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3 Year Eucharistic Revival

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New Ministry Accompanies Women and Men in Irregular Marriage Situations Who Long for the Eucharist

 

As a newly ordained priest in 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fr. John Joseph Bourque CJC, of the Diocese of Lafayette, LA, was assigned to hospital ministry. While providing sacramental ministry to nursing home residents, he encountered those who longed to receive Holy Communion but could not do so due to an irregular marriage status. Father observed, “It was so discouraging that I could not offer them the Eucharist. I felt I had to do something about it.” This experience gave rise to a “call within a call” in his priestly ministry: outreach to separated and divorced Catholics who often feel alienated from the Church.

Church Support for Separated, Divorced, and Remarried Catholics

Even faithful Catholics experience the pain of separation and civil divorce, and many misunderstand the consequences of their separated or divorced state. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that sometimes separation or civil divorce might be the only option for safeguarding the spouse, children, or other legal rights; in these cases, divorce can be tolerated (see CCC, no. 2383). The Synod of Bishops in 2014 noted that there are “divorced people who have not remarried, who oftentimes bear witness to their promise of faithfulness in marriage” (no. 50). The synod fathers add that these individuals “ought to be encouraged to find in the Eucharist the nourishment they need to sustain them in their present state of life” (no. 50). Pope Francis affirms the Church’s teaching on the remarriage of divorced persons (see CCC, no. 1665), writing that these individuals are not excommunicated “and they should not be treated as such, since they remain part of the ecclesial community” (Amoris Laetitiae, no. 243).

It's important to note that in cases where the Church has declared null what was once considered a valid marriage (often colloquially called an annulment), individuals who wish to marry again must do so in the Church—or receive convalidation from the Church—for the marriage to be valid and to be in good standing with the Church.

Catholics experiencing separation and divorce need Church support. When divorce is the only possible recourse, the Church encourages those who have not remarried to remain close to the Lord through frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist. Those who have remarried before obtaining an annulment can participate in the Eucharistic life of the Church through Eucharistic adoration and Spiritual Communion. Although Spiritual Communion is not the sacramental reception of the Body and Blood of Christ, it is an opportunity to encounter the Real Presence. The practice of spiritual communion can open a person’s heart to seek a regularization of their marriage and resume full communion with the Church. Pope St. John Paul II affirmed that by virtue of Baptism, “the divorced and remarried are and remain her members” (Address to the Pontifical Council for the Family, January 24, 1997).

Eucharistic-Centeed Ministry

Father John Joseph’s congregation, the Community of Jesus Crucified, ministers to the marginalized, sick, dying, nursing home residents, the poor, and those experiencing mental illness. The community is Eucharistic-centered, with clerical and lay members spending an hour each morning and each evening in Eucharistic adoration. Married and lay single members live in their own homes, while the priests, brothers, and servant sisters live a communal life, participating in the daily celebration of the Eucharist, the source of their strength for ministry as contemplative missionaries.

Eucharistic adoration was an integral part of Father John Joseph’s priestly formation. As a student at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, LA, he instituted nighttime Adoration among his fellow seminarians. Father shared that the Eucharist energizes his priestly ministry. He also related that bringing the Eucharist to the bedside of the dying is a powerful moment of encounter between the communicant and the Eucharistic Lord.

Meeting the Needs of Those Recovering from Divorce

Father commented that while divorce recovery programs existed, they did not meet the needs of those he ministered to. Wanting to bring these men and women back to the Sacrament, he witnessed the transformative effect of Eucharistic adoration in the lives of divorced and separated Catholics. He was introduced to Alison Howard, a divorced mother of a pre-teenager. Alison regularly attended Eucharistic adoration, describing it as “life-changing”. Alison, several other women, and Father John Joseph were instrumental in establishing Woman at the Well of Love Ministries, a non-profit Christian ministry serving separated, divorced, or remarried women. Father shared that “the initial meeting with Alison and the other women was difficult but fruitful, like Jesus encountering the woman at the well. They all felt hurt and rejected by the Church, but we can be the Church reaching out to them just as Jesus reached out to the Samaritan woman.”

Women and men respond differently to separation and divorce. Tim, a divorced father of three adult children, is a member of Just Men, a program for divorced or separated Catholic men organized by Father John Joseph. A cradle Catholic, Tim had considered the possibility of a priestly vocation but ultimately married and had three children. He and his first wife divorced in 2001 after five years of marriage, having had no children together. Tim, now civilly remarried and the father of three young girls, is in the process of obtaining an annulment of his first marriage. Although Tim and his wife are unable to receive the Eucharist due to his irregular marital status, they continue to attend Sunday Mass with their daughters.

Desiring a deeper faith life, Tim sought a spiritual director and encountered Father John Joseph who was forming Just Men. The group meets each Saturday morning for Mass, breakfast, and fellowship. The Eucharist is central, and Tim remarked that developing a relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist has helped him deepen his faith and remain open to the graces he needs to persevere in the annulment process and persevere toward the hoped-for day of having his current marriage convalidated.

