Eucharist - the Bread of Life
In the Eucharist, Jesus offers His Body and Blood for spiritual growth and grace to perform the duties of one's station in life. Leading a sacramental life is essential for spiritual growth and development. Any discussion on Divine Mercy must include the Eucharist as they are one and the same, i.e., Divine Mercy is Jesus, and Jesus is the Eucharist.
Not only are we to receive Eucharist, we must also live the Eucharist. We are to let Jesus enter into every cell of our body and be expressions of His great love. We are to be icons of Mercy, radiating Love and Mercy out to others.
The Church teaches that at the moment of Consecration during the Mass, the bread and wine on the altar become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The opinion that Christ is present only in the elements as in a sign, or that Christ is received only spiritually, were condemned in 1551 by the Counsel of Trent. "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you; he who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, I will raise him up at the last day." (Jn 6:53-54) After the Consecration, the bread and wine cease to exist although the appearance remains; this change is called transubstantiation. While it is true that God is everywhere spiritually, the Eucharistic presence of Christ, that is, that Christ is present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity is called the True Presence. The communicant who receives our Lord must be in a state of grace. In Scripture it is written, "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself." (1 Cor 11:27-29)
When discussing the True Presence, one can see from the 6th Chapter of John that even at the time of Christ there was much disagreement and discussion and many did not understand what he was saying. In John 6:48-56, He speaks about being the living bread which came down from Heaven, and that anyone who eats of this bread will live forever. And he added " for My Flesh is food indeed, and My Blood is drink indeed." However, in verse 60, it is written that many of His disciples, when they heard it, said, "This is a hard thing; who can listen to it?'" In Verse 66 it is written, "After this many of His disciples drew back and no longer went about with Him."
Saint Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of the Apostle John, wrote concerning heretics of the early church that they have abstained from the Eucharist and prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ. Saint Ambrose (335-337) was considered to be the first to speak of the Eucharist mystery as the Mass, left us two great works on the Eucharist. In one he wrote "Now consider which is more excellent, the bread of angels (i.e., the manna) or the Flesh of Christ which is indeed the Body of Life. That manna was from Heaven, this is from above the Heavens. The former was from Heaven, the latter from the Lord of Heavens; the former was subject to corruption if it was preserved for a second day, the latter foreign to all corruption so that whoever shall have piously tasted it will not be able to experience corruption. For the people of Israel, the water flowed from the rock; for you Blood flows from Christ. The water satisfied them for a while, Blood washes you for eternity. The Jew drinks and is thirsty again; when you drink you will not be able to thirst. The former was given as an image, the latter is given as the reality. Saint Francis of Assisi wrote that everything in man should halt in awe. Let all the world quake and let Heaven exalt when Christ, the Son of the Living God, is there on the altar in the hands of the priest. Saint Thomas Aquinus wrote on his deathbed "I wish now to affirm that I believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament, truly God and truly Man, the Son of God, the Son of the Virgin Mary. This I believe and hold for truth." Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774-1821) was the first American born canonized saint and a convert. She wrote, "How happy we would be if we believed what these dear souls believe, that they possess God in the Sacrament and that He remains in their churches and is carried to them when they are sick! Of my! When they carry the Blessed Sacrament, while I feel the lowliness and sadness of my case, I cannot stop my tears at the thought: My God, how happy I would be, even so far way from all so dear, if I could find you in the churches as they do. The other day, in a moment of excessive distress, I fell on my knees without thinking. When the Blessed Sacrament passed by and cried in an agony to God to bless me if He was there, that my whole soul desired only Him."'
Blessed Faustina realized the great gift of the Eucharist and added to her name, Sister Mary Faustina of the Blessed Sacrament. She wrote "If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things; one is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering." (Diary, Page 1804) Our Lord wants us to receive Him in Holy Communion frequently and visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament. He desires to lavish graces on us, but many remain indifferent. "They treat me as a dead object, whereas My heart is full of love and mercy. In order that you may know of at least some of My pain, imagine the most tender of Mothers who has great love for her children, while those children spurn her love. Consider her pain. No one is in a position to console her. This is but a feeble image and likeness of my love." (Diary 1447)
The power of the Sacrament is that it restores us to God's grace and allows us to join with Him in an ongoing intimate relationship. The Sacrament may provide much peace and contentment to the center who shows remorse and a contrite heart for his sins. As we are all part of the mystical body of the church, the Sacrament also reconciles us with the Church and to revitalize it from the injury of one of its members.
Not only are we to receive Eucharist, we must also live the Eucharist. We are to let Jesus enter into every cell of our body and be expressions of his great love. We are to be icons of Mercy, radiating Love and Mercy out of others.
"You are the light of the world, a city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand giving light to all in the house. Let your light shine before Men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven." (Matt 5:14-16)