In this time of Eucharistic revival, Sacred Heart Major Seminary will address a pertinent topic with this fall’s installment of the seminary’s In the Heart of the Church LEM Speaker Series. Dr. Timothy O’Malley will present “The Eucharist and Happiness: Liturgical Evangelization in a (Sort of) Secular Age” on November 2, 2023. The annual speaker series provides ongoing formation to lay ecclesial ministers in the Archdiocese of Detroit, though all lay faithful may attend the event.
A 2022 Pew Research Study found that while the number of Catholics attending Mass has increased since the early days of the pandemic in 2020, Mass is not a priority for the majority. In the study, just 33% of respondents said they “attended religious services in person in the last month.” (“How the Pandemic Has Affected Attendance at U.S. Religious Services.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. November 2022.)
Given these statistics, many Catholic leaders believe new strategies are needed, some of which are disconnected from the eucharistic rites of the church. Dr. O’Malley suggests, however, that the Eucharist itself is the means to draw people in, and ultimately, is the way for them to pursue happiness in our (sort of, he says) secular age.
“There’s been a lot of talk about secularity and departure from church. One thing I’ve noticed is that people presume it’s a loss of transcendence. But I think if we really pay attention, there’s not a loss of transcendence, there’s a migration of what we worship,” said Dr. O’Malley. “And I think this is the heart of evangelization: how are we going to shift people’s attention to right worship? How can we help them see the Mass–the Eucharist–as a source of real happiness and an encounter with the Lord? One that helps us meet him, love him, and offer our lives as a return gift to him.”
Dr. O’Malley serves as a Professor of Practice in Theology at the University of Notre Dame and the Director of Education at the McGrath Institute for Church Life. He is also the Academic Director at the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy and Senior Contributor for Church Life Journal. He has written numerous books relating to his talk at Sacred Heart, including Becoming Eucharistic People: The Hope and Promise of Parish Life; Bored Again Catholic: How the Mass Could Save Your Life; and Real Presence: What Does It Mean and Why Does It Matter?
“We at Sacred Heart have been very enthusiastic about Dr. O’Malley’s work on the Eucharist, especially in light of the USCCB’s (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) National Eucharistic Revival,” said Dr. Kevin Clarke, Dean of Sacred Heart’s Institute for Lay Ministry. “Dr. O’Malley manifests a keen awareness of the realities facing lay ecclesial ministers, not only in the parish but also in the secular world in which they bear witness.”
In 2020, Dr. O’Malley served as a member of the USCCB’s executive planning team for the Eucharistic Revival. His writing and research address the urgent need not only to teach people about the Eucharist but to form parishes into a true eucharistic communion.
“I am a practicing Catholic, and I’ve always loved the Mass,” Dr. O’Malley said. “My devotion is to the sacrifice of the Mass first–this offering of Christ’s sacrifice and my own sacrifice in return. It’s the way I figure out how to be a decent parent and professor, to worship God right.”
In his talk, Dr. O’Malley will invite lay ecclesial ministers and lay faithful to consider how to attract others to the vision of self-gift and love in the Mass and the Eucharist.
“Liturgical formation is integral to all catechesis and if we’re going to do it, we have to figure out how we form people to worship the living God,” said Dr. O’Malley. “And for (all lay faithful), how do you tell your kids who might not be active in the church anymore why you’re committed to this? We need to know how to articulate that ‘this is the reason for my hope.’”
“The Eucharist and Happiness: Liturgical Evangelization in a (Sort of) Secular Age” will take place on November 2 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Cost to attend is $10 per person. Lunch will be included. Register today! explore.shms.edu/speakerseries