By Katie Yoder
WASHINGTON (OSV News) – The National Eucharistic Revival is inviting everyday Catholics to personally participate in the nationwide movement by asking God to transform and renew their hearts through prayer.
“If we want revival for the American church, it must start with you and me,” Kris Frank, chief mission officer for the National Eucharistic Congress, told OSV News of their Spark Series, a prayer series that anyone can join. “As St. Augustine once taught, ‘One loving heart sets another on fire.’ So while the revival is for the entire church, it is also for the individual.”
The revival, a three-year initiative by the U.S. Catholic bishops, seeks to renew the Catholic Church by enkindling a living relationship with Jesus Christ in the holy Eucharist. The grassroots movement culminates in the 10th National Eucharistic Congress, taking place in Indianapolis July 17-21, 2024, followed by a “year of going out on mission.” OSV (the parent company of OSV News and the Our Sunday Visitor newspaper), which has supported the revival from its beginning, was named a “mission partner” for the congress earlier this year.
As part of the movement, the Spark Series consists of nine short daily reflections inviting the faithful to open their hearts for revival. Each day includes a reflection, prayer, and challenge centered on a particular theme.
“We didn’t want this prayer series to be daunting or overwhelming, so using the framework of a nine-day novena gave us a structure and kept the reflections focused,” Frank said of the format. “Obviously, that means we had to leave out some topics we would have liked to include, but the hope is that the Spark Series is a springboard for people to dive deeper into prayer and the richness of the church through revival.”
Catholics can sign up online at the National Eucharistic Revival’s website – eucharisticrevival.org/get-involved – by submitting their email address.
“This prayer series is for everyone,” Frank stressed. “From the holiest amongst us to the person who is just learning about prayer and the church, we believe God has a special grace for all in this season of Eucharistic revival.”
He added, “Our hope is that as people pray through these reflections that God does something new in their heart, and through a renewal of hearts, God will bring about a revival that will bless our church for years to come.”
The prayer series presents reflections to the faithful in a hopeful, encouraging tone while challenging them to examine their lives as children of God. The messages remind people of God’s love and mercy while centering on revival and renewal through the Eucharist. The nine themes for each day are: Revival; Kerygma/Missionaries; Encounter; Healing; Source and Summit; Mary, Mother of the Eucharist (Adoration); Pilgrimage; Works of Mercy; and Mission.
“As you walk with the Holy Spirit during this time, be open to how he wants to speak to you about encounter, healing, mission, and mercy, all flowing from a love for the Eucharist, the source and summit of our faith, in which Christ is truly, really, and substantially present,” the introduction to the series reads. “Above all, expect God to work in amazing ways in your life as you surrender yourself more deeply to him.”
At the end of the nine days, the series recommends that Catholics share their experience with others and invite them to participate in the Spark Series too.
Nearly 22,000 people have already signed up to receive and pray through the prayer series, Frank revealed. The inspiration for the series, he said, came from a desire for the church to be unified in its prayers for revival.
“We believe true revival is far more than a series of events or a program, so we created these short reflections that would serve as a prayer guide for personal conversion and renewal for the church,” he said.
Frank explained that the name of the prayer series draws from the vision of Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, chairman of the board of the National Eucharistic Congress, who said of the revival, “We want to start a fire, not a program.”
“The fiercest fires still start with a small spark, so we hope these reflections are simply the start of something far greater,” Frank added.
He addressed the series’ focus on fostering Catholics’ personal renewal and revival.
“Revival doesn’t simply happen because we say we are in a revival, or because we release resources about revival,” he said. “We believe true revival can only happen through a renewal of hearts.”
(Katie Yoder writes for OSV News from Washington. She is a contributing editor for the Our Sunday Visitor newspaper. A link to the Spark Series can be found here at the National Eucharistic Revival’s website: https://www.eucharisticrevival.org/get-involved)