Last year, the US bishops’ conference launched a four-year program aimed at a National Eucharistic Revival, designed to “restore understanding and devotion to this great mystery here in the United States” with a budget of $28 million.
Catholic commentator Phil Lawler has recently suggested 14 practical steps the bishops could take to accomplish this objective for little or not cost.
- Encourage the practice of receiving Communion kneeling—a traditional posture of reverence—and on the tongue. If the bishop favors this practice, he might announce that it will be normative whenever he celebrates Mass.
- Encourage priests and ushers to watch carefully, to ensure that communicants consume the Blessed Sacrament.
- Encourage the faithful to receive Communion from consecrated hands. Discourage the routine reliance on extraordinary ministers—particularly when there are enough priests and deacons on hand to distribute Communion.
- Encourage those present to remain for a few minutes after Mass in prayerful thanksgiving. Discourage social gatherings in the pews after Mass. (Encourage parishioners to take their conversations outside, or to the church basement.)
- Encourage regular Confession. Discourage the assumption that everyone will receive Communion at every Mass. Encourage ushers to be sensitive to the privacy of those who do not come forward for Communion. Discourage spontaneous “first Communions” by non-Catholics at weddings and funerals.
- Encourage parishioners to realize that they must not receive the Eucharist if they are not in a state of grace. Discourage the reception of Communion by public figures who are causing scandal.
- Encourage a spirit of recollection during the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice. Discourage haste. Encourage silence. Discourage constant background music.
- Encourage the perception that the sanctuary is the “holy of holies, set apart from the rest of the world and even from the rest of the church (by an altar rail, perhaps?). Discourage lay people from clustering around the altar during or after Mass.
- Encourage the use of Eucharistic Prayer #1, the Roman Canon, which is more closely connected to the tradition of Temple sacrifice and offers a greater prayerful exposition of the Eucharistic sacrifice. Discourage Eucharistic Prayer #2, which was written in haste and seems to be favored simply because it is shorter. (If a priest has a valid reason for needing to finish Mass quickly, suggest a shorter homily.)
- Encourage priests to celebrate Mass ad orientem, so that the focus of attention is on the altar rather than the celebrant. Discourage priests from making themselves the center of attention.
- Encourage every organic practice of devotion to the Eucharist (kneeling, genuflecting, fasting, etc.), even if it is not obligatory. Discourage any public denigration of Eucharistic piety. If a priest or theologian (or bishop or cardinal) says that we put too much emphasis on the Eucharist, correct him!
- Encourage the placement of the tabernacle in the center of the sanctuary, reflecting the centrality of the Eucharistic Presence. Discourage the use of a prominent central “presider’s chair” that overshadows the Blessed Sacrament.
- Encourage Eucharistic processions. Discourage liturgical abuses. In fact, take stern disciplinary action against priests who are guilty of liturgical abuses, to show the faithful that these are serious offenses.
- Encourage Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and Eucharistic Adoration. Start with just an hour of adoration each week, and watch the practice grow.
TAKE ACTION: Contact Bishop Andrew Cozzens , the USCCB’s leader of the Eucharist Revival program, and ask him to listen to Phil Lawler’s suggestions.