New Doc ‘Jesus Thirsts’: The Master of the House Is Home

New Doc ‘Jesus Thirsts’: The Master of the House Is Home June 3, 2024

The hands of a Catholic priest raise a Consecrated Host.

Motel 6 used to have a slogan, “We’ll leave the light on for you,” indicating someone will be there to offer hospitality and welcome. As shown in the new documentary, Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist — hitting theaters June 4-6 as a Fathom Event — the Catholic Church can say the same thing.

UPDATE 6/7: From the inbox: The three-day Fathom Events theatrical release of JESUS THIRSTS: THE MIRACLE OF THE EUCHARIST scored big at the U.S. box office, grossing $2,141, 273 and landing at #1 in per screen average for all three days. The movie is Fathom’s highest grossing documentary of 2024 and is currently in second place for all documentaries released in 2024. It will return to theaters nationwide by popular demand on June 18 and 19.

UPDATE 6/18: From the inbox: JESUS THIRSTS: THE MIRACLE OF THE EUCHARIST scored big at the U.S. box office and Fathom Events today announced that it has given the popular feature documentary an extended release beyond its planned 2-day encore and is in theaters today, June 18 through June 26.

What Is that Red Light in Catholic Churches?

In each church, there’s a perpetual light, usually red, near the tabernacle. Basically, it says that the Master of the house is home.

Because, within that tabernacle are Consecrated Hosts, wafers that have been transubstantiated into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ … also called the Blessed Sacrament or the Eucharist.

Pretty crazy, right? Well, many of the first disciples didn’t buy it either. From John 6: 51-56:

I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.
“For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”

At the Last Supper, Jesus then offered bread and wine to the Apostles, declaring that they were His body and blood.

Taking Jesus at His Word About the Eucharist

The Catholic Church takes Jesus very seriously here, teaching that, while the bread and the wine (not always there, but you can take either or both) still look like bread and wine, that the whole essence of Christ is physically present.

Turns out this is no easier for people today to believe than it was back when folks were hearing it out of Jesus’ own mouth. Many other Christians don’t buy this, either being a bit fuzzy on the details or just saying outright that the bread and wine (or juice, in some cases) is just symbolic (something Jesus never actually said).

And, it’s not a whole lot easier for baptized Catholics. A 2019 Pew study claimed that only 31% of Catholics believe in transubstantiation. Now, the number goes up in other studies — and up a lot for Catholics who show up at Mass at least once a week — but even so, that’s not good.

The Church was so alarmed at this that a National Eucharistic Revival was launched, to reignite Catholics’ belief in the Real Presence (or True Presence) of Christ in the Eucharist.

Now, There’s Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist

This week, the Diocese of Orange (California) and Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry, founded by Deacon Steve Greco, have joined forces with Fathom Events to release Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist. Greco, Director of Evangelization and Formation for the Diocese of Orange, is the film’s executive producer.

The 90-minute documentary features several prominent Catholics, including Bishop Andrew Cozzens, chairman of the National Eucharistic Revival; filmmaker Eduardo Verastegui; evangelist and author Chris Stefanik; and apologist and teacher Dr. Scott Hahn.

It also features film producer, screenwriter and author Jim Wahlberg — brother of Mark and Donnie — a recovering addict who’s become a passionate Catholic evangelist.

Wahlberg is a producer on Jesus Thirsts, along with Tim Moriarty.

The title comes from Jesus’ saying, “I thirst” while on the Cross. In visions by both Mother Teresa and St. Faustina, Jesus said that He thirsts for souls.

Each of the three days, the film shows at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time. The showings on the 6th are in Spanish (but even the English version of the film has other languages, which are subtitled).

Here’s the film’s official description:

In Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist, we embark on a global journey to rediscover and revive the transformative power of the Eucharist. Engaging in dialogue with notable Catholic figures, the film explores the biblical origins of the Eucharist and shares personal stories of individuals whose lives have been transformed by the Blessed Sacrament. This exploration makes it unmistakably clear that the Eucharist is not merely a symbol, but is indeed Jesus Christ Himself — fervently desiring to quench our spiritual thirst with His boundless love.

