When studies demonstrated that nearly 70 percent of Catholics don’t believe what the Church teaches about the Eucharist, our bishops called for a National Eucharistic Revival from 2022-25. Thousands of people across the country committed to pray and fast for the mission and vision of this revival, that God would “renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist” and “inspire a movement of Catholics across the United States who are healed, converted, formed and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist — and who are sent out on mission ‘for the life of the world’” as Eucharistic Missionaries. But what does that mean? Why does it matter? And, a year and a half into the revival, is it making a difference?

What does that mean?

If God answers prayer — and he tells us he does (see for example Matthew 7:7-11, John 16:24 and Mark 11:24) — we can expect to see Jesus light a fire across our country, bringing new life to our faith in him and his Real Presence in the Eucharist. As more and more people encounter Jesus in the Eucharist, fall in love with him in a new or deeper way, are transformed by him and moved to share his love with others, we can expect to see more and more Catholics taking up their part in his mission to bring God’s love to all, especially those in most need of his mercy.

Why does that matter?

Our world is hurting.

When we look around, we see in the beauty of creation and the wonders of human compassion that God created the world good. We know deep down that we were created for love. We also see in the wounds of those around us and the brokenness within ourselves, that something has gone wrong. We struggle with loneliness, anxiety, divisions in our families and communities, and seemingly insatiable hungers. Attempts on our own strength to stop doing the things we don’t want to do or to numb the pain we experience often result in addictions, isolation and discouragement.

Jesus sees our pain. He came to heal us, to bring the good news that we have a loving God who wants to draw us back into relationship with him, into communion with himself and each other. He has come to fight for us, and to win our freedom and abundant life. When we experience this restored life with him, we want others to experience it too, and we want to join him in his mission to bring everyone into his freedom.

Jesus founded the Church and gave us the sacraments because he knew we would need them, especially the Eucharist, so that we would know we are never alone and to feed us for our journey.

The True Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament on every altar in every Mass and reserved in every tabernacle in every Catholic Church is the realization of Jesus’ promise that he will never leave you nor forsake you. You are never alone. God is here. God is for you.

As our own Bishop Emeritus Richard J. Sklba says, it’s not so much that the Church has a mission, as that the mission has a Church.

The Church is not a country club for perfect people; it’s a hospital for broken people.

Missionaries are not just a select few the Church commissions to go out to people far away. A missionary is someone who takes up their part in the mission. Jesus gave us our mission before he ascended to heaven, “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, and behold I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

The Eucharistic revival matters because the world needs to encounter Jesus and they will encounter him through us.

Is the National Eucharistic Revival making a difference?

I have already heard so many beautiful stories of how God has been answering our prayers for Eucharistic Revival. Here are just a few.

A mom noticed a young man sitting alone during Mass, who looked like this might be his first Mass ever. After Mass, she welcomed and struck up a conversation with him. He shared that he wasn’t Christian, but after struggling with darkness for a long time, he had suddenly felt drawn to go to a Catholic church and hoped he might talk with a priest.

While participating in Emmaus 90 (an archdiocesan formation program for the Eucharistic Revival) with his family, a public high school student-athlete took the daily prayer to become a Eucharistic Missionary to heart. When teammates who weren’t Catholic questioned him about the Real Presence in the Eucharist, he said, “The words to answer them just came to me. It felt like what Jesus said, that we don’t need to worry beforehand about what we are to say and the Holy Spirit will give you the words.” (Mark 13:11) He invited them to come to Mass with his family, and they said yes.

A dad stopped his car in the middle of Capitol Drive to ask some greeters on the steps if the church was open for him to bring his children to receive prayer. After he had parked safely, the greeters prayed with the family, who stayed for daily Mass, and helped the kids who were watching their first Mass with fascination to understand what was happening.

A Sunday Mass goer participated in his parish’s Encounter Night (a Holy Hour with Eucharistic Adoration, music, a message, silence and the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation). Afterward, he shared at the social that he had never experienced God’s love for him personally like he did that night and he wanted to know what to do next.

A woman contacted her Catholic friend seemingly “out of nowhere” to say, “I wasn’t raised Catholic, but I’m fascinated by what Catholics believe about the Eucharist; can you help me learn more?”

A young woman living in a community experiencing violence and disunity in her Milwaukee neighborhood realized that by “continuing to come back to the Eucharistic Presence of Christ, real and alive in me, and being with him in the dark places, I’m bringing his light there.”

More than 500 people will be baptized into the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee this Easter — a number that is trending upwards.

Jesus is answering and will continue to answer our prayers for Eucharistic revival. Will you notice and respond when he brings Eucharistic revival to you?

How can you be a part of the Eucharistic Revival?

  • If you struggle to believe what the Church teaches about the Eucharist, ask Jesus to help you to understand. Ask your questions and keep seeking answers.
  • If you’re not sure if you have “a living relationship with the Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist,” ask him to help you recognize the ways he’s drawing you and forming you to grow in relationship with him, especially through the Mass and receiving the Eucharist.
  • If the thought of being a Eucharistic Missionary feels intimidating, when you receive the Eucharist, ask Jesus to transform you, to make you more like him, to help you remember he is always with you, to increase your confidence in him, and to see (and rise to) the opportunities he sends you to share his love with others.
  • If you’re not sure where to take up your part in the mission, ask Jesus to help you notice those around you who are hurting or struggling, to see them as he sees them and to love them with his love.
  • Pray that Jesus will renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, and then watch what he does.

Dear Jesus, truly present in the Eucharist, please draw us, form us and send us in your love to those around us. Amen.

Margaret Rhody works for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s Office of Evangelization and Catechesis to bring parish renewal.