jesus as Ohana.
He says: “The mission that Jesus has for us is to take him as our Living Bread descended from heaven and to multiply him. So when we reach out to the poor, when we visit the sick, when we visit prisoners, when we comfort those who are grieving, we are the Presence of Jesus.
The video also features other members of the diocese sharing their thoughts on the Eucharist, such as: “One of the greatest gifts God gives us is his presence in the Eucharist…to remind us that we could always be forgiven and that he would always be with us. …He was also challenging us to be fed so that we would come out and recognize him in those who are hungry and those in need. In this way, we can deepen our relationship with him and our neighbor.
Others in this video share how “social ministry is at the center of the Eucharist: to nurture those who need to be nurtured; dress those who need to be dressed; provide housing for those who are homeless. In the Eucharist we receive the body of Christ so that collectively we become the body of Christ which is linked to our vocation to wash each other’s feet, to serve each other.
This locally produced video titled “Eucharist-One Ohana” is available on the Diocese of Honolulu website at catholichawaii.org/catholic-essentials/sacrament-videos/eucharist-one-ohana.
In the coming weeks, this Talk Story column will share more resources for Eucharistic Revival. As Bishop Silva says in the diocesan video, “Being able to share the Body and Blood of Christ is a gift and a blessing…it calls us to be bread broken and wine poured out for others.” And in the words of Pope Francis’ homily at Corpus Christi, “In the Body and Blood of Christ we find His Presence, and in the warmth of His Presence our lives are changed.”
To read the full text of Pope Francis’ homily for the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ 2022, please visit the Office of Social Ministry website at officeforsocialministry.org.
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