A recent update from the Archdiocesan Office for Divine Worship notified all parishes that the invitation to offer the sign of peace during the Communion Rite of the Mass may resume. It is another important moment in the Eucharistic celebration and I would like to offer some information about it as we resume its practice. It is intended to be a liturgical action when we offer the peace that Jesus offers us all. It is not the moment for us to say “hello” to friends and neighbors; we do that well before and after Mass. This is a sacred time for us as we prepare to receive Holy Communion. Notice where it occurs during Mass. After having brought Christ present on the altar through the consecration of the bread and wine and leading the faithful in the Lord’s Prayer during which the worshipers pray for the coming of God’s kingdom, the celebrant prepares the faithful for reception of the Body and Blood of Christ by offering the peace that Jesus offered his apostles at the Last Supper and the risen Lord offered them when he found them hiding in the Upper Room. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states: “each person, in a sober manner, offers the sign of peace only to those who are nearest.” This peace that we offer each other prepares us for the deepest possible communion we encounter as we receive the Body and Blood of Christ.
As we resume this holy exchange, I ask you to keep this in mind. One of the wonderful characteristics of our parish is that we are a very friendly community. But, we gather during the Eucharistic celebration to participate in the saving action of Jesus Christ. The Sign of Peace is a sacred moment for each of us, about to become one Body of Christ through the reception of Holy Communion, to exchange our Lord’s peace.
Speaking of the Eucharist, allow me to share some exciting news about a National Eucharistic Revival that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has called all Catholics throughout our country to participate in over the next three years. The goal of this Eucharistic Revival is to renew our Church by enkindling a living relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, the great gift he has given us for our spiritual growth. It will be inaugurated on 19 June, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord throughout the country.
The first year of the Eucharistic Revival will be the Diocesan Phase. Various diocesan-level events will be offered and we will all be invited to participate in them. During the next year, beginning on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord in June 2023, all parishes will be asked to devote their attention to 1) a renewed excellence in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, 2) intentional catechesis of all the faithful on the Church’s teachings on the Eucharist, 3) cultivation of a deeper appreciation of the Church’s Eucharistic devotion (e.g., processions, Eucharistic Adoration and Forty Hours Eucharistic Devotion), and 4) the important connection between the Eucharist and mission. An Archdiocesan Eucharistic Congress will also be held on Saturday, 30 September 2023 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown.
In the third year, attention will be given to the National Eucharistic Congress which will be held from 17 – 24 July 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. This will begin the Year of Going Out on Mission, the natural culmination of this three-year Eucharistic Revival. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs us so well: the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (§ 1324). We do well to reflect on this important truth of our faith as we prepare to participate in this nationwide Eucharistic Revival!