As we are celebrating the feast of Corpus Christi the Holy Spirit gave me some insightful reflections regarding the august reality that the Most Blessed Eucharist is our greatest blessing! How?
The Eucharist is our greatest blessing because Jesus hid himself in the appearance of bread and wine to be more available to us! St Alphonsus Liguori tells us: My Jesus! What a lovable contrivance this holy Sacrament was – that You would hide under the appearance of bread to make Yourself loved and to be available for a visit by anyone who desires You!
The Eucharist is our greatest blessing because in it Jesus loved us without measure. Thus writes St Angela of Foligno: O God, O Creator, O Spirit of Life overwhelming Your creatures with ever new graces! You grant to Your chosen ones the gift which is ever renewed: the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ! O Jesus, You instituted this Sacrament, not through any desire to draw some advantage from it for Yourself, but solely moved by love which has no other measure than to be without measure. You instituted this Sacrament because Your love exceeds all words. Burning with love for us, You desired to give Yourself to us and took up Your dwelling in the consecrated Host, entirely and forever, until the end of time. And You did this, not only to give us a memorial of Your death which is our salvation, but You did it also, to remain with us entirely and forever.
The Eucharist is our greatest blessing because the Son of God was born from a woman. St Augustine writes: Jesus took His flesh from the flesh of Mary.
The Eucharist is our greatest blessing because it shows God’s closeness to us. Again, St Augustine says: The bread that you see on the altar is the Body of Christ as soon as it is sanctified by God’s word. The chalice, or better what is contained in the chalice, is the Blood of Christ as soon as it is sanctified by God’s word.
The Eucharist is our greatest blessing because Jesus is our Beautiful Lover. St Augustine states: Look upon the beauty of your Lover.
The Eucharist is our greatest blessing because Jesus humbled himself to save us. St Bernard teaches: It was love that motivated His self-emptying, that led Him to become a little lower than angels, to be subject to parents, to bow His head beneath the Baptist’s hands, to endure the weakness of the flesh, and to submit to death even upon the cross.
The Eucharist is our greatest blessing because in it Jesus is our Divine prisoner. Blessed Dina Belanger says: If souls but understood the Treasure they possess in the Divine Eucharist, it would be necessary to encircle the tabernacles with the strongest ramparts for, in the delirium of a devouring and holy hunger, they would press forward themselves to feed on the Bread of Angels. The Churches would overflow with adorers consumed with love for the Divine prisoner no less by night than by day.
The Eucharist is our greatest blessing because in it Jesus held Himself in his hands for us. St Augustine says: Christ held Himself in His hands when He gave His Body to His disciples saying: ‘This is My Body.’ No one partakes of this Flesh before he has adored it.
The Eucharist is our greatest blessing because it is the very Presence of God amongst us. St John Vianney says: What happiness do we not feel in the Presence of God, when we are alone at His feet… Redouble your fervor; you are alone to adore your God; His eyes rest upon you alone.
The Eucharist is our greatest blessing because Jesus dwells in the Most Holy Sacrament. St Teresa of Avila affirms: I felt a great dislike to journeys, especially when they were long. But once I had started, I thought nothing of them, thinking of Him for Whose service they were undertaken and remembering that Our Lord would be praised and the most Holy Sacrament would dwell in the house I was going to found… It should be a great consolation to us – though many of us do not think of it – that Jesus Christ, true God and true man, dwells as He does in so many places in the most Holy Sacrament.
The Eucharist is our greatest blessing because it is Jesus most exhalted spirit of love. St Peter Julian Eymard states: The Holy Eucharist is a need of the heart of Christ, just as it is a need of our hearts… Sanctify and dedicate yourselves in all things in the spirit of love which prompted Our Lord to institute the Holy Eucharist, wherein He perpetuates the gift of His love to the glory of the Father.
The Eucharist is our greatest blessing because it is the most admirable banquet that we can ever be invited for. St Thomas Aquinas rightly explains: O most admirable banquet, to which it is an unspeakable favor to be invited! O banquet that saves and gives delight! Nothing can be conceived which is of greater value. What is served is not the flesh of calves and kids, as in the Old Law, but Christ himself the true God. What is more wonderful than this sacrament! No other sacrament accomplishes more for our souls. It takes away sin, strengthens virtue and enriches the soul with the abundance of all spiritual gifts. It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead in order that all may benefit from what was meant for all. There is no language adequate to describe the joy one experiences through this sacrament which draws sweetness from its very source and keeps alive in us the memory of the love, of which Christ gave proof during his passion.
The Eucharist is our greatest blessing because it is the main spiritual regenerator of every work of the apostolate. St Teresa of Calcutta says: When the Sisters are exhausted, up to their eyes in work; when all seems to go awry, they spend an hour in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. This practice has never failed to bear fruit: they experience peace and strength.
The Eucharist is our greatest blessing because it is “God with us”, the “source and summit of all Christian life”, and the power that helps us love one another. In his address given in Seoul St Pope John Paul II says: In beholding the Word made flesh, now sacramentally present in the Eucharist, the eyes of our bodies are united with the eyes of faith in gazing upon the presence “par excellence” of Emmanuel “God with us” until that day when the sacramental veil will be lifted in the Kingdom of heaven... If we are to experience the Eucharist as the “source and summit of all Christian life” (Lumen Gentium. 11), then we must celebrate it with faith, receive it with reverence, and allow it to transform our minds and hearts through the prayer of adoration. Only by deepening our Eucharist communion with the Lord through personal prayer can we discover what he asks of us in daily life. Only by drinking deeply from the source of life-giving water “welling up within us” (cf. Jn 4:14) can we grow in faith, hope and charity. The image of the Church in worship before the Blessed Sacrament reminds us of the need to enter into a dialogue with our Redeemer, to respond to his love and to love one another…“
This is not a question of language but of sheer reality. God becomes man for you and me to save us on the altar daily, in each and every mass. Happy are we if we humbly respond to his invitation, to receive the Eucharist, His very Body and Blood, his greatest blessing for you and me and the entire human race!
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap