The Holy Eucharist and the Celebration of Mass

COVID-19 has caused a fast on so many levels. Our restaurants are closed to indoor dinning. We have not been able to share Christmas dinners and other joyful family meals for birthdays or other special occasions that we all look forward to each year. As Catholics, the most important meal we share is in the celebration of Mass. The Holy Eucharist is the most important of the seven sacraments because, in this and in no other sacrament, we receive the very body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Innumerable, precious graces come to us through the reception of Holy Communion.

Holy Communion is an intimate encounter with Christ, in which we sacramentally receive Christ into our bodies, that we may be more completely assimilated into his. “The Eucharist builds the Church,” as Pope John Paul II said (Redemptor Hominis 20). It deepens unity with the Church, more fully assimilating us into Christ (1 Cor. 12:13; CCC 1396).

So many Catholics are fasting from Eucharist at this time due to concerns for health and safety. The good news is that Christ’s presence in the Eucharist can not be changed or diminished by anything. We must continue to pray in hope that this crisis fast will soon end and that all who are able will soon return to our live celebrations of Eucharist for the innumerable graces flowing from the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

As of February 1, 2021, restaurants here in Michigan are now open at 25% capacity. Many of us excitedly anticipate making reservations for dinner out to celebrate family birthdays and other special occasions.

The Eucharistic Banquet is our ultimate dinner celebration. The celebration of Mass is the source and summit of all we do as Catholic Christians. Our identity, our mystagogy and our Gospel call to follow Jesus flows into and from the Body of Christ and our unity expressed and shared in Holy Communion.

Churches have been open at 25% capacity. Are we equally thrilled about making time to return to the Eucharistic Banquet?

Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. Holy Communion strengthens the individual because in it Jesus himself, the Word made flesh, forgives our venial sins and gives us the strength to resist mortal sin. It is also the very channel of eternal life: Jesus himself.

In John’s gospel, Jesus summarized the reasons for receiving Holy Communion when he said:

“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, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food, and my blood is real drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:53–58).

Come and celebrate the greatest feast of love ever known.

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