The church affords us a few times each year to focus on one of the mysteries and treasures of our faith — the holy Eucharist. Holy Thursday is one of those days, recalling when Jesus started it all by celebrating the Last Supper with his apostles. Later this summer, at the end of July and throughout August, we will hear the teaching of Jesus in John, chapter 6, Jesus as the Bread of Life, and his promise that those who eat his body and drink his blood will live forever.
The beautiful, yearly solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord, or Corpus Christi, offers us a moment to pause, consider and deepen our own eucharistic devotion. The Gospel for the day brings us to the Last Supper. There, Jesus took the bread and wine and said those words we still hear every Sunday and, for some, daily, “This is my body” and “This is my blood,” followed by the command to do this in remembrance of him. With every holy Communion, we receive the body and blood of the Lord and allow that divine life to be operative within us.
The church teaches us that Christ is present — body, blood, soul and divinity — in the holy Eucharist which takes place through “transubstantiation.” Statistics over the last decade show that only about one-third of Catholics hold this belief. The other two-thirds may have never been properly catechized or can’t grasp the concept. A person like this might believe it is a symbol of Christ’s body and blood and not his real presence. Ask yourself: “What do I believe?”
If you want to deepen your appreciation for the Eucharist and the Mass, the church’s devotional life can be of help. If you are driving by a Catholic church, make the sign of the cross, recalling Jesus is reserved in the tabernacle there. Better yet, stop and make a visit, spending a few moments in prayer.
Second, when you go to Mass, formulate your own intention for what or whom you wish to pray, especially offering your holy Communion for that intention. When Our Lady appeared in Champion to Adele, she told her, “Offer your holy Communion for the conversion of sinners.”
Third, after you receive holy Communion, spend time in prayer, thanking Jesus for allowing you to receive him. Remember that, through holy Communion, you are united to Jesus.
Finally, go to adoration, where the Eucharist is exposed in a monstrance. The priest elevates the host at Mass for a few moments; adoration is an elongation of that moment. If you have eucharistic doubt, ask Jesus to deepen your faith.
The Eucharist is a mystery and treasure. Our devotion on Corpus Christi and throughout the year can lead us to truly believe what the church teaches and what Jesus said, “This is my body …. This is my blood.”
Fr. Looney pastors the Catholic communities of Brussels and Lincoln/Rosiere. He is the author of “Meditations After Holy Communion,” available from Sophia Institute Press.