Today is the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, a feast also known as Corpus Christi. On this feast day, we focus on the reality of Christ’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament. What appears to be bread and wine is actually His Body, Blood, soul and divinity: His essence. We believe this because this is what He said would happen at His Last Supper and all things He has said is confirmed by His Resurrection. It is a doctrine that was completely unchallenged by Christians for the first fifteen hundred years of the Church and an inspiration for many saints and martyrs.
Though we do celebrate the Eucharist at every Mass, it is good to take special notice of this doctrine. Just as the Incarnation of Our Lord (that Jesus is really God made man) is the lynch pin of everything we believe, the Eucharist is lynch pin of all that we do as Catholics. For instance, why do we kneel during the consecration? (That’s when the priest says the words that Jesus did in order to make the bread and wine into His real presence.) Why should we genuflect (placing our right knee to the ground) or cross ourselves with Holy Water to the tabernacle when we come into Church? Why do we say, “Amen” before receiving communion? Why can people spend time in front of the Blessed Sacrament (especially on Thursdays when we have Eucharistic Adoration all day) and pray to God? We do all of these things to show respect and love to the presence of God in the Blessed Sacrament.
Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist is a chance for all of us to love Him as He deserves. God is not distant and impersonal. He literally wants to be present in all of our lives and show us in a physical way how He gave His life for us. He gives us Himself as food to show that we are dependent on His grace even more than we are dependent on food for nourishment. It is a sad thing when people who do believe in this doctrine do not let it change their lives. Christ is calling us to be in a relationship with Him through this New Covenant established at the Last Supper and that we repeat every week in all the Catholic Churches of the world. Christ makes Himself available and I hope that all Catholics can make themselves available to receive this great gift of God Himself.
So, I encourage you all to treat the Eucharist with respect and love. It is disrespectful to leave Mass early. It is disrespectful to be a distraction to others in prayer at Mass. It is disrespectful and sacrilege to receive communion when you know you are not in a state of grace. It is disrespectful not to honor Our Lord with at least a bow or a genuflect as you enter Church. It is disrespectful to come to church inappropriately dressed. I am not going to yell or get on anyone’s case about these things since there is always a chance someone has a very good reason for why they do what they do. But, too often people have an idea that Catholics no longer believe in the presence of Our Lord and I sometimes wonder if they base that opinion on how Catholics act in Church. So, please examine how you act and help to encourage each other to love Our Lord.