Tuesday, August 22, 2006

"If we had no priests, we would have no Eucharist"

Deacon Kevin Mukri preached (on John 6:51-58, my favorite Gospel) at the Mass I celebrated this weekend. His words which are below were clear, profound, and inspiring. Believing that what I had just heard was from the Holy Spirit, I whispered to him when he returned to his seat, "awesome"!
"The Jews are scandalized by Our Lord’s command to eat His body and drink His blood. This was cannibalism. They could not believe. Two thousand years later, most still do not believe Our Lord. With over 26,000 Christian denominations in the United States, only... the Catholic Church (and the Orthodox) ensures that believers eat His body and drink His blood. But far more tragic are reports that 70% of Roman Catholics believe that the Holy Eucharist is only a symbol of Our Lord.

The Eucharist is an incredible gift, the gift par excellence, for it is the gift of Our Lord Himself. But what happens to us when we receive the Holy Eucharist? One way to understand is to look at natural law. It is a fact of natural law that lower nature is always assimilated by higher nature.

Plants assimilate the chemical elements from the ground. The chemicals receive a higher existence in the plants. Plants are often eaten and assimilated by animals. The plants receive a higher nature as part of animal nature. We eat beef/pork/fish and it is assimilated into a higher nature, our human nature. When we receive the Holy Eucharist, we don’t change the body and blood of Christ into our nature, but Our Lord changes us into His higher, divine nature.

This is amazing.

In 2003, Pope John Paul II, of his blessed memory, released his encyclical letter “Ecclesia de Eucharistia” in order to rekindle the Eucharist “amazement” by the faithful. It is a marvelous letter on the Eucharist, but there are two points that are extremely important: The first is that the Eucharist is an expression of our communion with Our Lord, both the visible dimension and invisible dimension. We express our visible communion with Our Lord by attending Mass today and saying the Nicene Creed.

Our invisible communion with Our Lord is our own spiritual life and attempts for conversion. Because the Eucharist is the supreme sacrament of the living, this communion cannot be obtained by those “dead” through mortal sin. This is why Our Lord established the sacrament of Reconciliation to ensure we have His help and forgiveness on our earthly journey—a close bond exists between the Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation.

The second point is that Our Lord did not leave us without giving us the means to receive His body and blood. Through His command to “do this in memory of me,” Our Lord left us a great gift, the priesthood, received through Episcopal succession going back to the apostles, and perfected through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Because the Eucharist is a sacrifice, if we had no priests, we would have no Eucharist. Could it be that the growing shortage of priests is a result of the high percentage of Catholics who say that the Eucharist is only a symbol? I think so. But the Holy Father said we can reverse this trend by praying for vocations and inspiring young men to answer Christ’s call by our conscious, active and faithful participation in the Eucharist.

If we strive for conversion, Our Lord thorough His body and blood will absorb us into His Divine Nature, give us His peace, love and joy, and use us to bring his peace, love and joy to our family, friends, society and world. When our journey is over, He will keep His promise that “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day”" (Jn 6:54).


At 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for printing the homily from Sunday's Mass. It's intriguing but I am left with questions. How did the preacher, or for matter how did you and others, come to the real belief that the host is the body and blood of Christ and not just a symbol? It seems that all my life the teaching was that it is a symbol, but I probably missed the point. What you are saying is very profound but I (and other Catholics I know) have just not embraced that belief.

At 12:26 PM, Blogger Searching For Holiness said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To: Searching For Holiness
What a an unbelievable conversion from atheism to becoming Catholic! That is so so awesome!. Call me crazy too, but I also "feel," the tremendous warmth of Jesus' love when in the presence of His Body and Blood. I like your explanation.....it is hard to put in words. Thank you for sharing.

At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree totally with the above! Thanks for sharing!


At 10:31 PM, Blogger Fr Greg said...

Deacon Kevin sent me a reply to Anon #1, and it follows. Sorry that I sat on it for a few days.

For me, it was mainly one conversation with a priest who told me, "'This is my body' means this is my body". It finally clicked with me at that point (age 21), but I had to see it to believe it.

So, I started to go to daily Mass to hear the words I had heard so many times before, and see the priest's actions during the Consecration, especially. Each day, it was a growing awareness that the bread and wine really do become Jesus' body and blood.

So, I would add attending Mass during the week to Deacon Kevin's list below. Btw, I started to go to Eucharistic Adoration at about the same time as daily Mass, and that REALLY helped seal the deal because I experienced a REAL presence there in the Eucharist (I wrote about this in a recent post..."Falling in Love with Christ")
Fact that he/she only understood the Eucharist as a symbol is not his/her fault, but the failure of the faithful who know the truth to speak, and to speak often, about the gift of Our Lord, body and blood, soul and divinity, to all they encounter. It is a gift for everyone, not just a chosen few. However, how can one hear of this gift if no one speaks of it.

I would recommend:

Read John Chapter 6. See what Our Lord says directly about His body and blood.

Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist

Talk to Catholics who know the reality Our Lord in the Eucharist

Spend time alone with Our Lord in the Eucharist as He awaits all in the tabernacle. Spend 15 minutes speaking to Our Lord, bringing Him your concerns, and listening to Him. You will feel the presence of Our Lord and come to believe that the Eucharist is in fact Our Lord physically present with you.

At 6:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spend time alone with Our Lord in the Eucharist as He awaits all in the tabernacle. Spend 15 minutes speaking to Our Lord, bringing Him your concerns, and listening to Him. You will feel the presence of Our Lord and come to believe that the Eucharist is in fact Our Lord physically present with you.

I love going to the Eucharist! What a sense of peace one gets from going there!

At 2:57 PM, Blogger Fr Greg said...

Anons, you are right to say SFH's conversion is unbelievable. With God, all things are possible. SFH is pretty amazing!!


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