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Why Should You Go to Mass? Reason 4: Jesus is There and He's Awesome

I was such a great Catholic for 2 out of the 3 of the last weeks. I went to confession and received the Eucharist 2 weeks in a row. This is was a record for me and I was so excited that I was finally putting my relationship with Christ in front of everything else. This past week, everything changed.  Due to a series of events linked to my lab work,  my lack of time due to an intense biostats course, and a touch of laziness on my end, I did not go to confession this week. I also just realized today that I have not posted anything here since July. All of these things indicate one thing: I've been a Slacker Catholic. You've probably never heard of this expression, but you can probably think of a number of people that fit this description.  Slacker Catholics are those of us that go to mass once or twice a year, those of us that can't remember the last time we went to Confession, those of us who don't try to improve our spiritual lives, and those of us who have put God on the bottom of our list of priorities. We're the people that do not always try to make the right decision when confronted with a choice between God and enter distraction here.

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?
Today when I went to mass, I looked up toward the Tabernacle and I felt it...I felt that intense longing and that pull toward that line of people ready to receive Christ. The responsorial psalm today echoed my own sentiments as I sat, stood, and knelt in the pews... "My soul waits for the Lord." (Psalm 130, in case you're wondering.) I wanted to receive and, to some degree, I felt that I needed to receive...but I could not. I had slacked off on my spiritual life all week and did not deserve to join everyone else as they went up to receive Communion. This longing was the longing of my soul for Christ...who is present in the Eucharist. 


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.

"Oh Most Holy Trinity,Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,I adore Thee profoundly.
I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, 
present in all the tabernacles of the world,
in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges andindifferences by which He is offended.
By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I beg the conversion of poor sinners.

Amen."


This was a prayer that was spoken by an angel of God before the appearance of Our Lady in Fatima. This angel, I am sure, knows all about Christ's presence. I mean, this angel did come from heaven to deliver a message from God. This prayer does not say anything about Christ being present in our living rooms. I am sure he is always with us...but not in the same sense as is suggested by this prayer. As the angel suggests, the body of Christ is present in the Tabernacle. His physical presence can be found within the tabernacle of a church. This is a HUGE revelation that we normally take advantage of or have cast aside when it comes to mass. However, the angel does not stop there. The angel proceeds to say that the Blood of Christ is present there too...anyone who has ever taken the chaplet of Divine Mercy seriously will tell you that the blood of Christ is a lifeline for us. It sustains our souls in a way that even the tastiest breakfast in bed could never sustain. I'm talking to you...that's right you...the person who skipped mass this past Sunday in order to have breakfast in your comfy bed...you know who you are. 

As essential as the body and blood of Christ are, the angel did not stop there. The SOUL and DIVINITY of Jesus are also present in the Tabernacle. Therefore, you don't just stand before the body and blood comprising Christ  the man. When you go to mass...you stand before his immortal soul....as well as the power and glory  of his divinity. That's right. You stand before Christ the God...one person in the Holy Trinity comprised of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How awesome is that?!?! You don't experience this in everyday life, regardless of how great a prayer life you have. We may have religious experiences now and then in our spiritual lives, but we rarely get the chance to stand before Christ true God and true Man. Yet, Christ is present before us all in body, blood, soul, and divinity whenever we attend mass. He is present during mass much as he was present before his apostles 2000-odd years ago. Therefore, get off your bums, set your alarm clock this upcoming Sunday....and join me for mass. I will be the geeky-looking chick in the mantilla, praying the Credo in Latin.

Pax Vobiscum.

(In case you're wondering about the date, I started writing this on Sunday...and got to finish it Monday night. Now if you'll excuse me, I got some homework I have to finish....)


Pray for London.

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