Kianna Garmanian, Staff Writer
Love. Endless love. Love that freely gives without taking. Love that transcends the hearts of believers and inspires the minds of all who seek. This type of love is one that is not of this world and cannot be fulfilled by any human person, material possession or accomplishment. Rather, this pure and selfless love is one that is heavenly and divine, one that will transform your heart without you even knowing. So, you may ask, what type of love is this?
This love is Jesus Christ, true God and true man, fully present in the Eucharist (Holy Communion.) Catholics believe that during each Mass, the gifts of bread and wine are fully transformed into Jesus’ body and blood, through the words of the priest who acts in the person of Christ. What exactly does this mean? Why is the Eucharist so important?
To help demonstrate, clarify, and explain the beauty of the Eucharist, it is first beneficial to look at the Sacrament of Matrimony (marriage), since all of us are probably familiar with this concept. When a man and a woman are bonded in marriage, they officially become one; while they are two separate individuals, the couple is united together as one body, soul and spirit upon receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony. When the man and woman obtain this bond, they vow to give themselves entirely to one another, which is the true definition of love. Through the complete offering of themselves to each another, the spouses are uniting in love and for love.
Thus, marriage is not completed or fulfilled unless the bond of body and soul takes place. If a man and a woman offer their hearts to one another and not their bodies, or vice versa, their marriage is incomplete and broken, and feelings of emptiness and incompleteness will deeply grow within themselves. On the other hand, when a couple freely offers their entire beings to each other, their marriage will blossom and flourish in the richness of unity. Here, we can see the importance of a man’s complete sacrifice for his wife and a woman’s complete sacrifice for her husband.
Before Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, he offered up his body and blood to the apostles during the Last Supper. The reason for this was because Jesus wanted to share in an intimate relationship with each of them and similarly, with all of us. Christ, in the same way that a man and woman give themselves to one another in marriage, offers us his body and blood each time we receive Holy Communion at Mass. In marriage, if a man and woman do not offer their entirety to each other, their marriage lacks fullness and unity. Similarly, without frequent reception of the Eucharist, our relationship with God is incomplete.
The Last Supper is so significant because Jesus invites us to receive his whole being so that we may be completely and fully united to him. Christ not only offers us his words and teachings in the Bible, which we hear during Mass, but gives us his body and blood to be intimate with us, just like a married couple. Essentially, Christ is our spouse, since he offers both his body and soul to us.
John 6:53-56 states, Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” This passage from the Gospel of John contains the actual words of Jesus, in which he exclaims not once, not twice, nor three times, but rather four times of the truth of his real presence. With this, Christ explains how the Eucharist is eternal nourishment, which is necessary for our salvation. By fully understanding the meaning and importance of the Eucharist for the transformation of ourselves, one can then grasp the real meaning of the Mass. Catholics don’t just gather together every Sunday for the music, or to hear the priest talk about God. We come to Church for Christ and Christ alone! Catholics gather together to join in the heavenly feast and nourish their souls with Jesus’ body and blood, which empowers believers to embrace His calling and love others in Christ’s name.
Last year, junior Avery Reich-Norris began attending Mass at the Abbey Church, and says, “Daily Mass has changed my life. The Eucharist is just so great!” Come and experience the transformational and salvific love of Christ for yourself, who is fully present in each Catholic Mass. If you wish to attend Mass and are not Catholic, you are more than welcome to come but please do not receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Because of the sacredness of Jesus’ body and blood, it is important to take formation classes to prepare yourself for the beauty of Christ’s offering. If you wish to receive Holy Communion, there are RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) classes you can take on campus (contact Fr. Peter Tynan) to learn more about the meaning of the faith and becoming Catholic. For all who are interested in attending Mass, here is the Abbey Church Mass Schedule: Monday-Friday (5:00 pm); Saturday (8:00 am); Sunday (11:00 am and 7:00 pm).