Jesus Thirsts, As Do We All

Posted on 2024-06-04
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OPINION –

No matter what you think of the USCCB, the National Eucharistic Revival, or the odds of its success… that’s not important now. On Pentecost Sunday, the 6,000-mile journey of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, from the four boundaries of the United States, began. The game is on. Jesus, in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, is walking our beloved States, carried by the Eucharistic pilgrims. The first Mass in our land was celebrated in 1526 by Dominican friars, so the Real Presence has been on our shores for 500 years. But never before has the Eucharistic Lord walked the length and breadth of this country.

And just in time to accompany Him, the movie Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist will open in theaters on June 4. Any Catholic who is yet unaware of the Eucharistic Revival—and there are still too many—will be evangelized by it, jazzed even. Where catechism and preaching may have failed in the past, Jesus Thirsts captivates with Eucharistic beauty, prods the heart, intrigues the senses, gives the audience a path to falling in love with the Eucharist in an entirely worldly environment, where unchurched people may encounter Him for the first time.

Whether you liked the Revival plan or you didn’t, it’s the only train that’s left the station, and it’s pulling a long line of boxcars. The Revival has years of planning, a generous budget, the participation of multitudes, and some of the best living Catholic teachers and evangelists. A comparable effort isn’t likely to be mounted again in our lifetime. We have the chance to make this the Eucharistic moment in our nation’s history. For the honor of our Eucharistic Lord, and the fate of our country, this revival must succeed. Jesus Thirsts broadens its scope, bringing the revival to a new audience.

In August 2019, the Pew Research Center published their now infamous survey, showing that 69 percent of self-described Catholics do not believe that the Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, two-thirds of Catholics don’t believe in the very thing that gives life to the world. And two-thirds of that two-thirds say they have never even heard the Church’s teaching about the Real Presence.

Now, that’s a problem.

Luckily, the bishops noticed. At the 2021 USCCB meeting, the bishops approved a plan for a National Eucharistic Congress. A year later, Bishop Andrew Cozzens, chairman of the Revival effort, announced that a major Eucharistic pilgrimage had been added to the plans which now included parish revival programs, along with the Congress. This is the advantage the Revival has: it’s something new, advancing the Eucharist along unexpected paths and outside the box.

If Jesus Thirsts does well at the box office, it could be extended, and it’s unfathomable that it would not do well. Can we allow Our Lord to be a failure? A movie, playing in secular theaters, subject to popcorn kernels and sticky Coke on the floors, with booms of things like Bad Boys: Ride or Die pulsating through the adjoining theater walls, exposes Jesus to indifference and inelegance. I would buy a ticket just to defend the honor of the Eucharist.

And Jesus Thirsts is eminently worth the price of a ticket. It’s not Indiana Jones or Marvel Comics (though Jesus is the Guardian of the Galaxy). The movie won’t make your heart race with adrenaline; it will make it glow with peace. Filled with sublime imagery and the narration of people we’ve come to trust (Scott Hahn, Fr. Donald Calloway, Sr. Briege McKenna, Chris Stefanick, Fr. Chris Alar, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, among others), the movie teaches by beauty: the physical beauty of churches and landscapes, as well as the poignant beauty of lives lived for God.

That very bread is prepared for consecration by dedicated hands, shown in a community of Bosnian nuns filmed at their work. They mix the dough, bake the sheets, and press hosts shipped around the world to feed the faithful at Mass. That journey, from wheat flour to embossed host, makes the Eucharist so concrete, linking my thirsting self to the fruit of the earth and the human hands who labor over it, all to complete the promise Jesus made, to be with us always, to the end of the age.

From the mountains of Bosnia to the streets of New York, the work of the Eucharist continues. The ever-smiling Sisters of Life recount the way their weekly holy hour at St. Patrick’s Cathedral became an Event. One of the sisters went out on the busy Midtown Manhattan sidewalk in front of the church and engaged passersby in conversation, then she beckoned them inside. The quiet holy hour suddenly buzzed with inquiries about needs and outpourings of grief, all leading to abjection before the Blessed Sacrament, in a fusion of evangelization and adoration.

That’s how it begins, the conversion of the world: with a conversation. Jesus Thirsts can help open those conversations. After all, it’s easier to invite a friend to a movie than to a Mass.

This movie began with the vision of one person (Deacon Steve Greco). It was more or less executed by one diocese (Orange, California). One bishop supported and promoted it (Kevin Vann). Do you sometimes wonder, as I do, how we can possibly spread the love of Jesus in the Eucharist in this vile and saturating culture of death? Do you throw up your hands and surrender to passivity, waiting for God to work a miracle? What can one person/diocese/bishop do?

This movie proposes an answer. What return can we make to the Lord for all He has given us in His Body and Blood? Can we simply buy tickets to a movie—and invite someone who doesn’t yet know Him?

Our whole hurting world is searching, and Jesus in the Eucharist is the only One who will meet the longing.

Watch the trailer >

Buy tickets for June 4-6 >

Sheryl Collmer is an independent consultant for several non-profit organizations. She holds a Masters in Theological Studies from the University of Dallas, as well as an MBA. She lives in the diocese of Tyler, Texas and also serves as CFO, co-coordinator of Region 8, and national news editor for CORAC.

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