Holy Eucharist – Sacrament
(Love’s Deepest Intimacy)
Peace be to you.
Sacrament of the Eucharist
The whole world really has a hunger for God.
As Augustine put it, “Our hearts were made for Thee, Oh, Lord, and they are restless until they rest in Thee.”
When our Blessed Lord saw a very hungry crowd, He said, “I am sorry for the multitude, they have nothing to eat.” (Matthew 15:32) What He gave them on that occasion is the subject of this lesson, and it brings us to the sacrament of the Eucharist.
In order that we may keep the parallel and the analogy between the natural life and the supernatural life:
- it will be recalled that in order to lead a physical life we must be born to it.
- In order to lead a supernatural life, we have to be born to it, and that is the sacrament of baptism.
- Then, once we are born, we must grow physically.
- Spiritually, too, we must achieve maturity and accept responsibilities; that is the sacrament of confirmation.
- Now we come to the new element in life. If life is ever to live, it must nourish itself.
- If Divine Life is to live, It, too, needs Its nourishment. That is the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is the greatest of all the sacraments
- The Eucharist is the greatest of all the sacraments because it contains, in a substantial way, the Person of Christ, who is the Author of Life.
- It is the one sacrament to which all of the other sacraments look.
Imagine six arrows in a circle all pointing to a center. The center is the Eucharist, the six arrows are the other sacraments. The Eucharist is the sun around which the other sacraments revolve as planets. All of the other sacraments share in its power, and they perfect themselves in the celebration of the Eucharist.
- It is a sacrament that is so sublime that human reason could never guess at it. Divine Love is far deeper than we know.
The Spirtual is the voice and the natural is the echo:
Now the aim of this spoken encyclopedia is not to tell you what you must believe, but to explain the faith to you.
So we begin describing and explaining the Eucharist through the analogy of biology.
All natural laws are reflections of Spiritual Laws; it is not the other way around. The Spiritual is the voice and the Natural is the echo.
Take, for example, the law of gravitation. That is a physical law which describes the way that all material objects tend toward the earth as its center and as their center. But, in addition to that, there is the spiritual law of gravitation by which all things are drawn to God. Material gravitation is really a reflection of spiritual.
The Law of Communion:
- Now we come to another law not in the physical order, but in the order of biology, and that law is very simple. It is the law of communion – to live we must eat.
- All life lives through communion with some other form of life. There’s nothing on this earth that does not obey that law in some way or other.
- You take, for example, plant life. Though it does not commune in another kind of life, nevertheless, it is dependent upon something else for its existence. So the plant life will go down to the earth for water and phosphates and carbonates, and it also draws much life from the sun. If these chemicals were blotted out and the sun were blotted out so as to deprive plant life of communion, it would perish. You take plant life. That is, as we said, a communion with lower life, but when we get to animal life the law becomes far more clear.
- There is still greater need of nourishment; it needs, of course, nourishment from the mineral order like sunlight, air, and so forth. But the nourishment of the animal comes from plant life. From the very moment the animal comes into being, there is a quest for nourishment. Its fundamental instinct is to seek food. The animal roaming in the field, the fish swimming in the ocean, the eagle in the air, all are in search of daily bread. Without ever knowing it, they acknowledge the law that life is impossible without nourishment, that life grows only by life, and the joy of living comes only from communion with another kind of life.
Now when you come to Man, the same law applies.
- He has a body, just as animals, and that body clamors for food and more delicate food. Our body is not content, as the plant, to take its food from the ground raw, uncooked and unseasoned. It seeks the refinement that comes from a higher creature and in doing so, it acknowledges that universal law of life: that every living thing must nourish itself.
- Life lives by life, and the joy of living is enhanced by communion with another form of life.
But here we come to a difference. Man has a soul as well as a body.
- Does not his soul demand food?
- And, since his soul is spiritual, does it not require some spiritual food?
There is nothing on this earth that can completely satisfy this soul hunger of man, simply because it is an unearthly hunger. Everything in this universe demands a nourishment that is suited to its nature. A canary does not use the same kind of food as a boa constrictor because its nature is different.
Demands a spiritual food
- Man’s soul is spiritual and, therefore, it demands a spiritual food. Now, what will that food be?
- Well, that question was answered by our Blessed Lord in the plains alongside of the shores of Galilee, and the occasion was, too, when men were hungry.
