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Eucharistic Revival and Synodality, Together

Are you a Cubs fan? Or are you a White Sox fan? If you have any roots in Chicagoland, you instinctively understand that you must declare one or the other. It is common practice to choose one team — one is never a fan of both!

During these past two years, throughout our country and within the Catholic Church, that same principle seems to have been applied to the National Eucharistic Revival and the Synod on Synodality. As you know, the Eucharistic Revival is a three-year initiative of the Church to enkindle a living relationship with Jesus Christ in the holy Eucharist. The Synod on Synodality is an international, multiyear undertaking during which Catholics give feedback and deeply listen to each other — so, as a Church, we can all discern together where the Holy Spirit is leading us.

Curiously, many people seem to be taking sides; they are in favor of one, but not the other.

The week before Thanksgiving, I joined over 250 bishops in Baltimore for a week of meetings hosted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. We began the meetings with prayer, adoration, benediction, and Mass. The first address to the assembly was given by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, the Papal Nuncio. When it comes to the Eucharistic Revival and the Synod, he encouraged us to move away from an “either/or” approach, and to instead embrace and promote both. The special connections between the Eucharistic Revival and the Synod prevailed through our week of meetings.

At one point, Cardinal Pierre beautifully reflected on the road to Emmaus story from the Gospel of Luke (24: 13–35). Along their journey, the disciples debated their theological points of view while Jesus listened to them. “Listening, corresponds to the humble style of God,” said the cardinal, quoting Pope Francis. “God loves humanity: that is why he addresses his word to them, and why he ‘inclines his ear’ to listen to them.”

You see, listening is essential for a synodal Church because it is a dimension of love. Through this Emmaus moment, Jesus accompanies, listens, and discerns with His disciples. Then, their hearts were set on fire because they recognized His true presence in the Eucharist. After this Eucharistic encounter, they go back to the other disciples and proclaim that Jesus is alive and — with missionary zeal — are committed to sharing the risen Christ with the world.

Cardinal Pierre concluded his presentation with these moving insights: “Our people need us to be adventurers for the Lord. They need us to be united with one another. They need to see how our diversity, harmonized, displays the beauty of the Church and of the Catholic faith. They need to be reminded that salvation comes not from one idea or another, but through a shared encounter with the living person of Jesus, who is love.”

Most of us can agree we are a stronger Church when we both listen and keep the Eucharist as our source and summit. Let’s look for ways to stay united with each other and with Christ.

From the onset, I announced that the Diocese of Joliet was going to participate in both the National Eucharistic Revival and the Synod on Synodality. Walking in numerous Eucharistic processions and attending many talks about the Eucharist, I am proud of how robustly our clergy and parishioners have promoted and embraced this Eucharistic Revival. I look forward to participating in our continued celebrations of the Eucharist in the Diocese of Joliet, and will joyfully attend the Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis in July 2024. That event will launch us into the next phase of the revival by enthusiastically taking the Eucharistic Lord into the world and putting our faith into action as missionary disciples.

At the same time, I am also proud of how we have participated in the Synod on Synodality. For over six months, groups gathered throughout every deanery of our diocese to listen intently to each other. The themes from these listening sessions were gathered and compiled into a report sent to Rome. The first half of the synod concluded in the Vatican this October. With faithful hope, we await the next steps for the second half next October.

As a baseball fan, I am fiercely loyal to my team, while politely ignoring the other. Gratefully, that’s not what our Church does when it comes to the National Eucharistic Revival and the Synod on Synodality. Like you, I love Jesus so much — especially in the Eucharist — and at the same time — through Him, with Him, and in Him — I desire a listening Church that calls us to be on mission! With faith and trust in God, I look forward to walking on this all-connected journey with you ahead.