As the Church departs the glorious season of Easter and returns to Ordinary Time, we take a moment to pause and remind ourselves how we may grow in holiness during the “normal” course of our spiritual lives. The liturgical seasons of the Church immerse us in the greatest mysteries of our faith, but as necessary as they are for our souls, true spiritual growth doesn’t happen in just a season. It happens in an organic process, over long periods of time and with diligent effort. For advancement along that arduous pathway of holiness, then, we need to be sustained and encouraged: and that is the role of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.
Let us never forget what the Church teaches about the Eucharist. Our Catechism tells us that the Sacrament of the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of our faith (n. 1324). That is another way of saying that it is the very reason why the Church and each individual Christian believer has the gift of faith at all. Accordingly, even those separated Christians who do not believe in the Eucharist have faith in Jesus Christ because of the Eucharist! As the “summit” of our faith, it is the culmination of all goodness, the treasure of God’s Life and the very thing that holds the Church and all of reality in existence. What a marvelous source of grace, healing, virtue and union with God and man is this Most Blessed Sacrament!
In this Sacrament we find the entire Christ: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. His Body and Blood, given to Him by the Virgin Mary, we are now able to consume sacramentally for the transformation of our souls. He communicates and even squanders His Soul and Divinity upon us like a holy Prodigal Son who cannot cease spending Himself for those He loves. How is it that every Christian is not flocking to Mass every single day to be nurtured by the Lord’s very Life?
We must never forget either that the Eucharistic is a sacrifice, not just a meal. To reduce the Eucharist to a fraternal sharing only is to miss the essence of Jesus’ redeeming act of love, which was the perfect act of self-giving and dying to self on Calvary that He asks each of us to imitate. As such, this Sacrament is the one font of all consolation for all the myriad sacrifices of our lives, those willed directly and those suffered. Every pain and sorrow in heaven and on earth can be offered to the Sacrificial Victim on the altar and will be met with the deepest of compassion and understanding. We must just stay in His divine Presence long enough to hear His tender words that address our particular sorrows: “Be not afraid, my dearest friend, I have trod this path before you. You are not alone!” What strength that consolation gives us for the journey and difficulties of life!
As the absolute epicenter of our spiritual lives, rivers of grace flow inexhaustibly from the Eucharist. One font of grace is the obligation to “keep holy the Sabbath” which requires us to have weekly contact with God in the Eucharist. Many parishes nowadays even have Eucharistic Adoration chapels that allow us to pray before the Blessed Sacrament directly and with greater frequency. Thanks be to God! We may also see the Eucharist as a repository for all our intercessory intentions on behalf of others by presenting them to Christ any time we have contact with the Eucharist. How wonderful that the Eucharistic Lord allows every one of us to see Him face to face, something that was only allowed to Moses in the Old Testament!
In Ordinary Time, let us renew our love for the greatest gift ever poured out upon mankind, the gift of God’s very essence that has no equal in this world. Given faith and time, this Most Blessed Sacrament transforms us, strengthens our virtue, detaches us from sin, purifies our imperfections, inflames our charity and perfects our souls. He Himself calls and invites us to center our lives once again on the Eucharist. Who could possibly turn down such a gracious invitation from the Eucharistic King of Heaven?