When I was in high school, I spent many hours at my home parish kneeling before Christ truly present in the monstrance. For many years, my dad attended the Saturday night adoration, and when I became more involved in the parish youth group, he often would take me with him. Eventually, more of my youth group friends started coming, and it became normal to go to adoration for an hour before heading to someone’s house for games, snacks and lively conversation.
Sometime during those years, my parish began building a 24-hour adoration chapel. By the time I was halfway through my senior year, the chapel doors opened, and people came every day of the week to sit before Our Lord. Again, my youth group continued our evening hour on Saturday nights. We kept our vigil.
Regular Eucharistic adoration was something I was eager to continue during my college years, and I was blessed with a campus where Jesus was usually accessible during class hours in St. Joe’s chapel, which also happened to be housed in the building where I had most of my classes. I quickly signed up for an hour first semester and got to know the FOCUS missionaries, who knew they could rely on me to always show up for my designated time. Even on days where I didn’t have adoration, I would often pop in for a few minutes between classes and then sit in the alcove around the corner from the chapel doors while I did my homework. And when I needed some more Jesus time on the weekends, there were two adoration chapels within 10 minutes of campus, and I had plenty of friends who were more than happy to drive.
Again, when I moved to Fort Wayne, I was quickly plugged into a church that had evening adoration once a week. Six months later, a friend organized another night of adoration at what became my parish. Both groups attracted young adults, who were grateful to be able to sit before Our Lord and then spend time in community outside of work hours. Even in the three years since moving here, the number of adoration chapels in town has doubled — now with two on the north side. And though COVID shut down my parish’s Monday and Tuesday adoration schedule, we have since reopened and surpassed those hours, adding Wednesday and, hopefully soon, Thursday to the list; we are well on our way for my parish to have adoration every day of the week, as my pastor has long hoped for.
All of this is to say that I’ve been surrounded by communities where Eucharistic adoration hasn’t only been available but thriving. Whenever I needed to ground myself deeper in my relationship with Christ, he was simply waiting there for me.
But I know that is not the experience of most Catholics. Many were never well-catechized and don’t even know what Eucharistic adoration is, let alone understand Christ’s True Presence in the tiny host.
That’s why I was filled with gratitude and hope when I listened to Auxiliary Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens’ presentation at the U.S. bishops’ spring general assembly held in mid June. As the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, he shared that the bishops are planning an initiative they are calling “Eucharistic Revival: My Flesh for the Life of the World.” This three-year plan aims to “renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the holy Eucharist,” Bishop Cozzens said, describing the revival as “a movement of Catholics across the United States, healed, converted, formed and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist — and sent out in mission for the life of the world.”
The timing couldn’t be better. The veil was lifted when the Pew Research Center dropped its 2019 study that said 69% of Catholics do not believe in the True Presence. Now as dioceses are lifting the dispensation to attend Sunday Mass that was first instituted when the COVID-pandemic hit, we need to ask if the people who hadn’t returned while the dispensation was still in effect will return at all. And if they don’t, why not? Lack of belief in Christ’s presence will surely be one reason.
So I, along with many Catholics, eagerly await this Eucharistic revival. In the meantime, as the bishops continue planning what this initiative will look like, I will keep going to the chapel and spend time with Jesus to pray that our nation will be set on fire for the love of Christ.
Ava Lalor is assistant editor for Our Sunday Visitor and editor for Radiant magazine.