The Eucharistic Revival currently underway in the Church in the United States is an important part of the Synod on Synodality, the apostolic nuncio told the bishops of the United States on Thursday.
“[The Eucharist] is the real presence of Christ. It is a dynamic sacrament, imbuing everything we do with Christ’s ongoing love for his people. It is a sacrament for mission,” Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States.
“The Eucharistic revival, therefore, is a call to let the entirety of our lives be an expression of the Lord’s presence among us,” he said on the first public day of the USCCB’s plenary assembly in Orlando.
“To teach the doctrine of the real presence, to promote Eucharistic adoration, and to take our Lord in procession: these initiatives will undoubtedly bear fruit in the lives of the faithful,” the nuncio said.
“But the fruit will multiply only if the faithful learn that the Eucharist which they receive is meant to make them missionaries – who take the presence of Christ, which is now in them, to people who do not yet know the Lord.”
Pierre included the concept of “Living the Eucharist as Mission” as one of his three guidelines to the synodal process that has been underway for two years in the global Church.
His other guidelines included encountering those outside of the Church with an attitude of openness to discovery, and listening sincerely to others with the goal of fostering unity and overcoming partisan division.
The nuncio invited the bishops to reflect on what they have learned and discerned so far during the synodal process.
“Do we know what are the true needs of our people? Through our encounters with others, how have we been changed? What have we discerned? What old ways need to be abandoned and what new ways must be adopted going forward?” he asked.
He emphasized that the goal of the synod is to make evangelization more effective by discovering and following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
“As church leaders, we are very good at organizing programs and carrying out action plans, and to be sure, such organization has produced many positive results. But because the synodal process is less about a program and more about a way of being Church, it can be a challenge to us,” he said.
The synodal process is not like a GPS system, giving turn-by-turn directions to a designation, he said.
Rather it is more like a compass, pointing to Jesus, who is the true north, but leaving the traveler to discern the way to get there, through careful observation of the immediate surroundings, he said.
In discerning this path, we must be open to a change of mindset, he said, while clarifying that this synodal path does not mean a change of doctrine.
“If we are to love our contemporaries ‘to the end,’ we must allow Christ’s presence to take us through any walls that block us from delivering peace to his people,” he said. “If some of these walls were constructed with an understandable desire to protect the integrity of our faith, we must recognize the moment at which those walls are doing more to prevent the spread of the Gospel than to safeguard it.”
Pierre’s presentation of the Eucharistic Revival as a means of complementing and enhancing the Synod on Synodality stands in contrast to recent comments from some bishops who have implied that the two initiatives are opposed to each other.
Most prominently, Bishop John Stowe of Lexington last month suggested that the Eucharistic Revival is at odds with the Synod on Synodality, lamenting, “Instead of ensuring a eucharistic centrality to the synodal process, allowing for an organic discernment about our eucharistic understanding, plans for a mega-event featuring plenty of pre-conciliar piety and theology have replaced the focus on the Synod for a Synodal Church in the USCCB.”
“It does not strike me as coincidental that much of the Eucharistic Revival focuses on eucharistic adoration, passive in nature, and so offers an easy alternative to the active engagement of walking together synodally,” Stowe said.
The synod and the Eucharistic Revival were prominent concepts throughout the first public day of the bishops’ assembly.
Bishop Andrew Cozzens, who heads the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, also linked the two concepts as he gave an update on the revival and National Eucharistic Congress.
Among the various resources and events that have been made available as part of the revival, Cozzens said organizers have created a Eucharist-focused small group initiative that provides an opportunity for a “synodal moment” within the Eucharistic Revival.
He stressed that the goal of the revival is to “help people understand this missionary dimension of the Eucharist.”
Archbishop Timothy Broglio, president of the conference, also mentioned both the synod and the revival in his brief address, which offered an overview of the Church’s activities in the country.
He said he is encouraged to see the progress of the Eucharistic Revival as it unfolds throughout the country.
“That effort is certainly an attempt on our part to announce the truth about the mystery of the Eucharist and the real presence of our Lord and Savior, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity,” he said. “We want to reinforce the recognition that our participation at the Mass is ultimately our participation in the saving act of Jesus Christ on Calvary.”
Referencing the continental phase of the Synod on Synodality, Broglio said the summary document “reveals some lacunae in the ecclesiology and the preparation of the faithful. That, too, can be a grace, if we help to fill some of those gaps.”
The archbishop also mentioned the bishops’ call to prayer in reparation for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ decision to honor an anti-Catholic group, and the Church’s work in immigration and humanitarian relief efforts.
He stressed the need to be “an authentic slave to the truth” in order to preach the Gospel in the United States today.