Bishop Anthony B. Taylor marked the opening of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ three-year Eucharistic Revival by celebrating a Corpus Christi feast day Mass at the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock June 18.
The feast of Corpus Christi, also known as the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, celebrates the Real Presence of the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ in the elements of the Eucharist.
As part of the celebration, Bishop Taylor lifted the restriction on distributing Precious Blood to the laity during Mass.
“Jesus is fully present in the Eucharist when received only in the form of bread,” he said, “but the sign is more complete when both elements are received.”
The bishop temporarily restricted the distribution of consecrated wine in March 2020 as a precaution to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. He also pre-recorded a video homily which was shown at every Mass June 18-19 across the diocese and plans to produce a series of recorded homilies over the next year to support the Eucharistic Revival.
In his homily, Bishop Taylor said the three-year national process of Eucharistic Revival will be an opportunity for the faithful to “grow in our understanding and appreciation of the Eucharist, the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus whom we receive and worship in every Mass.”
“I would like to launch this Eucharistic Revival in Arkansas with an invitation for all of us to consider what we can do to better express our faith in the manner of our worship,” he said.
Bishop Taylor stressed “our awareness of his presence should especially be reflected in our manner of dress and in our conduct in the Church proper.”
“So, for instance, what would you wear if you had an audience with the pope,” he asked. “I’ll bet you’d wear your Sunday best. Well, Jesus is greater than the pope, and Jesus is here. For that reason, I would like to begin this Eucharistic Revival by asking all of us to reflect on how our actions give witness to our faith in Jesus, truly present in the Eucharist we celebrate and receive.”
The bishop said Catholics should foster a spirit of reverent silence in church before Mass. By blessing themselves with holy water upon entering the sacred space, genuflecting or bowing before entering the pew, then kneeling to offer a short prayer before taking a seat and actively participating throughout the celebration, the faithful give witness to our belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. If Catholics take part in Communion, he said they need to be in a state of grace, with no unconfessed mortal sins, and asked them to respectfully “create a throne” with their hands when accepting the Body of Christ from the Eucharistic minister.
“We encounter Jesus in the most intimate way possible, receiving him into our very self,” Bishop Taylor said. “And then, filled with his enduring presence, we are sent forth to be his living presence in the world today.”
He also emphasized, “Attending Mass ‘virtually’ over the internet,” another COVID precaution, “no longer fulfills the Sunday obligation of those who can attend Mass in-person.”
Father Juan Guido, chairman of the diocesan Eucharistic Revival Committee and incoming pastor of Christ the King Church in Little Rock, addressed the congregation about the revival and said it will conclude with the two celebrations “in which people will gather to proclaim their love for the Eucharist” June 3, 2023, in northwest Arkansas and June 10, 2023, in central Arkansas. Details of the celebrations, he said, will be announced at a later date.
As the feast concluded, Bishop Taylor placed a consecrated host into a monstrance for exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, then led the congregation in a eucharistic procession in downtown Little Rock.
At the same time as the Little Rock Mass, Father John Connell, vicar general and pastor of St. Raphael Church in Springdale, celebrated the opening of the revival in northwest Arkansas with a vigil Mass at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Rogers.
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