Welcome Back to School Fall 2022
As the principals throughout the Diocese begin meeting with their staffs in the next few weeks, we will be planning ways to allow our students and ourselves to grow in the love of Christ by growing in our love of the Eucharist. The goal of course for our students and ourselves – sainthood, which is intimately and intensely connected to the Eucharist!
The Bishops of the United States proclaimed a three-year Eucharistic Revival starting on the Feast of Corpus Christi, which was this past June 19th. This three-year process will culminate in a Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis in the summer of 2024. This is a very wise move by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. To focus on the Eucharist for three years is tantamount to focusing the Church and her members on the greatest of all Sacraments and the greatest of all gifts. When Christ left us after giving his very self for the expiation of our sins, renewing a way to the Father, and promising the eternal beatitude, he then left us the logical extension of the incarnation – his Body and Blood to be consumed weekly by duty, and even daily, by joy.
Why the Revival?
I can remember an impassioned Bishop Barron giving an explication of a new national study by the Pew Foundation that found that 30% of Catholic believed in the real presence of Christ. The Source and Summit of our Faith was only realized or accepted by a fraction of Catholics. This shocked me. The Church, we as the faithful, and our schools as an extension of the Church, must joyfully proclaim the real presence of Christ in the Sacrifice of the Mass.
I am edified that this national trend is not present in our Diocesan Schools as 97% of our Catholic students believe in the real presence of Christ and over 55% of our non-Catholic students believe this as well. Still, it is horrifying to think that only 30% of Catholics understand the one Sacrament that is God himself – the Eucharist necessarily contains all three parts of the Trinity for the three are one. This Sacrament is literally lifesaving. As the Gospel of John proclaims: For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me” (6:56,57).
What does the Eucharist Do?
In my simple mind, I think of the Eucharist as the saint-making Sacrament. No doubt that the other sacraments give grace in abundance, and scripture is a necessary and beautiful place to encounter Christ, but the Eucharist is above all of these. Peter Kreeft, the greatest Catholic philosopher of our time for my money, stated in a lecture: “Christ makes saints: the best way to make saints is prayer; the best prayer is the Eucharist.”
The Eucharist properly received pulls us outside of ourselves and puts us in communion with God and the entire mystical body of Christ. We are united with all Christians on earth and in heaven during the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass. If only we had eyes to see!
Many of the great saints reference that in the best sense and in a literal sense when we receive the Eucharist we desire and can become what we receive. I can remember my mother telling me that you are what you eat – how I now want this to be simply true. We are to become other Christs to serve our God by serving our brothers and sisters. It is the Eucharist that transformed the most extraordinary saints to do just this. The two greatest of our generation, Saint John Paul the Great and Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta had amazing devotions to the Eucharist.
I am eagerly awaiting this new academic year and all of the graces that God will give our 16 Catholic Schools throughout the Diocese. I am thankful for every student and all the parents who partner with their local principal and pastor to form the next generation of Catholic to love and serve Christ.
Let us all fall in love more deeply with Christ this year through his greatest gift – the Eucharist.
Peace and all good,
Erick Chittle, Ph.D.
Interim Superintendent of Catholic Schools