For one day, more than 400 Catholics from across the Diocese of Nashville, representing the great diversity of the Church in Middle Tennessee, focused on the Eucharist, the treasure of the Church, during the Eucharistic Revival Conference on Saturday, Nov. 11, at the Catholic Pastoral Center in Nashville.
Upon attending Mass, celebrated by the Most Reverend J. Mark Spalding, Bishop of Nashville, and concelebrated by Father Joseph Malachy Napier of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and a Eucharistic preacher for the National Eucharistic Revival, and Father John O’Neill, pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Hohenwald, Christ the Redeemer Church in Centerville, and St. Cecilia Church in Waynesboro, attendees listened to three guest speakers.
The conference was presented in both English and Spanish with three speakers for each language group.
English-speaking speakers included: Dr. John Bergsma, professor of theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, and vice president of the St. Paul Center; Father Napier; and Katie Prejean McGrady, a speaker, author, and host of The Katie McGrady Show on Sirius XM’s Catholic channel.
Spanish-speaking speakers included: Sister Karen Muñiz of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary; Deacon Anselmo Ambriz, director of religious education for Sagrado Corazón; and Father Napier.
Dr. Bergsma, to kick-off the English talks, spoke about “Just a Meal to Remember Jesus? The Last Supper Through Jewish Eyes.” Throughout, he talked about the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls and how they reveal the significance of every detail of the Last Supper for the Jewish people.
In particular, he explained why Jesus took and blessed the bread first, what “remembrance” really means, why Jesus says “many,” how the Last Supper was the fulfillment of prophecy, how it’s the replacement of Moses’ Covenant and why it needed to be replaced, and finally how the Eucharist is the New Covenant.
With these explanations, he concluded, saying, “I’m on a crusade to encourage Catholics and the word of God to continue together. The word of God is the bridegroom, the people of God are the bride. When the bride and the bridegroom get together sparks fly and life happens and the devil uses all different types of tools to keep the word of God from the bride of Christ, which is the Catholic Church.
“The New Testament is the Eucharist according to Jesus’ own words.”
After Dr. Bergsma, Father Napier spoke about “Entering the Mystery of the Mass.” To help explain, he compared it to watching and attending a college football game, where there are three key takeaways – always tailgate, keep your head in the game, and share the joy.
“We need to prepare ourselves to enter into the mystery. Quiet this interior space,” Father Napier said. “The Lord calls us (to Mass) to receive a gift. The Lord wants to give us this gift, and the gift He’s always looking to give is nothing more, nothing less than His very self. It’s not about something. It’s about someone.”
“If we want to see Revival, we have to go up that mountain because if you haven’t met Him, if you haven’t received Him, you can’t be a witness to Him,” he continued, also noting that it’s akin to climbing a mountain. “And that’s what this Revival is about, putting Jesus back in the center of everything where He always has belonged, and if you want to see changes in the world and in the Church that’s how it’s going to happen. Jesus coming back to the center; Jesus being all in all for us.”
After lunch, McGrady gave the third talk called “The Eucharist: Heart of the Home,” and throughout, she spoke of the simplicity in which children find wonder and awe in the faith.
Children “have a pretty profound spiritual sense, and I think if we could get back to that spiritual whimsey in our own hearts, the childlike wonder and awe of what the faith truly is, what the Eucharist truly is, we’d have a lot more happy Catholics,” McGrady said. “If we can restore this spiritual whimsey, this Eucharist at the heart of our homes, this love of our faith from a childlike perspective, I think that’s where renewal and revival comes from.”
With that in mind, McGrady said the best way to pass on the treasure of the faith, the Eucharist, to our children is to be “a joyful witness to the faith.” How is that done? It’s not by going to Bible study or volunteering at Mass. It’s simply being with Jesus.
“None of it holds a candle to going and sitting in the presence of our Lord (in adoration) and having the humility and awareness that we are called to receive Him and then recognizing that we become living tabernacles who step forth into the world and can change it because we have received Him,” she said. “Making the Eucharist the heart of the home is not just fulfilling our Sunday Mass obligation or doing all the various liturgical activities. … It is making the time to be in the presence of Jesus. Revival comes by making the commitment to go be with Him.”
All in all, each of the messages of the talks was summarized well by Bishop Spalding’s homily at the beginning of the day.
“See the variety of people here right now and the numbers. Jesus started out with 12 and, overwhelmingly, He called men who had big hearts but were flawed, and he started this journey … bringing people together with him and for him” the bishop said. “I, as bishop, still have that commission, but all of us do as disciples, to share with others the great gift that we receive and have been given, and we take it to the world. Jesus.
“We need to revive that in the Church. If Jesus can do so much with 12, think what we can do with this group, with our variety, with the wonderful gifts that are here,” he continued. “Just think what we can do in this diocese, in this nation, around the world, as long as we keep sharing the good news. … The good news of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.”