Bishop’s Interview: Eucharistic Revival – Going forth, taking Christ into our communities
Editor: This month the Diocese of Austin, and the church in the U.S. as a whole, will begin a Eucharistic Revival. What is the intent of this revival?
Bishop Vásquez: The Eucharistic Revival is an initiative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The goal of the Eucharistic Revival over the next three years is to invite every Catholic diocese, parish, school, apostolate and family to be a part of renewing the church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. As bishops, we want to remind the faithful of the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of our beloved church. The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life. This most profound mystery is what keeps the church in being.
Last November the USCCB promulgated “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church” to guide us in this endeavor. Christ is truly present in the Eucharist – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. This is also a time for us as bishops and priests to renew our own devotion and love for the Eucharist and give more attention as to how we celebrate the Eucharist. This is a time for the whole body of Christ to be renewed in our love for Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
Editor: It is my experience that we too often take the Eucharist for granted. How can we make sure we appreciate the true gift and grace offered to us at each Eucharistic encounter?
Bishop Vásquez: You are right – we sometimes take the Eucharist for granted. For instance, in Central America and South America and Africa, there are communities that rarely get to see a priest to celebrate the Eucharist. They may celebrate Mass once a month or just a couple of times a year. In these countries when the priest or the bishop comes to celebrate Eucharist, it is a whole day event where people come from far away. This is a time for confession, other sacraments and catechesis. The high point of the day is the celebration of the Eucharist. The community devotes their entire day to celebrating Mass.
In the U.S., we have frequent opportunities to receive the Eucharist. On Sundays Masses are offered at convenient hours and times, and we have daily Masses, with some parishes offering Mass twice on weekdays. I think this is a blessing. However, all these options, may also contribute to our complacency. We must make the celebration of the Eucharist a priority in our lives, not something we fit into our schedule. We must consider Sunday Eucharist with our brothers and sisters in Christ the most important activity of the entire week.
As bishop, when I celebrate three, four or five Masses on a weekend, I have to make sure that the celebrations are not becoming routine or complacent or casual. I, too, must remind myself that each Mass I celebrate is important and an opportunity to experience the love of Christ in the Eucharist.
Editor: How will our diocese celebrate this revival?
Bishop Vásquez: As I mentioned before, this revival will take place over the next three years. The first year focuses on the diocesan level, which will begin here on June 18 with a Eucharistic Procession through the streets of downtown Austin. Everyone is invited to Mass at 8:30 a.m. at San José Parish in Austin. Afterward I will lead a Eucharistic procession to the Main Building at St. Edward’s University. We will gather there on the hilltop overlooking Austin, and conclude with Exposition, Adoration and Benediction of the whole diocese.
Throughout the year, as we prepare to kick off the celebration of the Diocese of Austin’s 75th anniversary on Nov. 19, we will incorporate opportunities for catechesis on the Eucharist and how we can be Eucharistic witnesses on a daily basis.
The second year from June 2023 to June 2024 will focus on the Parish Year of Eucharistic Revival. The USCCB and the diocese will develop materials and resources to help parishioners renew their love for the Eucharist and live it out. From July 2024-Pentecost 2025, we will focus on going out on mission beginning with a National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis. The Eucharistic Revival is not a step-by-step plan or a series of meetings; it is a grassroots call and a challenge for every Catholic across our country to rekindle the fire of love and devotion for the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus.
Editor: Will the procession on June 18 be the first time for you to carry the Eucharist through the streets of Austin?
Bishop Vásquez: Yes! Obviously, I have walked through our city streets in prayer and solidarity; however, this will be the first time that I, as the bishop, will carry the Eucharist throughout our city of Austin. This will be a great witness to show who we are as Catholics. Every time we receive the Eucharist, we are encouraged to take Christ into our communities, our families, schools, workplaces, hospitals and neighborhoods. That’s what it means to be a Eucharistic people – to bring Christ to all.
Editor: What is your prayer for our diocese as we seek to renew our love for the Eucharist?
Bishop Vásquez: I would like to quote the prayer the church offers on Holy Thursday as we begin the sacred Triduum. This prayer expresses the mystery of the Eucharist and how we are to be drawn in this mystery and live it daily through acts of charity, compassion and goodness.
O God, who have called us to participate in this most sacred Supper, in which your Only Begotten Son, when about to hand himself over to death, entrusted to the Church a sacrifice new for all eternity, the banquet of his love, grant, we pray, that we may draw from so great a mystery, the fullness of charity and of life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.