The 31st annual International Week of Prayer and Fasting for our nation, leaders, families, and the Church will take place Oct. 20–28 beginning with a three-day virtual event and ending with a full day live program at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
In light of this year’s theme — “Miracles of the Eucharist” — the conference will open with a recorded video presentation by the mother of Blessed Carlo Acutis, Antonia Salzano.
“She is going to be welcoming all participants,” said Ted Flynn, co-founder of the International Week of Prayer and Fasting (IWOPF), along with his wife, Maureen, and the late John Downs. Because Salzano has been in the United States for other appearances this past month, she will not be able to attend IWOPF in person.
“But we will have the relic of Blessed Carlo Acutis as we had last year,” Flynn added.
Bishop Emeritus Robert Baker of Birmingham, Alabama, who will be the celebrant and homilist of the Mass at the basilica on the final day, told CNA that “Carlos’ relic being present at this weekend is significant because that young man has a powerful message, especially for young people in attracting them to the Lord of the Eucharist. He has revived among hundreds of thousands of young people an interest in holy Mass and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.”
Blessed Carlo Acutis declared the Eucharist as our “highway to heaven.”
Flynn explained more about the choice of this year’s theme. “Because the Eucharist is the source and summit of the faith, bringing everyone back to the Real Presence and belief in the Real Presence is going to change our Church and our culture. The Eucharist, along with prayer, especially the rosary, fasting, adoration, and the sacraments, [is] the solution.”
The Eucharist will be the emphasis of the virtual talks beginning on Friday the opening day and continuing on Saturday and Monday, as well as the closing day’s events at the basilica.
Some of the virtual presentations of the event include:
- Maureen Flynn on “The Centrality of the Eucharist in Church-approved Marian Apparitions.”
- Father Chris Alar of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception on “Miracles of the Eucharist, Yesterday and Today.”
- Father Robert Altier on “The Holy Eucharist, the Source and Summit of Holy Matrimony.
- Mark Houck on “This is My Body, Given Up for You: Embracing the Cross.”
- Father Ron Stone on his compelling story of how the Eucharist and Our Lady healed him of childhood trauma and substance abuse.
Saturday’s live presentations at the basilica will include:
- Sister Deirdre Byrne on finding the love of Jesus before the Most Blessed Sacrament.
- Dr. Carlos Parellada, a surgeon at a Guatemala hospital, on his participation in the investigation of the Eucharistic miracle of Tixtla, Mexico, in 2006.
- Father Tim Byerley on Servant of God Maria Esperanza’s love of the Eucharist.
- Ray Grijalba, a writer and co-producer, on his upcoming film about Eucharistic miracles called “The New Manna.”
The IWOPF has received apostolic blessings twice from St. John Paul II, and St. Teresa of Calcutta also gave her support.
This year IWOPF’s five goals are prayer and fasting for the conversion of all people and nations, to build a culture of life, to defend the sanctity of marriage and family life, for peace and to implore God’s mercy, for all priests, vocations, and holiness of the members of the Church.
The conference is being presented with the collaboration of the Legion of Mary, which has “been involved with us for many years now,” Flynn said.
“We are delighted to collaborate with the International Week of Prayer and Fasting at the basilica,” said Seguda Acosta, president of Arlington Senatus, Legion of Mary.
The Flynns have linked the theme “Miracles of the Eucharist” to the importance of praying the rosary and fasting because the Blessed Mother has said in many approved apparitions “that the rosary is the spiritual tool to destroy evil spirits.”
“If there’s a threat of a war, enough people praying and fasting can stop that war,” Maureen Flynn said. “That’s what the Blessed Mother has said; if there’s a frontal attack on the Church, the more we get everyone praying and fasting, doing some kind of sacrifice, it can prevent what the devil is trying to do.”
Flynn said the involvement by the Coalition of Eucharistic and Marian Apostolates (CEMA) is important when it comes to considering present-day crises.
“I see all joining forces together because the times are very, very urgent. There seems to be a lot of division in our Church. A lot of differences of opinion on certain moral issues. Compared to years before, there seems to be more of a divide. But the good news is our American bishops have come together and are really pushing forward on this Eucharistic Revival and asking all the parishes to have more adoration.”
She said that people are realizing we need to use our spiritual tools.
“God has given us our treasures, and we focus on the treasures of the Church because if a person truly believes that Jesus is present body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Holy Eucharist, they will never leave the Church. They know there may be problems with certain people in the Church, but the Church will withstand this whole assault on it and will get through it, and the Eucharist is the source and summit. So to me this is a great sign of hope.”
Bishop Baker also stressed that the Eucharist is the centerfold of the conference in terms of providing the focus for healing and hope for our Church and our world. He told CNA that his homily will be centered on finding hope and joy through the Eucharist.
“The holy Eucharist is the pivotal source of union with Jesus, who is our reason for hope and joy in the midst of all the dilemmas the Catholic Church faces today,” he explained, adding that he goes into detail on this theme in his new book “Rejoicing in Our Hope: Meditations for the Advent and Christmas Seasons.”
Baker has already seen that returning to the Eucharist “is bearing fruit. We should see reasons for hope for our Church and our world as we in our own Catholic lives personally rediscover the importance of the Lord of the Eucharist who brings healing, health, help, and hope to our lives and our world.”
All events are free on the day of the talks. For more information see IWOPF.org or call (888) 478-PRAY.
Joseph Pronechen is a staff writer with the National Catholic Register and his articles have appeared in numerous publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, Catholic Exchange, Marian Helper, and Fairfield County Catholic. He is the author of “Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders.” He holds a graduate degree and lives with his wife Mary on the East Coast.
Reposted from Catholic News Agency.