By DEACON DENNIS DORNER, Commentary | Published May 31, 2023
On a Sunday morning several years ago I was serving at Mass with a visiting priest in my parish. I cannot explain how or why but during the prayers of consecration I had the most profound sense of the sky opening and the altar being surrounded by a presence. There was nothing visual. The only way I could describe it was as though heaven and earth connected in an extraordinary way.
Jesus, becoming flesh and blood in the form of the bread and wine was the source of this connection. I’ve never thought that anyone would believe me if I shared this. Shame on me for that!
I thought that this was something personal. Perhaps Jesus granted this image to help me refocus on the reality of the gift I had begun to take for granted. Jesus said he would be with us always. How much more with us could he be than in giving us himself in the Blessed Sacrament?
Since the Archdiocese made the announcement of the plans for participation in the Eucharistic Revival a lot of people have asked why we need this. With the many pressing issues we face in a post COVID world, especially the significant drop in attendance at Mass, why are the bishops calling for a revival that focuses on the Eucharist?
The answer to these questions comes directly from the words of Jesus. In John’s Gospel we hear Jesus say, “Whoever eats my body and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.” Our Lord goes on to say, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” Jn 6:53, 57
It is not hyperbole when we speak of the Eucharist as the “Source and Summit” of our faith. The challenge is not in the words that Jesus spoke. Rather, the real issue is our acceptance of these words and the belief in this incredible reality that has the possibility of transforming our lives.
The most intimate encounter that we have with Jesus is in the Eucharist. He literally becomes one with us as he nourishes both our body and our soul. This is, of course, a matter of faith. We must believe in the words of Jesus. But faith is a gift.
We are so blessed as Catholics to have this fundamental and foundational tenet of our faith tradition. Yet, everyone doesn’t share in this gift. Surveys tell us that many Catholics don’t really embrace the church’s teachings on the Eucharist. This revival is an intentional opportunity for us to renew our own devotion to the Eucharist. It is also a way for us to share with others the beauty of this amazing gift.
Over the next couple of years there will be many opportunities presented to us as part of the revival plans. Many parishes are already preparing for processions on the Feast of Corpus Christi. Encouraging participation in eucharistic adoration is another way of sharing. Consider inviting someone to spend a quiet hour in the presence of Jesus.
Next summer there will be a National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis, Indiana. Thousands will gather for a very public and joy filled celebration of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
We have been blessed in this Archdiocese with our long history of the Eucharistic Congress. In June of 2025 we will once again gather in our own local celebration of this most amazing gift. Continuing a tradition begun by Archbishop John Francis Donoghue over 25 years ago, this once annual event will bring thousands of believers together with one purpose—sharing the power and the beauty of Jesus present with us.
Our question about the reasons for a revival should probably not be “Why?” but rather, “Why not?”
For more information on this Eucharistic Revival visit archatl.com/revival.
Deacon Dorner is Chancellor, director of the permanent diaconate for the Archdiocese of Atlanta and serves on the Eucharistic Revival Task Force.