What is the Holy Eucharist?
This past Sunday the Church celebrated the Solemnity of Corpus Christi and at the parish I attended for Mass,they also had a Eucharistic procession around the parish grounds. I was blessed to be walking next to a mother and two children,a boy and a girl. The boy was probably four or five years old and the girl probably a year younger than her brother. As we were walking,the little boy was carrying a little booklet for the procession which contained the various hymns that were to be sung. Being as young as he was,he wasn’t at all concerned with the contents in the booklet,just the picture on the front. The picture was of a monstrance with the Eucharistic species in it. He kept pointing to it saying to his little sister,‘Look at this! This is Jesus!” Then he would turn to his mother and say,“Mommy,look at this,this is Jesus!” Although the boy couldn’t see Our Lord at the front of the Procession he seemed happy enough to have a picture of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and not only that,but he was happy to share our Lord with those around Him by his simple,“Look here,this is Jesus!”
As we continued in our procession I kept thinking about this boy and hoping that he always remember what he so clearly knew on Sunday. Sadly,as the result of poor catechesis,many in the Church today do not understand what this little boy did. Our Lord is present to us in the Blessed Sacrament truly,physically,as He was truly and physically present to Mary 2000 years ago,He remains present to us today. He is not present in an analogical way,but He is there with us. Understanding this requires faith that almighty God is truly all-powerful and that He is capable of doing all things,even making Himself known to the world under the humble appearance of bread.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament,pray for us!
The most important thing to keep in mind about the Sacraments is that they were not simply made up,but rather Christ Himself instituted them and in each Sacrament we meet Christ. This is probably a rather difficult statement to comprehend,but my words here are quite literal and not at all analogical or metaphorical,in each Sacrament we encounter Christ in a personal and true way just as Mary would have encountered Him lying in the manger or when she found Him in the temple,He was truly there before her,in her presence.
We can categorize the Sacraments into three categories: Sacraments of Initiation,Sacraments of Healing,Sacraments of Service/Vocation/Mission. In the Sacraments of Initiation we encounter Christ for the first time and as we encounter Him more and more,our love for Him grows deeper and deeper and as this love develops we seek to make ourselves more and more like Him and we give ourselves over to Him completely. In the Sacraments of Healing we go to Christ when we have done Him some harm and anytime we do harm to another we must make right those things which we have done wrong. These Sacraments of Healing also prepare us to meet God the Father face-to-face. Finally in the Sacraments of Service/Vocation/Mission we dedicate ourselves to a particular mission in the Church by which we lead others to Christ.
To review this rather basic introduction to the Sacraments we can say this: In each Sacrament we meet Christ in a true way. If we truly love Him as we say we do we will go to meet Him as often as possible and without hesitation. We meet Christ most especially in the Holy Eucharist where He exists as He did when He walked around Galilee and Nazareth 2000 years ago,thus the Holy Eucharist is essential to our lives as Christians because it is in that Sacrament in which we truly meet Christ and it is in that Sacrament which is Christ that we fall in love with Him and this is where we form our deep relationship with Him.