Talking Jesus Thirsts

Jesus Thirsts had a red-carpet premiere at Christ Cathedral campus in Garden Grove, California, built as the Crystal Cathedral by Protestant evangelist Robert Schuller.

In 2012, following the bankruptcy of Schuller’s ministry, the Diocese of Orange acquired the sprawling, multi-building property and turned into into a major Catholic center, housing a parish, a school, offices, multimedia studios … and a theater.

While Jesus was often mentioned in the Crystal Cathedral, in the tabernacle inside of Christ Cathedral, He is officially in residence.

The goal of Jesus Thirsts isn’t so much to reach out to non-Catholics — although everyone is welcome to come — but to bring Catholics into a greater understanding of what the Faith teaches about the Eucharist, even if it sounds a bit farfetched.

(Maybe no so farfetched if you consider that God made the whole Universe, but … )

Many connected to the film were there to do interviews. Here’s some of what Greco and Walhberg had to say.

Wahlberg, on the Eucharist not being just a symbol:

So many people in our faith have this confusion, that this is a symbol. This isn’t, no, this, too, is Jesus Christ.

[Deacon Steve and I] were both very concerned about the lack of belief. So, we weren’t so concerned about people outside of our Church trying to evangelize them. We need to evangelize the people that are already here, because they’re missing out on this, thinking it’s just a symbol.

No, Jesus is present in every Mass.

Greco, on the unopened Gift:

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of what this film is about, and that even the title of the film, right, Jesus thirsting for us, thirsting for souls, thirsting to give Himself to us through the Mass, through His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. And the bottom line is this, people don’t understand the free gift.

Think of being at Christmas and seeing a gigantic gift under the tree, but you don’t open it. That’s what the Mass is. That’s what the Eucharist is.

And so, I can’t recommend enough the people who are listening in to go buy out theaters, bring your friends, bring your family, bring people who don’t know Jesus, bring ex-Catholics. I really have this vision where a lot of ex=Catholics will come back to the Church as a result of this.

So, why don’t people understand? Why don’t they go to Mass? Sadly, the Church in the U.S. has not been great about teaching the Faith in a way that it burrowed into people’s hearts.

Wahlberg, on what Catholics have missed:

I have what I like to refer to as my B.C. life. I was raised Catholic, culturally Catholic, right? I didn’t go to church with my family. My parents didn’t take me to Mass.

I never heard my father invoke the name of the Lord unless he was really angry. And so there’s hope, right?

But our Church is not always the best teacher of the Faith, unfortunately. It’s so crazy. We’re badly formed. We’re badly formed. I know a priest that he told me he was in the seminary, and he never did the Rosary the whole time.

And Wahlberg, on what Jesus Thirsts can be used for:

We’ll start with the believers, but this is the tool for them to teach and to open the eyes. And film is a great way to educate, because the film is entertaining. It is interesting. It’s visually stimulating it beautiful, right? So yeah, I think it’s going to start with the people who already believe. the real Catholics, whatever that even means.

They don’t need convincing. They’re convinced, fully convinced. But this is a tool for them and it’s a tool for the Church.

The bishops declare three years of Eucharistic Revival and then they don’t really do anything different. They leave it up to the lay people and the deacons and others to do something. And I feel like this gives them a tool, a real tool, a tangible tool that they can use to educate and evangelize.

As Catholic author Flannery O’Connor, subject of the recent biopic Wildcat, said when someone called the Eucharist a “pretty good symbol”:

If it’s just a symbol, to hell with it.

Click here for tickets.

Take a look:

Image: Jesus Thirsts: The Miracle of the Eucharist/Diocese of Orange & Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry

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About Kate O'Hare
Based in Los Angeles, Kate O'Hare is a veteran entertainment journalist, Social Media Content Manager for Family Theater Productions and a rookie screenwriter. You can read more about the author here.
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