Truth be told, I can justify my having to shelf my blog for a week or so due to my hectic schedule lately (as well as a looming biostats final). However, I cannot justify how I stopped trying to live up to Christ's expectations. I could have, hypothetically, been able to receive the Eucharist this Sunday without going to confession this week...if I had tried harder to live according to Christ's word. However, the truth remains that I slacked off. I did not try as hard as I could have to resist sin this past week, and I did not try as hard to be patient this week. I did come out on top when it came to a few instances. I was successful in resisting quite a few temptations this past week and I am happy that I was able to do so...but I could not (with good conscience) deem myself worthy enough to receive Christ this week.
|My soul yearns for the Lord, who is|
present in every mass I have ever attended.
What's holding you back?
We Catholics believe that the Eucharist is Christ. I believe that the Eucharist is Christ. I certainly would not have longed for the Eucharist today if that wasn't the case. I would not have felt that yearning in my heart for the Eucharist if it was just a piece of bread or even just a piece of bread "representing" Christ. You see, we actually believe that bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Christ through a process called transubstantiation. And guess what, we get to witness this transubstantiation whenever we go to mass. Every time you go to mass, you get to witness a miracle. You get to witness this transformation of the ordinary (bread and wine) into the extraordinary (body and blood of Christ).
This is the reason why people like me kneel and cross themselves, while facing the tabernacle every time we enter or leave a Church. This is the reason why Eucharistic Adoration exists...so you get some one on one time with Christ. You can pray all you want at home, and I am sure that Christ listens to your prayers. You can love Christ all you want throughout the day, and I am sure that he feels your love for him. You can listen to Christ's words whenever you read the Bible, and I am sure that he knows you're listening. However, when you attend mass, you not only listen, love, and pray...YOU PARTICIPATE in an ongoing miracle that Christ started millennia ago. You participate in Christ's sacrifice for us. You participate in his resurrection. You take part in all this, and so much more, just by attending mass...even if you don't receive.
When I go to mass, the first thing I do when I enter the church is kneel (or bow) and cross myself as I face the tabernacle. You see, Christ is there. His body, blood, soul, and divinity are present right there in the front of the church. He's right there. I know he's there because I feel him there....and the yearning in my heart for Christ intensifies whenever I sit before the Eucharist. I don't yearn for a piece of bread. I yearn for Christ. Today's experience was not the result of hunger in the normal sense. I never eat before mass regardless of whether or not I will be receiving that day. Call it an act of solidarity for those that must fast 1 hour before mass....those who, unlike me, are actually worthy to receive Christ. I'm so used to fasting before mass, that I am never really hungry at mass. My yearning for the Eucharist, therefore, was not hunger. I wasn't hungry at mass today and even if I was, I've never been brought to tears by hunger. I have, however, been driven to tears by Christ's presence in the Eucharist.
I've been Catholic my entire life, but I have not always believed that Christ is up there waiting for me whenever I receive. I have not always believed that Christ was present in the Eucharist. As ashamed as I am to admit this, it wasn't even three years ago that I was at confession...telling a priest that I just could not believe that Christ was present in the Eucharist. It all seemed too crazy...too impossible to be true. My parents treated the Eucharist with reverence and my dad used to tell us stories about miracles associated with the Eucharist. There was one, old Portuguese story about a donkey that had somehow entered a church and stomped on the Eucharist. The Eucharist turned into blood before the very eyes of the parishioners present. I never really took these stories too seriously. I thought I understood the importance of the Eucharist...but I never grasped the fact that the Eucharist is Christ.
As I've grown in my spiritual life, I have found myself believing more and more that Christ is present in the Eucharist. I can't remember when it happened, but one day I found myself kneeling before a Eucharist...KNOWING that Christ was there. I can't tell you if this realization was the result of a sudden enlightenment (similar to Saint Paul's conversion) or if it was more gradual and subtle (like Saint Augustine's conversion). The long and short of it is that I found myself kneeling before the Eucharist without one doubt in my mind that I was in Christ's presence. I broke down, cried, and prayed. In my mind, I saw Christ sitting up there by the monstrance, listening to me and watching me as if I were the only person in the entire room full of college-aged Catholics. This experience never left me and, to this day, Christ's presence in the Eucharist is a reality that I am unable to deny.
In truth, I do not know a lot about the Eucharist. From what I have begun to learn, I get the impression that you could write an entire library about it. This post is, therefore, extremely limited in its scope of something that is so essential, mysterious, and amazing to the Catholic faith. However, I do know that the Eucharist is Christ and that the Eucharist is present in every mass. You may be able to pray at home. You may be able to speak to God from the comfort of your own couch. However, unless a HUGE Fatima-like miracle occurs in your house...you will never come so close to the physical presence of Christ as you will by going to mass. The Eucharist is, by far, currently one of the biggest reasons why I am Catholic and now one of the biggest reasons why I intend to take more time out of my Saturday and Sunday schedule in order to go to Confession and receive this beautiful sacrament.
As far as miracles go, there are quite a few associated with the Eucharist. There have been books written about these miracles. The miracle of Lanciano is one of the most famous. This miracle involves a priest who, like me, once had his doubts about Christ's presence in the Eucharist. As he consecrates the bread, it transforms before his very eyes into cardiac tissue. There have been other miracles...but I could begin writing about all of them and ever expect to finish my biostatistics homework.
For those of you who are still skeptical or convinced that you are close enough to Christ without going to mass...consider the following prayer. This prayer was said by an angel that appeared before the shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. It is a prayer that I have adopted to my every day prayer life and it is a prayer that came from the mouth of a celestial being....not a human. Therefore, pay close attention to the words.