In my time of being in the seminary my love and awe of the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist has increased tremendously and I am convinced with full conviction that when I receive the Eucharist at Mass, I am receiving the fullness of Christ within me and I am being received into full communion with the church and all of Heaven. There is not any doubt that Christ is fully present because I have experienced his presence in my life through the Eucharist. It is through the Eucharist that I, with my earthly existence, am allowed to enter into the reality of Heaven. It is through the Eucharist that I am invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb. God is fully present and I am fully present to God.
The Council of Trent in the Decree Concerning the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, said:
In the august sacrament of the holy Eucharist, after the consecration of the bread and wine, our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and man, is truly, really, and substantially contained under the species of those sensible things.
Immediately after the consecration, the veritable Body of our Lord and His veritable Blood, together with His soul and divinity, are under the species of bread and wine…as much is contained under either species as under both.”(Council of Trent: Decree Concerning the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist, October 11, 1551)
So it is that as Catholics we believe, and have believed from very early on that the Eucharist is the true presence of the Body, Blood, Soul and divinity of Christ. St. Justin Martyr (c. 100-165 A.D.) says,
For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by Him, and by the change of our blood and flesh is nourished, is both the Flesh and the Blood of that Incarnated Jesus. (First Apology, 66)
St. Ignatius of Antioch says, “I desire the Bread of God, which is the Flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David; and for drink I desire His Blood, which is love incorruptible.” (Letter to the Romans 7:3)
It is for this reason that as Catholics we believe that each time that we partake of the sacrament of the altar we are partaking in the fullness of Christ. It is in the Eucharist that we are given a share in the divinity of Christ and our humanity is strengthened against the ways of the world. Catholic Theologian Karl Adam says,
So completely does Jesus disclose Himself to His disciples…that he gives himself to them and enters into them as a personal source of grace. Jesus shares with his disciples his most intimate possession, the most precious thing that he has, his own self…So greatly does Jesus love his community that he permeates it…with his real self, God and Man. He enters into a real union of flesh and blood with it, and binds it to his being even as the branch is bound to the vine.” (A Biblical Defense of Catholicism: The Eucharist, p, 78-79)
When we behold the Blessed Sacrament we are beholding the infinite God in a finite specimen. The entire universe is present within this fragile bread, which has been transformed, in essence, into the precious body and blood of Jesus. God is fully present in this fragile host. God, who is greater than all things lowers himself constantly and gives himself to us in the form of bread. This host, which is made by human hands, God has used to give us himself. The Eucharist, which is given to us, is not necessary for God to be God, it does not add anything to Him, but rather, it gives us everything. This host, which if it were simply bread, would not be venerated, it would simply be a piece of bread that would crumble and be destroyed. A host, a piece of bread, has no power and no one fears it. But, because the Lord of the Universe is fully present within this consecrated bread, all people and powers tremble at the sight. Demons, at the presence of this Holy of Holies, shriek in anguish, they bow down in honor for they know that the King of Kings is before them so they flee in fear. Through this Bread from Heaven Jesus reminds us that he can work through all things even, and perhaps especially, through the weak. When we are weak it is then that he is strong. This fragile bread has more power than all the powers of evil. His power is so great that angels kneel and prostrate before him. When we enter in adoration we enter into the presence of all of heaven and the entire universe. Our Guardian Angels are laid prostrate along with all of heaven adoring our King. Jesus sits on his throne, splendid with Gold and hears our prayers. He orders his angels to bring us responses with love. Our beloved Mother Mary, like the Queen of Heaven, splendid in God of Ophir, stands by the Lord side, adoring her Son and call us all to him. She listens to our prayers and supplications and leans over to her Son and with great love pleas and intercedes for us. With that great look of love and her heart aflame she returns to us and with great faith says, “Do whatever he tell you.”
As we are in the presence of our Dear Lord, we are invited to be aware of how truly we are not worthy and yet God’s love has brought us to him. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). God continuously calls us into his love. His love continues to call us to himself. No matter what wrong we might do he reaches out and holds us. Yet, we tend to forget and return to the error in our lives.
Are we truly aware of what is happening when we receive the Eucharist? Are we aware of whom we are really entering into communion with?
I hope and pray that one day we all will surely become consciously aware that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist and that the Eucharist may truly become “the source and summit of [our] Christian life” and that we might “unite ourselves with the heavenly liturgy and anticipate eternal life, when God will be all in all.” (CCC 1324-1325)