This article was written by Mons Paul C Vella. Monsignor Vella is a Judge in the Maltese Archdiocese’s Tribunal, he is also the Chaplain of the Cloistered Benedictine Nuns in Imdina. Fr Paul is a Conventual Chaplain of the Order of Malta.
O sacrum convivium! in quo Christus sumitur: recolitur memoria passionis eius: mens impletur gratia: et futurae gloriae nobis pignus datur. Alleluia. This antiphone which was probably written by St Thomas Aquinas when he was drafting the hymns and prayers for the Festivity of the Corpus Domini Nostri Iesu Christi, by order of Pope Urban IV in 1264, puts into a few words all that we as Catholics believe about the Holy Eucharist. The Latin text, if translated would go: O sacred banquet! in which Christ is received, the memory of his Passion is renewed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory to us is given. Alleluia.
The Holy Eucharist, is the true body and blood of Jesus. Jesus who shed his blood and nailed his body for us, is present wholly in the Eucharist. When we receive the Eucharist we are receiving Christ himself. And that is why the Church asks of those who are going to receive the Holy Body and Blood of Jesus be in the state of Grace. Because one cannot receive Jesus but not be one with Him at the same time. If one is not in God’s Grace, one is not fully in union with Him and therefore it would be a contradiction to receive the Body of Jesus when one is not one with Him at the same time.
The doctrine about the Holy Eucharist is unchanged and unaltered since apostolic times: we hear Paul telling the Corinthians, “Therefore, my dear friends,[c] flee from the worship of idols. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Cor 10, 15-17)
The Eucharistic Doctrine has never changed throughout the life of the Church, and this precisely because the Eucharist is the heart of the Church, it is the life-line of the life of the Church. There is no Church without the Eucharist. The eating of the Body of Jesus, fills us with eternal and everlasting life, and we as disciples of Jesus ought to seek out this sustenance. Both when we are partaking in the Eucharistic Sacrifice which is Holy Mass, as well as when we are taking part in a Holy Hour, we are directly in the Real Presence of Jesus, the Son of God made man for us.
The Eucharistic Sacrifice is the ultimate Celebration which we as disciples of Jesus can offer to God, and this Sacrifice reaches its zenith when we receive Holy Communion. The eating of the Body of Jesus refreshes our souls, it nourishes us in our lives on this earth until we meet Him in eternity. The eating of the Body of Jesus gives us that fore-taste of Heaven, the Eternal Bliss which we all hope to have when we pass on to everlasting life.
May the Eucharist be really in our hearts and while Adoring and Receiving the Body of Jesus, may we all be filled with God’s Grace and help for our journey until we meet Him for Ever, in an Eternal Adoration.