IN MY JUNE COLUMN, I addressed the sad fact that, for decades, fewer Catholics have been participating in the Eucharist, a trend exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with declining Mass attendance is a decline in belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This is the Church’s eucharistic faith: By the invocation of the Holy Spirit and the words of consecration uttered by the priest, the substance of bread and wine are completely changed into the substance of the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. What appear to be bread and wine are in fact the true and substantial presence of the Redeemer.
But restating the Church’s teaching is not enough. We need to reflect deeply on the critical role that the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist plays in our lives of faith. The consecration of bread and wine is not a riddle or a magic trick, but a beautiful mystery which, when taken to heart, has the power to transform our lives.
Christ is present in many ways, but in the Eucharist he uniquely gives himself to us whole and entire, as food and drink, in sacrificial love — so ardently does he desire to unite himself intimately with every member of the Church, his mystical body. Indeed, that is why we use the term “Communion”: When we worthily receive the Eucharist, we enter into a deep and personal union with Jesus and with the Church. The Lord wishes to enter into our hearts, to make of us his dwelling place, to infiltrate and transform every aspect of our lives — our thoughts, decisions, relationships, work, joys and sufferings.
In receiving the Eucharist, we truly encounter Jesus and are changed, leading us to say with St. Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). And as Jesus unites himself to us, he also knits fraternal bonds of charity and unity with our fellow worshippers, thus building up and strengthening the Church.
‘The consecration of bread and wine is not a riddle or a magic trick, but a beautiful mystery which, when taken to heart, has the power to transform our lives.’
We should never take this eucharistic encounter for granted. Coming into our hearts, the eucharistic Lord remedies our minor faults. If we have committed mortal sins, thereby extinguishing sanctifying grace from our souls, Christ still enters into our depths, but he is not able to penetrate the barriers to his love we have raised ” that is, until we receive sacramental absolution. In other words, Jesus knocks at the door of our hearts, but serious sin closes that door until we sincerely repent. It has been said that the door of our hearts can be opened only from the inside, not from the outside.
How important that we spend time adoring the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament! In Jesus’ presence, we sense more clearly the depth of his love for us. Indeed, his heart speaks to ours. When we take time to praise, thank and adore Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, he fills us with grace and joy. Our gloom is dissipated as we find ourselves simply rejoicing to be in his presence, just as we do when we are with good friends. When we pour out our troubles and our needs, the Lord listens, and as our Good Shepherd he gently nudges us to accept whatever it is that God our Father wills for our life. When we are confused and troubled, the loving presence of Jesus, who is “the light of the world,” helps us sort things out and guides us in truth and love.
Last June, before the solemn feast of Corpus Christi, Pope Francis concluded a general audience by expressing his hope and prayer that the feast would prompt Catholics throughout the world to deepen their awareness of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. May we, the family of the Knights of Columbus, continually rediscover in the Eucharist “grace and light” for our lives.
Logos & Emblems
Fraternal Leader Advisory
Knights in Action
Share your Knights in Action News
Please contact the
Knights of Columbus News Bureau