“My dear boys, love Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and you shall be truly happy.”
St. John Bosco gave this holy counsel to the impoverished boys he guided in 19th-century Turin, Italy.
The U.S. bishops are conveying a similar message to the faithful this year in the second stage of their three-year National Eucharistic Revival, which aims to increase American Catholics’ faith in the Real Presence of Jesus — Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity — in the Blessed Sacrament.
The bishops’ two main efforts this year are a nationwide National Eucharistic Pilgrimage and America’s 10th National Eucharistic Congress. The pilgrimage will start on Pentecost Sunday, May 19. It will culminate with its arrival at the Congress, July 17-21.
Four groups of Catholic pilgrims will, as the organizers say, “accompany Jesus city to city” as they walk across the United States from points north, south, east and west, their routes tracing a cross pattern over our nation. The pilgrims will have Mass daily, attend adoration, visit shrines and other special sites, and converge in Indianapolis for the National Eucharistic Congress.
Catholics along the pilgrimage routes will join in as the pilgrims pass through their areas. The pilgrims will visit 27 states and 67 archdioceses and dioceses. The Marian Route will begin in Minnesota, near the source of the Mississippi River; the St. Juan Diego Route will begin in Brownsville, Texas, and visit Mother Angelica’s Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama; the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Route will begin in New Haven, Connecticut; and the St. Junípero Serra Route will start in San Francisco.
On each of the pilgrimage routes, the Blessed Sacrament will be safeguarded in a mobile tabernacle inside a support vehicle, except, of course, when it is exposed for public processions along the way. Each night, Our Lord will repose in a local church or chapel.
All this news was discussed in the Jan. 26 special episode of EWTN News In Depth, hosted by Montse Alvarado, president and chief operating officer of EWTN News. The program, a comprehensive look at the pilgrimage and the congress, features interviews with leaders of the National Eucharistic Revival; interviewees ranged from Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, to youth speaker Mari Pablo.
“The Eucharist is central to our Catholic faith,” said Alvarado as she introduced the program, “but, unfortunately, there are many people, including Catholics, who don’t truly understand this gift from God.” She explained, “The need for the Revival is underscored by the lack of belief in or understanding of the Real Presence of Jesus under the appearance of bread and wine.” She added that the bishops hope “to reignite our relationship with Christ among us.”
Bishops, priests and others interviewed on the show are looking forward to this summer’s events. Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, leader of the National Eucharistic Revival, sees the pilgrimage as “a prophetic act” and has high hopes for it: “I think we’re going to see real conversions, and this is an act of intercession.”
Bishop Cozzens expects 80,000 to attend Mass at the Congress and said, “That particular Mass will be focused and offered that we would all become the missionaries that God wants us to be, because God is not going to be satisfied until everyone has been invited to the Eucharist. And that’s our goal.”
Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Espaillat of the Archdiocese of New York said that the pilgrimage and congress are treasures: “The Eucharist is everything. The Eucharist is life. The Eucharist is Jesus.”
Father Leo Patalinghug, host of the EWTN show Savoring Our Faith, is also preaching about the Revival: “People, once they understand the Eucharist, their minds get blown and they realize that all the theology points to Jesus present in the Eucharist.” He said we must “get people to the banquet, and our job is to make people hungry.”
Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth Sister Josephine Garrett, a licensed counselor for children and adolescents, told Alvarado that she sees “Eucharistic wonder in kids.”
She added that “kids encounter mystery better than adults” and that in adoration they know “they are looking at the Person of Jesus.” She happily exclaimed, “I love the young Church.”
This year’s event will be the first National Eucharistic Congress in the U.S. since 1941. The monstrance for the Congress was custom-made in Mexico. It weighs about 35 pounds and is four feet high, tall enough for everyone in the expected large congregation to be able to see it.
The music is also custom. Diane Mahoney of Burlington, Iowa, whose hymn We Do Believe, O Lord, won a competition to be the official hymn of the Congress, said in the program, which offers viewers a selection, that she hopes her composition will draw the faithful closer to Christ.
Overall, the pilgrimage, said Bishop Cozzens, “will be a powerful, once-in-a-lifetime witness of how Jesus Christ comes close to us and invites all to encounter him in the Eucharist.”
Watch the Episode
National Eucharistic Pilgrimage: EucharisticPilgrimage.org/about-the-2024-national-eucharistic-pilgrimage
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