Wednesday, July 17, 2024

National Eucharistic Congress begins today; "expect miracles"


2021.08.16 Eucaristia

Bishop Cozzens: ‘We expect miracles’ at US Eucharistic Congress

Thousands of pilgrims from across the United States converge on the city of Indianapolis for the start of the 10th National Eucharistic Congress.

By Christopher Wells and Joseph Tulloch

Tens of thousands of pilgrims arrived in the US city of Indianapolis on Tuesday at the conclusion of the pilgrimage to the National Eucharistic Congress, taking place from 17-21 July.

More than 100,000 faithful took part at various points in the pilgrimage, which began on 17 May and covered more than 6,500 miles – over 10,000 kilometres – along four pilgrimage routes from every corner of the United States.

Pilgrims took part in a welcoming Mass celebrated by Indianapolis Archbishop Charles Thompson, and concelebrated by numerous bishops, including Cardinal Antonio Tagle – Pope Francis’ delegate to the Congress – and Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, the chair of the organizing committee for the Congress.

The Tenth National Eucharistic Congress in the United States marks a high point in ongoing National Eucharistic Revival sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Called to be missionary disciples

The Eucharistic Congress is the culmination of the second year of the Revival, dedicated to revival in parishes throughout the country. “It’s a missionary year where we’re inviting every Catholic to take up their call from Pope Francis to be missionary disciples,” said Bishop Cozzens in a phone interview with Vatican Radio.

Bishop Cozzens says the American bishops took their inspiration from Pope Francis’ programmatic 2013 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, on the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world.

“Encounter and mission are the two staples of our Eucharistic Revival in Congress”

“Encounter and mission are two staples of our Eucharistic Revival in Congress,” Bishop Cozzens said, explaining, “We want people to encounter Jesus and then send them on mission, which we got, of course, from Evangelii gaudium.

Expecting miracles

Asked about his expectations for the Eucharistic Congress, Bishop Cozzens said, “We’re expecting to see miracles – because when people come together in Jesus’s Name, He shows up so powerfully. “So we expect deep conversions, healings, and most of all, a real growth in missionary spirit.”

“We're expecting to see miracles”

‘We want to be set on fire’

Highlighting the theme of the third and final year of the Eucharistic Revival, Bishop Cozzens said, “Our goal is to help the Church in the United States make this transformation that Pope Francis has called for, the missionary transformation, so that we can become the missionaries we’re called to be.”

Bishop Cozzens added, “We feel really honoured to be gathered at a time in our world when there’s a real need for Jesus and His life. We know that Jesus in the Eucharist gave His life for the world. And we want to be set on fire to be able to bring Him to those who are most in nee

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

These nuns died joyful martyrs; Wednesday's Saints of the Days


Carmelite Nuns of Compiegne

Sixteen Carmelites caught up in the French Revolution and martyred. When the revolution started in 1789, a group of twenty-one discalced Carmelites lived in a monastery in Compiegne France, founded in 1641. The monastery was ordered closed in 1790 by the Revolutionary gov­ernment, and the nuns were disbanded. Sixteen of the nuns were accused of living in a religious community in 1794. They were arrested on June 22 and imprisoned in a Visitation convent in Compiegne There they openly resumed their religious life. On July 12, 1794, the Carmelites were taken to Paris and five days later were sentenced to death. They went to the guillotine singing the Salve Regina. They were beatified in 1906 by Pope St. Pius X. The Carmelites were: Marie Claude Brard; Madeleine Brideau, the subprior; Maire Croissy, grandniece of Colbert Marie Dufour; Marie Hanisset; Marie Meunier, a novice; Rose de Neufville Annette Pebras; Anne Piedcourt: Madeleine Lidoine, the prioress; Angelique Roussel; Catherine Soiron and Therese Soiron, both extern sisters, natives of Compiegne and blood sisters: Anne Mary Thouret; Marie Trezelle; and Eliza beth Verolot. The martyrdom of the nuns was immortalized by the composer Francois Poulenc in his famous opera Dialogues des Carmelites.

The National Eucharistic Congress begins tomorrow through Sunday in Indianapolis

 National Eucharistic Congress, a Catholic mega-event, to kick off evangelization year

'I have this sense that we as a nation are about to experience a profound breakthrough,' the Rev. Josh Johnson, an emcee of the congress, said.

