Lent is quickly approaching its culmination with the solemn liturgies of Palm Sunday and the Paschal Triduum – Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Holy Thursday is one of the holiest of days in the Church calendar. On this first day of the Triduum we commemorate the institution of the Eucharist - the Body and Blood of Jesus, His Real Presence, His ever-present gift to us. Following the evening Mass on Holy Thursday, called the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Blessed Sacrament is processed through the church to an ornate repository where the faithful are encouraged to spend time in quiet adoration throughout the evening. Another Triduum custom is the practice of visiting seven Churches on Holy Thursday night or Good Friday morning, a tradition originating in Rome, where early pilgrims visited the seven basilicas.
Lumen Gentium (par. 11) describes the Eucharist as the “source and summit of the Christian life.” Our Mother Foundress, Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd, decades earlier, was very much aware of this profound relationship between the Eucharist and living the fullness of the Christian life. Mother left us a rich Eucharistic legacy noting that our Nazareth congregation would need the graces of the Eucharist to achieve its mission. The Eucharist is the energy for our apostolic activity. In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, we also are privileged to have among us two canonized saints who can be rightly called “Eucharistic saints,” St. John Neumann and St. Katherine Drexel.
St. John Neumann, the fourth bishop of Philadelphia, instituted the 40 Hours Devotion throughout the diocese. This religious observance was a response to his great love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and deepens our appreciation for the gift of the Eucharist. St. Katherine Drexel, inspired by her love of the Eucharistic Lord and motivated by her commitment to offering selfless service in addressing the issues of social inequality and racial injustice among minorities, founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. As members of a Eucharist- centered community, Saint Katherine’s spiritual daughters describe the Eucharist as the “total gift of self.” Mother Foundress and St. Katherine were contemporaries. Our two congregations not only “live the Eucharist” but encourage others do so as well through prayer, ministry and witness.
Jesus invites each of us to return to the source and summit of our faith in the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy and in Eucharistic adoration. This first year of the National Eucharistic Revival has focused primarily on education and catechesis at the diocesan level. Diocesan staff, bishops, priests and deacons and parish ministers were asked to respond to the Lord’s personal invitation and explore ways for a renewed liturgical life through Eucharistic-centered events.
As we anticipate the second year of the National Eucharistic Revival which will focus on the parish level, the Heart of the Revival Newsletter team will be identifying what variety of content we can develop to help people renew their relationship with Jesus Christ who is, Himself, the Eucharist, and to assist them in living Eucharistic lives during the year of parish revival. Catechesis, Eucharistic adoration, Holy Hours, 40 Hours and Eucharistic processions are some of the ways that parishes will strive to rekindle the flame of Eucharistic love in each person.
For more information on the National Eucharistic Revival, please visit their website: https://www.eucharisticrevival.org/
God bless you and your families as we strive to grow closer to our Eucharistic Lord during these final days of Lent and throughout the Easter Season.
Sister M. Marcella Louise Wallowicz, CSFN