Our Blessed Lord saw thousands passing in a Passover caravan, hurrying on to Jerusalem. He remarked that they were toiling up the hill in small groups. Some of them were very spent from long walks, particularly mothers dragging their children, and old, who longed for the refreshment of life. And our Blessed Lord’s Heart goes out to them. He proposes to feed them. Andrew, the apostle, pointed to a boy who had five barley loaves and two fishes. These our Blessed Lord took. Notice the way the Gospel describes what our Lord did. Notice, also, the parallel between this description and the Last Supper. We are quoting the Gospel of Mark:
“And He took up the five loaves and two fishes and looked up to heaven and blessed and broke the loaves and gave to His disciples.” (Mark 6:41)
With these five barley loaves and two fishes, our Blessed Lord fed the multitude of thousands. It was, indeed, a miracle of multiplication. A grain of wheat multiplies in the ground; so the bread and fishes, by a divinely hastened process, are multiplied until, the Gospel says, “everyone had his fill”. (Mark 6:42)
- Do you suppose if our Blessed Lord gave out money instead of bread, the Gospel would have said that everyone had his fill?
Well, the effect of this miracle was stupendous because they saw the bread and the fishes increasing, and the people saw the possibility of making our Lord a king that would bring prosperity and plenty, so they sought to make Him king. That’s what people want, even from God that walks this earth, economic prosperity.
Temptation of Satan on the mountain (Matthew 4:2-4)
- It was almost like the temptation of Satan on the mountain. Remember, Satan asked our Blessed Lord to turn the stones into bread, to make Himself an economic provider? And so the people now wanted our Lord to be a king, an economic, political king that would fill their gullets and their stomachs, and if He did that He would have power according to them, and our Lord, knowing that they wished to make Him king, fled into the mountains alone. They could not make Him king. He was born a King.
- It could very well have been that this flight from political kingship disillusioned Judas.
- Do you know that the first record that we have of the fall of Judas takes place when our Blessed Lord here announces and promises the Eucharist? (John 6:50-64) And the fall of Judas comes when our Blessed Lord gives the Eucharist at the Last Supper. It was the Eucharist that disillusioned Judas. (John 13:26-27) Judas knew that our Lord was not going to be an economic king.
- We said that our Blessed Lord left the multitude when they sought to make Him king. And then, the next morning, He is found at Capharnaum by the people. They were curious how He got there, and when they asked Him, His answer was to reprimand them because they were identifying religion with soup kitchens. And He said, and we quote the Gospel of John, “Believe me, if you are looking for Me now, it is not because of the miracles you have seen. It is because you were fed with loaves and had your fill.” (John 6:22-27)
- By these words, our Lord indicated that they had not taken the miracle as a sign of His Divinity.
- They were looking for Him instead of to
Our Lord contines then to reproach them, and these are His words. “You should not work to earn food which perishes in the using. Work to earn food which affords continually Eternal Life, such food as the Son of Man will give you. God the Father has authorized Him.” (John 6:26-27)
Our Lord is here setting in contrast two kinds of bread:
- the bread that perishes and
- the bread that endures to life everlasting.
And He cautioned them against following him as a donkey following a master who holds a carrot.
To lift their carnal minds to eternal food, He suggested that they seek the food that the Heavenly Father had sealed or authorized.
- This refers to oriental bread, which was often sealed with the official mark of the name of the baker. In fact, the Talmudic word for “baker” is related to “seal”.
- Just as hosts used in the mass have a seal upon them such as a lamb or a cross, so our Lord was implying that the bread that He would give them was sealed or affirmed by His Father, namely Himself.
They were not satisfied: (John 6:30-51)
- They were not satisfied. And so they protested that maybe this miracle was not as great as it seemed. They wanted some further proof that the Father had authorized Him. He gave them bread, yes, but that was not stupendous.
They argued, had not Moses given them bread from heaven in the desert?
- Their argument now was, “What proof is there that you are greater than Moses?” They minimized His miracle, you see, by comparing Him to Moses, and by comparing the bread to the manna that was given in the desert. Our Lord had, indeed, fed the multitude only once and Moses had fed the multitude for 40 years in the desert, so they made light of the gift.
- Our Lord took up the challenge. He said that the manna that they had received from Moses was not Heavenly bread, nor had it come from heaven. Furthermore, it nourished only one nation for a brief space of time, and it was not Moses who gave the manna, it was His Father.
