Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Holy Eucharist and Us

"The Institution of the Eucharist"
Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665)

At the words of the Consecration in the holy Mass, the unleavened bread is changed into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, and the wine is changed into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Both species become the whole Christ because He cannot be separated or divided. Transubstantiation occurs so that the appearances of bread and wine remain, while the substance is Jesus Christ Who is both God and man.

To receive our Lord worthily, one has to be a baptized Catholic who tries to live the faith and who is not conscious of any serious sin on his soul. We live the faith essentially by loving God above all things and our neighbors as ourselves. This entails accepting the teachings of Jesus Christ which involves keeping the Commandments and the precepts of the Church. Receiving Jesus is called Holy Communion indicating union not only with Him but also with the Church which is his Mystical Body. Living in communion with the Church means going to Mass on Sundays and on Holy Days of Obligation. It means keeping the laws of the Church regarding marriage, that is, being married in the Catholic Church. There are other precepts such the laws on fast and abstinence, going to Confession, supporting the Church, etc.

Sometimes there is a lax attitude with the reception of Holy Communion. A politician who votes in favor of laws allowing for abortion, may not receive. Nor should a non-Catholic, who happens to be at a Catholic Mass, receive Holy Communion. Communion is the important thing. One must ask if he or she is making a continued effort to live in communion with the Catholic Church. Moreover, each can ask: Do I have any serious sins? Do I seriously examine my conscience often, daily? Do I go to Confession regularly? Do I take seriously the privilege of receiving Holy Communion? Also, do I keep the regulation of fasting from food and drink (except medicine and water) for one hour before the time of distribution of Holy Communion?

The Holy Eucharist is also called the Blessed Sacrament. Our Lord is reserved in the tabernacle of each Catholic Church throughout the world. It is good to be conscious of this. For instance, as we pass in front of a Catholic Church, we can make a little sign of the Cross on our foreheads or perhaps give a little nod of respect towards that church. If possible, we can make time to pay at least a short visit to Jesus who is behind the tabernacle door. If Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament is available, as it is here on Monday nights and on Thursdays from 7:30 AM through 8:00 PM, then, how beneficial it is to us to spend some time in adoration. This helps us to appreciate the great gift of Holy Communion even more.

Jesus loves us so much that not only did He die to save us from sins, but He gives us his Body and Blood to adore and to receive. This enables us to become more like Him. May we in fact grow into Christ more and more as we receive Him. May others, who are not yet aware of this Gift, come to know the Holy Eucharist.

Father Stanley