Portland archbishop welcomes ‘Eucharistic Revival,’ emphasizes worthy reception of Communion

Jonah McKeown   By Jonah McKeown for CNA

Archbishop Alexander Sample during Mass at St. John the Baptist Church in Milwaukie, Oregon, in 2019. / Ed Langlois

Denver Newsroom, Jun 23, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon last week praised a new “Eucharistic Revival” initiative of the U.S. bishops that aims to foster deeper devotion to the Eucharist.

“It’s all intended to bring about a real revival in our faith, our love, our devotion and our living out of the Eucharistic mystery,” Archbishop Sample said Friday, as reported by The Catholic Sentinel.

The U.S. bishops’ initiative, which will begin in the summer of 2022, aims to lead a “three-year period of revival” nationwide, bringing the focus of Eucharistic revival to “any parish that desires it.”

“I’m excited about this. I think it’s going to be great for the life of the church,” Archbishop Sample said last week.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens, an auxiliary bishop of Saint Paul-Minneapolis and chair of the U.S. bishops’ evangelization committee, presented the plan to his fellow bishops during their virtual spring meeting on June 18.

Archbishop Sample noted the importance of receiving the Eucharist in a worthy manner, which he said serves as a call to all Catholics to constant conversion away from sin.

The archbishop said that some Catholic public officials, by using ther office to advance abortion, are formally cooperating with grave evil, and thus could create public scandal by presenting themselves for Communion without first repenting of their position.

He explained the need for Catholics to live their lives in conformity with Church teaching, to receive Communion.

“Our amen that we say before we receive the Eucharist is an amen not just to the fact that this is the body of Christ; rather, we are saying amen to all that that means,” Sample said.

“That means our communion with the church, our communion with the faith, our belief in all that the church believes and professes, and that we live it in our own lives. We can’t live a life that is inconsistent. We can’t receive the Eucharist and then live in a way that is contrary to the faith,” he said.

The bishops’ three-year Eucharistic Revival program will take place on three levels: parish, diocesan, and nationwide.

Beginning in July 2022, dioceses across the country will be encouraged to hold Eucharistic events and make the Eucharist a primary focus. The bishops aim to provide free teaching materials on the Eucharist, developed with the help of various catechetical partners.

Following that period, in July 2023, parishes will be encouraged to do the same, expanding Eucharistic adoration and embracing diverse Eucharistic traditions to help foster a greater love for the Eucharist among their members. Parish level initiatives could include offering teaching Masses, and small group formation.

The revival would culminate in summer 2024 with a Eucharistic celebration event, held in a major city, that would serve as a national pilgrimage site.

The planned revival was spurred by a 2019 study by the Pew Research center, which found that just 31% of U.S. Catholics believe in the Church’s teaching on transubstantiation, that the bread and wine offered at Mass become the body and blood of Jesus.

More than two thirds of those surveyed, 69%, reported that they believe that the bread and wine at Mass “are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.”

At the time, Sample addressed his flock regarding the results of the survey. “These results have to be a real wake up call for all of us,” he wrote on Aug. 30, 2019. He challenged archdiocesan Catholic schools, parish religious education programs, and adult faith formation programs to put a greater emphasis on the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist.

“To simply shrug our shoulders at such disturbing news and move on with business as usual is simply not an option. We must do everything in our power to reverse this trend,” he wrote.

“People will more easily grow lax in the practice of their faith, or drop out altogether, if they don’t understand and believe the mystery we celebrate in the Holy Eucharist and how that drives everything else we do in the ministry of the Church.”

The plan for a Eucharistic Revival comes after the U.S. bishops last week voted to draft a teaching document on the Eucharist, which would include a subsection on “Eucharistic coherence,” or worthiness to receive Communion.

In a proposed outline of the document, the bishops’ doctrine committee cited the special need for Catholic public officials to uphold Church teaching in public life, but stressed that they are not drafting any national policy of denying Communion.


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