A eucharistic life is the fullest development of the supernatural life. The sacramental Savior is its essential informing principle. Under His divine inspiration and direction, we do His will with the vivid realization of His presence in our souls. A eucharistic life not only apprehends Christ as the source of grace, but also bears the consciousness of personal union with Him, and the conviction of His living and life-giving power.
Through His presence in us, we become the means of communicating His infinite life, dispensers of His mysterious work within us, organs most holy, to reveal Him to those who know Him not or have forsaken Him.
The change produced in us, by which we freely submit to the absolute dominion of the eucharistic God, involves, besides the consciousness of His presence, the recognition that we must exemplify Him for others, especially for unbelievers, by ever giving outward expression to His operations within us. Such a change will infuse into us a sanctity that will so discipline the senses that they may not betray the soul; that will so control the imagination, the intellect, and the will, that we may use them only for the honor and glory of God — in a word, our lives will reflect the personal union of the two natures in Christ, the eucharistic King being to us what the Godhead is to His human nature. The mind that is in Christ will then be the mind that is in us, and His influence upon our lives will resemble the influence of the Father upon His life.
Because God rules man by love, He has made him free. How we use our freedom will determine our progress in virtue. If our wills are, in every event of life, one with the will of the indwelling God, we are standing on the rock foundation of holiness and perpetual self-renunciation; we are free with “the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free.” (Gal. 4:31)
But to be spiritually valuable, our self-surrender must be permanent; and on this point we should bear in mind that neither our unconsciousness of its action nor our failure fully to cooperate with Christ disproves its reality, for a habit is no longer the object of consciousness, and our fallen estate presupposes trivial temporary lapses. After all, the infinitely merciful adaptation of the sacramental God to the imperfections of our fallen nature is simply the alliance of infinite strength with untold weakness. As one of the consoling effects of the Holy Eucharist is the remission of venial sin, Christ abides with us until we, by mortal sin, turn violently from Him to the creature.
As man, Christ was heir to all the manifest faultiness of our flesh, sin excepted. He tasted mental and physical pain in all their withering, blighting, gruesome features, for He was the “man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity.” (Isa. 53:3) He was rejected by those for whom He was to die. Like us, He was tempted. His soul was clouded by the darkness of sinful humanity in the crisis of His agony on the Cross when the Eternal Father hid His face from Him. But although subject to our humiliations, He ever possessed the full consciousness of the Godhead. Our venial sins and imperfections may also weaken the sense of the Divine Presence within us, may eclipse the light shining in our souls. Or to test our faith, Christ may seem to withdraw from us; but He remains with us until we abandon Him by serious sin.
And who can estimate the effect upon the soul keenly alive to the indwelling presence? Even a superficial study of the degrading bondage of the flesh will reveal our imperative need of the strength of Christ within us as we fight our way to eternal life. What a restraint the eucharistic God exerts upon our sinful tendencies! If we are left to ourselves, sin in its multiple development will wreck and ruin us. Living in a corrupt world, and having the seeds of sin sown in our nature at birth, we are powerless against its false philosophy. Our ruling passion never sleeps.
Without the sacramental Savior, the soul would be the prey of demons. He is ever active thwarting the propensities of our fallen flesh, calming excitable, wicked emotions, and overthrowing the enemy the instant he attacks us. His light is a necessity of our earthly warfare as we wrestle with the angels of darkness; and only with His divine power can we conquer the hosts of Hell. He is our heavenly Sentinel controlling our thoughts and desires, ever alert lest we sink under the sudden or protracted attacks of temptation.
But the eucharistic Christ does more than restrain our sinful tendencies. In union with the Holy Spirit, whose temples we are, He expands the soul’s faculties so that it may be conformed to His image as He gradually unfolds Himself to its enraptured gaze. Thus, through His Holy Spirit, does He develop in the soul the eucharistic life. Under such divine guidance, the soul’s progress in the knowledge and imitation of Christ may be almost incredibly rapid. Directed solely by its God, it possesses the counteracting antidote to worldliness, and with divine chivalry it overcomes its worst — because its most insidious — enemy: unmortified self.
Under the spell of this wondrous world of truth, beauty, and sanctity, the soul’s whole being is, by degrees, so transformed by Christ that it walks in the newness of life, reflecting the light shining so brilliantly within it. The will of God it docilely obeys; in the perfection of its conformity to it, it lives for Him alone. His divine nature weaves itself into every fiber of its being, making it one with Him.
Like nature’s mightiest forces, Christ accomplishes this perfecting work silently and secretly. We behold it only in its results. So noiselessly and invisibly does the Divine Presence act in the soul that, although we observe in our conduct something beyond our mortal selves, we are prone to identify it with the workings of our human side; although we die to ourselves and live only to God, we associate the effluence of the supernatural with the outflowing of the natural. “The life . . . of Jesus may be made manifest in our mortal flesh,” but the divine within, and its revelation without, will be veiled by the human.
This law must obtain until we have “shuffled off this mortal coil.” Were we not subject to it, life would hold no interest for us. We could not fulfill the duties of our calling if we were constantly aware of the ceaseless miracle within us. If the Divine Presence continually showed itself through our nature, the world’s thronging demands would have no meaning for us. A life of faith would be impossible, and hence our probation would lack the element on which rests our hope of salvation.
But the fact that Christ works so silently and secretly in us that we cannot distinguish between His operations and our own, is no excuse for our failure to lead eucharistic lives.
We shall give ourselves, heart and soul, to the full possession of Christ if we are thoroughly convinced that in Holy Communion He, the Eternal God, enters into our souls with His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity — in other words, if we realize what we believe. For self-surrender to Christ is born of a faith that compels the soul consciously and willingly to cleave to its Divine Guest. Interwoven with and flowing from such faith is a habit of prayer that penetrates the eucharistic veil, and thus accentuates the soul’s longing to be formed completely after His image.
Only when Christ is, by habitual recollection of His presence — and consequently of our inseparable union with Him — the sole Ruler of our lives, will they answer the end of the institution of this, the greatest of the sacraments. Then, and only then, will we lead eucharistic lives.
This article is from a chapter in Fr. Kane’s book, Transforming Your Life Through the Eucharist. It is available from your favorite bookstore or online through Sophia Institute Press.
Photo by Anna Hecker on Unsplash