At the Last Supper, Christ gathered his disciples around him. He wanted to leave them something to remember Him by, something that would allow Him to remain with them, the best gift He could think of. So He took the bread that was there, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to His disciples saying, “Take this all of you and eat it, this is my body, which will be given up for you.” As a last parting gift, he gave them Himself. The Eucharist is Jesus’ way of never having to say goodbye.
The Eucharist is not just a precious treasure the Church has received, something special that we guard carefully, it is Someone special. The Eucharist is Christ himself present as the Bread of Life. In the Eucharist, the One-who-loves-us comes to be with us, to be in us, and to satisfy our spiritual hunger for Him. As we receive this “gift of self”, we are called to give a gift of ourselves to Christ.
There are two ways of diving more deeply into the Eucharist:
- Rediscover the Mass
- Come prepared to receive. Read the scripture readings in advance. Spend time praying and preparing yourself. Come early, even before the music has started, and reflect on what you are doing. Take time after Mass to give thanks to the One you have received.
- Come prepared to give. The Mass in an exchange of persons: you receive Christ and you give him yourself. The offerings of bread and wine on the altar are brought up by the people. This symbolizes that our hears are being lifted up to God and placed in Christ’s hands. Let Christ bless and break your heart, and give you his heart instead (Ez. 36:26). What a marvelous exchange! We give him our weak human selves, and we get God in return. And people think the Mass is boring — if only we really understood the price of the Communion we receive!
- Come, let us Adore Him
The Son who loved us so much that he not only died for us, but also became the Bread of Life, is with us always, until the end of time. The Church has an ancient practice of reflection on this mystery by quietly adoring the presence of Christ. We spend time in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord to help us appreciate how much he gave for us. Time spent quietly with God in the Eucharist was a very important part of my vocation to the priesthood. I also find that so many of my problems melt away when I bring them before the Lord. When we see how much He gave just to be with us, we begin to desire to be with Him. From this desire we begin to experience real prayer.