How has Christ’s presence in the Eucharist touched your life? Share your response in the comments section at the end of this article.
A National Eucharistic Revival intended to nurture devotion to the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist begins on June 19, 2022, the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, also known as Corpus Christi.
Auxiliary Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of St. Paul and Minneapolis, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, anticipates the revival will reawaken the understanding of the sacrament of the Eucharist.
Dioceses throughout the nation are planning to open the revival with processions and other events of adoration. The revival will continue until a National Eucharistic Congress convenes July 17-21, 2024, in Indianapolis. This will be the first time in 45 years that a Eucharistic Congress has been held in the United States.
Parishes will be encouraged to help increase Catholics’ understanding of the Eucharist in their lives. In addition, a team of 50 priests and friars will travel the country preaching about the meaning of the Eucharist in the lives of Catholics. Included among them will be Fr. Edgardo Jaro, OFM, from the Holy Name Province.
The bishops cited one of the catalysts of the revival as a recent Pew Research Study on the Eucharist. Carol L. Gentile, OFS, former national minister explains the results of the study and our responsibility as Franciscans in the following letter.
During a recent fraternity meeting, one of our members mentioned that 70% of Catholics do not believe that the Eucharist is the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Shocked at the startling statistic, I decided to conduct my own research. To be clear, I had no reason to question the colleague who volunteered the information. Rather, I was simply in a state of disbelief, saddened by the fact that it actually may be true. Much to my dismay, the preliminary research confirmed that the information conveyed during the meeting was accurate.
Gregory A. Smith, in an article published on August 5, 2019 referenced information collected in a Pew Research Center survey, citing the fact that only one-third Of U.S. Catholics agree that the Eucharist is actually the body and blood of Christ. Smith writes: “Nearly seven in ten (69%) Catholics say they personally believe that during the Catholic mass, the bread and wine used in communion are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.”
As Franciscans, I believe we are compelled to put forth an effort to educate as many Catholics as possible, particularly those in your own respective parishes. In doing so I thought that one tactic would be to make available to everyone information about the Miracle of Lanciano, Italy which clearly validates the legitimacy of our core belief. I have attached a copy of the article.
In my heart, I believe Saint Francis would expect no less from us. Tragically, the trend in the United States appears to be digressing towards a more secular society. Let us all do our best so that at the very least we could educate those of our faith about the realities of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
With peace and love, Carol L Gentile OFS
Former National Minister, 2003
1. Thank you for the opportunity and privilege of sharing about the Most Holy Eucharist in my life.
Christ in the Holy Eucharist is the foundation and life force of who I am; the wisdom and strength to become the person Christ wants me to become and the ability to do what God wants me to do. I simply need to listen, trust and act.
2. I recently heard a fellow Secular Franciscan say he heard that the National Minister wanted information about the upcoming Eucharistic Congress posted on the website and asked if national was planning anything. My response was I didn’t think so, but
– The Holy Eucharist was one of several major themes about Christ for St. Francis
– our national website has been and should continue to be a source of formation as well as information
– St. Francis strove to follow the leadership of Holy Mother Church and encouraged his followers to do the same – as our governing documents instruct us as well
– “Franciscans DO NOT try to re-invent the wheel” – we generously offer our services to activities sponsored by our Church – & other organizations who support “Life” issues – “building God’s Kingdom on Earth”
Thank you again for this opportunity to share. Peace, Terri Leone. OFS
Wow, THE Eucharist!
What a concept to all people. You either deny the tenets and leave the Church or you embrace it and let it nourish you to the point of becoming a Saint. I was extremely heart broken to find that followers of our faith even deny the very teaching of the faith and still don’t consider themselves Protestants. I must admit that I too, for a long period of time denied this pillar of the faith. I am a cradle Catholic. I went to Catholic school my entire life and even entered a seminary and the the Capuchin Franciscans in my early years. Until I met my wife and discovered my true vocation, without realizing I had when I left. Despondent and angry at the lack of support my bothers gave me, and the words said to me as I walked through the gates of St. Michael’s Friary in Brooklyn, I left the faith.
I threw my hands up in rage at God and the Church, consumed by the lies and fear implanted in me by the devil. The lack of the Eucharist allowed those fears and ultimately the enemy to consume me. The rage filling to the point of attempting to end my existence, my marriage and job. The lack of the Eucharist and the denial of it’s Truth stopped all grace, no matter how small. Without grace, there is no protection from the enemy, no hope, no Spirit and no LIFE.
Just a few years ago, things changed. I was injured at work, let go because that injury did not heal and my ability to work was diminished. The enemy piled on more fears, anguish and the consumption of my soul was inevitable. I had no hope, because I did not have the Eucharist. It was on a warm winter’s day that Christ broke through. It was through the chance encounter of adoration on Youtube that allowed the grace of the Eucharist to begin the change I so desperately needed. There was a 24/7 Eucharistic adoration on a Church’s Youtube that the app recommended that I just accidentally pressed on while my phone was glitching. While gazing on it in annoyance, a swell of tears filled my eyes. I gazed longer on the Monstrance and my apprehension disappeared. I began to remember what my mother had told me when I left the Capuchins, “Do not let you Franciscan Spirit fade away”. In those tears, my brokenness was exposed, the spiritual communion I had denied had been reestablished and memories and thoughts flooded me. I wept uncontrollably for 2 hours as I gazed on the Blessed Sacrament. A revelation, as if a soft voice spoke to me, “all your fears and anger are a result in REGRET”. I regretted leaving the Order. Hated who I had become because of it. In that revelation I had laid myself bare to Christ, visible, though distant had broken through. An audible voice spoke out, It wasn’t his, in fact at the time I didn’t know whom it was. “This is why He called you OUT”!
After that encounter of Christ, I began to see what my old Province was up to. I fell into a rabbit hole, so to speak, of Franciscan webpages, videos and photos. What I saw honestly broke my heart. The voice, once audible spoke again, “This is why HE called you OUT”! I knew then and there that my life would have been filled with misery and contempt. I had lived that life for many years, so I knew what that was now that I had been saved from a LIFE of it, though I had a taste of it. I came across a video of St. Padre Pio saying Mass. Hands bleeding, his voice declaring the Eucharistic prayer. I knew that voice. It was the same one that had told me, “this is why HE called you OUT”! Filled with tears once again I cried out to heaven in thanksgiving.
Many factors lead to my reversion. The main factor in this was Christ IN the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the physical presence of Christ on Earth. It is in no way shape or form. The Youtube adoration is itself an analogy of Christ, distant, yet PRESENT to us. The Eucharist is Christ, while in Heaven, physically present to us in it. Having experienced what I have, there is no doubt of this to me. Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our God is given to us to remind us He has not abandoned us. How anyone of us, Catholic or Protestant can deny this is beyond me. The Eucharist has once again sparked the very small ember of my soul, smothered with the grime, dirt and sin of my past, into an unquenchable bonfire of desire for Him and to see ALL of His people desire Him and become Saints. The only way to stoke the fire in my soul, is to continue adding the kindling of grace found only in the Eucharist. We need His gift of Himself to be physically in us constantly to keep the fire alive.
I apologize for the length of this. I just went along with my soul as I typed this out. I only pray this makes any sense to anyone who might come across this rambling. While, I may not doubt that the bread and wine of the sacrifice does indeed become the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our God, I do still doubt myself in things. I’m but a sinful person, who needs the grace of Christ to overcome myself and my shortcomings. It is however ultimately found in the Eucharist.
Pax et Bonum!
James Crichton, St. Maximilian Kolbe Fraternity, Houston Texas.