As I travel around this country speaking in so many parishes and dioceses, and as I participate in large and small conferences bringing Catholics together from all walks of life and nationalities, one of the sad and difficult realizations I have had to face is this: Many do not believe in the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Often, it is because of poor catechesis, but often, too, our weak or tentative faith does not survive the painful and tragic events of life in this world. So, in this issue and the next, I want to talk about the power of the Eucharist to nourish and sustain you through the pain and the sorrow of life, so that you may come to know that you are never alone. You are never abandoned.
I am going to ask you to take these sections from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and from Scripture for the next few weeks, ponder them and ask God to resurrect your faith, to sustain and increase it.
Section 1323: “At the Last Supper on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection, a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given us.”
Christ loved us so much that he gave us his own flesh and blood to nourish and sustain us. He gave himself to us in an external form of bread and wine, but Christ’s body and blood are really substantially present ... Do I believe?
1374: “The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as ‘the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend.’ In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist, ‘the body and the blood, together with the soul and the divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ is truly, really and substantially contained.’”
St. John Chrysostom declares, “It is not man that causes the things offered to become the body and the blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God’s. ‘This is my body,’ he says. This word transforms the things offered.”
St. Ambrose: “Be convinced that this is not what nature has formed, but what the blessing has consecrated. The power of the blessing prevails over that which is nature, because by the blessing nature itself has changed ... Could not Christ’s word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing things into what they were not before? It is no less a feat to give things their original nature than to change their nature.” (See CCC Section 1375)
Read Matthew 26:26-35 and Luke 22:7-23. See also Luke 24: 13-35, where the disciples recognized him in the breaking of the bread.
God’s love is so immense that he gives himself to us truly and really present in his body and blood. He gives himself that we might be nourished on our long journey through life. He gives himself so totally because he loves us and wants us sustained on the journey that will bring us finally to him, to the source of all love forever where there will be no mourning or weeping or pain or death anymore.
Ponder these truths daily; read the Scripture passages daily. Ask God to give you faith or to increase your faith. He will never be outdone in generosity.
Sister Ann Shields is a renowned author and a member of the Servants of God’s Love. Questions can be addressed to Sister Ann Shields, Renewal Ministries, 230 Collingwood, Suite 240, Ann Arbor, MI 48103