Our Treasure

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Recently I attended the funeral of an old friend at a parish in an adjacent state. Another friend, a non-Catholic, went with me. On the drive to the funeral Mass, I talked with her about Communion and let her know that only Catholics may receive the Holy Eucharist at Mass. She didn’t ask me any questions, but only nodded. During Mass, she stood and kneeled with the rest of us. The priest informed the mourners that only Catholics could receive the Eucharist, but that all were welcome to come forward to receive a blessing. My friend chose to stay in our pew when I walked up for Holy Communion. On the trip home, she was quiet and thoughtful. She talked a little about how different Mass was from the services at her church. Finally, as she was getting out of my car, she turned back and said, “You have a treasure in that Catholic Eucharist.”

Yes, we do. A Treasure, indeed. And yet some Catholics don’t embrace or adore our Savior present in the Holy Eucharist. We see it in the life of our parishes, when we fail to teach our children of the beauty and holiness of the Blessed Sacrament. When we enter the presence of God without reverence, or when we talk and laugh in our pews before Mass begins, we fail to honor Him. If we receive communion in a state of sin, we not only dishonor Jesus, we compound our sinfulness. The line for Communion is long, but all too often the line for Confession is very short. We hear of even worse disrespect by some careless or thoughtless priests who fail in their vocation to reveal the truth of the Holy Eucharist to their flocks. Many of us in the pews can become tepid in our faith, too. We can forget that we are at Calvary whenever we go to Mass. It can slip our minds that when we kneel before the Eucharist, we are kneeling before the Lamb of God, Emmanuel, the Creator, the Alpha and Omega—the Savior of the world. Sometimes it takes the words of an outsider to remind us of our Treasure.

There was a 2010 Pew Research Survey which revealed that only about 45% of Catholics in America believe that the Eucharist is truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. More than half of us don’t realize Who we receive in Holy Communion. St. Ignatius of Antioch (35 – 107AD) wrote that “without the Eucharist there is no Church.” If there is a wound at the heart of Catholicism it is this unbelief in the Holy Eucharist. It reveals itself in the number of Catholics who don’t come to Mass, in the parishes and schools that are being closed and in a hundred other heartbreaking ways. But the most damaging and painful wound is how much our unbelief must hurt our Lord. This Treasure of Himself that He gave to his Church sometimes isn’t being treasured. You see, the truth of Who the Eucharist really is doesn’t depend on our belief. Whether or not we believe that Jesus is really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist—He is. We know this is true because He told us so Himself. St. Paul taught us this. From St. Peter to Pope Francis, the Catholic Church has always affirmed this belief. Our Catechism puts it simply: “The Eucharist is the Source and Summit of the Christian life”(para. 1324). Source and Summit. Where we come from and to Whom we aspire. Alpha and Omega.

I heard a priest once say that if the Church was handing out hundred dollar bills at every Mass, the line to come in would be miles long out the door. And yet at every Mass, we are given a Treasure beyond all the money and gold in the world—and yet people don’t come, or if they do come, many may not know Who is waiting for them. Some choose other churches because “Mass is boring.” As if an intimate encounter with Jesus Christ could be boring. My friend realized that truth at the funeral Mass we attended together. She realized Who the Eucharist is. As Catholics, we need to pray that The Lord awakens this believe in all of us and opens our eyes and our hearts to this Treasure of our faith. He is our Source and our Summit.

“A Christian life whose weekly high point is essentially a concert followed by a lecture (even a very good lecture) is not going to have the kind of otherworldly power as one where you get to eat and drink God. It just can’t hold a candle.”
—Fr. Andrew Damick

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Hugh in NC, USA
    Mar 16, 2015 @ 01:16:25

    Well said. How can Catholics say that the Eucharist is not the body and blood of Jesus Christ? Probably those who ignore the teachings of our Lord “Unless you come unto me as little children, you shall not enter the Kingdom of heaven”, and then support abortion and the murder of millions of lives. I pray they repent and beg Jesus’ forgiveness that He gave us on the cross.Church is not PC but it is the path to Heaven. Eternal Life or Death, each for an eternity, that’s a no-brainer.

    Reply

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