My Dear Friends:
This past week, our Religious Education Program began a new school year as close to 300 of our parish children began to receive catechesis. Today we celebrate Catechetical Sunday, and we commission our catechists and St. Theresa teachers who sacrifice so much of their time and talent to educate our children in the Catholic faith. We all remember the catechists who passed on the faith to us, and today we thank those who have chosen to catechize for the generational contribution they are making for the good of the parish by passing on the treasures of Catholicism to our little ones.
The greatest treasure of Catholicism is of course the Eucharist! This Catechetical Sunday is an opportune time to remind ourselves that we never stop learning about our faith. Precisely because we are in the midst in of a National Eucharistic Revival and because of our need to better understand the treasure of the Eucharist, today every parishioner is receiving a copy of Bishop Robert Barron’s superb new book: “This is My Body: A Call to Eucharistic Revival.” Let me share with you an excerpt from the preface of the book in which the bishop explains why he wrote this catechesis:
In 2019, the respected Pew Forum released the results of a survey of Catholics in regard to their belief in the Eucharist. Along with many others, I was startled when I read the data, for I discovered that only one-third of those questioned subscribed to the Church’s official teaching that Jesus is really, truly, and substantially present under the signs or appearances of bread and wine. Fully two-thirds held that the Eucharistic elements are merely symbolic of Jesus’ presence. Mind you, this was not a survey of the general population or of all Christians, but of Catholics.
Whether you saw it as a failure in catechesis, preaching, theology, liturgy, or evangelization, it was an indication of a spiritual disaster. I say this because the Second Vatican Council clearly taught that the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” Therefore, the Pew study revealed that the vast majority of our own Catholic People did not understand this central and crucial reality, the beginning and the end of Christianity…
[The U.S. Bishops] resolved to gather by Zoom (this was during COVID) and share ideas. From these conversations, the Eucharistic Revival, presently underway, was born. We resolved that there should be a concerted effort to restore a vibrant belief in the Eucharist and that this should take place at the local, regional, and national levels. We further specified that the process should be structured along the lines of the three transcendentals namely, the good, the true, and the beautiful. Under the rubric of the good, we would look at the social and ethical implications of our Eucharistic faith, the manner in which a commitment to the poor and to social justice flows naturally from our reception of the Body and Blood of the Lord. Under the heading of the true, we would teach, catechize, and preach about the meaning of the Blessed Sacrament, especially the Real Presence of Jesus. And finally, under the prescript of the beautiful, we would draw attention to the liturgical and devotional practices that surround the Eucharist…
The book you are about to read is designed to accompany the Eucharistic Revival. I analyze the source and summit of the Christian life according to the categories of meal, sacrifice, and Real Presence. My sincere prayer is that it might help you understand the sacrament of Jesus’ Body and Blood more thoroughly, precisely so that you might fall in love with the Lord more completely.
I would like to add to Bishop Barron’s sincere prayer by adding one of my own from the heart of your pastor: please read this book! All of us, me included, must deepen our love of the Eucharist. I know I say these words to a parish who already has great devotion to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and has beyond excellent daily Mass attendance, but even Father Andrew and I learned deeper truths by reading this book. It led me to profound prayer into the mystery of the Eucharist, of the blessing of having Christ truly and really present in our midst, and the gift that we share at the Mass when we gather to celebrate God’s infinite goodness to us. On this Catechetical Sunday, may we all heed the call to be catechized daily. We begin the journey into the heart of our Lord by learning more about the great gift he left us in the Holy Eucharist. Enjoy the book!
God bless you all,