"With great desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." —Luke 22:15 (our translation)
As Jesus prepared to eat the Last Supper, the Passover, with His disciples, He desired "with great desire." How much do we desire the Eucharist? The purpose of this book is to awaken a great desire to eat the new Passover, to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus says: "No one can come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me draws him" (Jn 6:44). This "drawing" is effected by teaching: "They shall all be taught by God" (Jn 6:45). We must be taught in order to experience the drawing to Jesus, especially in the Eucharist.
In relation to the Eucharist, Paul spoke of handing on what he had received (1 Cor 11:23). In this book, we intend to hand on what God's Church teaches about the Eucharist. We have confidence that through His word the Father will awaken a deeper and ever-deepening desire to celebrate the Eucharist and to receive the body and blood of Jesus Himself.
This book contains twenty reflections intended to be read one each day. The time of prayer and presence between readings is just as important as the readings.
Give yourself the time, and God will give you a deepening desire for His Son's body and blood. In the next twenty days, you can grow more in eucharistic love than in twenty years. Let the Father teach and draw you. Let the Holy Spirit guide you to the truth of the Eucharist (see Jn 16:13).
HERE COMES THE SON!
"All of us, gazing on the Lord's glory with unveiled faces, are being transformed from glory to glory into His very image by the Lord Who is the Spirit." —2 Corinthians 3:18
Jesus calls Himself the Bridegroom (Mt 9:15). In Psalm 19:6, the sun is compared to a groom coming from his bridal chamber. As we come before the eucharistic Son of God, we sometimes experience Him as a bridegroom-sun. The Lord offers us a relationship with Him beyond marriage. He offers us an awesome experience, not limited by space and time. It is a relationship which runs the course of light-years into timeless eternity.
I have just seen a most magnificent sunset—the orange sunburst, the radiance, the glow, the afterglow. Yet, in all its brilliance, it is only a sunburst-shadow of the relationship with the eucharistic Lord. The power of the sun created an Eden of vegetation. How much more is the beauty and power of the Bridegroom-Son!
Bask in the eucharistic Son for fifteen minutes a day before or after Mass. You will notice a change in your spiritual complexion.
Prayer: "Sweet Sacrament, we Thee adore; O make us love Thee more and more; O make us love Thee more and more."
"For My flesh is real food and My blood real drink." —John 6:55
Parents are very concerned about feeding their children. We customarily ask how much the baby weighs. We remark about our children growing to be "big boys and big girls." Mothers stay up nights, devote years of their lives, and make great sacrifices in nursing and feeding children. Fathers work, even slave, for years to feed their families. We have been given this concern for feeding our children from our heavenly Father.
Imagine talking with parents of starving children. If you love them, you'll feed their children. Those who truly love God are deeply concerned with feeding His children. For example, Peter encourages believers to be as eager for milk as new-born babies (1 Pt 2:2). Paul laments over malnutrition in the Corinthian Church (1 Cor 3:2ff). The writer of Hebrews complains of retardation from spiritual malnutrition (Heb 5:12-13).
The Lord asks us to distribute the bread of God's word and the living bread of Holy Communion. We are to go out into the highways and byways and compel others to come into the banquet (Lk 14:23). We must hand on what we have received (1 Cor 11:23) to future generations. This is what it means to be a "eucharistic minister," a "Communion distributor": loving Jesus enough to feed His sheep (Jn 21:17) with His word and Himself, the Eucharist.
A world starving physically is symptomatic of a spiritually anorexic Christianity. Let us repent of losing our spiritual appetite due to stuffing ourselves with the spiritual junk food of the world. Let us feed the starving physically, spiritually, and eucharistically.
Prayer: Jesus, You said if we love You, we would feed Your sheep. Change our life-styles to feed the masses of suffering humanity.
"Mary brought a pound of costly perfume made from genuine aromatic nard, with which she anointed Jesus' feet. Then she dried His feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the ointment's fragrance." —John 12:3
All people have a great desire to abandon themselves to something. We are willing to abandon time, energy, and money for athletics, work, or entertainment. Wherever there is abandonment—a profuse outpouring of time, resources, and self—there is worship. However, worship should happen at the Eucharist rather than on the altars of athletics, greed, lust, or entertainment.
