by Fr. Stan Fortuna, C.F.R.
While confirmation is necessary for the completion of the graces we get at baptism, it’s the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist, that "completes Christian initiation" (CCC #1322).
The Eucharist is called "the Most Blessed Sacrament" because "it is the Sacrament of sacraments" (CCC #1330). It’s the greatest sacrament because the Greatest Love is really and truly present. That’s the Lord Jesus.
There is no greater love than the Love that Jesus loved us with. No matter what else is said here, our being saved by Jesus is all about us being loved so much by Him.
Remember, Jesus is God, God is love, and Jesus is really and truly present — Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity — in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Case closed!
Are our hearts open to this gift? That’s another story! It’s really "the story"! Opening our hearts to so great a love!
We’re not talkin about a symbol here, but the real-
deal presence of Jesus. I put it this way in my song
"Take My Heart," from my CD of the same name:
Sometimes ya wonder about the mystery of the Bread.
The real deal Presence, no trip for the head.
Ya wanna live forever, ya gotta be fed.
His Body and Blood, (SORRY!) it’s what the Master said.
Feel His Love, feel the Power, as ya worship and adore.
Ya wanna live a new life and sin no more?
Let Him play His part, don’t let Him wait to start.
Ya gotta pray — take my heart.
Sometimes we would rather just hold on. What a pity.
I know it seems easier to hold on than to let go.
Anyway, lets get back to work.
Key Teachings About the Eucharist
Let me hit ya with a bunch of key teachings of the Church about the Holy Eucharist:
• "The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life’ " (CCC #1324).
• The Eucharist is the cause of communion that we have with God and each other. It is what makes us the People of God (check out CCC #1325).
• When we celebrate the Mass, our celebration is one with the heavenly liturgy and anticipates the eternal life we hope to share with God and His saints (check out CCC #1326).
• The Eucharist makes present the sacrifice of Christ’s death on the cross and adds to it our own sacrifices as an offering (check out CCC #1330).
• Jesus presides invisibly over every eucharistic celebration; the human minister — whether bishop or priest — represents Him (check out CCC #1348).
• The purpose of every Mass is communion of the faithful with Christ, and in receiving communion the faithful receive Christ himself (check out CCC #1382).
• Every Mass is celebrated in communion with the entire Body of Christ, both living and dead, both in heaven and on earth (check out CCC #1354).
This is awesome stuff! So tell me, why is church or goin to Mass borin? Believe me, it’s because of us! There ain’t nothin borin about Him! We’re not aware of what’s really goin on.
Don’t get me wrong. We sometimes get a lot of the wrong kind of help from priests and congregations that lack a real passion for Jesus. That lack of passion expresses itself in bad preachin, bad singin, lack of energy in the readin of the Word of God in church, bad fellowship before and durin and after Mass, and even in inexcusably bad sound systems! The list can go on.
That’s not the point! The point is, "in the Eucharist the Church is as it were at the foot of the cross with Mary, united with the offering and intercession of Christ" (CCC #1370). Chew on that for a while, and say good-bye to the "Mass is boring" thing! Time to wake up, folks! U got 2 believe!
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
The Eucharist involves many dimensions of human life: celebration, gathering, and meal, just to mention a few. The biggie is that the Eucharist is a sacrifice. That’s why we say "the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass."
The reason for this is that, whenever Mass is celebrated, the onetime sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is made present at that Mass in an unbloody manner.
Check this out:
Catechism of the Catholic Church #1366
Jesus wished to leave us a visible sacrifice for our sins.
You got to keep readin and re-readin what the Church is sayin here to really get this. We keep forgettin! We’re talkin here bout the greatest gift and mystery this side of heaven.
So what did you expect? Plug and play? Our minds are conditioned by this "plug and play," got-to-get-it right-away thing: immediate gratification. Not so with the Holy Eucharist, and not so with anything else in this life that’s really worth your while.
My Body Given Up for You
On Holy Thursday, Jesus instituted the Eucharist. He said, "Take this, all of you, and eat it: this is my body which will be given up for you." Then He took the cup and said, " Take this, all of you, and drink from it: this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this in memory of me."
The day after He said this, He did it — gave up His body and shed His blood that we might be saved by so great a love.
Just remember. When you forget, remember. The great mystery of the Eucharist is so much bigger that you, me, your parish, and our limited experience of reality.
Check this out: The Church teaches that in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, all of "creation loved by God is presented to the Father" (CCC #1559) through the Paschal Mystery (the death and resurrection of Christ). I could go on forever about the Eucharist. Hopefully, I will — and so will you! Know what I’m sayin? Jesus said, "Whoever eats of this bread will live forever" (John 6:51).
I want to share with you what JP said when I was in Rome on October 11, 2000, for his general audience. Stick with this and everything will be alright:
United to the sacrifice of Christ, the Church in the Eucharist gives voice to the praise of the entire creation. This must be corresponded to by the determination of each of the faithful to offer his existence, his "body" as St. Paul says, in a living communion with Christ.In this way, one unique life unites God and man,Christ crucified and risen for all, and the disciple called to give himself totally to him.
If we ain’t gettin a sense of the real presence of Jesus inside the church, we ain’t gonna get a sense of the real presence of Jesus outside the church. This is the "living communion with Christ" that the Holy Father is talkin about, which creates a bond of solidarity with all people — to be aware of the presence of Jesus in the poor and suffering, and in all peoples. Remember, rich people suffer too.
So if you’re bored with Jesus inside the church, you’re probably missin Him outside the church. Only you can make the difference. Will you?
Havin' taken a look at the sacraments of initiation — baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist — we now will look at the sacraments of healing: penance and the anointing of the sick. But before we move on, I should say that even though the Eucharist isn’t classified as a sacrament of healing, it has awesome healing power. Check out what St. Thomas Aquinas has to say about it: "No other sacrament has greater healing power; through it sins are purged away, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift.
Excerpt from U Got 2 Believe! by Fr. Stan Fortuna, C.F.R., Copyright © 2001 Our Sunday Visitor. All rights reserved. This book is out-of-print.