A Priesthood Perspective on the Eucharistic Revival by Fr. Bob Simon
In the fall of 2021, in my first months as the new pastor in Brodheadsville, our staff began to discuss our Advent Adult Formation Series. Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish has a longstanding commitment to adult faith formation. Many of our parishioners crave learning more about their faith.
With folks coming back as COVID-19 numbers decreased, and as we desired to reconnect parishioners with Sunday Mass, I presented a series on the Mass. We took a deep dive into the parts of the Mass as well as the historical development of the Mass and its meaning, especially by reflecting on the insights of the pioneers of the liturgical reform of the twentieth century and the Fathers of the Church.
This year, we are currently in the midst of a series I am leading on the Mystery of the Eucharist. We are using the series, Presence, offered by Formed.org and produced by the Augustine Institute. I am also presenting material from Jean Danielou, S.J., in his classic work, The Bible and the Liturgy, published in 1956. We are considering how at every Mass, the once-for-all-sacrifice of Calvary is made present. Likewise, at every Mass, we participate in the heavenly liturgy.
My own love of the Mass goes back as far as I can remember. I explain this love of the Mass when asked about it by relating that even as a very small boy there was something I just “got” about the Mass and the liturgy of the Church. I can still picture the raised hands of our assistant pastor, Fr. Richard Zavacki, elevating the host at the consecration.
I know that each year back then, and even today, the celebration of Holy Week is my personal, annual Eucharistic revival. As a boy, my brother, my sister, and I were very blessed that my family actively participated in liturgies of the Sacred Triduum. As children, we processed each year in the Holy Thursday procession. We were very blessed that after the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, my dad would take us to visit parishes to spend time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament at the carefully prepared Place of Reposition. The short visits to each church were wisely planned to accommodate a child’s short attention span. But my dad, took us to a good number of churches. We delighted every year in the experience. We would talk often of which churches were our favorite and how touched we were by the faith and devotion of the other adorers.
Last year as we celebrated the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper during the Sacred Triduum, there was a moment that gave me hope as we pray and yearn for a Eucharistic revival. Our Lady Queen of Peace has long had a tradition of inviting everyone at Evening Mass to join in the procession to the Repository.
This past year we processed outside the church while the Knights of Columbus bore a canopy over the Holy Eucharist. The cross, candles, incense and girls strewing rose petals all passed between an honor guard of parishioners who lined the path bringing the Blessed Sacrament to our chapel. As the Holy Eucharist neared him, a high school age boy, unfamiliar to me as involved in the parish, dropped to his knees. I saw his faith and devotion, and thought, “that young man will never doubt the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.”
I pray that our National Eucharistic Revival will help us to celebrate each Mass with utmost reverence. I believe our faith, devotion and reverence at each Mass is a powerful witness to others. Adult faith formation is important, but ultimately it is each of us and our active participation at Worship that will, by God’s grace, bring about a Eucharistic Revival. I know that I, like so many others, love the Mass and gift of Faith, not primarily because of what I learned in a classroom about the Mass or the mystery of the Eucharist. It is in the school of the liturgy that I’ve fallen in love with the greatest of Sacraments.
Let’s start with small steps. I find when celebrating multiple liturgies, that if I try at each Mass to put a focus on one part of the Mass and really let it come alive for me, I soon find myself overwhelmed by the power and beauty of the “Sacrament of Sacraments” celebrated for the life of the world.