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Pastor's Column

Questions Answered about the Eucharist

Pastor’s Column

June 2, 2024

A picture of the Eucharist - Generated by AI Copilot

Why would Jesus hide himself under the appearance of bread and wine?  Wouldn’t it be better if he manifested himself more openly?

God gives us everything in this life, but he asks us to choose him through faith. It wasn’t easy for the first Christians to believe in Jesus as the Son of God either. The Lord asks us to have faith in him and so he comes to us under many disguises, first and foremost in the Eucharist.

I am having trouble believing that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ.

Faith is a gift we must pray for everyday! “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Read John 6 and you will see how clearly Jesus speaks of this sacrament as his real Body and Blood. Many of the Jews were horrified and turned away from him when he proclaimed this doctrine – but Jesus never backed down. “This is my Body; this is my Blood.” There have been literally hundreds of Eucharistic miracles in the church throughout the centuries, many fully authenticated, of the bread and wine turning into actual flesh and blood. Many books chronicle these supernatural events.

How do I prepare to receive Holy Communion?

First, we must be certain that we are not in the state of serious (mortal) sin, which would require the Sacrament of Reconciliation before we receive. We must fast from food and liquids for at least one hour prior to the time of reception of communion. We should arrive at church in plenty of time, if possible, in order that the time of Mass might belong to God and that we might recollect ourselves in his presence. We try to check our worries at the door. We strive to listen attentively with active and conscious participation to the scriptures, keeping our eyes and minds focused on the Lord during the Eucharistic prayer. At the consecration, we might make a short prayer (silently) like “My Lord and my God!”  This is frequently done in the Hispanic Mass, for example.

How does one receive communion properly?

One may receive in the hand or on the tongue: the choice is up to you. We are asked to make a sign of reverence, such as bowing slightly, before receiving communion (and some like to kneel). Notice that one does not take communion; one receives communion. The Eucharist is a total gift of God. Those not able to receive communion can receive a “spiritual communion” by coming forward to receive a prayer with their arms folded across the chest to indicate this.

What if I don’t “feel” anything as I receive communion?

Our belief in the Eucharist is not a matter of feelings -- but of faith. Our faith sometimes is led to greater maturity through God’s silence and at times, even through his apparent absence. On other occasions we will experience great joy as we realize just who it is we are receiving and how much he loves us. His Divinity becomes one with our humanity as we receive him and this begins to transform us into the new creation we will share with Jesus forever in heaven.

What about after communion?

It is important that we take time to thank God for the graces we have received in the Holy Eucharist. We can do this by singing with all our heart or by remaining silent to pray. At this moment, right after receiving communion, Christ is physically present within your body and he longs to speak with you, and you to him (inwardly). Take advantage of this precious opportunity to talk with him as a friend. Confide your problems to him, thank him for his many blessings. The Eucharist brings many benefits to us if we take the time to hold onto them. When we reach out to Jesus in faith, he will come to us! Jesus will never force himself upon us.

When are we supposed to genuflect and why?

We genuflect when we pass in front of the tabernacle, or upon entering or leaving the pew when the Eucharist is reserved in the tabernacle. We do this as a way of reverencing Jesus Christ present among us. Some of us (including Fr. Gary) have trouble genuflecting; in this case we can make a profound bow. We do not pray only with our lips and minds, but with our bodies as well. A genuflection (or profound bow) is a way of praying with your body – a way of saying that Jesus is the Lord of my life and that he is really present in this place.  

Why is the Mass both a meal and a sacrifice?

The Mass is both a sacred meal and a sacrifice. Families gather together at the table as a way of being together, and they find unity through this action. In the Eucharistic celebration, this sacred meal takes on a sacrificial character because Christ’s body was broken for our salvation and is really present on the altar after the consecration. This sacrifice is not a “new” sacrifice – it makes present for us, in this time and place, the very same sacrifice on Calvary from almost 2000 years ago. Therefore, at each and every Sacrifice of the Mass we assist at, we too are present at Calvary with Christ and he is present with us!

The crucifix behind the altar is a reminder to unite our own sacrifice with Christ’s at the Mass, which extends to the resurrection and into eternity! Altars frequently have a smaller crucifix (like ours does) as a reminder to the priest to pray the Mass reverently and unite his life and that of the whole community he represents with Christ.

Father Gary ~


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