June 26, 2011

Behold what you are, become what you receive.

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. We celebrate the great gift that Jesus gives us in sharing His own Body and His own Blood in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  Unfortunatly in our day, this Gift is becoming increasingly unappreciated.  My docotral project was on the effects of the consumer culture on preparation for First Holy Communion, but it can also be extended to the way many Catholics view the Eucharist.  In my experience, many see it as something they "get" when they come to Mass, and some don't even believe it is the Body and Blood of Christ. I wrote, "The Eucharist is viewed more as a commoditiy rather than an avenue of grace and encounter with God."  Yes, the Eucharist is an encounter, the greatest encounter we can have with Jesus our Lord.  

I thought today I would share with you some of my favorite quotes about the Eucharist.

In today's Office of Readings, we read from St. Thomas Aquinas:
"Since it was the will of God’s only-begotten Son that men should share in his divinity, he assumed our nature in order that by becoming man he might make men gods. Moreover, when he took our flesh he dedicated the whole of its substance to our salvation. He offered his body to God the Father on the altar of the cross as a sacrifice for our reconciliation. He shed his blood for our ransom and purification, so that we might be redeemed from our wretched state of bondage and cleansed from all sin. But to ensure that the memory of so great a gift would abide with us for ever, he left his body as food and his blood as drink for the faithful to consume in the form of bread and wine."

St Augustine:
"You, however, are the Body of Christ and His members. If, therefore, you are the Body of Christ and His members, your mystery is presented at the table of the Lord, you receive your mystery. To that which you are, you answer: `Amen'; and by answering, you subscribe to it. For you hear: `The Body of Christ!' and you answer: `Amen!' Be a member of Christ's Body, so that your `Amen' may be the truth."

Blessed Tersa of Calcutta:
"In each of our lives Jesus comes as the Bread of Life - to be eaten, to be consumed by us. This is how He loves us. Then Jesus comes in our human life as the hungry one, the other, hoping to be fed with the Bread of our life, our hearts by loving, and our hands by serving. In loving and serving, we prove that we have been created in the likeness of God, for God is Love and when we love we are like God.
St. John Chrysostom:
"How many of you say: I should like to see His face, His garments, His shoes. You do see Him, you touch Him, you eat Him. He gives Himself to you, not only that you may see Him, but also to be your food and nourishment."

Blessed Pope John Paul II:
"The Eucharist is the heart of the Church. Where Eucharistic life flourishes, there the life of the church will blossom."

Pope Benedict XVI:
The Eucharist is a 'mystery of faith' par excellence; 'the sum and summary of our faith.' The Church's faith is essentially a eucharistic faith, and it is especially nourished at the table of the Eucharist."

There are so many more I could print here. In my own words, the Eucharist is what gives me strength.  Just as food and drink give me the nourishment my body needs, so too the Eucharist nourishes my soul.  As we celebrate this beautiful solemnity, it is good to focus on your own beliefs and feelings about the Eucharist, and how important it is to your own life.

I end with my favorite quote on the Eucharist.  St. Augustine said, "Behold what you are, become what you receive."  This quote literally changed my life. When I receive the sacred host in my palm, I have the opportunity, for a brief moment, to literaly "behold" my Lord and Savior. When I receive Him into my body, I become "the Body of Christ."  As they say, "You are what you eat!"

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