I reckon those of you reading this are doing so on New Year’s weekend.
So, first of all, a blessed 2022!
And, second, do you mind a few New Year’s resolutions?
You know that we, your bishops, have invited you to a revival of faith in the Most Holy Eucharist. We worry that a lot of our people no longer take Sunday Mass seriously, and that many no longer understand or appreciate the meaning and message of the Blessed Sacrament. Who is to blame? Who knows! We’ve had decades of diluted teaching on the doctrine of the Eucharist, so that many today consider the Bread of Angels to be an occasional hors d’oeuvre.
How about some very practical, down-to-earth resolutions for reviving the Eucharist as the “source and summit” of our life?
1. Return to Sunday Mass! No excuses—OK, if you’re in fragile health—just get back. Rates of attendance at Sunday Mass were scary pre-Covid—about 24 percent of Catholics in this archdiocese were faithful—and now it’s more frightening. Sunday Mass is a constant, an essential, of Catholic life.
2. Remember the Eucharistic fast! It’s simple, especially when compared to the strict fasts many of us old-timers recall. All we have to do now is cut out food and drink for an hour prior to receiving our Lord at Mass. A practical way to prepare….
3. Genuflect to the tabernacle as we enter the pew. Catholics used to be teased as “knee benders” because we automatically “bent the knee” to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle. Let’s earn that nickname again.
4. Make a good confession, if we’re aware of serious mortal sin, before we receive Holy Communion. The Bible tells us not to receive unworthily! Listen to the Good Book.
5. Mean it when you say Amen! before you receive the Sacred Host. That word means “I agree!” We whisper it when the priest or deacon presents us Holy Communion with the words “The Body of Christ.” With our sincere “Amen!” we profess our faith that it indeed is.
6. Dress modestly. I’m afraid “Sunday best” has gone into the vocabulary museum. I’m not saying we all need to “gussy up” in lavish or expensive clothes, but the way we dress does show our reverence. (And boys, please, no ball hats, or hats of any kind, in church!)
7. Participate at Mass! Pray hard those beautiful prayers; sing; listen to God’s Word and the sermon; arrive on time and do not duck out early; think about volunteering as a lector, usher, choir member, or server.
8. Invite—encourage but don’t pester—others to get back to Mass. I love it when I see our grandparents bringing their grandkids to Mass. Invite neighbors, family, and friends. Let them be inspired by your example of fidelity to Mass.
9. Visit Jesus, really and truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, often. Many of our parishes have Eucharistic Adoration; many keep the church open so folks can stop in and visit their friend Jesus. Great resolutions.
10. Let’s recover a sense of silence and awe while in church.
I can’t think of a more helpful or fruitful resolution for 2022 than to renew the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist as the anchor, the center of our lives.