FILE - Families attend the CatholicHOM session of the Eucharistic Congress, June 18, 2022, at the Georgia International Convention Center near Atlanta. Photo by Carlisle Kellam

July 15, 2024

(RNS) — Two years ago, faced with low Mass attendance, deepening political and theological divisions and the continuing fallout from the clergy sexual abuse crisis, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops set forth on a campaign that will come to fruition this week in Indianapolis, where Catholics will pack a National Football League stadium while praying in the presence of the Eucharist.

Is this any way to transform American Catholicism?

The Rev. Josh Johnson, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church and School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, thinks so. 

“Everything flows from the practice of just sitting and watching and looking at Jesus,” said Johnson, explaining that the Catholic practice of contemplating the consecrated Communion host comes from Jesus’ mandate to the disciples to sit with him in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion. “Adoration draws us to imitation and participation in his work,” he said.

Johnson believes that a transformation based on the Eucharist can be part of a larger revival in American culture. “I have this sense that we as a nation are about to experience a profound breakthrough,” he said.

Rev. Josh Johnson, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church and School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Photo courtesy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge

Johnson will be one of three emcees onstage from July 17 through 21 at Lucas Oil Stadium for the National Eucharistic Congress, the kickoff for the final year of a three-year Catholic evangelization campaign, which, in its first two years, focused on diocesan leaders and the people already in the pews. 

The coming third year will be the year of mission, for which Congress leaders will be encouraging Catholics to “walk with one” or to build a relationship with one person and consider inviting them to engage in the life of the church.

“Go find one person in your life that the Lord is calling you to,” said Tim Glemkowski, the CEO of the National Eucharistic Congress. “Part of accompaniment is understanding where someone’s at and walking with them and always inviting, like Jesus does,” he said.

Glemkowski said that the initiative might seem like “a small gesture of the Gospel,” but if millions of Catholics participate, the impact could be great.  For the past two months, four groups of young adults have carried the Eucharist from San Francisco; New Haven, Connecticut; Brownsville, Texas; and the headwaters of the Mississippi in Minnesota in a cross-shape toward Indianapolis, spending two months traveling to Mass and Eucharistic processions in various cities.

Montse Alvarado, president and COO of the Eternal Word Television Network and another emcee for the congress, said she tears up when talking about what she witnessed along the pilgrimage’s Juan Diego route from Brownsville, named for the Mexican saint who witnessed the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“I’ve never seen the church like this before,” she said, explaining that she was surprised that “people came out in droves in 100-plus (degree) heat.”

The gathering in Indianapolis will feature evening Eucharistic adoration sessions, Masses, confessions, speakers and panels, exhibits, a reliquary chapel, a preview of a musical about St. Bernadette de Lourdes and more.

Bishop Robert Barron, then an auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, proposed a National Eucharistic Revival in 2019 after the Pew Research Center released a survey that suggested that only a third of Catholics believe in the church’s doctrine on the Eucharist, which includes the teaching that Jesus is really present, not symbolically so, in the Eucharist. (The Pew study’s wording was quickly criticized, and later studies found significantly higher belief in the real presence among Catholics.)

Subsequent planning was led by Crookston, Minnesota, Bishop Andrew Cozzens, Barron’s successor as the U.S. Bishops Conference’s committee chair of Evangelization and Catechesis. 

Glemkowski said the Pew study was less of an impetus than Pope Francis’ teaching in his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, which calls for “a new chapter of evangelization” marked by “the joy of the Gospel.”

“The church is being invited on a mission to prioritize and go to the least and the lost,” Glemkowski said of Francis’ leadership.

Glemkowski said the revival’s greatest success so far has been gaining about 8,000 parish point persons to implement the revival locally. Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate reports that there were 16,412 U.S. Catholic parishes in 2023.

In another nod to Francis’ emphasis on a “synodal,” or listening, church, Glemkowski said the idea for the congress as “the climactic moment” of the revival and for a pilgrimage came from synodal listening sessions, crediting Cozzens, who had chaired the synod process while in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, with bringing the “synodal strategy to the Eucharistic Revival.”

