Editor’s Note: This is a re-post from last year; I thought it fit give that we celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi last Sunday.
My son just received his First Holy Communion, so I’ve been thinking and talking a lot about the Eucharist. A good place to start is the Catechism, paragraphs 1328-1332. There, the Church gives us a review of many names for the Eucharist and some of their significances.
What we receive is “Eucharist”, from the Greek for “thanksgiving”. We should be thankful to God not only for what He has given us individually, but for the very acts of creation that allow us to have anything at all, including life. We should give thanks for God’s continued sustenance of our physical lives and of our souls.
It is “the breaking of the bread” by which we all share of one bread of life. We are one body, one community, one church, even if we don’t always act like it. We make a profession of faith before receiving, so that we are all in communion with one faith before receiving.
It is “the holy sacrifice” because it re-presents, it makes present, the one sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross. What Jesus did was and is a sacrifice for our sins.
It is “the Divine liturgy”, the holy work which we are all called to do — to “do this” as Jesus commanded, to offer sacrifice and thanksgiving to God.
It is — He is — all these things and more.
My son just received his First Holy Communion. So, you know what? I’m not really thinking about those things. I’m thinking about family. I’m thinking about my wife and son, and I’m thinking about family that have gone before, that I wish were here to see him received Christ.
Of course, they are here, just not in a way I can normally perceive (though perhaps sometimes supernaturally perceive, by God’s grace). They are alive with Christ, whoever died in His friendship.
And, in some way I don’t fully understand, they are most present in the Eucharist. Why? Because they are part of the Body of Christ, and that is what I receive. (cf 1 Cor 12:27) If I am closest to Christ at that time, in a physical and spiritual way, then I am closest to all who are part of the Body: closest to my son who received his First Communion, closest to the people around me at Mass, and closest to my grandparents and all those who have gone before. While I may be able to know and recite things about the Eucharist from my head, it is in contemplating these things, in whatever small way I can for now, that I start to receive Him, too, in my heart. And it seems to be the heart that leads to head to use its knowledge, to go deeper into it, to make good things happen from it.
The Eucharist is now one more thing to me, one more thing that I know. It is something my son and I share. It is Christ’s presence physically in him, because of God’s love acting in his mother and I. It is God coming into his creation, breathing life into it, just as he did at the beginning. But now it is a creation that I was there for. It is, in a way, more real and certainly more personal. And that is something new I will keep with me, in my head and in my heart, with each reception of my Lord in the Eucharist.
Copyright 2015, Joe Wetterling