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Bishop Koenig letter on Eucharistic Revival: ‘Fall in love anew with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament’

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I write concerning the three-year National Eucharistic Revival that will begin on June 19, 2022 — the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. In the words of the National Committee organizing the Revival, it will be a time for all of us “to renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.” Our hope and vision is that this will be a time “to inspire a movement of Catholics across the United States who are healed, converted, formed and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist — and who are then sent out on mission ‘for the life of the world.’” Before getting into a brief outline of this three-year journey, let us reflect for a moment on the tremendous gift of the Eucharist.

Back in 2005, Pope Benedict told the story of an event that took place long ago. Diocletian was the Roman Emperor and he had issued a decree prohibiting Christians from possessing the Scriptures, gathering for Sunday Eucharistic worship, and building churches. On a particular Sunday in the year 309, in defiance of Diocletian, 49 Christians in the small village of Abitene in Tunisia had gathered for Eucharistic worship, and were thus arrested and taken to Carthage for interrogation. To the Proconsul’s question as to why, against the Emperor’s orders, they had gathered in worship and were now facing execution, a man named Emeritus responded: “Sine dominico non possumus”—“Without Sunday we cannot live.”

Or as Pope Benedict said, without the Sunday Eucharist they “would lack the strength to face [their] daily problems and not succumb” to them (5/25/2005). The centrality of the Eucharist in our lives as Christians was ultimately given witness to by the blood of Emeritus and the other 48 Christians who were martyred in 309. It is a testimony of their true faith in the Eucharist that was and has continued to be taught and witnessed to from the time of Jesus to this very day.  Likewise, these ensuing years of the Eucharistic Revival will also be a special time for us to focus on the importance of the Eucharist — the source and summit of our own spiritual lives.

Bishop Koenig holds the monstrance during Adoration at St. Elizabeth Church in Wilmington during the 2022 Cross Pilgrimage, April 9, 2022. photo/Don Blake

It is my hope that this time of the Eucharistic Revival will not only be a moment for us to grow in our understanding of the Eucharist, but also be a time for us to personally encounter Jesus in the Eucharist and deepen our relationship with our Lord. May this first occur through our heartfelt and conscious worship during our Eucharistic celebrations at every Mass. And then may this loving relationship be reinforced through the prayerful opportunities we will have to be in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord. The Lord Jesus loves us and is always there for us in the tabernacles of every church and is made truly present and felt through our Eucharistic devotions.

In our Eucharistic celebrations, we are mindful of how Jesus, at the Last Supper, took bread, said a blessing, broke it and in giving it to them said, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And then, after they had eaten, he took a cup of wine and told them, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you” (Luke 22:19-20).  Let us be mindful that in following Jesus’ Last Supper instruction, we are not only recalling something that occurred long ago, but we are also miraculously living and entering today into the saving act of Jesus on the Cross. This was God’s supreme act of love for us – we continue to enjoy these saving graces through the celebration of the Mass. St. Pope John Paul II reminds us of this in his encyclical, The Church of the Eucharist as he writes: “The Church constantly draws her life from the redeeming sacrifice; she approaches it not only through faith-filled remembrance but also through a real contact since this sacrifice is made present ever anew, sacramentally perpetuated, in every community which offers it at the hands of the consecrated minister” [12].

As we gather in these coming years in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord, may we also grow ever more aware of our Lord’s presence in our joys and sorrows, our victories and challenges.  May we be like St. Peter who knew our Lord’s presence as he walked toward him across the water in a raging storm and was then given the courage to get out of the boat and walk across those same waters towards Jesus. May we be like the woman at the well in Samaria, who, after her encounter with Jesus, left her water jar at the well and told people to “come and see a man who told me everything I have done.” May we be like the Apostles on Easter Sunday who heard Jesus’ message of “Peace” and who were then assured that the victory over sin had been won and that death was defeated forever. May we, in spending time with our Eucharistic Lord, be given courage, assurance, and peace – a peace that this world does not know.

As we look ahead to the coming three years, please know that, as already indicated, we will open the National Eucharistic Revival this Sunday, June 19, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, with Mass at 2 p.m. at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Wilmington followed by a Eucharistic procession, adoration, and benediction. Over the past month, pastors have been asked to invite parishioners to this special Mass and procession. This invitation is once again extended to you as I seek to welcome everyone to fall in love anew with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

With this opening Mass, the first year of the Revival begins and it will especially focus on diocesan efforts to share the love of the Eucharist with our faithful. This first year will continue until June 2023 when the second year of the Revival will begin and it will especially concentrate on fostering Eucharistic devotion at the parish level through Eucharistic celebration and adoration, preaching and missions. This second year will culminate with a National Eucharistic Congress from July 17-21, 2024 in Indianapolis. Following the congress, the third year of the Revival will commence. It will particularly focus on mission and how we who have encountered our Eucharistic Lord are sent forth to share this gift with others. This final year will culminate on Pentecost Sunday in 2025.

As the days unfold, more information will be forthcoming. Once again, I warmly invite you to join me at St. Peter’s Cathedral for the opening of the Eucharistic Revival on Sunday, June 19th at 2 p.m. However, please also know, whether or not you are able to be physically present, that you will be especially remembered in prayer. In turn, I would respectfully ask you to please keep me and the work of our Eucharistic Revival Committee in your prayers. May we as a diocese be richly blessed by their efforts and may these ensuing three years be a grace-filled time for us as a diocese and a nation as we grow ever closer to our Lord and God who is always with us.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

 

 

Most Rev. William E. Koenig

Bishop of Wilmington