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Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist

This is a poster for the documentary "Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist.” Written and directed by Tim Moriarty, the roughly 90-minute film will be shown in theaters June 4-6, 2024, with screenings twice a day. (OSV News photo/Fathom Events)

(OSV News) — The three-year National Eucharistic Revival that began in 2022 comes to the big screen with the arrival of the educational and energizing documentary “Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist” (Fathom Events). Written and directed by Tim Moriarty, the roughly 90-minute film will be shown in theaters June 4-6, with screenings twice a day.

An early sequence of person-in-the-street interviews illustrates the complex of problems the revival is meant to address and at least partially remedy. These brief dialogues give viewers evidence of alienation from, or indifference to, the church as a whole as well as an all-too-widespread deficient understanding of the nature of the Blessed Sacrament.

Perhaps as a result of poor catechesis, perhaps due to the secular, materialist worldview that has taken hold in many quarters, this random survey reveals a common view of the Eucharistic elements as no more than symbolic representations of the body and blood of Jesus — an outlook wholly at odds, of course, with the bimillennial tradition of the Catholic Church.

As those dedicated to church teaching make clear throughout the movie, this abandonment of faith in the Real Presence has grave consequences. While dissolving one of the bonds most likely to keep believers actively connected to the church — as well as one of the motives most likely to spur regular attendance at Mass — it also undermines respect for the priesthood.

To explain and vindicate the church’s supernatural perception of what takes place at every celebration of the Eucharist, the filmmakers turn to theologians, priests and bishops, missionaries and converts. These include Marian Fathers Chris Alar and Donald Calloway, Sisters of Life Marie Veritas and Mary Grace and renowned biblical scholar Scott Hahn.

The most vivid presence on screen is that of St. Clare Sister Briege McKenna. An indefatigable champion of the priesthood — disheartening scandals and the weak state of the church in her homeland of Ireland notwithstanding — she makes a compelling case for viewing each priest as a gift from God to the faithful. She’s equally forceful in talking about the value of the liturgy.

“You go to Mass to claim the victory that was already won for you,” Sister Briege explains. “And if you claim the victory, Satan can’t get near you.”

Viewers are also brought along on a globetrotting journey to witness the impact of the Eucharist in widely divergent parts of the world. Locales visited range from a Texas prison and a small town in rural Uganda to a Norbertine abbey in California and New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The story of persecuted Vietnamese prelate Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan (1928-2002) is particularly poignant. During a long imprisonment, most of it spent in solitary confinement, the cardinal’s family found ingenious ways to supply him with the bread and wine needed to celebrate Mass in his cell.

One especially valuable element of “Jesus Thirsts” is its placement, via reenactments, of the Eucharist within the wider context of salvation history. The connection of Jesus’ action at the Last Supper to such events as the first Passover, the gift of manna in the wilderness, the crucifixion and the appearance of the Risen Lord on the road to Emmaus are all highlighted.

While too sophisticated for small children, the documentary is likely to prove a formative — but also easy-to-enjoy — catechetical lesson for teens and adults alike. For theater locations and showtimes, go to:

John Mulderig is media reviewer for OSV News. Follow him on Twitter @JohnMulderig1.

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