Hope for Healing

Women at the Well of Love and Just Men ministries incorporate key principles articulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church for individuals journeying to post-divorce healing: “to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts for justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance…” (CCC, no. 1651). These are important spiritual or practical means for any separated or divorced Catholic man or woman to achieve healing and a renewed relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist. Father reflected, “If Jesus chose the woman at the well to be a heroine in John’s Gospel, it will be the divorced and remarried people who will be among the heroes and heroines of the Eucharistic Revival.”

Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Eucharist:
Mary Gives the Evidence to Believe in Jesus

By Fr. Tim Oudenhoven, S.Th.D.
 

Our Lady of Guadalupe was happy to provide the bishop with his requested sign of proof. She told St. Juan Diego, “You will come back here tomorrow so that you may take the bishop the sign he has asked you for; with that he will believe you….” Juan Diego was convicted, and wanted nothing more than the fulfillment of Our Lady’s request to have a temple built for her Son.

 

The proof that Mary provided for the bishop was very personal to him. Bishop Zumarraga loved Castilian roses but had failed to bring rose bulbs with him to the Americas for his garden. Mary gave him precisely this flower as a sign of her love and trust in him.

 

Juan Diego’s faith also shines in this encounter. When he humbly presented the roses to the bishop, “all the different flowers, like those from Castile, fell to the floor.” Upon his tilma was imprinted the image of Our Lady as she had appeared to him. Juan Diego gave the bishop this image to place in his chapel for contemplation.

 

Juan Diego was given incredible gifts: an increase of faith and a special relationship with Our Lady. Yet, he did not hold onto them for himself. He dedicated the last seventeen years of his life to teaching everyone who came to encounter Mary at Tepeyac, pointing them always to her Son, especially in the Eucharist. Our Lady helps cultivate the gifts given to us, to use them in loving service of the Kingdom of God. Through our devotion to Mary, she uses us—our faith and lives—to be part of that evidence, even at times in spite of ourselves for the greater glory of God!

  • In what ways can you intentionally bear the Eucharistic Lord as a seal on your heart, just as St. Juan Diego bore the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on his tilma?

  • How are you willing to become little in the eyes of the world so that Jesus may use you for Eucharistic Revival?

 

Eucharistic Revival: From the Pews!

 

This week, we hear from Dcn. Michael S. in the Diocese of Trenton:

 

I was in the habit of visiting a woman who was homebound and bringing her Communion. She looked forward to these weekly visits when she could receive the Lord in the Eucharist, but it was clear to me that she was rapidly failing. After she had slipped into a coma, I assured the family I would stop by anyway to pray. When I arrived, something amazing happened. As I walked into the room I said her name. She perked right up and responded to me. I had brought the Eucharist with me, and I truly believe with all my heart that it was the Real Presence of Jesus that she was responding to. She was able to receive Holy Communion, and that same evening she went home to the Lord. Glory to God!

A Catholic Experience Unlike Any Other

At the 10th National Eucharistic Congress, our Catholic family will gather to experience profound, personal renewal through the power of Christ’s love. Like a new Pentecost, this transformation will flow out from Indianapolis to bring revival in our communities as the Church returns to her first love—the source and summit of our faith.

Every day at the Congress is designed to facilitate this life-changing encounter with Jesus, regardless of where you are on your faith journey. Attendees will select their preferred series of impact sessions for the morning and breakout sessions for the afternoon. Then, gathered together as one, the whole assembly will experience the powerful revival sessions in Lucas Oil Stadium each evening.

Whether you can come for one day or all five, join us for this generational moment.

How will you spend your afternoons in Indy?

 

Afternoons at the 10th National Eucharistic Congress will look different for each passholder.

 

You’ll have the chance to encounter Jesus in the sacraments, dive deeper into topics and experiences that interest you, connect with Catholics from all over the country who share your interests and passions, and so much more!

 

Upon registration, you will get to customize your itinerary for each day. You can...

  • Sign up for breakout sessions. Incredible speakers from all over the Catholi-sphere will present a variety of exciting, relevant topics.

  • Attend one of the special experiences planned for families, priests, and deacons.

  • Attend a liturgy if you want to experience the Mass in a different language or rite than was offered that morning. Or, if you missed morning Mass, this is another opportunity to go!

  • Experience the National Shroud of Turin Exhibit.

  • Visit the Expo Hall to explore displays and tables set up by apostolates, ministries, religious orders, publishers, and makers of all types.

  • Participate in a reverent Eucharistic procession through downtown Indianapolis (Saturday only).

Due to space constraints, each breakout session has limited seating. Some have already filled up! If you are interested in any of the breakout topics below, register now to claim your spot.

 

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