- And, finally, the bread which He would give would nourish unto everlasting life. Then He told them that the True Bread comes down from Heaven and they said, “Give us this bread”, and He answered, “It is I Who am the Bread of Life.” (John 6:51)
Now He makes the shadow of the Cross appear. (John 6:51-71)
Bread must be broken.
- He who came from God must die on the cross as a result of the sins of the world. These are His words: “And now, what is this Bread which I am to give? It is my Flesh, given for the Life of the world.”
Then the Jews fell to disputing one with another, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”
Whereupon, Jesus said to them, “Believe Me when I tell you this, you can have no life in yourselves unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood.”
- Notice that He is picturing Himself as One who gives Himself, that is to say, gives Himself in death, and the Flesh and Blood that He will give them is not just that flesh and blood that they see, it will be the Flesh and Blood that will be glorified, ascended into heaven, at the right hand of the Father, and He said that He would give it for the world.
Now they begin to understand that these lambs that they saw that were going up to Jerusalem to lose their blood were only a symbol of the Pascal lamb, the Lamb of God.
He passes into His glory from Himself to us (John 6:60-71)
- And then He said to them that they were to live by Him as He lived by the Father. His words were, “As I live because of the Father, the Living Father Who has sent Me, so He who eats will live, in his turn, because of Me.” (John 6:57)
*** Our Blessed Lord is here saying that the Life that passes from Father to Son is now the Life that will pass when He passes into His glory from Himself to us.***Is there anything strange about it? They knew that it was strange.
- They all knew what He meant, that He was the Bread of Life, and that we would have to nourish ourselves on His Life.
- They understood that as the reason why Judas broke. Some of the disciples left and walked with Him no more, saying, “This saying is hard and who can bear it?”
- And then it was that Our Blessed Lord turned to Peter, the Rock, and said, “Will you also go away?” And Peter, the Rock, answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou alone hast the words of Eternal Life.” He meant what He said; they knew it.
Our Lord would never have permitted His disciples to have left if they had misunderstood Him.
Now what He promised that day, He fulfills the night of the Last Supper. (Luke 22:15-20)
- We will have occasion to talk of that at great length, but it suffices for the moment to recall that this particular night He gathered all of his apostles round about Him. The next day He will die. He institutes a memorial of His death and of His resurrection and He who said that He was the Bread of Life now, in the words of the Gospel, “Took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My Body given for you.”
- Notice, He said, over the bread, “This IS My Body.” He did not say, “This represents My body”, “This symbolizes My body”, “This is a token of My body”, but, “This IS My Body.”
- Notice that He also said, “ given for you.” Given on the Cross. And then, taking wine into His hands in the chalice, He said, “Drink, all of you of this, for this is my Blood of the New Testament, shed for many to the remission of sins.” Over the chalice of wine, He said, “This is My Blood”, not,“this represents”, but “IT IS” and, as the Old Covenant or Testament was ratified with blood, so now He ratifies, as He said, the New Testament. with His Blood.
Did our Lord mean what He said?
**We believe it. What makes our faith unique is this: that we do not pick and choose among the words of our Blessed Lord. We do not fool around with them. When He said, “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven”, we believe it. That is why there is the Sacrament of Penance.**
- When He called Peter “The Rock”, we believe it.
- And now, when He said, “This is My body, this is My blood”, we believe it.
And so, the law of communion continues through the universe.
>>>If the plants could speak, they would say to the animals, “Unless you eat me, you shall not have life in you.”
>>> If the animals could speak, they would say to man, “Unless you eat me, you shall not have life in you.”
And Christ speaks to us and says, “Unless you eat Me, you shall not have Life in you.”
The law of transformation holds sway.
Chemicals are transformed into plants, plants into animals, animals into man, and man into Christ – Christ, the Divine Pelican. According to the legend, the pelican wounds itself in order that it might nourish its young.
So He gave His life to sustain our life, and the greatest joy in the world is Communion with the very Life of God!
God love you.
1. In today’s lesson on – Holy Eucharist what stood out the most to you?
2. Why do you think Bishop Sheen gave the subtitle “Love’s Deepest Intimacy” to this lesson?
3. How would you explain to someone seeking a deeper understanding of the Sacrament – Holy Eucharist?
4. Now that you have learned more about – Sacrament – Holy Eucharist
– what changes do you think this will have in your daily life?
SACRAMENT Holy Eucharist .
