The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has called for a eucharistic revival over the next three years, but many Catholics aren’t aware that the revival also includes the Eastern Catholic Churches within the United States.
The purpose of the revival, launched June 19, is to “renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist,” according to the initiative’s website. The initiative ends in July 2024 with the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis. More can be read about the revival here.
In a letter to the faithful of his eparchy titled “Eucharistic Amazement,” Bishop Gregory Mansour of the Maronite Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn — one of the only two Maronite dioceses within the United States — asks each of his parishes, missions, and institutions “to enter even more fully into the joy and spirit of this time and to deepen our amazement, love, and devotion to our Eucharistic Lord.”
Here are seven ways the bishop is asking the faithful of his eparchy to increase their devotion to the Holy Eucharist — methods anyone who wants to pursue a deeper understanding of the sacrament can use.
1. Prepare for the eucharistic sacrifice.
Preparing oneself for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should include reflections on the liturgical readings, careful preparation of the liturgical music, and observation of the one-hour fasting rule, Mansour wrote.
According to Code of Canon Law: “One who is to receive the most Holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception only of water and medicine, for at least the period of one hour before Holy Communion” (Can. 919 §1).
This one-hour fast is not required for those who are elderly or ill. In addition, Mansour wrote that the liturgy deserves its “appropriate dignity” and “careful observance,” which includes abiding by the canonical norms and the guidance the Church offers on the liturgy.
2. Examine your conscience.
Examining one’s conscience consists of “reflecting prayerfully on one’s thoughts, words, and deeds in order to identify any sins,” according to the USCCB.
There are various ways one can do this, according to Mansour. It should be done before one receives Holy Communion, he said.
Those various practices include receiving the sacrament of reconciliation, partaking in spiritual reading, participating in spiritual direction, going on retreats, praying a rosary each day, reading Scripture, and practicing other devotions the Church offers, he said.
3. Think about Jesus, truly present in the Eucharist.
“Discern the real presence of our Lord in the Eucharist, as all Catholic and Orthodox Christians have done over the ages,” Mansour wrote, “and live this reverence appropriately with respect for our Lord’s abiding presence with us.”
The USCCB released a document called “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church” in November 2021 during its general meeting. The document contains deep reflections and commentary on the Real Presence from various popes, saints, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Code of Canon Law.
Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston — who is leading the eucharistic revival in his capacity as the U.S. bishops’ conference chair on evangelization and catechesis — also teaches a free, prerecorded, online course on the document. That course can be accessed here.
4. Pray and work for unity in the Church.
Mansour implored the faithful to “pray and work for Church unity, especially praying that the Holy Father, and his Petrine ministry, may bring all Christians closer to one Eucharistic sharing.”
5. Find some silence.
Mansour wrote that some quiet time adoring Jesus Christ either in eucharistic adoration or in front of the tabernacle is important. He said that this should occur outside of Mass.
6. Mandate eucharistic adoration for particular petitions.
Mansour wrote that every parish, mission, and institution within the eparchy “is to foster Eucharistic Adoration at least once a month for vocations, and for the needs of the Church and the world, and properly prepare for and celebrate the nine-day Christmas Novena with renewed reverence and respect for the Eucharistic Lord present with us at the altar.”
The Maronite Christmas Novena begins on Dec. 15 each year and includes eucharistic adoration, use of incense, prayers, and hymns. A copy of the novena can be found here.
7. Honor your family and unite your suffering to Christ’s.Mansour instructed the faithful to honor their families and “see our work as an extension of the Eucharistic call to service.”
He also implored the faithful to unite their sufferings and anxieties to the sufferings of Jesus Christ and to embrace morality by following the Catholic Church’s teachings.
Mansour wrote that by accomplishing these seven requests, “we will have entered more deeply into the spirit of this Eucharist amazement.”
His full letter can be read here.
Mansour, who has led the eparchy since 2004, spoke about the history of the Maronite Church and geopolitical issues in the region of Lebanon, where many Maronites are located, with EWTN News In-Depth’s Montse Alvarado in October 2021.
The Maronite Catholic Church, which is strongly represented in Lebanon, is the largest of the Eastern Churches in the Middle East, according to the USCCB. However, the Church has a presence in countries across the Middle East and the world.
The Church is called “Maronite” because it traces its history back to St. Maron, a fourth-century monk. The Maronite Church is Catholic but expresses itself differently than the Latin rite.
According to the Eparchy of Saint Maron in Canada, the liturgy is celebrated in ancient Syro-Aramaic, Arabic, and in the local vernacular during different parts.