Bishop Robert Byrne has recently returned from the week-long International Eucharistic Congress that took place in Budapest, the capital of Hungary. Established in 1881, these congresses take place every four years and celebrate the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Bishop Byrne’s diocese, Hexham and Newcastle, is about to embark on a ‘Year of the Eucharist’. It’s an opportunity, he says, to re-connect with the Sacramental Church – Christ in the Eucharist at the source and summit of our Catholic faith.
“We’re having a year of the Eucharist, linked with the synodal process that the Holy Father has asked us to engage with. It’s an opportunity for all of us to reflect on how we listen to the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit.
“We need to consider how we emerge from the pandemic. What kind of Church do we want to be? A listening Church? An active Church? A Church that’s ready to go to the margins? A Church that is always focused on Christ and can only be fed on Christ? It’s only Christ that adequately feeds us, and we only really get to know Him through the Eucharist.
“That’s why, for me, the Eucharistic year in the Diocese will be one that is feeding people so that they are able to listen to the voice of Christ speaking in their hearts so that we can re-form as it were – re-form and go forward.”
Bishop Byrne acknowledges the role that technology has played over the past 18 months – particularly the live streaming of Mass. He also appreciates that personal and family prayer in the home has strengthened. However, this is not a substitute for our Eucharistic encounter with Christ in our churches.
“Our faith isn’t just a personal devotion – it’s something that we share. We draw strength from each other and, of course, from Christ ultimately. We can only do that really effectively by coming together as God’s family to hear the Word spoken to us and to receive the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist so that we grow together.”