I have been Catholic my whole life. Growing up, my parents took their responsibility of taking us children to faith formation very seriously. I learned all the right answers to the questions about my faith and going through the motions of being Catholic was what I learned to do. I went to Mass every Sunday (except for a few rebellious years) and when it was time to walk up and receive Communion, I followed the crowd.
When Everything Changed
It wasn't until I attended a parent retreat while my daughter was in Life Teen that the knowledge of what the Eucharist was … became who the Eucharist is. The 'head' knowledge I knew of my faith became a deep and convicted knowledge in my 'heart' of who exactly the Eucharist is. The host I walked forward to receive all those years became a living person in my life – Jesus. And that realization became a life changing one that defines my relationship with Jesus on a daily basis and especially when I receive Him in the Eucharist.
I no longer look and see a piece of bread or a cup of wine, but I know with all that is in me that Jesus is truly present … body and blood, soul and divinity in the consecrated gifts that Jesus gave to all of us at the Last Supper and continually gives to us at every Mass.
Because I am aware of Jesus in the Eucharist, it defines how I prepare and participate in the celebration of the Mass. I am attentive and responsive during the prayers especially at the Consecration. I don't walk to Communion looking around anymore but I walk up the aisle toward my Bridegroom who is giving himself to me. Imagine, my God lets me hold him in my hands. I gently and deliberately place Him in my mouth. We have the most intimate conversations during those few minutes after I return to my seat and the peace that envelopes me nourishes my soul as earthly food nourishes my body.
One of my ministries in my parish is being an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. It is such an honor to give Jesus to His people and I can tell when someone comes forward who truly believes that it is Jesus they are about to receive. You just know … you can see it in their attitude and in their eyes. I pray that they can see that belief in me as well.
What Do You Eat?
Long ago there was a commercial that was encouraging us to eat healthy and the slogan was 'You are what you eat.' This is certainly true for us Catholics. If I eat Jesus’ body, I must become Him in my world. I must strive to see Jesus in the people around me and I need to live my life as He has called me to do.
John 6:53 states 'Amen, amen I say to you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life in you'. Jesus, present in the Eucharist, gives me life. Not always an easy life to live. But oh, what a life it is – because He is the one who calls me to it.
I pray that I will never take this wonderful gift of the Eucharist for granted.