By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY — Catholics need to recover a sense of awe and adoration before the Eucharist, knowing that it is “the real and loving presence of the Lord,” Pope Francis told members of the committees organizing the National Eucharistic Revival and the National Eucharistic Congress in the United States.
Jesus spoke of Himself as “the living bread which came down from heaven, the true bread that gives life to the world,” the pope told the group June 19.
“This morning, while I was celebrating the Eucharist, I thought about this a lot because it is what gives us life,” the pope said. “Indeed, the Eucharist is God’s response to the deepest hunger of the human heart, the hunger for authentic life because, in the Eucharist, Christ Himself is truly in our midst to nourish, console and sustain us on our journey.”
Pope Francis blessed the 4-foot-tall monstrance, paten and chalice that will be used during the Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis July 17 to 21, 2024.
The group was led by Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minn., chair of the U.S. bishops’ advisory group for the National Eucharistic Revival, a multi-year process aimed at renewing and strengthening faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and chair of the board of directors planning the Eucharistic Congress.
Bishop Cozzens said it was “an incredible privilege” to meet the pope and experience “his love, his passion for the Eucharist and for the work that we’re about.”
Pope Francis told the group that, unfortunately, today many Catholics “believe that the Eucharist is more a symbol than the reality of the Lord’s presence and love.”
But, he said, “it is more than a symbol; it is the real and loving presence of the Lord.”
“It is my hope, then, that the Eucharistic Congress will inspire Catholics throughout the country to discover anew the sense of wonder and awe at the Lord’s great gift of Himself,” he said, “and to spend time with Him in the celebration of the holy Mass and in personal prayer and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.”