611. “The EUCHARIST that Christ institutes at that moment will be the memorial of his sacrifice.[1 Cor 11:25 .] Jesus includes the apostles in his own offering and bids them perpetuate it.[Cf. Lk 22:19 .] By doing so, the Lord institutes his apostles as priests of the New Covenant: ‘For their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.'[Jn 17:19 ; cf. Council of Trent: DS 1752; 1764.]”
737. “The mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. This joint mission henceforth brings Christ’s faithful to share in his communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prepares men and goes out to them with his grace, in order to draw them to Christ. The Spirit manifests the risen Lord to them, recalls his word to them and opens their minds to the understanding of his Death and Resurrection. He makes present the mystery of Christ, supremely in the EUCHARIST, in order to reconcile them, to bring them into communion with God, that they may ‘bear much fruit.'[Jn 15:8,16 .]”
766. “The Church is born primarily of Christ’s total self-giving for our salvation, anticipated in the institution of the EUCHARIST and fulfilled on the cross. ‘The origin and growth of the Church are symbolized by the blood and water which flowed from the open side of the crucified Jesus.'[LG 3; cf. Jn 19:34 .] ‘For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the ‘wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.”[SC 5.] As Eve was formed from the sleeping Adam’s side, so the Church was born from the pierced heart of Christ hanging dead on the cross.[Cf. St. Ambrose, In Luc. 2, 85-89 PL 15,1666-1668.]”
790. “Believers who respond to God’s word and become members of Christ’s Body, become intimately united with him: ‘In that body the life of Christ is communicated to those who believe, and who, through the sacraments, are united in a hidden and real way to Christ in his Passion and glorification.'[LG 7.] This is especially true of Baptism, which unites us to Christ’s death and Resurrection, and the EUCHARIST, by which ‘really sharing in the body of the Lord, . . . we are taken up into communion with him and with one another.'[LG 7; cf. Rom 6:4-5 ; 1 Cor 12:13 .]”
950. “Communion of the sacraments. ‘The fruit of all the sacraments belongs to all the faithful. All the sacraments are sacred links uniting the faithful with one another and binding them to Jesus Christ, and above all Baptism, the gate by which we enter into the Church. The communion of saints must be understood as the communion of the sacraments…. The name ‘communion’ can be applied to all of them, for they unite us to God…. But this name is better suited to the EUCHARIST than to any other, because it is primarily the EUCHARIST that brings this communion about.'[Roman Catechism 1, 10, 24.]”
960. “The Church is a ‘communion of saints’: this expression refers first to the ‘holy things’ (sancta), above all the EUCHARIST, by which ‘the unity of believers, who form one body in Christ, is both represented and brought about’ (LG 3).”
1000. “This ‘how’ exceeds our imagination and understanding; it is accessible only to faith. Yet our participation in the EUCHARIST already gives us a foretaste of Christ’s transfiguration of our bodies:
Just as bread that comes from the earth, after God’s blessing has been invoked upon it, is no longer ordinary bread, but EUCHARIST, formed of two things, the one earthly and the other heavenly: so too our bodies, which partake of the EUCHARIST, are no longer corruptible, but possess the hope of resurrection.[St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 4, 18, 4-5: PG 7/1, 1028-1029.]”
1003. “United with Christ by Baptism, believers already truly participate in the heavenly life of the risen Christ, but this life remains ‘hidden with Christ in God.'[Col 3:3 ; cf. Phil 3:20 .] The Father has already ‘raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.'[Eph 2:6 .] Nourished with his body in the EUCHARIST, we already belong to the Body of Christ. When we rise on the last day we ‘also will appear with him in glory.'[Col 3:4 .]”
1094. “It is on this harmony of the two Testaments that the Paschal catechesis of the Lord is built,[Cf. DV 14-16; Lk 24:13-49 .] and then, that of the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church. This catechesis unveils what lay hidden under the letter of the Old Testament: the mystery of Christ. It is called ‘typological’ because it reveals the newness of Christ on the basis of the ‘figures’ (types) which announce him in the deeds, words, and symbols of the first covenant. By this re-reading in the Spirit of Truth, starting from Christ, the figures are unveiled.[Cf. 2 Cor 3:14-16 .] Thus the flood and Noah’s ark prefigured salvation by Baptism,[Cf. 1 Pet 3:21 .] as did the cloud and the crossing of the Red Sea. Water from the rock was the figure of the spiritual gifts of Christ, and manna in the desert prefigured the EUCHARIST, ‘the true bread from heaven.'[Jn 6:32 ; cf. 1 Cor 10:1-6 .]”