Some Catholics sometimes begrudge God every minute at Mass. What a contradiction, since the Eucharist celebrates Jesus' utter abandonment of His life for our sakes! He was stripped naked, nailed to the cross, and emptied of blood and breath. Jesus gave His life to such an extent that He felt abandoned by His own Father and so cried, "My God, My God why have You abandoned Me?" (Mt 27:46, our translation)
In Mark's and Matthew's Gospels, the account of the Eucharist is connected to the anointing at Bethany. Here we have an example of abandonment, as Mary of Bethany pours out in a moment several thousand dollars worth of perfume. This abandonment is the nature of worship and Eucharist. When we celebrate the Eucharist, we should forget about ourselves—how we feel, the time, or what other people are doing or thinking. For example, Paul's Eucharist at Troas lasted from sundown to sunrise (Acts 20:7, 11). The Easter Vigil is a vestige of Eucharists that lasted through the night. Abandon yourself to our eucharistic Lord.
Prayer: Lord, I must worship and spend myself for something or someone. Lord, may I worship You alone.
"TO FORGIVE IS DIVINE"
"This is My blood, the blood of the covenant, to be poured out in behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins." —Matthew 26:28
For centuries, the Eucharist has begun with the opportunity to receive forgiveness. This is not a substitute for Confession, but a motivation for sacramental Confession. The Eucharist is not an isolated event. The forgiveness received at the Eucharist should be extended not only to sacramental Confession, but also to interpersonal relationships, inner healings, and reconciliation with enemies. However, there are those Catholics who rush into Mass late and miss the penitential rite. This adversely affects their celebration of Mass, their experience of God's forgiveness, and their ministry of reconciliation in life (2 Cor 5:18-19).
What the world needs is for people to be forgiven and to forgive. Jesus died for us sinners (Rm 5:8). But to claim Jesus' forgiveness, we must admit our need for Jesus' cleansing blood by confessing our sins (1 Jn 1:9). The Lord would change this world through the Eucharist and Confession, if we ever honestly tried them as the only viable option for a resentful, guilt-ridden, escapist, and deadly society. Pope John Paul II has taught: "As we prepare for the jubilee of the year 2000, let us place the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist at the center of pastoral renewal" (Dec 10, 1988 to the bishops of U.S., Region VII). Let us go to Mass, go to Confession, and then go to a world that has long since despaired of forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace.
Prayer: Jesus, on the cross You said: "Father, forgive them" (Lk 23:34). May I do the same.
A MOMENT ON CALVARY
"Every time, then, you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes!" —1 Corinthians 11:26
The Eucharist is a proclamation of Jesus' death. We who believe in Jesus' death must shout from the rooftops that He has died and we're forgiven (Lk 12:3). We should be so overwhelmed by the death of Jesus that we'll never get over it. However, although we have learned to proclaim sports, music, politics, money, and self, many people's experience of Christ's death and resurrection has rarely been deep enough to result in proclamation and praise.
To receive this deep experience of Jesus' death on the cross, simply pray for a momentary realization of the pain and love of Jesus crucified. Pray with St. Francis of Assisi: "O Lord Jesus Christ, I entreat You to give me two graces before I die: First, that in my lifetime I may feel in body and soul as far as possible the pain You endured, dear Lord, in the hour of Your most bitter suffering; and second, that I may feel in my heart as far as possible that excess of love by which You, O Son of God, were inflamed to undertake so cruel a suffering for us sinners" (Little Flowers of St. Francis). Pray with St. Paul: "I wish to know Christ and the power flowing from His resurrection; likewise to know how to share in His sufferings by being formed into the pattern of His death" (Phil 3:10).
Do a one-minute crucifix novena. Look at a crucifix for at least one minute a day for nine days. Believe deeply that Jesus died for you individually and personally. Then proclaim His death with thanksgiving forever.
Prayer: Lord, I pray for a momentary experience of Your love and suffering on the cross. May I never be the same after this prayer.
"IN GOD WE TRUST"
"Trust in Him at all times, O my people! Pour out your hearts before Him; God is our refuge!" —Psalm 62:9
We have often failed to trust God. For example, you would expect that after having been protected from the angel of death and freed through signs and wonders, the chosen people might have trusted Yahweh. But no, they wandered in the desert, complained to Moses, and refused to trust God to provide their basic needs. Nevertheless, God miraculously supplied manna from heaven and water from the rock. He provided His manna daily for forty years (sabbaths excepted). God was trying to teach His people to trust Him.
