This past Sunday we celebrated the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. For me, this celebration points to the greatest treasure in the Catholic Church – the present, tangible, body of our Savior, of God.
“For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” (John 6:55-56)
Imagine how God is normally portrayed in our culture – a voice from the great beyond, a jovial beard-toting Zeus-like man, a skinny guy in sandals, or even a cozy grandmother figure. Even the Holy Spirit is hard for some to imagine – a dove or a tongue of fire as God? How much more is the tiny image of the Host so strange, ridiculous even, to secular eyes, as a way to portray the all powerful, ever present God of the Universe!
How do we reverence God present in the body and blood at Mass? Pagan depictions in movies depict humans lying prostrate and averting their eyes from ridiculously-dressed leaders in golden thrones. If this is fake devotion, what is true devotion?
God gave us the gift of the Eucharist as a way to remember Him. The Eucharist is modeled in Old Testament sacrifices, as we hear in last Sunday’s readings. Jesus takes a normal occurrence – a meal – and turns it into the greatest sign of love, sacrifice, and compassion to us, His sisters and brothers who are left to wait for Him. I recommend Scott Hahn’s book, The Lamb’s Supper, for a wonderful in-depth understanding of Eucharist.
Devotion to the Eucharist is not limited to our time celebrating the Mass. As an added blessing, through the Church, God present in the Eucharist is made available for us to reverence during adoration and exposition of the blessed sacrament. During college, I remember frequently studying at the adoration chapel or popping in for a quick prayer before a test at the University Catholic Center. “That’s not fair,” my then-Methodist husband would say, “You get to study with Jesus.” That’s exactly what I was doing! And all of us, whether students, workers, moms, or just humans who suffer from the anxieties of life – can use time with Jesus in adoration!
The Saints certainly all had close relationship with Jesus, receiving the Eucharist frequently and adoring God’s presence. There are saints who survived for long periods of time just by consuming the Eucharist. In doing some quick online research, I came across the Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association – an apostolate that promotes perpetual adoration. In addition to providing listings of perpetual adoration sites and information on how to set up adoration at a parish, the group has a web page on “Eucharistic Saints” – those who had outstanding devotion to sacrament of the altar. Among the 7 they choose to list is my favorite (and patron) St. Terese of Lisieux! She reflects on her first Holy Communion, stating,
“It was a totally heavenly happiness which words cannot express. And what shall our happiness be when we receive Communion in the eternal abode of the King of Heaven? Then we shall see our joy never coming to an end; there will no longer be the sadness of departings, and it will be no longer necessary to have some souvenir to dig fervently into the walls sanctified by His divine presence, for His home will be ours for all eternity.”
So Take, and Eat our Savior in the Eucharist. Adore Him, and Act – live your life knowing that the Savior of the world laid down His life for you in an offering He made long ago, and reiterates at every Mass!
Halo Tip: OK, I know I haven’t done one of these in a while but this one’s easy…GO TO ADORATION! For an hour. If you so feel inspired, pray about how to better adore and recognize Jesus in the Eucharist, and come back and share what you hear in the comments section!
Note: Reflections in this blog are my own and do not represent the positions of my employer.