“And behold I am with you always, until the end of the age.” —Matthew 28:20
A Letter From Cardinal Seán O'Malley
The Archdiocese of Boston has a page dedicated to the Year of the Eucharist.
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“The Church Draws Her Life From The Eucharist”
Pope St. John Paul II wrote these words in 2003 to express the truth that the making of the Church is not of human origin. When the faithful gather around the altar for the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass they are drawn by and for the Eucharist and become, not a social club, but the Church. It is the Eucharist, the Real Presence—Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity—of Jesus Christ in the Holy Sacrament that makes us who we are as a body. The Church is a Communion. We are what we do. Faith in and participation in the celebration of the Eucharist is why we do all that we do in this pilgrimage of life. In the Eucharist we find the source and summit of our faith, our hope and our love as Catholics.
Reprinted with permission from Oblates of the Virgin Mary at St. Francis Chapel / stfrancischapel.org
Prayer for Preparation for Eucharistic Adoration
By Venerable Bruno Lanteri
O my gracious God, make my act of adoration pleasing to you. This marvelous and simple act, as I give you all that I am and unite myself to all that you are. Oh Jesus! I am at your feet; let me find you in my prayer. Oh Jesus! Speak to my heart that I may abandon myself and my concerns to you. May I give all of myself to you; all my thoughts, all my feelings, my desires and all that is within me and without. I leave all to you, oh Lord. Make of me what you will, oh my God. I give to you my life, not only the life I live in exile on earth but also my hope for life in eternity. I leave you my salvation. I put my will in your hands and give to you the power you gave to me over my actions. Make me according to your heart and create in me a pure heart, a docile and obedient heart. Strengthen my faith that I may run after you and after your sweetness. Oh my God, make my heart right that I may love you with all of it, with that heart which you form in me by your grace. May I surrender everything to you and have nothing left but myself, so that I may surrender that too, the one gift I know you desire.
Reprinted from the Saint Mary Parish Bulletin during The Year of the Eucharist
“In this world, for as long as it remains, no act of repentance is too late … The path of approach to God’s pardon remains open and, to those who seek it and understand its truth, access is easy … Christ imparts this grace, this gift of his mercy he bestows from his subjection to death in the victory of the cross, by his redemption of the believer at the price of his own blood, by his reconciliation of humanity to his God and Father, by his restoration of mortal man to life through being born again from heaven.”
“In recommending heartfelt prayer to you, I am including all practices of piety, first of all the most Holy Eucharist … I urge you with all the strength of my soul to approach the Eucharistic Table as often as possible. Feed on this Bread of Angels from which you will draw the strength to fight inner struggles, the struggles against passions and against all adversities, because Jesus Christ has promised to those who feed themselves with the most Holy Eucharist eternal life and the necessary graces to obtain it.
“And when you become totally consumed by this Eucharistic Fire, then you will be able to thank with greater awareness the Lord God who has called you to be part of his flock and you will enjoy that peace which those who are happy according to the world have never tasted. Because true happiness, young people, does not consist in the pleasures of the world and in earthly things, but in peace of conscience which we can have only if we are pure in heart and in mind.”
“When we realize that God’s love for us does not cease in the face of our sin or recoil before our offenses, but becomes even more attentive and generous; when we realize that this love went so far as to cause the passion and death of the word made flesh who consented to redeem us at the price of his own blood, then we exclaim in gratitude: ‘Yes, the Lord is rich in mercy,’ and even: ‘The Lord is mercy.’”
“In order for our life to be Christian, it must be a continual renunciation, a continual sacrifice, which however is not burdensome when only we think about what these few years passed in sorrow are, compared with a happy eternity, where joy will have no measure nor end, and where we will enjoy a peace beyond anything we could imagine. And so, young people, learn how to sacrifice from our Lord Jesus Christ. In order to atone for our horrible sins, he sacrificed himself as an Innocent Victim on Calvary, and he renews this wonderful sacrifice every day in part of the world during Holy Mass.”