God's way of developing trust is seen in the relationship between parents and children. Parents provide daily bread for their children with milk from mother's breasts and bread from the mother's and father's working hands. Trust in human life grows by daily loving and feeding over many years.
We in our technological society have a crisis of trust and an epidemic of fear because we have lost the sense of God our Father feeding us. We write on our dollar bills: "In God we trust," but in practical, everyday life we have a hard time trusting God to "give us today our daily bread" (Mt 6:11). We mistakenly believe that "God helps those who help themselves," as if daily bread were a reward for our efforts and not a gift from a loving, trustworthy Father.
To grow in trust, we must let God father and feed us materially and spiritually. Let us come to the Eucharist openly needy, and expecting sustenance, just because we are sons or daughters of God. He will feed us. We can trust Him.
Prayer: Abba, I place my trust in You. Amen.
"I give you a new commandment: Love one another." —John 13:34
Commands throughout history have been God's way of blessing His people. Just as sin entered the world through Adam's disobedience to God's command in the garden, so salvation entered through Jesus' obedience to the Father's command on the cross (Rm 5:18). The whole Old Testament, from the Law to the prophets and the Wisdom tradition, attempted to restore God's chosen people to obedience. Moses again and again exhorts the people to obey the commands, statutes and ordinances of the law, stop their wanderings, and let God lead them into the promised land (Dt 6:2).
Jesus usually heals through commands. The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey God (Acts 5:32). Those who say "Lord, Lord" and those with spiritual powers will not necessarily enter the kingdom but only those who do the will of the heavenly Father (Mt 7:21). Obeying God's command is the way of salvation, of healing, of the Spirit, and of the kingdom.
At the Last Supper, the night before He died, Jesus gave three commands: "Take and eat," "take and drink," and "do this in memory of Me." Jesus continues to command us, while the devil continues to tempt the children of Adam to disobedience. Never in history have there been so many opportunities to receive Jesus' body and blood. Let us obey the Master's commands and take, eat, drink and "do this in memory" of Jesus (1 Cor 11:24, our translation).
Prayer: Jesus, may I learn obedience, even if I learn it as You did by suffering (Heb 5:8).
JESUS, THE PRIEST PRESENT
"Jesus, because He remains forever, has a priesthood which does not pass away." —Hebrews 7:24
Would you like to hear Jesus read and preach His word? Go to Mass. At Mass, Jesus is the High Priest (Vatican II, Liturgy, 8). He reads, preaches, prays, and celebrates through His instrument, the priest. Even if the priest does not serve well as God's instrument, Jesus will minister the word despite the priest, if not through him.
Go to Mass expecting a special ministry of the word from Jesus. Do this for a set period of time, for a week or a month. You will experience the word burning in your heart (Lk 24:32). Not only will Jesus the High Priest teach you, He will exhort, convict, and confirm you. His ministry of the word will span several areas of your life as well as your past, present, and future. In the Eucharist, you will experience that "God's word is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword" (Heb 4:12).
Prepare for Jesus to intensely minister His word to you. Read the Scripture selections for the Mass at least once. Know the Biblical context of these readings by reading the verses before and after the eucharistic passages. Share with others what Jesus is doing in your life through His word. Let the Word feed you with the word.
Prayer: Lord, I repent of not hearing and obeying You at Mass. May the Eucharist be the special moment of communication between us.
PROTESTANTS AND CATHOLICS
"Because the loaf of bread is one, we, many though we are, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf." —1 Corinthians 10:17
As we read the Scriptures, we see the word and the bread complement each other in a life-changing process through which we meet the living God. On resurrection-day, Jesus interpreted the Scriptures for the two disciples throughout the afternoon, but they recognized Him only in the breaking of the bread (Lk 24:13-35). After several hours of hearing God's word read and taught, God's people shared a meal that completed the renewal of the covenant (Neh 8). Before Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish at the multiplication meal, He taught at great length (Mk 6:34).