Some critics, however, have seen the revival precisely as going counter to Francis’ vision, and not only because so few of his lieutenants will be on hand. While the apostolic nuncio to the U.S., Cardinal Christophe Pierre, will open the congress and a papal delegate, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, will celebrate the closing Mass, the U.S. cardinals Francis has created are either at the peripheries or not present.

In an April 2023 essay in Commonweal, Lexington, Kentucky, Bishop John Stowe lamented that “plans for a mega-event featuring plenty of (pre-Vatican II) piety and theology have replaced the focus on the Synod for a Synodal Church in the USCCB.” The 10 women religious speaking at the congress all wear habits in a time when some U.S. sisters have discarded them as a way of embracing the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.

The congress’s original $28 million budget has also drawn substantial criticism, which has continued even after budget cuts brought that number down to $14 million.

“It’s a bad look to be spending $14 million that arguably we don’t need to spend on a Eucharistic Revival while we are abandoning peace and justice ministries at the national level,” said Steven Millies, a professor of public theology at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, referring to recent mass layoffs in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ department of Justice, Peace & Human Development.

Millies added that the initiative’s response to a decline in Catholic participation is “counterproductive,” arguing that showy rites full of gold monstrances — the ornate displays for the consecrated Eucharist — and processions does not challenge Catholicism’s “toxic brand,” which he said Catholicism has incurred in its approach to abortion politics and the sexual abuse crisis.

According to a 2023 poll from the Public Religion Research Institute, the top reasons that former Catholics cite for disaffiliating are a lack of belief in Catholic teachings (70%), “negative religious teaching about gay or lesbian people” (53%) and clergy abuse scandals (45%).

“This Eucharistic Revival is preaching to the choir that hasn’t left,” said Millies, encouraging the church to search for common ground with former and prospective Catholics by focusing on Catholic social teaching and antiracism.

Though the congress is just a three-hour drive from Chicago, Millies said, “I’m not intending to go, nor I might add, do I know anyone who is.”

Some of the best-known faces of the U.S. church’s social ministry, such as Sister Norma Pimentel, the Rev. Greg Boyle and Kerry Alys Robinson, are not on the schedule, even though the congress will feature a service opportunity to “feed the hungry.” 

Glemkowski called the divisions the biggest challenge the revival has faced. “That this initiative, at times, became perceived by some as sort of on either one side of an ideological divide or another, to me, was heartbreaking,” he said.

“We’ve tried as hard as possible to prove that we’re here to unify the church,” Glemkowski said. “One of the attacks of the enemy against (the revival), right, of the devil, would be that it would be perceived as some sort of partisan project instead of really just an invitation to the whole church back to her heart.”

Yet, Johnson, the Baton Rouge priest and revival emcee who opened a chapel devoted to the Blessed Sacrament at his church, said Eucharistic adoration and social justice are not incompatible but complementary. “All the work that we do for racial justice, all the work we do for the poorest of the poor in my neighborhood, all the work we do with the teens in the inner city, it’s all a fruit of our time with the Blessed Sacrament,” said Johnson, who also serves as the national chaplain for Vagabond Missions, an inner-city youth ministry.

And EWTN’s Alvarado believes her presence demonstrates that all people are welcome in the church. A former executive director at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a conservative law firm focused on religious liberty cases, called herself “a culture warrior for unity,” emphasizing that Becket worked for “religious freedom for all religions.”

Alvarado said including her, an unmarried lay person, as an emcee alongside Johnson, a priest, and Sister Miriam James Heidland shows that the congress’s organizers were open to including someone outside a “typical vocation” onstage.

“I’m going to show up there with heels and big hair, and I think represent a part of the church that longs to feel like they have a place as preachers, as teachers, as whole members of the church,” Alvarado said, connecting her role to the “revolution happening inside the Vatican,” where women can now be members of dicasteries and voting members of the synod.

“We need the church not to be political,” Alvarado said. “We need the church to be about Jesus, and there’s nothing more Jesus than the Eucharist.

Another look at the faith journey of Senator JD Vance


What JD Vance has said about his faith

The Ohio senator and recently named running mate of Donald Trump spoke with the Deseret News in 2016 about his religious journey

Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, arrives to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2024, at the National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md., Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. | Jose Luis Magana, Associated Press

JD Vance will bring a unique religious perspective to former President Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign, since he’s done more spiritual exploration than many politicians.

