Whenever I try to explain to Catholics the radicalness of the Eucharist, I present two options. We’re either right, and the Eucharist is God himself: the greatest gift to mankind, or we are the biggest bunch of lunatics ever to walk the earth. Every day, thousands of people kneel down and worship in the most personal, real way or they are deceived and make fools of themselves in front of a little wafer. Well which is it?
Many non-Catholic wonder why Catholics don’t live like Christ is really present in the Eucharist. If Christ is really there, why don’t we spend all the time we can with him? It’s there that everything happens. We relive his birth, life, suffering, death, and resurrection. I have always loved Michelangelo’s Pietà for exactly that reason. Mary literally hands us her son on the altar as the greatest gift she has ever received, the answer to human suffering, the incarnation of love, and reason for our life. All of this in the small host!
For me, the Eucharist has meant a lot. When I started out on a more intense personal faith journey as a sophomore, daily Mass or the communion service at during lunch-break in high school was a means for survival. Later when I joined Regnum Christi, the special devotion to the Eucharist in the Mass, the Thursday Holy Hour, and frequent visits became parts of my life. In one Eucharist, I receive all the strength I need to keep fighting and be a saint.
However, as a priest, the Eucharist takes on a whole new dimension. From the time I joined the seminary, I have daily Mass, adoration, and numerous spontaneous visits to him in the chapel present in each house. He became a part of my life, or as St. Paul says, “Life to me, of course, is Christ” (Phil 1:21).
Yet with all this grace, we have the danger of getting used to the greatest gift ever being at our beck and call. It’s kind of like living with our family. We get used to having our parents and siblings with us all the time, so when we do leave home, we’re amazed at how much we actually love and miss them. We often take those closest to us for granted.
Well, this is a real risk for us priests and seminarians. But God gives us our identity as priests in the Eucharist. We don’t have a physical family to provide for. But our family becomes the Church, and we provide for their needs above all in the Eucharist. It is indeed the most important spiritual food that we have. As priests we have the privilege of being God’s instruments in providing all Christians with the bread of angels.
I remember the first times giving communion as a Eucharistic minister: looking into the eyes of those who came up to receive. What a privilege to see the need and desire of so many sons and daughters of the Church! And even more so to know that God has chosen me to satisfy that need for him in the world by bringing his body and blood down on the altar every day of my life.
On this pilgrimage we will have Mass daily– the opportunity to receive Christ into our hearts and souls and make him the center of our life. Let’s participate in the Mass with our whole being and make it a chance to get to know and love Christ better.