By Pamela Seal
Diocese of Lake Charles
When second-grader Louis Harrell was asked to reflect on what it was like to receive Holy Communion for the first time, he said, “The best part about receiving the Eucharist is that you just can’t frown.”
A student at Immaculate Conception Cathedral School, it is Harrell’s enthusiastic love for the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) hopes to revive among every Catholic.
The USCCB has called for a National Eucharistic Revival, which begins on June 19, 2022, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, and will culminate with the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis July 17-21, 2024.
The launch of the revival will focus on the diocesan level. Then in 2023, the emphasis will shift to the parish level aimed at increasing Catholics’ understanding of the Real Presence in the Eucharist.
The bishops believe that God wants to see a movement of Catholics across the United States, healed, converted, formed, and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist — and sent out in mission “for the life of the world.”
Blessed Carlo Acutis will be the patron for the revival’s first year. The Italian teen used social media to spread devotion to the Eucharist before his death from leukemia in 2006 at the age of 15. He was beatified in October 2020.
The National Eucharistic Revival has four primary goals:
- To provide a more profound encounter with Jesus Christ in the Sunday liturgy as a point of unit among all Catholics, and through this powerful encounter, to find personal healing and courage to take the Gospel to a world in need of authentic love — the love of Christ found in the Eucharist.
- To spark personal conversions through the joyful discovery of a relationship with Christ by encountering the love of God present in Jesus in the Eucharist.
- To elevate the truth and practices of our Catholic faith through the rediscovery of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
- To form, inspired, and launch missionary disciples, filled with love of God and neighbor that comes from an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist, to the margins of the Church and the world.
Locally, several people shared their own experiences of receiving the Eucharist, many for the first time. Here are some of their reflections:
• “I was so excited that I asked my dad to bring me to Mass the next day so I could receive Jesus again. I just love having Jesus in my heart.” — Second grader, First Holy Communion, St. Theodore Catholic Church
• “To me, the Eucharist is the renewal of my faith in Jesus. True body and blood. My First Communion was such a blessing and joy for me. I could feel my worries and troubles fade away. It was the love of Jesus.” — William Ernst,brought into Full Communion with Catholic Church at Easter Vigil, 2022, St. Henry Catholic Church
• “I was a little nervous making my First Communion, but after I received the Body of Christ, I was really excited! It reminds me of everything Jesus has done for us!” — Aubri Delcambre, St. Lawrence Catholic Church
• “When I went to my first penance, Father Rojo was very helpful. I was curious and excited when I did it and when I left, I felt like an angel. When I made my First Communion, I felt holy, happy, and kind. — Emma Maylen, 9 years old, Christ the King Catholic Church
• Jillian Pitre of Our Lady Queen of Heaven, was brought into Full Communion with the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil Mass at Our Lady Queen of Heaven on April 16, 2022. Her deeper understanding of the Eucharist came about as she listened to a presentation about the Eucharist through the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) process.
“It was during that presentation that I learned that the Eucharist was more than just bread and wine,” said Pitre. “From that day on, I would count down the weeks until Easter Vigil so that I could experience the sacrament everyone around me could not stop talking about. When the moment finally came, it was everything I thought it would be and more.”
Jillian admits she has never been great at prayer, but that is exactly what the Eucharist has become for her.
“It is in that moment that I feel that I have a private audience with the Son of God. He is no longer behind the door of the tabernacle or in the monstrance. He is with me, walking beside me,” she said. “I couldn’t be prouder and more honored to be in Full Communion with the Catholic Church. My journey has just begun, but this intimate experience has already brought me closer to God. I’m excited to see where this prayer takes me in my relationship with Him.”
• “I felt so good in my heart when I got the Body of Jesus in me.” — Second grader, First Holy Communion, St. Theodore Catholic Church
• “My First Communion was important to me because I got to receive Jesus, and I get to receive Jesus with my family now.” — Clint Doucet
• “The True Presence retreat led me to the Eucharist by teaching and showing how and why we need this. True Presence has given me the knowledge to continue on a path through the Eucharist to become closer to Jesus and God and understand. I was lost and now am found.” — Mark Lejuine, parishioner
• “I feel so alone, but when someone from my church brings me Holy Communion, I feel like Jesus is visiting with me and that makes me feel so much better. I don’t know what I would do without receiving Jesus.” — Elderly shut-in, St. Theodore Catholic Church
• “The loss of receiving the Holy Eucharist and attending Mass was equivocal to the inability to feed the body the food necessary for thriving and the loss of happiness from meeting friends and family in a holy environment where our souls are fed and nutured. I personally felt grief and longing for Jesus to be within me in this most special way.” — Toni Pesson, parishioner, Christ the King Catholic Church
• “My First Communion was a very special day. I waited so long, and I was nervous. My favorite part was receiving the Body of Christ.” — Maria Guinn, St. Lawrence Catholic Church
• “After receiving my First Communion, I felt happy and closer to Jesus. I was nervous yet excited.” — Danica Young, St. Lawrence Catholic Church
• “I didn’t like the taste of the host when we had our practice, but Jesus in Communion tasted so much better. — Second grader, First Holy Communion, St. Theodore Catholic Church
• Gabriella Morales of St. Lawrence Catholic Church, told her mother that communion is the act of receiving Jesus in the form of bread. She said receiving her First Communion was special for her. She enjoyed being able to experience it with her classmates.
Visit the National Eucharistic Revival website at www.eucharisticrevival.org for updates and resources, as well as to sign up for “The Heart of the Revival” newsletter and to become a Prayer Partner.