The Council of Trent, basing itself on this faith of the Church, "openly and sincerely professes that after the consecration of the bread and wine, Our Lord Jesus Christ, true God and man, is really, truly and substantially contained in the Blessed Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist under the outward appearances of sensible things." And so, Our Savior is present in His humanity not only in His natural manner of existence at the right hand of the Father, but also at the same time in the sacrament of the Eucharist "in a manner of existing that we can hardly express in words but that our minds, illumined by faith, can come to see as possible to God and that we must most firmly believe."
Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, dealing with the Eucharistic change, says: “Let us be assured that this is not what nature formed, but what the blessing consecrated, and that greater efficacy resides in the blessing than in nature, for by the blessing nature is changed.” To confirm the truth of this mystery, he recounts many of the miracles described in the Scriptures, including Christ’s birth of the Virgin Mary, and then, turning to the work of creation, concludes thus: “Surely the word of Christ, which could make out of nothing that which did not exist, can change things already in existence into what they were not. For it is no less extraordinary to give things new natures than to change their natures.”
“Indeed, a sacrament so great and so rich in all manner of blessings can never be extolled as it deserves by human eloquence, nor adequately venerated by the worship of man. This sacrament, whether as the theme of devout meditation, or as the object of public adoration, or best of all as a food to be received in the utmost purity of conscience, is to be regarded as the center towards which the spiritual life of a Christian in all its ambit gravitates; for all other forms of devotion, whatsoever they may be, lead up to it, and in it find their point of rest. In this mystery more than in any other that gracious invitation and still more gracious promise of Christ is realized and finds its daily fulfillment: ‘Come to me all ye that labor and are heavily burdened, and I will refresh you.’ (Mt 11:28)”
“You hear (attend) Mass …; but do you understand the nature of that tremendous sacrifice? In the old law, oxen, lambs, and other animals were offered to God; but in the sacrifice of the Mass, we offer to him the true body and the true blood of Jesus Christ our Lord, along with his soul and divinity. We offer Jesus entirely, true God and true man; and we repeat the very same action which was once performed on Calvary, with this difference, that on Calvary the most precious blood of Jesus was really shed, but, on our altars, it is shed only in a mystical manner.”
“Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love.”
“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.