We have tragically separated the word and bread by our sinful divisions within the body of Christ. Protestants cried out "Scripture alone." Catholics retaliated by unofficially de-emphasizing the word and emphasizing the Eucharist apart from the word. As we both tried to win, we both lost—losing the unity of the body of Christ and therefore the evangelizing power of that body. Protestants sometimes lost the eucharistic fulfillment of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Catholics often lost the beginning of the encounter with the Word made flesh (Jn 1:14) and thereby lost perspective about what was really happening in the Mass. Protestants lost the end; Catholics lost the beginning.
We must reunite what should never have been divided. Catholics must get into the word and repent of Bible illiteracy. Protestants must open up to eucharistic Communion and realize a burning heart falls short of recognizing Christ (Lk 24:31-32). As the world converts Christianity rather than vice versa, we must repent and unite around the table of the Lord.
Prayer: Father, we pray that we may be one as You and Jesus are One (Jn 17:21). Forgive us.
EAT AND RUN
"This is how you are to eat it: with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight. It is the Passover of the Lord." —Exodus 12:11
The Israelites, ready to leave at a moment's notice, ate the Passover, the prefigurement of the Eucharist. They did not even have time for the bread to rise. The Last Supper, the new passover, began Jesus' journey up Calvary hill to His cross and death. The second Eucharist began a return journey by two disciples to Jerusalem from Emmaus (Lk 24:33). The Eucharist also began the first missionary journey (Acts 13:2).
The Eucharist, from Exodus through the Gospels to the present, is set in the context of a journey. The Eucharist initiates a much greater journey than that from Egypt to the Promised Land. It is a journey that transcends the geography of Emmaus, Antioch, and even of Calvary. It goes beyond planet earth, beyond outer space, to inner space. The new Passover, the Eucharist, initiates a journey into the depths of divinity (see Eph 3:18).
Right now, so many Christians are journeying to Mass—walking all day through the Mexican desert to a mission chapel for monthly Mass; rushing from alleys through quickly closed doors into back rooms for "illegal" Eucharists in Communist China, and Muslim countries, parading and dancing in festal garments at African village Eucharists; driving through city streets in pre-dawn darkness to big churches with little people praying lonely Masses. In these Masses, these Christians are "massed" ("sent") on their journey as walking tabernacles to a world estranged from the presence of God, walking both into God's beloved world and into the heart of God's Beloved. Through the Eucharist we walk in God who is bigger than all our journeys.
Prayer: Jesus, today give me the courage to go through my heart of darkness into Your heart of light.
RECEIVING THE HEALER
"Jesus said to them, 'The healthy do not need a doctor; sick people do. I have not come to invite the righteous to a change of heart, but sinners.' " —Luke 5:31-32 (our translation)
Doctor Jesus has a diet for you. Doctors have always stressed the connection between healing and eating. Hospitals have nutritionists who plan a variety of menus so that, through proper nutrition, patients can be healed. In an exceptional way, the meal at the Lord's table, the Eucharist, brings healing into our lives. Imagine receiving into your body not medicine or vitamins but Jesus, the Creator of all medicines, of vitamins, and of everything. What an awesome healing from His body in your body!
When the early Church broke bread, the faithful customarily took Jesus' body and blood to the sick. Eventually, they kept Holy Communion afterwards in a container, a tabernacle, to be able to take Communion at any time to the sick. The Church uses the technical phrase, "to reserve the Blessed Sacrament." A reservation for whom? For the sick. Thus, the Eucharist has been historically a means of healing.
The Eucharist is such strong medicine that, if not taken as directed, it can make us sick or even kill us (1 Cor 11:30). This, like any strong medicine, does not indicate a lack of healing power, but exceptional healing power.
Whenever possible, go to Communion first before going to a doctor or hospital. It will save you money and trouble. The next time you have a physical pain, receive Communion with the express purpose of receiving healing for a particular part of your body. You will personally experience the healing power of the sacrament physically and spiritually.
Prayer: Jesus, may I clearly experience the healing power of the Eucharist in the next two weeks.