1106. “Together with the anamnesis, the epiclesis is at the heart of each sacramental celebration, most especially of the EUCHARIST:
You ask how the bread becomes the Body of Christ, and the wine . . . the Blood of Christ I shall tell you: the HOLY Spirit comes upon them and accomplishes what surpasses every word and thought . . . Let it be enough for you to understand that it is by the HOLY Spirit, just as it was of the HOLY Virgin and by the HOLY Spirit that the Lord, through and in himself, took flesh.[St. John Damascene, De fide orth 4, 13: PG 94, 1145A.] ”
1113. “The whole liturgical life of the Church revolves around the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments.[Cf. SC 6.] There are seven sacraments in the Church: Baptism, Confirmation or Chrismation, EUCHARIST, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, HOLY Orders, and Matrimony.[Cf. Council of Lyons II (1274) DS 860; Council of Florence (1439) DS 1310; Council of Trent (1547): DS 1601.] This article will discuss what is common to the Church’s seven sacraments from a doctrinal point of view. What is common to them in terms of their celebration will be presented in the second chapter, and what is distinctive about each will be the topic of the Section Two. ”
1118. “The sacraments are ‘of the Church’ in the double sense that they are ‘by her’ and ‘for her.’ They are ‘by the Church,’ for she is the sacrament of Christ’s action at work in her through the mission of the HOLY Spirit. They are ‘for the Church’ in the sense that ‘the sacraments make the Church,'[St. Augustine, De civ. Dei, 22, 17: PL 41, 779; cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, STh III, 64,2 ad 3.] since they manifest and communicate to men, above all in the EUCHARIST, the mystery of communion with the God who is love, One in three persons.”
1406. “Jesus said: ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; . . . he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and . . . abides in me, and I in him’ (Jn 6:51, 54, 56).”
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1407. “The Eucharist is the heart and the summit of the Church’s life, for in it Christ associates his Church and all her members with his sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered once for all on the cross to his Father; by this sacrifice he pours out the graces of salvation on his Body which is the Church. ”
1408. “The Eucharistic celebration always includes: the proclamation of the Word of God; thanksgiving to God the Father for all his benefits, above all the gift of his Son; the consecration of bread and wine; and participation in the liturgical banquet by receiving the Lord’s body and blood. These elements constitute one single act of worship. ”
1409. “The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ’s Passover, that is, of the work of salvation accomplished by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, a work made present by the liturgical action. ”
1410. “It is Christ himself, the eternal high priest of the New Covenant who, acting through the ministry of the priests, offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. And it is the same Christ, really present under the species of bread and wine, who is the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice. ”
1411. “Only validly ordained priests can preside at the Eucharist and consecrate the bread and the wine so that they become the Body and Blood of the Lord. ”
1412. “The essential signs of the Eucharistic sacrament are wheat bread and grape wine, on which the blessing of the Holy Spirit is invoked and the priest pronounces the words of consecration spoken by Jesus during the Last Supper: ‘This is my body which will be given up for you…. This is the cup of my blood….'”
1413. “By the consecration the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity [cf. Council of Trent: DS 1640; 1651.].”
1414. “As sacrifice, the Eucharist is also offered in reparation for the sins of the living and the dead and to obtain spiritual or temporal benefits from God. ”
1415. “Anyone who desires to receive Christ in Eucharistic communion must be in the state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance. ”
1416. “Communion with the Body and Blood of Christ increases the communicant’s union with the Lord, forgives his venial sins, and preserves him from grave sins. Since receiving this sacrament strengthens the bonds of charity between the communicant and Christ, it also reinforces the unity of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ. ”
1417. “The Church warmly recommends that the faithful receive Holy Communion each time they participate in the celebration of the Eucharist; she obliges them to do so at least once a year. ”
1418. “Because Christ himself is present in the sacrament of the altar, he is to be honored with the worship of adoration. ‘To visit the Blessed Sacrament is . . . a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord’ (Paul VI, MF 66).”
1419. “Having passed from this world to the Father, Christ gives us in the Eucharist the pledge of glory with him. Participation in the Holy Sacrifice identifies us with his Heart, sustains our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life, and unites us even now to the Church in heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints. “