An Interview about the National Eucharistic Revival

October 6, 2023 | Bishop Andrew Cozzens, who is overseeing the National Eucharistic Revival, visited the Tampa Bay area recently to speak to priests from across the Diocese of St. Petersburg attending their annual gathering at the Bethany Center in Lutz, FL. During his visit, he sat down and answered questions about why this Revival is needed and what he hopes each person will do during this Revival.

Why are the bishops of the United States promoting a National Eucharistic Revival?

The whole idea for Eucharistic revival actually came from Bishop Robert Barron. Bishop Barron was Chair of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis right before I was, and he was the one who really raised the concern about Eucharistic belief in the United States in the fall of 2019. The first time we were able to gather, which was a virtual meeting, was in November of 2020 and that's the moment when I became Chair. The bishops really saw that this initiative was even more necessary after COVID, so there was a lot of enthusiasm for the idea. I was tasked with building that initiative, beginning in 2021.

Sadly, there are many Catholics who don’t believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Can you speak on that?

The issue involves both Catholics and their belief, and even more importantly, Catholics and their practice. Even if someone believes in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, if they're not putting that into action, because they don’t understand that they have to go to Mass in order to be with Him and receive Him and to live from Him, then then we have a real need for the Revival, which is what the bishops have sensed from the beginning.

Studies show that less than 30% of Catholics attend Mass each week. Why is that?

It's a multifold, multifaceted issue. Some of it could be chalked up to poor catechesis– people not handing on the faith in the right way. However, a lot of it is the problem of secularism in our society and really these kind of modern beliefs that the visible world is all there is. If you can't see it, then you can't prove it, then you can't believe it. That's never been a reasonable position. But it is the position of a lot of people in our society. Secularism has dramatically affected, especially our young people, in the way that they view the Church and especially the Sacraments of the church, which require you to kind of believe in a transcendent reality.

The National Eucharistic Revival is a three-year initiative culminating in the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis next year. Can you tell us about that event?

The high point is really going to be the National Eucharistic Congress. From the beginning, as we began to plan this, we began to hear from people that the Church in the United States needed a moment of unity around the thing that unites us, that a revival is really a work of the Holy Spirit, and that we should invite the whole church to come together to ask God to send his Holy Spirit upon us and to revive the Church in United States. Our bishops are calling us from all over the country to be a part of this moment in the life of the Church, where we're going to celebrate Christ's gift in the Eucharist. We hope to have 80,000 people there gathered to celebrate and hold up the Gift of Jesus in the Eucharist. The goal of that is the missionary year, which is the final year of the revival. That is that everyone who comes there will see themselves as missionaries. I'd encourage the priests and others who are the leaders in your parishes who are ready to be set on fire with mission, bring them to the National Eucharistic Congress. They're going to experience an unparalleled moment in the life of the Church.

Can you give us an idea of what you presented to the priests of the Diocese of St. Petersburg at their convocation?

Yes, I spoke about the spiritual importance of the National Eucharistic Revival. In the end, this isn't about statistics. It's not about trying to raise the number in that sense. The National Eucharistic Revival is about strengthening the heart of the Church and strengthening the Church in her identity. We are a Eucharistic Church and if we know who we are, and we're strong in who we are, and we're strong in our relationship with the Eucharist, then we're going to be able to be Christ's body in the world. That's what our culture needs most from us right now.

How can each person participate in Eucharistic Revival?

This Eucharistic revival is something that has to happen in every heart. I encourage everyone to ask themselves, “How can I grow in my relationship with Christ in the Eucharist? How can I do an extra time of adoration during the week or attend daily Mass more or study more? And most especially, how can I share my love for Jesus in the Eucharist.”

This interview was conducted by Deacon Mike Sweeney, host of “How We See It,” a public affairs program that airs on Spirit FM 90.5 each Thursday at 11:30 a.m. The program can also be heard on Soundcloud.