Vance, who was unveiled as Trump’s running mate on Monday, grew up believing in God but not affiliating with a faith group, attended an evangelical Christian church off and on as a teen and then entered a period of near-atheism in his twenties. He ultimately chose to join the Catholic Church as an adult.

Here’s what Vance has said about his faith over the years.

JD Vance’s religion

Vance, who will turn 40 on Aug. 2, felt close to God growing up, but he wasn’t invested in organized religion, as he told the Deseret News in 2016.

His family drew comfort from Christian beliefs amid chaotic times, but rarely chose to turn to religious leaders or local churchgoers for help.

Still, Vance credits local churches, and his dad’s evangelical Christian church, in particular, with showing him that there was something better out there than the poverty, drug addiction and conflict his family was dealing with.

“Going to church showed me a lot of really positive traits that I hadn’t seen before. I saw people of different races and classes worshipping together. I saw that there were certain moral expectations from my peers of what I should do,” he told the Deseret News.

JD Vance: Faith made me believe in a hopeful future

But by the time Vance enrolled in Yale Law School in 2010, he was disengaged from church and from God.

“I would have called myself an atheist,” he told the Deseret News in 2016.

At law school, though, Vance began to have new appreciation for the power of faith. He connected with Catholics and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and recognized that their religious beliefs were propelling them forward, not holding them back.

When he graduated from law school in 2013, Vance wasn’t committed to a specific religious community but he was curious about them again. He told the Deseret News in 2016 that he could see himself joining a faith group in the future.

“I’ve been going to church for the past year or so. Not as much as I should, but more than I have been. I’ve been thinking very seriously about converting to Catholicism,” he said.

JD Vance conversion to Catholicism

About three years after his conversation with the Deseret News, Vance did indeed get baptized and received into the Catholic Church.

Rod Dreher broke the news in August 2019 by publishing a Q&A with Vance about his faith in The American Conservative.

Vance told Dreher that Catholicism appealed to him on both an intellectual and emotional level. He enjoyed studying Catholic teachings, and also connecting with Catholic loved ones.

“When I looked at the people who meant the most to me, they were Catholic,” Vance said.

He told Dreher that past scandals in the Catholic Church, including the clergy sex abuse crisis, delayed his conversion decision. Ultimately, he decided that he needed to take a “longer view” on religious institutions.

“The hope of the Christian faith is not rooted in any short-term conquest of the material world, but in the fact that it is true, and over the long term, with various fits and starts, things will work out,” Vance said.

Vance’s bio on X reads, “Christian, husband, dad. U.S. Senator for Ohio.”

Does faith inform JD Vance’s politics?

If Trump and Vance win in November, Vance would become only the second Catholic vice president in U.S. history, according to the National Catholic Register. The first was President Joe Biden, who served as vice president under former President Barack Obama.

Vance has said in the past that, even before he joined the Catholic Church, he shared many policy goals with Catholics. He told Dreher in 2019 that he wanted to be known for promoting the common good.

“I hope my faith makes me more compassionate and to identify with people who are struggling,” he said.

But since being sworn in as a U.S. senator in January 2023, Vance has angered some more conservative Catholics, especially when it comes to abortion.

Like Trump, he does not support a federal abortion ban, and instead says abortion policy should be left up to individual states.

Earlier this month, he again echoed Trump by expressing support for allowing abortion pills to remain widely accessible.


C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, criticized Vance’s recent comments in an interview with the National Catholic Register.

“Vance has no principles, at least none that aren’t for sale, and the asking price is cheap,” he said.

But Vance is far from the first Catholic politician to be out of step with the Catholic Church’s teachings on abortion, which state that life begins at conception and that any “procured abortion” is a moral evil, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Biden, who attends Catholic worship services regularly and who carries rosary beads with him, is personally troubled by abortion, but has spoken repeatedly during his time as president about the importance of protecting abortion rights, according to NBC News.