“The worship of the Eucharist outside of the Mass is of inestimable value for the life of the Church. This worship is strictly linked to the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The presence of Christ under the sacred species reserved after Mass–a presence that lasts as long as the species of bread and wine remain–derives from the celebration of the sacrifice and is directed towards communion, both sacramental and spiritual… The Eucharist is a priceless treasure: by not only celebrating it but also by praying before it outside of Mass we are enabled to make contact with the very wellspring of grace.”
“The sacramental character of faith finds its highest expression in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is a precious nourishment for faith: an encounter with Christ truly present in the supreme act of his love, the life-giving gift of himself … In the Eucharist we learn to see the heights and depths of reality. The bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ, who becomes present in his passover to the Father: this movement draws us, body and soul, into the movement of all creation towards its fulfillment in God.”
“The Kingdom of God becomes present above all in the celebration of the sacrament of the Eucharist, which is the Lord's Sacrifice. In that celebration the fruits of the earth and the work of human hands - the bread and wine - are transformed mysteriously, but really and substantially, through the power of the Holy Spirit and the words of the minister, into the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Mary, through whom the Kingdom of the Father has been made present in our midst.”
“All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because they are the works of men; but the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison for it is but the sacrifice of man to God; but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man.”
“No one can fail to understand that the Divine Eucharist bestows upon the Christian people an incomparable dignity. Not only while the sacrifice is offered and the sacrament is received, but as long as the Eucharist is kept in our churches and oratories, Christ is truly the Emmanuel, that is, “God with us.” Day and night He is in our midst, He dwells with us, full of grace and truth. He restores morality, nourishes virtues, consoles the afflicted, strengthens the weak. He proposes His own example to those who come to Him that all may learn to be, like Himself, meek and humble of heart and to seek not their own interests but those of God.”
“As often as the sacrifice of the cross in which Christ our Passover was sacrificed, is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried on, and, in the sacrament of the eucharistic bread, the unity of all believers who form one body in Christ is both expressed and brought about. All men are called to this union with Christ, who is the light of the world, from whom we go forth, through whom we live, and toward whom our whole life strains.”
“In the Incarnation, the Word associated all humanity to His mysteries and to His Person, but a mystical union. All humanity constitutes a mystical body of which Christ is the Head and we the members. The members, cannot, in principle, separate themselves from the head nor remain strangers to its action. The supreme action of Jesus, the one that sums up and crowns His life, is His Sacrifice. In the same way that He took upon Himself our human nature, excepting sin, so He wills to make us partakers of the chief mystery of His life. Certainly, we were not present in the body on Calvary when He was immolated for us, after having substituted Himself for us; but He has willed … that His sacrifice should be perpetuated, with its inexhaustible virtue, by the Church and her ministers.”
What is the participation we must seek to obtain when we enter into the holy action, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?
“The usefulness of the Blessed Sacrament is great and universal. It is great because it produces spiritual life within us now, and will later produce eternal life. Since this is the sacrament of our Lord’s Passion, it contains in itself Christ who suffered. Thus, whatever is an effect of our Lord’s Passion is also an effect of this sacrament. Hence it is clear that the destruction of death, which Christ accomplished by his death, and the restoration of life, which he accomplished by his resurrection, are effects of this sacrament. The usefulness of this sacrament is universal because the life it gives is not only the life of one person, but the life of the entire world: and for this the death of Christ is fully sufficient. 'He is the offering for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the entire world' (1 Jn 2:2).”
“The Eucharist brings us ever nearer to that love which is more powerful than death: “For as often as we eat this bread and drink this cup,” we proclaim not only the death of the Redeemer but also His resurrection “until he comes” in glory (1Cor 11:26). The same Eucharistic rite, celebrated in memory of Him who in His messianic mission revealed the Father to us by means of His words and His cross, attests to the inexhaustible love by virtue of which He desires always to be united with us and present in our midst, coming to meet every human heart.”
