The Eucharist: ‘the concrete practice of love’


By Barb Arland-Fye

Pilgrims began their journey Pentecost weekend along four cross-country routes toward Indianapolis for the 10th National Eucharistic Congress July 17-21 where they will be among 50,000 of the faithful celebrating the source and summit of our Christian life. Our partaking in the Eucharist commits us to reciprocate this gift of Christ’s love for us, especially when it is so tempting to love only those who are like us but to reject those who are not. The late Pope Benedict XVI said in Deus Caritas Est: “A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented” (

Catholics from our diocese will be participating in this first National Eucharistic Congress in more than a half-century in the United States. It is the culmination of the National Eucharistic Revival that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) launched on the Feast of Corpus Christi in 2022 to restore understanding and devotion to the Eucharist. We pray for our fellow Catholics journeying to the Congress to be renewed in their embrace of the Eucharist and for ourselves, as well. As we grow in our understanding of and devotion to the Eucharist, we ought to be inspired to transform mystery into mission — to spread Christ’s self-sacrificing love to others by the way we conduct ourselves and interact with one another. Resist the temptation toward animosity, resentment, a judgmental attitude and scapegoating.

“The Eucharist is not a repetition of the sacrifice of Christ. It is the eternal sacrifice of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary where he ascended, enabling us to celebrate it here on earth. Wow! Without his entry into this eternal sanctuary, we would not have our sacramental life that nourishes us,” Cardinal Luis Tagle says on his Facebook page. The cardinal, who leads the Vatican’s evangelization office, is Pope Francis’ envoy to the National Eucharistic Congress. Nourished at the Eucharistic table, we become bread for the world.


Let us follow the guidance from the USCCB’s Eucharist and Social Mission webpage. “The Eucharist, celebrated as a community, teaches us about human dignity, calls us to right relationship with God, ourselves and others, invites us to community and solidarity, and sends us on mission to help transform our communities, neighborhoods and world. Church teaching, rooted in both Scripture and Tradition, emphasizes both the personal and social natures of the Eucharist (

In a blog posted on the Eucharist and Social Mission webpage, Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Chicago Archdiocese provides examples “of present historical, cultural and social moments in which our encounter with the risen Lord has the power to transform and heal.” Some examples:

  • We live in a world of pervasive violence and war: In the Eucharist, Christ gives us a peace the world cannot give, and he empowers us to share it with one another.
  • Our world is torn by divisions, leaving us polarized and alienated from one another, especially by race and culture: The Eucharist is the sacrament of unity, the one bread formed from the many grains, broken and shared to make us one body.
  • We live in a consumer-oriented society that values possessing: In the Eucharist, we enter a society of mutual giving rather than acquiring.

The “risen Christ whom we encounter in the Eucharist transforms and sustains all that we experience in this time and place as human beings, the dilemmas and challenges of our historical-cultural-societal moments,” Cardinal Cupich said.

Let us lean into the Holy Spirit for guidance to be the body of Christ in our daily lives. During his homily for the Vigil Mass on Pentecost Sunday in Verona, Italy, Pope Francis said we ought to ask ourselves, “Do I listen to the Holy Spirit who is inside me? Do I listen to the Spirit who moves my heart and says, ‘Do this and don’t do that?’ Or does the Holy Spirit not exist for me?”

The National Eucharistic Revival website

( states, “Through the Eucharist, God desires to heal, renew, and unify the Church and the world.” What are we, as individuals and as communities of faith, doing to heal, renew and unify the Church and the world? How do we remember the late Pope Benedict XVI’s admonition, “A Eucharist which does not pass over into the concrete practice of love is intrinsically fragmented….”

Consider this advice from Father Ross Epping, chaplain of St. Ambrose University in Davenport. In a recent Catholic Messenger Conversations podcast, he said, “We are all living this life for the very first time. I have been living this life for the first time for 34 years and somebody else might be living it for the first time for 80 years. All of us are trying our best and we really ought to be learning how to extend grace to one another more often than crabby attitudes.”

Barb Arland-Fye, Editor

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