The President of USCCB seeks ways to rise above political hatred in America


Former US President Donald Trump appears at Republican National Convention in Milwaukee on 16 July following Saturday's shooting.Former US President Donald Trump appears at Republican National Convention in Milwaukee on 16 July following Saturday's shooting.  (ANSA)

US Bishops' President discusses rising above divisions after Trump attack

In an interview with Vatican Media, the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, calls the assassination attempt of former US President Donald Trump a horrific "call to action," and insists that Americans are to respectfully disagree with one another always out of respect for one another's human dignity.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

"One thing that all of us can do is to remember and to promote the dignity of the human person. And to keep constantly in our minds the fact that even if someone disagrees with me, he or she is still created in the image and likeness of God..."

In an interview with Vatican News - Vatican Radio, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Archbishop of the US Military Services, made this point as he reflected on the assassination attempt of former US President Donald Trump at an election rally in Butler, Pennsylvania on Saturday, calling "horrific" the event that occured "in what is supposed to be a democratic society."

The presumed attacker was immediately shot and killed by secret service agents. One spectator was killed in the attack, and two others were wounded. Trump was rushed to a local hospital with a bullet wound to his right ear and was later flown to New Jersey.

In the interview, Archbishop Broglio reflects on the episode, and offers words of faith and consolation, especially while looking ahead to the imminent Eucharistic Congress in the US as an opportunity to promote peace and reconciliation.

The attempted assassination was met with the condemnation of US President Joe Biden, Trump’s opponent in the upcoming election, and of leaders around the world. Since the attack, former President Trump seems to be ok after the bullet had grazed his ear, and since, has officially, named his vice-presidential running mate, J.D. Vance, as the Republic National Convention is underway this week in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

In a statement issued late Sunday morning, the Holy See expressed its "concern about last night's episode of violence, which wounds people and democracy, causing suffering and death." It reassured the Holy See is "united in the prayer of never prevail  the US bishops for America, for the victims, and for peace in the country, that the motives of the violent may never prevail...

First of all, what is your reaction to this tragedy that has afflicted the United States at the rally in Pennsylvania?

Well, certainly, my initial reaction is one of horror that violence would take place in what is supposed to be a democratic society, that we're not able to talk to one another. And obviously someone who was not well, but still, someone was able to make an attempt on President Trump's life. That's certainly very, very tragic.

And that reaction of horror and the fact that this could happen, what can be done to in some way prevent or work against this sort of situation? No one would have ever thought that it could have happened even from a security standpoint, and then this is where we're at.

Well, I think obviously, a technician would have to analyze what could be done from a security standpoint. But I think one thing that all of us can do is to remember and to promote the dignity of the human person. And to keep constantly in our minds the fact that even if someone disagrees with me, he or she is still created in the image and likeness of God. And therefore, as a dignity that I have to recognize and that I have to respect. I think if our society, and I'll just limit myself to the society in the United States, (that) if we were more aware of that, then we might be able to discuss as rational human beings, the problems and the disagreements that we have, and perhaps come to some solutions. But it's tragic that political discourse in this country has reached a point where people just shout at each other, and there's no space to listen to the other. And I think that's something that that Pope Francis has urged us constantly to recognize, this basic human dignity and to respect it in every way that we can.

And in your capacity as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, what can Bishops do to cultivate this sort of peaceful dialogue or even coexistence among Americans?

Well, I think all of us in our diocese can certainly promote the importance of dialogue, the importance of respect for the other. Even our commitment to human life is based on this notion that the human person is worthy of our respect from the moment of conception until the moment of death. I think we have to be constant in that. One of the things that we're about to begin on Wednesday is the Eucharistic Congress. And I think that will be a great opportunity for us to promote dialogue and reconciliation. And also to remember that in Jesus Christ, we find our salvation, and we also find a way forward. Obviously in the person of Christ, we find a code of conduct and I think the more we do to promote that, the better off our society will be. We can't do it all by ourselves, but we can certainly lay a foundation and urge those that we're responsible for to promote this dignity and this dialogue.

And in the wake of this attack aimed at former President Trump and that killed an innocent bystander, what prayer or what words of comfort do you have to offer Archbishop?

Certainly, to the family of the gentleman who was killed, certainly, my sympathy and my condolences and my promise of a prayer for the repose of his soul. And also to those who were wounded, including former President Trump, a message of consolation and the assurance of my prayers, and assure the prayers of all of the faithful of the United States.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

This tragic event is really a call to action to all of us to measure our discourse and to move forward in pathways of peace and reconciliation and an honest assessment of whatever political differences there are and however we can work together to find solutions.