LEAVING MASS EARLY
"Jesus replied, 'Did I not choose the Twelve of you Myself? Yet one of you is a devil.' " —John 6:70
Satan attends Mass until the praise and worship becomes so great he can't stand it any longer. If Satan is not praised out of church, he creates division (1 Cor 11:17-18). At Mass, Satan tries to blaspheme the Lord by perpetrating uncharitableness, lusts, and apathy to promote an anti-praise, Spirit-quenching, deadening atmosphere. Not only should Satan be forced to leave Mass early, but also to leave alone those in the community that he is oppressing or harassing. Therefore, Masses must be more than "lively" or "meaningful." They must be filled with the Spirit of love, faith, and worship.
Since our world is so careless with the devil and doubtful of his existence and influence, Satan has a hold on millions of people (see Acts 10:38). We therefore have an overwhelming task of setting the captives free. In the Eucharist, we confront the evil one and break the chains that have bound individuals for many years, even generations. The Eucharist is the making present of Jesus' total and irreversible victory over Satan.
Prayer: Jesus, if You set us free, we are free indeed (Jn 8:36). Free us to free others.
"I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to guard them from the evil one." —John 17:15
We hear about so many people having cancer or other diseases. We naturally are afraid that something like that may happen to us. We feel a need for protection. We are also conscious, even excessively so, of protecting our national and personal security. We also try to protect our eyes from the sun, our cars from rust, and our lungs from pollution, etc. At every Eucharist, we can experience the abiding protection of God, our Father. At the Passover, He protected the Jewish firstborn from certain death. At the new Passover, we also receive protection from illness, emotional disease, untimely death, and other evils. At the end of His life, He prayed specifically and repeatedly for our protection: "O Father most holy, protect them with Your name which You have given Me" (Jn 17:11).
We know the devil is "prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Pt 5:8). We see situations in which Satan has stolen people's faith, love, hope, health, sanity, family, marriage, peace, and courage. Obviously, we need protection from the prince of death and his fallen angels. Through the Eucharist, the new Passover, the Lord guards us. Under His wings we take refuge; though a thousand fall at our side, ten thousand at our right, near us it shall not come (Ps 91:7).
Prayer: "I love you, O Lord, my Strength, O Lord, my Rock, my Fortress, my Deliverer. My God, my Rock of refuge, my Shield, the Horn of my salvation, my Stronghold! Praised be the Lord, I exclaim, and I am safe from my enemies" (Ps 18:2-4).
"STAR LIGHT, STAR BRIGHT..."
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; whereupon He vanished from their sight." —Luke 24:31
In the Bible, stars have nothing to do with "twinkle, twinkle," with ornamentation, or with dreamland. Rather, a star signifies power, specifically the power of light over darkness. Balaam prophesied: "I see Him, though not now; I behold Him, though not near: A Star shall advance from Jacob" (Nm 24:17). The Bible calls Jesus the Morning Star (Rv 22:16). This Star not only shines in the night-time battle but also has complete victory at dawn.
In our darkness, we all have blind spots. Jesus repeatedly must say to us: "Do you still not see or comprehend? Are your minds completely blinded?" (Mk 8:17) Our blind spots can kill us. If we are honest with ourselves, we know we are blind in ways more devastating than even physical blindness. Jesus said: "If you were blind, there would be no sin in that. 'But we see,' you say, and your sin remains" (Jn 9:41). At the second Mass, Jesus opened the eyes of two of His disciples, "and they recognized Him...in the breaking of bread" (Lk 24:31, 35). When we admit our blindness due to sin and turn to the eucharistic Jesus, He overcomes that blinding darkness (see 1 Jn 2:11) and "the Morning Star" rises in our hearts (2 Pt 1:19).
Prayer: Lord, I want to see (Mk 10:51).
"When Jesus heard this, He withdrew by boat from there to a deserted place by Himself. The crowds heard of it and followed Him on foot from the towns." —Matthew 14:13
The early Church commonly called the Eucharist "the breaking of the bread". This expression comes from the multiplication of the loaves and fish when Jesus took bread, blessed it, and broke it (Mt 14:19; 5:36). The early Church probably considered this miracle the major teaching on the Eucharist.
So many of our days and lives seem to be "fruitless toil, for they pass quickly and we drift away" (Ps 90:10). "Vanity of vanities" is time's verdict on much of our efforts (Eccl 1:2). Even when our activities appear fruitful, our efforts and lives appear inconsequential in the ocean of suffering humanity. We bring forward our loaves-and-fish lives seeking some technological amplification. We fantasize about fame as we stare at our beloved TVs; we seek power, meaning, or numbers but are left with our little loaves—more aware of our emptiness than ever.
