In a previous post, Love One Another, I explained that the true meaning of love is sacrifice and that we see the greatest demonstration of this on the cross. Another way in which Jesus demonstrates His great love for us is through the Eucharist.
The Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist is the Real Presence of Jesus Christ – and not merely a symbol. The Eucharist is His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity; and nothing can substitute or mirror this reality.
The Institution of the Eucharist occurred at the Last Supper:
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:26-28).
At every Catholic Mass, each day throughout the world, the priest repeats those words. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the instrumentality of the priest, ordinary bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ! (For more detailed information, please click here.)
I often think about Jesus’ words in Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel:
“…Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (53-56).
The most intimate way to abide in Christ – and for Christ to remain in us – is through the Eucharist. When we are in full communion with the Catholic Church and receive the Eucharist in a state of grace (free of mortal sin), we are united with Jesus as closely and completely as possible while in this world. When we attend Mass and receive Holy Communion, we are given the graces necessary to live as Jesus’ disciples; our souls are nourished and become one with Him.
When one develops a devotion to the Eucharist, there’s an internal yearning to be with His Real Presence – similar to the feeling a person experiences when away from the one they love. God is everywhere and always with us; however, the way He comes to us in the Eucharist is unparalleled. When one receives Holy Communion or is with the Blessed Sacrament (a consecrated Host that is reserved in the tabernacle and/or placed in the monstrance for Adoration), one is affected and transformed by Him. The graces contained in the Eucharist are beyond human comprehension, but faith allows us to believe in the Lord’s promises and the Church’s teachings.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I visit the church during the week to spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I do this because I desire to spend more time in His Real Presence. This devotion makes a noticeable difference in my life. If I start to slack and several days go by without a visit, I can actually feel it! I tend to feel disconnected and managing life’s challenges becomes very difficult…
I’m thankful that I’ve been given the grace of remaining intimately connected to the Lord through the Eucharist; and I strongly desire for others to recognize, accept and adore this great gift. If we understood (not only in our minds, but in our hearts and souls) what an immeasurable and irreplaceable gift we’ve been given, we would attend Mass and receive the Eucharist as often as possible! We wouldn’t want to be separated from Jesus or miss a single opportunity to be united with Him in this way.
If you’re Catholic and haven’t been to Mass recently, I urge you to go. If you’ve missed Mass on a Sunday and/or haven’t received the Sacrament of Reconciliation in a while, please be sure to go to Confession before receiving Holy Communion. It’s essential for us to be reconciled with God, through the Church, before receiving the Eucharist. One must always approach – and treat – the Blessed Sacrament with deep reverence and seriousness.
Only those who are Catholic and in a state of grace can receive Holy Communion, but non-Catholics are welcome to attend Mass! God provides graces to those who attend Mass, even if they cannot receive the Eucharist. (I’ll write more about the Mass in a future post.) The reason why non-Catholics cannot receive Holy Communion may not be fully understood by everyone… Please click here for a video that explains this.
Whether you’re Catholic or not, all are welcome to visit a Catholic Church to spend time with the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus longs to be with you. Don’t keep Him waiting!
“As two pieces of wax fused together make one, so he who receives Holy Communion is so united with Christ that Christ is in him and he is in Christ.” ~ St. Cyril of Alexandria