For the month of January, leading up to the start of Lent, we’re spending some time exploring and expanding on the overall themes for this year, for this ministry and the Church in the United States as a whole. We’re entering into the year of Eucharistic Revival, with processions planned to start in the four corners of the country, all meeting up at the central point of the National Eucharistic Congress, the Eucharistic Heart. From the Eucharistic Revival website:
HE PROMISES TO RESTORE AND RENEW HIS PEOPLE
Our world is hurting. We all need healing, yet many of us are separated from the very source of our strength. Jesus Christ invites us to return to the source and summit of our faith in the celebration of the Eucharist. The National Eucharistic Revival is a movement to restore understanding and devotion to this great mystery here in the United States by helping us renew our worship of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
At the same time, I’m also reminded that the Eucharist is the Sacred Heart. Multiple studies on samples of the flesh and blood of Eucharistic miracles have found that the Eucharist is the living heart of a man who died under extreme stress. Behold His Heart.
In the Eucharist we are made new. In the Eucharist, by receiving the Resurrected Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we are restored. In giving us Himself as our food and our drink, providing in a single act for the most basic need of our bodies and the ultimate need of our souls, Our Lord makes all things new.
Editorially, the emphasis for 2023 is “Give Us This Bread Always” and the points to be emphasized are broken down below.
1. Untouched By the Flames
“ Now the king’s servants who threw them in kept stoking the furnace with naphtha, pitch, tow, and brushwood. And the flames poured out above the furnace forty-nine cubits, and spread out and burned those Chaldeans who were caught near the furnace. But the angel of the Lord came down into the furnace to be with Azariah and his companions, and drove the fiery flame out of the furnace, and made the inside of the furnace as though a moist wind were whistling through it. The fire did not touch them at all and caused them no pain or distress.”Daniel 3:46-50
I recommend you read the entirety of Daniel 3 to get the full story about why these three men were thrown into the fire and how God protected them. The entire passage is beautiful and worth deep prayer and reflection. But the verse above highlights the main idea I felt the Holy Spirit drawing us to editorially. Namely, that we’ve been through a lot both individually and communally over the last few years. Sometimes we need a reminder that the same God who led us through all of that is still guiding us here and now.
2. “I have come to set the world on fire.”
“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!”Luke 12:49-50
Jesus has placed His Own burning Heart within us so that that love for the whole world burns through us, so that we make Him known in our words and our actions. He’s sent us out with the fire of Divine Love, to maintain it in ourselves and to be that light shining in a dark place for others.
3. Taking refuge in the Inferno of Charity
“In the Sacred Heart, every treasure of wisdom and knowledge is hidden. In that divine heart beats God’s infinite love for everyone and for each of us as individuals.”St. Pope John Paul II
Moving ever deeper into His Heart, we learn to love one another as a ministry and all those whom He has called us to love. In heaven, every beat of our hearts will be the Heartbeat of Christ, our wills perfectly united with His. But already, right now, we can begin to enter into that infinite love by uniting all our joy, all our sorrow, all our work, and all our leisure to Him. Most especially in the Mass, where we receive this Heart, and for a few precious moments it beats within us.
4. The Heart of God is Mercy; Run to Him
“Having received mercy, let us now become merciful. For if love is only about us, faith becomes arid, barren and sentimental. Without others, faith becomes disembodied. Without works of mercy, it dies (cf. Jas 2:17). Dear brothers and sisters, let us be renewed by the peace, forgiveness and wounds of the merciful Jesus. Let us ask for the grace to become witnesses of mercy. Only in this way will our faith be alive and our lives unified. Only in this way will we proclaim the Gospel of God, which is the Gospel of mercy.”Pope Francis, Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday 2021
A few years ago, when we celebrated the Year of Mercy, I remember hearing often that the Heart of God is mercy itself. That image of Divine Mercy, the blood and water gushing from the Heart of Jesus for our salvation, became very much a part of my devotion to the Sacred Heart.
A key note is that the water doesn’t just drip from His Heart. It doesn’t merely pour. It gushes out for love of us. This implies an urgency to His work, and to the work of salvation. Every person we encounter will encounter Him one day. By witnessing to this love with clarity and confidence, we can move others to join us in running (not strolling, and not just briskly walking) full speed to Him.
“In the epiclesis, the priest asks the Father to send the Holy Spirit on the gifts of bread and wine so that, through the power of the Spirit, they may become the Body and Blood of Christ. This same Spirit will transform those attending the liturgy that they may grow in their unity with each other, with the whole Church, and with Christ.”USCCB, The Structure and Meaning of the Mass
At every Mass, we (should) come with our gifts to be presented at the altar. Not merely monetary or physical gifts. We come with the gift of ourselves, of our very presence at that Mass, all our desires, hopes, fears, those we pray for, whatever grief or wounds we bear… all of that is gift that can be offered to God.
As the gifts are presented at every Mass, I pray that my guardian angel place my heart on the altar along with the bread and wine, so that my heart, too, can be consumed by the Holy Spirit and be fully united, when those gifts are transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of Christ, with the Eucharistic Heart that burns and yearns for all humanity.
“Lord, give us this bread always.”John 6:24