The Eucharist is that transformer that makes our "little" lives worth living. Our loaves and fishes—the dishes, the laundry, the cleaning, the cooking, the busy-work, the assembly line, the routine—can be brought to the Eucharist. Jesus takes them into His hands; He blesses, breaks, and multiplies them. Now, our little lives miraculously contain immeasurable power. Even the slightest thought or action becomes pregnant with meaning. Nothing is insignificant in the hands of the Master—especially at His multiplication table.
Prayer: Jesus, may I give You every loaf and fish, no matter how many or how few. May I give You "all," the only multipliable gift.
FIT FOR A KING
"At these words one in the party said to Him, 'Happy is he who eats bread in the kingdom of God.' " —Luke 14:15
Celebrating the Eucharist brings about a continuing realization that the kingdom has begun and Jesus the King is immovably enthroned, seated forever at the right hand of the Father. Jesus said He would not eat again of the bread and drink of the cup until He had entered into the kingdom (Mk 14:25). On the evening of Resurrection Sunday, Jesus ate again. Through His Passion, death, resurrection, and glorification, Jesus entered into His kingdom. the Eucharist constantly reminds us that the kingdom of Jesus has come and is coming to be realized on the face of the earth.
We desperately need this reminder as we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). God's kingdom is in our midst (Lk 17:21), and King Jesus reigns supreme, but we do not see it clearly, for we are in the midst of putting His enemies beneath His feet (Heb 2:8). Satan tries to have us look at the storm and the wind as we walk on the water (Mt 14:30). Nevertheless, if through the Eucharist we remember Jesus' kingdom, we will keep our eyes fixed on Him and continue to walk on the water.
As His eucharistic body is received into our bodies, a clear light burns away the haze of doubt and confusion. Our kingdom vision is restored. Receiving the King in Communion helps us realize the kingdom. Thus, we see life not in a distorted, perspective, but from the vantage point of Jesus' throne.
Prayer: Jesus, give me kingdom vision. May I see for miles as I stand on the heights of the Eucharist.
"He who feeds on My flesh and drinks My blood has life eternal, and I will raise him up on the last day." —John 6:54
How do you know you will rise from the dead? Because:
(1) you have Jesus' word on it.
(2) you have been baptized into His death and resurrection (Rm 6:5).
(3) you have the Spirit as the Downpayment (2 Cor 1:22; 5:5).
(4) you have the promise that whoever eats Jesus' flesh and drinks His blood will be raised up.
Jesus said: "No one can come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me draws him" (Jn 6:44). The Father draws us forward to the eucharistic Jesus, and Jesus draws us upward to the heavenly Father. That same draw, drive, spiritual attraction that leads us forward to the Communion table will draw us upward to the heavenly Messianic banquet. Jesus said: "If I be lifted up, I will draw all to Myself" (Jn 12:32, our translation). If we have a strong draw to the eucharistic Jesus, we can expect that the draw upward from the eucharistic glorified Lord will raise up our mortal bodies to meet Him in the air (1 Thes 4:17) and take us to the heavenly Father.
Pray for a powerful draw to the eucharistic Lord. Pray for confidence in the eucharistic promises of our resurrection (Jn 6:39, 40, 44, 47, 50, 51, 54, 58). Be free from the slavery and paralysis that results from fear of death (Heb 2:14-15). Live the resurrection victory now and receive the fulfillment of that victory on the last day. Draw your strength from the resurrection (1 Pt 1:3) to live as resurrection people each Mass and each day.
Prayer: Father, through the eucharistic Jesus, free me from the fear of death and for the fullness of life.
MARRIAGE AND MASS
"They are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, let no man separate what God has joined." —Matthew 19:6
Pope John Paul II has emphasized the relationship between marriage and the Eucharist. "The Eucharist is the very source of Christian marriage. The eucharistic sacrifice, in fact, represents Christ's covenant of love with the Church, sealed with His blood on the Cross. In this sacrifice of the New and Eternal Covenant, Christian spouses encounter the source from which their own marriage covenant flows, is interiorly structured and continuously renewed" (The Family in the Modern World, 57). The Eucharist brings about a miracle of marital unity that no human effort could possibly accomplish.
