I used to consider going to Mass an obligation that took an hour ( if I had a short-winded priest) of my Sunday or Saturday evening. I wouldn’t put it past me to miss Mass if something better came up or if I had stayed out too late the night before, and just couldn’t rouse myself in time for even the latest Mass of the morning. I know that sounds horrible and, at the time, I didn’t even know that knowingly missing Mass was a sin and yet, my life was a mess. I was stressed, anxious and depressed and looking back, it’s not hard to see why.
We have Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church and these Sacraments are seven special means, instituted by Jesus Christ by which God reaches down to us and shares His Divine Life with us through Baptism, Confirmation, The Eucharist, Penance, The Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. They help us in our journey through life and give us special graces to handle the stressors, worries, and anxieties of living and the more we participate, the more graces we receive. Needless to say, I didn’t participate much and the graces were lacking.
The one Sacrament we have the ability to participate in almost daily is the Eucharist. It is the one Sacrament that all others are oriented. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, ” The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life by the invocation of the Holy Spirit and with bread and wine and the very words of Christ repeated by an ordained priest, become Christ’s own body, blood, soul and divinity.” CCC 1324 In other words, Christ is fully present through a process called Transubstantiation. If you break down that word, Trans means “to change,” and Substance means “the very essence of a thing.” Even though the outward appearances still resemble ordinary bread and wine, through the words given to the apostles by Jesus to ” Do this in memory of me,” transubstantiation changes the essence.
Both Scripture and Tradition tell us this is Christ fully present with us. God of the Universe can do what we can’t comprehend; yet, he doesn’t want to overwhelm our measly, little brains by coming to us in all his omnipotence and power. In the Bible, He appears to men in ways they could handle; like a burning bush, a cloud, or a still small voice. He was often called upon by the Israelites when they cried out to him when they feared they would starve. He sent Manna (which in Aramaic means, “what is it”) to them from Heaven to be gathered and eaten. The Jews ancestors were nourished by this “bread” while on their journey out of Egypt; however, they ultimately died. Jesus was sent by God to become the living bread, and whoever ate this bread would never die. But, why bread?
Bread is found throughout the Old Testament and, in many cultures today, it is a staple of one’s diet. We even have popularized terms like, “breaking bread,” for anything having to do with gathering to eat or, “gonna go make some bread,” for acquiring money to live. Isn’t it interesting that to live and eat are often associated with the word bread?
When poorly Catechized Catholics or non-Catholics attend Holy Mass and look at the bread and wine, I’m sure they ask themselves, “What is it?” and don’t fully understand their question should be “Who is it?” because the God of the Universe chose to appear to us in the form of bread and wine.
I’m sure you are still saying, “It still looks the same,” or, “I don’t see any changes in its appearance,” and that is because the outward appearance is still the same chemical make-up of bread and wine. What is really taking place during transubstantiation is underneath the outward appearances of the consecrated host; we believe Jesus is truly present by changing into the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord told us at the last supper when, “He took bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, this is my body which will be given up for you, do this in memory of me.” Luke 22:19
Dr. Sean Innest says, ” All the Sacraments are all profound mysteries and their outward signs, their appearances, are usually very humble.” They are signs – visible realities which point to the invisible, to a divine grace. For instance, when water is poured over someone during Baptism, it represents cleansing of ones soul, and in Confirmation, when we profess our beliefs in the Catholic Churches teachings and promise to live them out, we are anointed with oil to make us witnesses for our beliefs. When we participate in the Mass and receive the Eucharist, we eat bread that is sustenance for us, both physically and spiritually. These are natural things pointing to the supernatural.
When we share in the Eucharist during the celebration of Holy Mass, we are in effect sharing a table. We can find the importance of sharing a table (meal) in Biblical times, as well as, our own special holiday celebrations where those closest to us, come to celebrate a meal and bond with one another. God wants an intimate, profound union with us and has since He originally created us. The Eucharist is the uniting of Our Lord’s body, blood, soul and divinity with us, and in us. How awesome is that?
The Father’s of the Church said that the Son of God became the Son of Man so that the sons of men become the sons of God. This is the ultimate goal of God; He loves us so much He wants to be with us in all aspects of our life. He is just waiting for us to come to Him through the Sacrament of the Holy Mass and the source and summit of our faith- The Holy Eucharist.
Why not make a visit to Our Lord, today?