The word ‘eucharist’ means ‘thanksgiving’ in Greek; did you know that? It’s a meal that we come to, and I hope you come grateful. Not only grateful that He picks you, but grateful that He feeds you. And that meal is one of the ways He stays with us, always. Because as often as we come to the Eucharist, He comes to us.
As a kid I remember being super excited for a road trip from Massachusetts to New Jersey to visit my grandparents. In my five year old brain, 'New Jersey' might as well have been the moon and a week was basically forever. I had to pack accordingly. Pulling bags out the closet I filled them with my stuffed animals, dolls, books, art supplies, my sticker collection and a panda poster.
I believe that Pope John Paul II was one of the greatest Popes to have ever served the Church. History has shown him to be a man who can be all things to all people. He was an athlete, an actor, a writer, a priest, a bishop, an activist and most of all a follower of Christ . . . In terms of leadership and bravery, William Wallace has nothing on this guy. During the years of Pope John Paul II's service to the Church, he encountered many things that would make the average person run and hide.
Only Catholics can receive the Eucharist at Mass because the Eucharist is the Sacrament of our unity in Christ; those who receive it need to have unity in the Faith.
The practice of excluding some people from Holy Communion is a Biblically based, ancient Christian discipline observed by both Catholics and many Protestants.
Fasting is all about the 'disposition' of your soul. That means the 'condition' or 'state' that your soul is in. In order to prepare the soul, we have to prepare the body.
We are physical beings. When we force our body to do something hard, like not eat or drink, it reminds us that hunger and thirst for spiritual food is even more important.
Since the body and soul make up the one person that you are, they have to do things together . . . like get ready for Jesus in the Eucharist.
Joanna and I became friends in college, when I was a junior and she was a freshman. Her family had converted to Catholicism when she was a teenager and she struggled to embrace their new beliefs. I was a theology major who loved my Catholic faith and a good discussion. Joanna would often knock on my door, offer me a pudding snack, and spend hours grilling me about the Church.
Only Catholics are able to receive Communion at Mass because the Eucharist is the Sacrament of our unity in Christ; those who receive it need to have unity in the Faith. Those who reject Catholicism including Protestants and non-Christians, reject the doctrine of Transubstantiation. We Catholics believe that Jesus does a miracle in every Mass and turns our offerings of simple bread and wine into His Own precious Body and Blood, but others do not believe this. The Catholic Church isn’t doing something mean or intolerant.
When we skip Mass on Sunday, we are violating our covenant with God. We are saying to God, 'I don't need to be united to you. I don't need to worship you.' It may seem innocent, but we are actually declining His marriage proposal. We are not showing up for our own wedding.
When we make a decision to deny His invitation to covenant we are saying we don't want a relationship with Him. Because our God loves us and is a gentleman, he allows us to do this.
However, it’s a grave sin to miss Mass.
After the man picks up the statue, he turns around and immediately walks out of the church with it. Middle of the Wedding. Just takes the statue out of the church. It's a huge church.
We sat down for the first reading and I realize that the bride has to lay flowers at the statue of our lady … it's in the program. And there's no statue of Our Lady whatsoever because someone has stolen it from the church during the wedding!
Now a lot times we think the bride wears the white dress to show that she’s a virigin or that she’s pure, and that is part of the tradition. In this case, the linen garment shows in an outward way that on the inside is pure. This is one of the reasons that in Corinthians the Church says before you go to receive the Eucharist, you should be in a state of grace. You should not have serious sin. You should not have mortal sin in your soul. You should go to Confession before you go to Communion.
What the Church is trying to teach us, what God is revealing to St. John to reveal to us is Revelation. The book of Revelation is not a book of damnation and hell; the book of Revelation is about a wedding.
Lately he had been having doubts about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Was the bread and wine really transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus?
He said Mass at the Church of St. Christina. As Peter raised the Host and consecrated it blood started flowing out of it, onto his hands and the altar. God was telling him (and us) that yes, He is truly present in the host.
Peter was confused and tried to hide the blood.
Let's be honest. Mass … it's boring, right? Growing up, that's what I thought. In grade school, we went to daily Mass, while wearing ugly, green, plaid uniforms, with an old lady playing the organ. At that point, I would rather watch paint dry.
Two monks got in a boat and rowed to the Church. When they saw that the water was halfway up the main doors they feared the worst. They pushed open the doors to the church and saw that the main aisle and the altar were completely free of water. The rest of the Church was filled with four feet of water, but the altar remained dry. The Blessed Sacrament was just as they had left it. They also saw that some papers, books and cloths which had been placed under the altar were dry.
Hey! Did you know? Around 750 AD., at a monastery called St. Longinus, a monastic priest was having doubts about the Lord's presence in the Eucharist. One day, he was celebrating Mass and at the words of the consecration the host turned to flesh in appearance and the wine turned to blood. He quickly called the astonished congregation up to the altar to see for themselves.
You hide all your glorious splendor in order to be close to me … who can't handle seeing or holding all that glory. I can't believe I mean that much to you. When I receive you in the Eucharist my whole body and soul feels more peaceful. I can tell as I consume you, that your love is consuming me. I've never felt so close to anyone as I do to you in the Eucharist. And the best part is that it never gets old. You constantly are able to love me like I need, strengthen me for my day and speak personally to my heart. All I have to do is get out of bed and show up.
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.
Here in South Bend, people get pretty pumped over Notre Dame football. They dress in blue and gold, paint their faces, prepare food all night for the tailgates, even get up early. When the game starts, the crowd goes nuts! Cheers. Standing. Sitting. High fives to strangers you don't know. We are fully engaged in the event. I wonder what would happen if we participated with the same heart and passion at Mass on Sunday?
I went with Katie the next week … and then again the following week. That piece of bread had the attention of a whole auditorium of people, it had to mean something. Unknowingly I followed her to a moment with Christ that would change my life. Before Adoration, the priest described what we were about to encounter. While I was sitting there, for the first time in my life I allowed myself to be found by God. And for the first time told him where I was. I heard him speaking in His quiet voice, 'Stop looking. You are home'.
Many of you have probably had beautiful experiences of the Mass. You have Life Teen at your parish and with it a vibrant Youth Liturgy with good music and preaching. But what happens when we go on vacation or off to college and that dynamic celebration of Mass is nowhere to be found?