Watching the national Eucharistic processions over the last few weeks has been a very moving experience. When the East coast procession came through my neighborhood, I saw first-hand the piety and devotion of so many people, especially students from the local Catholic school. With limited exposure to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, they participated with reverence, sang with full voice, and were beautifully conscientious about how they walked, genuflected, and knelt. In the week after the procession left my diocese, I heard from so many parishioners and brother priests that the particular leg of the procession that they joined was a great sign of hope and of unity. Of course, that is what the Eucharist is always meant to be. The Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus, really and truly sacramentally present for us under the form of bread and wine. In His Eucharistic presence, Jesus gives us hope and brings us together in unity of faith.

We might look around and find signs of hope and unity lacking in our world. Whether in society at large or in our local parish community, hope and unity can be hard to come by. As Catholics we might feel that our lives and values are at odds with the prevailing culture. In the second reading at Mass today, St. Paul reminds us that the challenges we face are but a momentary affliction. He wants us to remember that we profess one faith and the abundant grace that God gives to us through our profession of faith is renewing us day by day. And so, St. Paul says, we ought not be discouraged by the pressures and pains we see in our world but instead look ahead with hope to that place prepared for us in heaven. We need to cling not to the transitory things but to that which is eternal. In this season of Eucharistic revival in the Church in the United States, the Eucharistic processions help us keep our eyes fixed on the sacrament that carries us through this momentary light affliction and focused on heavenly realities.

The Eucharist is the nourishment we need that builds us up as members of the Church. The act of receiving Jesus in Holy Communion is an outward sign that we share in the unity of faith that St. Paul highlights. It is that unity, the fact that we are not alone even as the world seems set against us, that gives us hope. In the Eucharist, the Church is made more fully who she is, the living Body of Christ on earth. By our participation in the Eucharist, we are bonded more strongly and perfectly to the communion that is the common profession of faith of all believers. When we are built up into this Body, into this communion, “the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.” As our Lord is being carried across our country, the Eucharist is held out as the visible reminder of the hope inspired in us by our faith. Perhaps we’ve had the opportunity to walk with Jesus in the procession, or maybe we find ourselves in a time when walking with Jesus feels too difficult. St. Paul’s words are for us, to help us persevere in the journey of faith, to build us up and renew our confidence. This confidence is not in our abilities or talents but in the heavenly reality of God’s grace poured out generously. The Church in these United States has invited us to this season of Eucharistic renewal so that our thanksgiving might overflow, that we might endure through the challenges the world throws our way, and so that we might keep our eyes fixed on the hope held in store for us in heaven.