“To me nothing is so consoling, so piercing, so thrilling, so overcoming, as the Mass, said as it is among us. I could attend Masses forever and not be tired. It is not a mere form of words, it is a great action, the greatest action that can be on earth. It is, not the invocation merely, but, if I dare use the word, the evocation of the Eternal. He becomes present on the altar in flesh and blood, before whom angels bow and evils tremble.”
“It is true that of all the good works you can perform, the principal, the most efficacious, and the most satisfactory is the Holy Mass; for, by this alone, you make more satisfaction to God, on account of the infinite dignity of the Victim, than all the martyrs have rendered to him by their blood, and all penitents, by their austerities.”
“The most complete sacramental expression of the 'departure' of Christ through the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection is the Eucharist. In every celebration of the Eucharist his coming, his salvific presence, is sacramentally realized: in the Sacrifice and in Communion. It is accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit, as part of his own mission (This is what the 'Epiclesis' before the Consecration expresses: 'Let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy, so that they may become for us the body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ' (Eucharistic Prayer II).”
“For even though a priest should offer Mass in private, that Mass is not something private; it is an act of Christ and of the Church. In offering this Sacrifice, the Church learns to offer herself as a sacrifice for all. Moreover, for the salvation of the entire world she applies the single, boundless, redemptive power of the Sacrifice of the Cross. For every Mass is offered not for the salvation of ourselves alone, but also for that of the whole world.”
“I believe that were it not for the Holy Mass, at this moment the world would be in the abyss, unable to bear up under the mighty load of its iniquities. Mass is the potent prop that holds the world on its base.”
As lay people, we are absent from Mass, granted this absence by our church leaders. Yet, are we absent spiritually? The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass continues, quietly, powerfully, in this time of great need, holding the world on its base.
“Even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world. It unites heaven and earth. It embraces and permeates all creation. The Son of God became man in order to restore all creation, in one supreme act of praise, to the One who made it from nothing. He, the Eternal High Priest who by the blood of his Cross entered the eternal sanctuary, thus gives back to the Creator and Father all creation redeemed. He does so through the priestly ministry of the Church, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity. Truly this is the mysterium fidei which is accomplished in the Eucharist: the world which came forth from the hands of God the Creator now returns to him redeemed by Christ.”
“The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice”. Saint John Chrysostom put it well: 'We always offer the same Lamb, not one today and another tomorrow, but always the same one. For this reason the sacrifice is always only one… Even now we offer that victim who was once offered and who will never be consumed.' The Mass makes present the sacrifice of the Cross; it does not add to that sacrifice nor does it multiply it. What is repeated is its memorial celebration … which makes Christ's one, definitive redemptive sacrifice always present in time.”
That in this sacrament are the true Body of Christ and his true Blood is something that “cannot be apprehended by the senses,” says St. Thomas (Aquinas), “but only by faith, which relies on divine authority.” For this reason, in a commentary on Luke 22:19 (“This is my body which is given for you.”), St. Cyril (of Alexandria) says: “Do not doubt whether this is true, but rather receive the words of the Savior in faith, for since he is the truth, he cannot lie.”
“Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ in atonement for our sins and the sins of the whole world.”
The Eucharist, the sacrament of our salvation accomplished by Christ on the cross, is also a sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for the work of creation. In the Eucharistic sacrifice the whole of creation loved by God is presented to the Father through the death and the Resurrection of Christ. Through Christ the Church can offer the sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for all that God has made good, beautiful, and just in creation and in humanity.
“My mother and father held the evening meal as a priority for our family; attendance was not optional. It was an institution in our house to gather around the table and it was there that we bonded with one another. We shared our experiences of the day. We would laugh together, would even argue with each other. The evening family meal was essential to our formation and it was where we discovered our identity.The same can be said of the celebration of the Eucharist. As Catholics, it is in the Eucharist that we learn our identity. At the table of the Lord, Jesus makes a gift of Himself to us because God loves us so much. Just as we discover our identity at the family table, it is in the Eucharist that we discover who we are, why we are here, and what is our mission as disciples of Christ.”
It is in the Eucharist that we discover who we are, why we are here, and what is our mission as disciples of Christ.