Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Eucharist: The Real Presence of our Lord

Do we have a point to our lives? Absolutely! The Eucharist! Everything comes from the Eucharistic gift of our Lord. Christ is (or should be) our focus at all times. Thus, the Eucharist (being Christ) is our purpose. Let us start at the Last Supper:
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving to his disciples said, “Take and eat, this is my body” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt 26-28)-

These awesome words are the words repeated every day in every Catholic Church during the consecration. To further understand what this means, we must look to the Bread of Life Discourse. If there is any doubt as to Jesus meaning “eat” his flesh, or as many of our protestant brothers and sisters believe to mean “eat his words” in a symbolic way, read John 6: 22- 65. This leaves no doubt. “I am the bread of life” (John 26: 35). “ I am the living bread that comes 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” (John 26: 51). “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” (John 26: 53-54). Did the disciples automatically say yes to eating him? Did they want to eat him like cannibals? “This saying is hard; who can accept it?’(John 26: 60). They wanted to make sure they understood him. Jesus, being Jesus, knew exactly what they were thinking: “Does this shock you…the words I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 26: 61-62). He assured them that what they were thinking (which is what we still think 2000+ years later) was correct. Jesus would not have let them build his Church on a misunderstanding.

With this being said, what is it that we, the normal Catholic get from receiving communion at our Masses? The Catechism states that “Holy communion augments our union with Christ. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist is an intimate union with Christ Jesus” (1391). This physical and spiritual joining is similar (but on a much higher level) to marriage, and the full giving of one to his/her spouse. While the marital embrace between a man and a woman is truly a beautiful giving of oneself completely for the glory of God, Christ’s giving is to all of mankind for the SALVATION of mankind. It could be, and has been said that the gift is actually to God the Father from the Son. Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharista” stated:
“The Eucharist is a sacrifice in the strict sense, and not only in a general way, as if it were simply a matter of Christ’s offering himself to the faithful as their spiritual food. The gift of his love and obedience to the point of giving his life is in the first place a gift to his Father. Certainly it is a given for our sake, and indeed that of all humanity, yet it is first and foremost a gift to the Father.”
I heard it said once that God loves man so much, that we are “almost like Gods to him.” Please don’t misunderstand this statement. It is hyperbole used to show how much God truly loves us. John 3:16 says, “for God so loved the world that he gave is only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life.” This gift, first to the Father, and to us as beneficiaries, is so that we can be joined with God in heaven…this is the primary fruit of communion. Paragraphs 1393-1398 in the Catechism further state fruits such as “separating us from sin” (1393), restoration of strength and “preserving us from the future mortal sins” (1394-1395), the Church (1396)…and so on…The grace we receive from one communion is enough to make everyone of us great saints, yet we receive him every Sunday (or even everyday), and struggle to simply keep our heads above the tide of sin. We must be open to the graces and ask the Lord to make us saints on a daily basis. “Lord, with the graces received from communion, make me a saint.” Pray for it, he is God and can do anything. Don’t be fooled, this is Christ, “in the flesh.” John Paul II said of this, “…in order to be in accord with the Catholic faith, [we] must firmly maintain that, in objective reality, independently of our mind, the bread and wine have ceased to exist after the consecration, so that the adorable body and blood of the Lord Jesus from that moment on are really before us under the sacramental species of bread and wine” (EDE 15). The doctrine of transubstantiation is confirmed by John Paul II; the bread and wine no longer exist, Jesus now exists. The Lutherans believe in consubstantiation, which means that it is bread/wine and Jesus together. Be careful to read and understand this doctrine:

Pope John Paul II further wrote” the worship of the Eucharist outside of the Mass is of inestimable value for the life of the Church…it is pleasant to spend time with him, to lie close to his breast like the beloved disciple and to feel the infinite love present in his heart. If in our time Christians must be distinguished above all by the ‘art of prayer’, how can we not feel a renewed need to spend time in spiritual converse, in silent adoration, in heartfelt love before Christ present in the Most Holy Sacrament? How often, dear brother and sisters, have I experienced this, and drawn from it strength, consolation, and support?”(EDE25).
Take advantage of time with our Lord. Sure, you can pray anywhere and have an “ear” from our Lord. But there is something special about the “…presence in the fullest sense: a substantial presence whereby Christ, the God-Man, is wholly and entirely present” (Mysterium Fedei, 39). It is very difficult to get an audience with the President, the Pope, or even your boss, but the Lord of the Universe, the Son of Man, Jesus Christ is present in every Tabernacle in every Catholic Church in the world. If your Catholic Church does not have a tabernacle present for adoration, go to another Catholic Church. Most Churches do, however have a tabernacle, some will have a monstrance (he is exposed for exposition and adoration). Either way, he is present, for YOU! How lonely he must be, when people don’t come to see him, don’t believe that he is actually present, or defile him as an object. Give reverence to the BLESSED SACREMENT: “God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth" (Philippians 2.9-10)
“We genuflect to the tabernacle, and bow to the altar of consecration. Receive him only in a state of grace (if in doubt, go to confession before receiving him). Honor, glorify, and thank him for coming to YOU/US in the Eucharist. People have been Martyred defending this believe and TRUTH. Long for the Eucharist, for he is the “bread of life”. For more sources see:

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