Launched on the feast of Corpus Christi in 2022, the National Eucharistic Revival has a mission to “renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.”

The three-year initiative seeks to inspire, educate and unite Catholics to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops hopes to change the lives of Catholics and non-Catholics alike through a series of Eucharist-centric events, including four Eucharistic pilgrimages across the country leading up to and culminating at the National Eucharistic Congress, July 17-21, 2024, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Fr. Joseph Laramie, S.J., who serves as the national director of the Pope’s Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer) and is the author of “Love Him Ever More: A Nine-day Personal Retreat with the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, lives on the Marquette University Campus, and will serve as one of the Eucharistic preachers for the National Eucharistic Congress. He has also authored several articles for the Revival website:

Attributing to COVID the isolation, stress and “weirdness of those ‘Zoom Masses,’” Fr. Laramie said many Catholics got out of the habit of attending Sunday Mass. He said there were also other reasons, such as divisions in the country and a lack of understanding about the Eucharist.

“I think about St. Ignatius Loyola; he lived during the Protestant Reformation. He sensed that this was not a doctrinal problem but a pastoral problem. That is, the Church had (and has) holy and wise teachings on the sacraments and the Mass; we don’t need to ‘fix’ that,” he said. “We need to provide beautiful, inspiring opportunities to receive the sacraments — especially Eucharist and confession — so that people experience a real encounter with the Lord. And we need to invite and draw people in or draw them back in again. I think that is the hope and the prayer of the Eucharistic Revival.”

Fr. Laramie especially appreciates a line in the Mass at deacon ordinations: “Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach,” he said. “The emphasis there is on the Gospels and the teachings of the Church. Maybe we could tweak that line for the Eucharist: ‘Believe what you receive, teach what you receive and practice what you receive.’”

For those of us who attend Sunday Mass and daily Masses, Fr. Laramie explained that as we grow in our knowledge and love of the Eucharist, we can share a few words about this with others.

“And, yes, we do need to look in the mirror and turn to the Lord in prayer: ‘Jesus, how does my life reflect my belief in you?’” he said. “I see many faithful folks who do model this — they are welcoming and try to serve others, such as the elderly, poor, young moms and pregnant women. I need to live my faith first; then I can invite others to share this gift.”

As one means to bring others to the faith or back to the faith, Fr. Laramie suggests inviting others to Eucharistic Adoration. As a Jesuit priest, he lives with 30 other priests in the community at Marquette. They have a chapel in their house, so he and his brother priests can adore the Eucharistic Lord whenever they want.

“I am struck by how many young people are drawn to adoration these days. I think they see that their lives are often busy, loud, distracted and virtual,” he said. “In adoration, they find peace, grace, a sense of focus and meaning that comes from Christ.”

St. Robert in Shorewood hosts a Wednesday “Cor Jesu” for young adults with a holy hour, music and confessions at 7 p.m., followed by an 8 p.m. Mass. Fr. Laramie helps with this each week and notes that at least 200 attend on a normal week with nearly twice that during Lent or on a big feast day.

“Some of them drive 30-40 minutes to get there. It’s so beautiful. I wish every Catholic could see it. Most of the young people who come — they were invited by a friend. That’s it: the chain reaction! That’s what we need,” he said. “Sometimes I think, ‘If you want proof, that’s it. Look at how Christ is drawing them, blessing them, consoling them. That’s the Eucharist in action.’”

For those who aren’t coming back to the Church or adoration, Fr. Laramie suggests prayer, hope and invitation.

“We don’t need to be pushy or impatient, as Jesus is very patient with us,” he said. “I have people in my own extended family who are away from the Church. I’d love to see them return. I love my family members and can’t control them. Maybe the Lord is calling me to reach out to someone else. If your kid plays soccer, what about one of the other parents or your neighbor? Lord, whose heart do you want me to touch with prayer or an invitation?”

Fr. Laramie hopes the National Eucharistic Revival will be akin to a national “World Youth Day.” He attended events in Paris in 1997, Toronto in 2002 and Madrid in 2011, and describes it as a time for prayer, communion as the Body of Christ the Church, and receiving the Body of Christ in the Eucharist.

“The Holy Spirit wants to fan the flame of faith in our hearts to make it grow brighter — even dumping oil on the flame to make it burn hotter,” he said. “There will be excellent speakers, music, processions, liturgies and confession. We’re Catholic, and we go big, baby. We’re praying for a little Pentecost — an outpouring of the Spirit who sends us out to proclaim the Good News in word and deed.”

In the liturgy, which Fr. Laramie calls “the divine heartbeat at the center of the Church,” Christ draws us into Mass, enlightening our minds in the readings, receiving our prayers and feeding us with the Eucharist.

“Then, he sends us out, renewed and refreshed. ‘Go forth, the Mass is ended.’ or ‘Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.’ He’s sending us to be his witnesses in the Body of Christ — in our families, schools and jobs,” Fr. Laramie said. “My heart beats, drawing blood to itself, refreshing that blood with oxygen from the lungs, and then sending the blood back out to my elbows and knees, fingers and toes. Jesus draws us to himself and then sends us out. I do think this is Christ’s call for us in the Eucharistic Revival — ‘Go. Get out there.’ Share this gift through your prayer, your witness and by inviting others.”

In addition to Fr. Laramie, Milwaukee archdiocesan priests Fr. John LoCoco and Fr. John Burns will also preach at the congress.

According to Fr. LoCoco, the 10th National Eucharistic Congress of the U.S. will be a sacred convergence of the faithful, gathering to celebrate the profound mystery of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

“For years, the Church in the United States has engaged in prayer, catechesis, and initiatives aimed at fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Eucharist, preparing the faithful of God for this momentous gathering,” Fr. LoCoco said. “As a national preacher for the Eucharistic Revival, I have been greatly encouraged to witness firsthand the transformative power of this great movement. This summer, this historic gathering is not just a moment; it is a movement, propelling us forth with renewed zeal and desire for the source and summit of our faith.”

Fr. Joseph Laramie. (Submitted photo)