A couple united in the sacrament of matrimony becomes one flesh. However, it is a curse to be one flesh if there is not a unity of mind, heart, and spirit. Imagine being physically united to someone you can't stand. Yet many married couples do not have to imagine that; this is part of their married "existence."
Through God's grace at Mass, a miraculous growth in spiritual unity can be effected so that a couple's relationship is a living model of Christ's love for the Church (Eph 5:32). This does not mean that a couple merely sits next to each other during the Mass. Nor does it mean the couple has an unusually inspiring feeling or experience during the Mass. It means that the couple, with all their weaknesses and sins, really tries to communicate with God during the Mass and together express their love for the Lord. As the couple draws close to the Lord, they draw closer to each other.
Prayer: Father, make Christian marriages miracles to Your glory.
"This is My body...this is My blood." —Mark 14:22-24
A hope of the Second Vatican Council was to increase eucharistic love. Pope Paul VI said, "We therefore earnestly hope that rich fruits of eucharistic devotion will grow from the restored sacred liturgy" (On the Holy Eucharist, 6). The Council stated that the Eucharist is "the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the fountain from which all her power flows" (Vatican II, Liturgy, 10). The Church teaches that "the Holy Eucharist contains the entire spiritual treasure of the Church, that is, Christ Himself, our Passover and living Bread," and Jesus' eucharistic presence is His presence "par excellence" (Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass, 1, 7).
Pope John Paul II spoke of the great need for eucharistic adoration, a sign of authentic renewal: "The encouragement and the deepening of eucharistic worship are proofs of that authentic renewal which the Council set itself as an aim and of which they are the central point. And this, venerable and dear brothers, deserves separate reflection. The Church and the world have a great need of eucharist worship" (On the Mystery and Worship of the Eucharist, 3). Pastors are exhorted to make eucharistic adoration readily available to the faithful: "Both private and public devotion toward the Eucharist, therefore, including devotion outside Mass are strongly encouraged..." (Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass, 79). Perpetual adoration seems a logical consequence of the fact that the whole Christ is truly, really and substantially contained in the Eucharist (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1374). Knowing that this is His body and blood, what else can we do!
Prayer: Jesus, may I want to be with You. May my faith in Your real eucharistic presence express itself in adoration.
THE CENTER STEPS
"For You my flesh pines and my soul thirsts." —Psalm 63:2
How can we begin to center our lives on the Eucharist?
Step 1: Make the Lord's day a "day"—not just an hour-long Mass. Spend the whole day preparing for and flowing from the Eucharist (Ex 20:8). Whether it's prayer, Bible, fellowship, or rest, center it on the Eucharist. Drop anything contrary to the spirit of Sunday.
Step 2: Go to Mass when you don't have to. In your commitment to Jesus and the body of Christ, you have agreed to pray the Mass every Sunday and holyday. However, go beyond the letter of the law (2 Cor 3:6). Break the Sunday barrier. Go to Mass on some other day. Go because you love Him and not only because of obligation.
Step 3: Go to Mass daily for a month. Go with a particular intention in mind. Ask God to lead you and show you His will. After a month, you'll probably go to Mass daily for the rest of your life.
Step 4: Take time in adoration before the body and blood of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Adoration simply continues Holy Communion. When you fall in love with Jesus, Communion time is always too short.
Prayer: Jesus, may I desire to receive You at Holy Communion more than I desire anything else in life.
"With great desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." —Luke 22:15 (our translation)
You have completed twenty days of reflections on Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Just thinking about His eucharistic presence is a great privilege; actually receiving His body and blood is even more so. To continue growing in love for the eucharistic Lord, share what the Lord has done in your life this past month. Pass this book on to whomever the Lord brings to your attention. If you put your lamp on the lampstand for all to see (Lk 8:16), the Lord will continue to light you. Be a sanctuary lamp lighting the way to eucharistic love.
Nihil obstat: Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, September 7, 1998.
Imprimatur: † Most Reverend Bishop Carl Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, September 14, 1998.
The Nihil obstat and Imprimatur are a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free from doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions, or statements expressed.