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Jan 7, 2021

Christine Bordelon, associate editor of the Clarion, and editor Peter Finney Jr. talk with Father Colm Cahill and Deacon Ray Duplechain, members of the Year of the Eucharist committee for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, and Catholic mom of six from St. Catherine of Siena Parish Michelle Macicek about the meaning of the Eucharist for Catholics, the importance of attending in-person Mass and the Year of the Eucharist beginning Jan. 10, 2021, in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

Christine asked Father Cahill to explain the true meaning of the Eucharist since a Pew study revealed that more than half think the bread and wine consecrated at Mass is only a symbol not the true body and blood of Christ.

2:00 – Father Cahill said people who are Catholics, in general – not just those attending Mass were surveyed – so we would expect a lack of catechesis. The catechism tells us that the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. It is what everything flows from and what everything leads back toward. The Greek word eukharizesthai means “Thanksgiving of Christ to the Father.” The offering of Christ himself to the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit happens when the deacon holds up the chalice and priest holds the paten. We participate in this by saying in the beginning of the offertory, “Pray brothers and sisters that my sacrifice and yours be acceptable to God the Almighty Father,” is brought on the altar. The Eucharist is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ – the total Christ. That is why it’s important to participate in this, because it gathers up everything we face in our daily lives.

4:15 Christine ask Father Cahill to explain the moment of consecration on the altar at Mass.

4:25 At the moment of consecration, there is particular theological understanding. The priest is in the person of Christ. The priest says, “This is my body, and my blood to be given up for you.” He doesn’t say this is your body. This is profound to Father Cahill as a priest.

5:35: Peter Finney ask Deacon Duplechain about the concern of whether people will return to Mass once the dispensation to attend Mass is lifted. Is this the reason Archbishop Aymond decided to declare a year devoted to the eucharist?

6:20 Deacon Duplechain the Eucharist is known as the sacrament of charity. At the end of Mass, we are all called to go out and be sent as disciples on a mission. We gather the food for the journey, and carry it out to the world. Christ’s real presence in us is manifested in our presence and in everything we do. We take the Mass for granted. Abp. Aymond, as the shepherd of the flock, what to emphasize the Eucharist this year. People always long for the Lord, whether they know him or not. This is what the Eucharist is for us as a people. It is our understanding of how Christ is made present in us.

8:50 Christine asked Deacon Duplechain about events planned in the Archdiocese of New Orleans for the “Year of the Eucharist.”


8:55: Deacon Duplechain said exciting things will occur. There will be a series of moments of prayer throughout the year – 12 different topics that break the Mass apart – to educate Christians of a better understanding of the Eucharist. There will be resources for parishes to use for their parishioners of all ages that can be implemented throughout the year. There will be a Speaker’s Bureau, too. Adoration will be added to the two main annual, archdiocesan-wide Confession opportunities. So, not only will people be able to reconcile their sins, they will have an opportunity to praise God and understand who He is. Catholics will be invited to bring gifts for the poor during these times. There also will be an art contest for all ages, and a poster will be created. – integrating prayer with art, much like icons, to tell a story.

12:15: Christine asked Michelle about returning to Mass.

12:25:  Michelle and her family returned to Mass as soon as they could by signing up and go every Sunday, albiet socially distant as a family unit.

13:10 Christine asked Michelle what she and her family were missing by just watching Mass at home.

13:13: Michelle said besides the gifts and grace we receive from the Eucharist – obviously number one – there was that missing of sense of community praying together.

13:40: Peter asked Father Cahill what his estimate about people returning to Mass after the dispensation is lifted might be.

14: Father Cahill thinks once the dispensation is lifted, there is going to have to be some teaching and understanding about what the obligation to attend Mass really is. As humans, we are naturally rebellious due to original sin. Obligation feels like something we have to do, rather than the gift that Mass is. It’s about devotion, not an obligation. “I am devoted to God and want to be with him.” He used an analogy of being part of a family, and one member is not acting as he should. The parents give an invitation to that child to do what he should – an inviting back to re-assume their obligation. It is an understanding that he is part of the family. As part of a family, the obligation makes sense. As a church, we are a family, so the invitation to return to church should be understood. The family has an opportunity to come together. He thinks every Catholic should have a responsibility to invite others to come back.

17:30 Christine asked Michelle how her children were expressing their missing being part of a community.

17:48: Michelle said her children from 15 months to age 16 had different experiences of virtual Mass. Her oldest at first liked at-home Mass, but she soon realized how much it meant to be at Mass. Her second oldest missed the Eucharist. The two youngest are easier to contain in a pew than at home. The two others who attend St. Catherine School missed celebrating with their friends.

18:57 Christine asked Father Cahill about being charged at Baptism to be missionaries, and weekly at Mass hear Jesus’ words and learn to act like him as well as get a piece of him in the Eucharist.

19:15: Father Cahill said that model is like Christ on the Road to Emmaus when he began breaking open Scripture and explaining it to the apostles walking with him. “Did our hearts not burn?” the apostles said. When they celebrated at their Emmaus destination after their long journey, Jesus leaves after the breaking of the bread. The apostles, even though it was a long journey, immediate travel back to Jerusalem and share with everyone what they had just received through Christ. That’s like our Christian faith, Father Cahill said. Everything we receive at Mass is only truly received by us when we give it away. The Greek word of Gospel means “Good News.” What is the good news? I have a savior and can give everyone hope.

21:35: Christine asked Deacon Duplechain how Abp. Aymond will kick off the Year of the Eucharist.

21:38: Deacon Duplechain said plans are being finalized now, but it will be kicked off on the Feast day of the Baptism of the Lord Jan. 19, 2021. The connection to baptism is present. At baptism, we are given a share to partake. What we receive, we become. We share the reality that God is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The hope is that the whole concept of obligation is not seen as a rule to be followed but an invitation to love, to be rejoined and reconnected so we partake is God’s presence in everywhere available.

23:00 Christine concluded with tips from “Our Sunday Visitor”: attending Mass allows us to seek forgiveness for our sins, to be part of a community, offer peace to each other, to pray for each other, to experience the miracle of the bread and wine being turned into the body and blood of Christ, it strengthens our commitment to lead moral lives and we receive a special invitation to spread the word of God.