As I wrote in my last article, the US Catholic Conference of Bishops has officially inaugurated the National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year grassroots effort taking place across America, with the aim of restoring the Eucharist as the center of our lives. The Revival calls for conversion not just from the “top down,” at the national, state, and county levels, but more particularly from the ‘bottom up,” in our neighborhoods, families and personally, individually, in the way each of us responds to the Heart of Jesus.
The Divine Heart
In fact, a good way of thinking about the Eucharist is by perceiving it as the Heart of Jesus, that divine heart beating at the center of the Church. In recent years, several miracles have attested to the fact that, indeed, the Eucharist is the very heart of Jesus, himself. One of the most complete Eucharistic miracles took place in Argentina in the late 1990s, when Pope Francis was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
A host was discovered in the tabernacle of the Church of Santa Maria y Caballito Almagro which appeared to have changed into a piece of bloody tissue. A small part of the host was eventually sent to New York for analysis, without revealing the particulars of where it had come from, so as not to influence the results of the testing in any way. Cardiologist and forensic pathologist, Dr.Frederic Zugibe, testified that:
"The analyzed material is a fragment of the heart muscle found in the wall of the left ventricle close to the valves. This muscle is responsible for the contraction of the heart. It should be borne in mind that the left cardiac ventricle pumps blood to all parts of the body. The heart muscle is in an inflammatory condition and contains a large number of white blood cells. This indicates that the heart was alive at the time the sample was taken. It is my contention that the heart was alive, since white blood cells die outside a living organism. They require a living organism to sustain them. Thus, their presence indicates that the heart was alive when the sample was taken. What is more, these white blood cells had penetrated the tissue, which further indicates that the heart had been under severe stress, as if the owner had been beaten severely about the chest." (emphasis mine)
This one host, miraculously changed, speaks volumes to us. First of all, it tells us that it is Jesus, acting as the heart, who supplies the blood to the entire body. In the ancient world, blood was seen as the sustaining principal of life, a mysterious force which somehow kept a person alive. Even today, we know that if one loses too much blood, life will eventually fade away. So, when we receive Jesus in the Eucharist we are also receiving his very life, literally. Secondly, the tests showed that this piece of heart muscle showed signs of extreme stress. This implies a couple of things. Not only does it remind us of Jesus’ crucifixion, when we know he endured great suffering, but it also tells us that the Heart of Christ is still suffering today, right now. How do we know this? Because of the third finding - the sample was taken from a living heart. The Heart of Jesus is still suffering, and suffering greatly, today, in our time.
Other tests performed on recent Eucharistic miracles have revealed that the blood in this heart tissue is consistently the rare AB blood type, the same blood type found on the Shroud of Turin, and DNA tests showed that half of Jesus’ chromosomes came from his mother, Mary.
What is Jesus Saying?
The abundance of Eucharistic miracles that have taken place in our times, some as recently as 2013, invite the question “What is Jesus saying?” What does he want us to understand from these miracles? The answer is pretty simple. In the Bible, Jesus performs miracles in order to show he is God, to prove that he is who he says he is. Because he is God, Jesus has power over nature, the ability to forgive sins and especially the ability to give health to the sick and life to the dead. So today, the Eucharistic miracles are telling us once again, Jesus is God. He is who he said he is and he is doing what he said he would do. He is again showing that he has power over nature, by transforming simple bread and wine into his body and blood, through which he can forgive sins and bring health to the sick and life to the dead. And just as the miracles in the Bible caused a reaction by the people who saw them, so too, the Eucharistic miracles are calling us to respond.
How Can We Respond?
We can respond to the call from the Heart of Christ through Prayer, Service and Learning. Sign up to be a Prayer Partner for the Eucharistic Revival. Serve by volunteering to help your parish or diocese host and promote the Eucharistic Revival. Finally, learn more about the Eucharist and the many Eucharistic miracles in our time. For more information about the findings of these miracles, consider purchasing the 2021 book A Cardiologist Examines Jesus: The Stunning Science Behind Eucharistic Miracles, written by cardiologist Dr. Franco Serafini, available through my blog. Just remember that how we respond to Jesus’ self-revelation is as important as what Jesus is doing. Jesus' miracles are always an invitation, just as much as they are a revelation.
Blessed Carlo Acutis, patron saint of the Eucharistic Revival, pray for us!
One of the ways we can participate in the Eucharistic Revival is by turning the next three years into a personal pilgrimage.
