What if you had the power to invite Jesus to attend your next tough work meeting? Or if you could invite him to sit with you at the dinner table as you try to spark up a conversation with your family during a busy week? Or if you could ask him to talk through a conflict between you and your spouse and help you both arrive at a peaceful solution? What if I told you that you already have that power—the power to change the world through every encounter you share with another person?
In the Eucharist, we not only receive the eternal love of Jesus in a way that transforms our hearts; we also receive his presence which we can bring with us wherever we go. If we approach the altar with hearts ready and leave every Mass intent on sharing the love of Jesus Christ, we can bring Jesus right into our work, our homes and our relationships. It’s this faithful response to Jesus’ declaration of his own presence in the Eucharist that makes real the life of discipleship and will begin to unleash the Gospel in our very lives.
It’s no surprise then that in the fifth year anniversary of Unleash the Gospel the Church in America launched a National Eucharistic Revival, a grassroots revival of devotion to and belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This month, the Director of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship for the Archdiocese of Detroit, Dr. Marlon De La Torre joined Teresa Tomeo on Ave Maria Radio for his monthly segment, “No Bystanders!” to discuss how this revival aligns with the mission of unleashing the Gospel throughout Southeast Michigan.
A good temptation
The goal of unleashing the Gospel cannot be unlinked from a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. In Marker 3.4 of the letter, Archbishop Vigneron writes, “In this Most Blessed Sacrament we have the source of our zeal and strength to unleash the Gospel.” Living apart from the Eucharist, a disciple risks the Gospel lying dormant in their heart.
A devotion to the Eucharist is non-negotiable for the follower of Jesus because it is through the Eucharist that we find Christ’s real presence, strength for the journey we are on, and preparation for eternity with him. In this gift, God assures us that we’re not lost—he won’t abandon us—and even when we reject him he makes himself available to us. But it’s not only a message of God’s love for us and an invitation to intimacy with him; it comes with the responsibility of embracing his presence and sharing it with others.
Dr. De La Torre explains that faithful reception of the Eucharist can tempt us, in a good way, to more boldly bring the joy of God to others who don’t see him and to go forth and proclaim the Gospel. It’s not a gift that’s meant to be kept hidden!
What to do with unbelief
While many disciples are familiar with the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist and can rattle off familiar Eucharistic language and phrases, that matters little if the same disciples aren’t transformed by Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist through frequent reception and Eucharistic adoration. Being transformed by his presence begins with believing in his presence—believing in a mystery, allowing faith to make up for the places where our senses fall short.
While this belief is essential, it’s not always easy, and Dr. De La Torre suggests a few practical ideas to strengthen belief and devotion for any disciple who is struggling:
- Gaze at a crucifix or a holy image to begin the practice of looking at that which turns our hearts and minds to Jesus.
- Study the Church’s teachings on the Eucharist. Use Scripture—specifically Genesis 14-17, the Passover narrative in Exodus, and John 6—to reflect on how God has provided for his people through his presence throughout salvation history.
- Talk to people who have a devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Ask them about their journey of belief, what they do with doubts and how they continue to believe over time.
- Spend time before the Blessed Sacrament—especially if you’re struggling to believe! Tell Jesus about your doubt, and ask him to meet you there. He is always present and working, even when we don’t sense it.
A challenge to laypeople
In Unleash the Gospel, Archbishop Vigneron writes, “Members of our local Church need to be regularly rekindled in ‘Eucharistic amazement’” (Marker 3.4). Leading others to authentic Eucharistic amazement is something that every disciple is invited into, which is why Archbishop Vigneron goes on to write, “Parishes must also focus sustained attention on the quality of the Sunday liturgy experience, especially from the perspective of newcomers and newly returning Catholics” (Marker 3.4). Encountering Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament should amaze people, most directly, in the place where we get to receive him: at Mass!
Dr. De La Torre and Tomeo made note of the fact that a high-quality Sunday liturgy experience is more the responsibility of the lay faithful than the pastor or priest. The priest serving Mass has a very specific role and is unavailable for the critical tasks of inviting newcomers in, welcoming new faces and offering comfort to those who approach the Mass in sorrow or anguish. Yet, these acts are signs of the fact that Jesus has conformed our hearts to his—the heart which welcomes the curious and seeks out the lost. If the parishioners in the pews have allowed the Eucharist to transform their lives and how they interact with others, the Sunday liturgy will become a true invitation for Eucharistic amazement!
Finally, your witness is the greatest message you can share regarding the Eucharist. You may be able to recite all of the Church’s teachings, memorize the Eucharistic prayers and quote the saints on the Eucharist, but if you don’t share your story of how Jesus has transformed your life through his presence, the body of Christ misses out on a very distinct chance to be amazed at how God seeks out his beloved! To be amazed by the stories of others and to share your story with the Church today inviting others into a deeper sense of Eucharistic amazement through your testimony, visit iamhere.org.
Five years into unleashing the Gospel throughout southeast Michigan, it only makes sense that the Church would launch this revival. Following the lead of our prophetic Archbishop, let’s continue to seek to be transformed by Christ’s presence so we can change the world bringing it wherever we go.