Have you ever been on a pilgrimage? Loaded up a backpack, put on some sturdy shoes, and headed out with the intention of eventually arriving at a specific destination? The answer for all of us is “Yes!” The truth is, every person on earth is on a pilgrimage, all the time. We all put on a backpack, loaded with things we believe are vitally necessary to take, things that we carry with us every day. We dress ourselves in our beliefs and attitudes and we show these to everyone who sees us, for good or for bad. We all have a starting point and we will each arrive at an endpoint, a moment when our journey will be completed. Those of us fortunate enough to be participating in the Eucharist Revival, however, have the ability to elevate our everyday journeying into a holy pilgrimage. We can be intentional about what we carry with us, who we will travel with, how we will travel, and most importantly, our final destination.
Pope St. John Paul II said that “All of the spiritual life is a pilgrimage to the heart of the Father.” A holy pilgrimage takes place across three dimensions, sacred time, sacred space and sacred place. We are invited to journey with Jesus in all three areas for the next three years.
There are two different ways of looking at time. We are all used to living in chronos time, moving through sequential hours, minutes and seconds. God’s time, however, is called kairos time, meaning the “opportune or appointed moment,” the time for God’s action. In the incarnation of Jesus, both chronos and kairos times are united. The next three years give us an opportunity to unite both chronos and kairos times in our own lives, to use the hours and minutes of our days seeking to make God known and loved more in the world.
A sacred space is simply a holy area where we can experience an encounter with God. Sacred spaces are associated with quiet, with being set aside. Think of wide open spaces in nature that inspire wonder and awe, or the quiet, peaceful interior spaces of churches. We are each called to become a holy space ourselves, a place where God resides within, where we can facilitate an encounter with God for others. Sacred spaces are concerned with the spiritual and the unseen.
While sacred spaces mediate the spiritual, sacred places are physical. A sacred place is usually reserved for a particular, holy, ritual action, a place set apart to do something special. It might be a place where an action of God was demonstrated in the past, such as the home of a saint or a location where something good happened, or a place of God’s continued presence today, like our churches. Sacred places reveal God in the physical, in specific locations we can visit and see, made holy through specific actions.
Taken all together, sacred time, sacred space and sacred place represent the totality of our lives. It is in these three places we are invited to journey in a special way for the next three years. What might that look like?
Maybe that means you commit to changing your morning commute into a pilgrimage. Turn your car into a vehicle of pilgrimage by repeating a ritual action, such as prayer or listening to Scripture. Notice the people who are passing by around you and attempt to provide an encounter with God by being generous and patient. Offer the time in your car for a special intention or for the work of God.
Or perhaps you can create a dedicated prayer space in your home and commit to using it once a day, and invite your family to use it together once a week. Or your pilgrimage might be promising to visit or call a neighbor you know could use extra attention, at the same time each day or week. Pray for this person, even if you don’t pray together.
There are so many ways we can create pilgrimages in our lives, of elevating our chronos time, the ordinary moments of our everyday lives, into kairos time, opportunities to be in the presence of God, by intentionally uniting our time, space and place.
To help you get started, check out the free online series on Pilgrimage created by Franciscan University, hosted by Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR. What will your pilgrimage be?
On June 19, 2022. the Eucharistic Revival officially began in dioceses across the United States. In my diocese of Austin, we kicked things off the morning before on Saturday, June 18, with Mass at 8:30am, presided over by the Bishop of Austin, Bishop Joe Vasquez.
After Mass, the Bishop, accompanied by the laity and dozens of priests and deacons, led us out of the church on a one-mile procession through the downtown streets of Austin, holding the Blessed Sacrament high in a monstrance, ending with adoration and benediction at the historic “red doors” on the hilltop at St. Edward’s University. The morning concluded with Bishop Vasquez lifting the monstrance and blessing the entire city of Austin, which was laid out in front of us from our view on the hilltop. It was a powerful and visible way of beginning the Eucharistic Revival, and - literally - going forth and bringing Christ to our community.
What is the Eucharistic Revival?
The Eucharistic Revival is a three-year invitation and call to renewal that will take place across America. More than simply a series of meetings or events, the Eucharistic Revival 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,” Bishop Vasquez explains.
The first year of the revival runs from June 19 to June 11, 2023, and will focus on revival at the diocesan level. The second year goes from June 12, 2023 to July 17, 2024, and will focus on fostering devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist at the parish level. The final year, July 18, 2024 to Pentecost 2025, called the “Year of Going Out On Mission,” will include a National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis.
How Can I Participate in the Eucharistic Revival?
We all know that our families, our cities, and our country are broken and in need of repair, of restoration. Our church is also wounded and in need of healing. Remember, Jesus himself told the apostles that some things “can only come out through prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:28) Jesus reminds us that true reconciliation back to himself takes time and effort, over the long haul.
Let us each take full advantage of these three years to immerse ourselves in the Sacred Heart, on display in the Eucharist, and intercede for our church, our country and all those we carry in our hearts.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us! Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!
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