The Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist

I was sick most of this past week, too exhausted to do much more than sleep. Of course, I was also too busy at first to recognize why everything felt off. I had too many things to check off on too many lists, and it took me a couple days of trying to force my body to stay upright, trying to force my brain into productivity, before I recognized that the only truly productive thing I could do was drink fluids and rest.

Now, to be clear, I’d been praying in the weeks leading up to Lent that if I had to get sick at some point during the Lenten season, it would be early in Lent and not right before or during Holy Week. I’m solo leading a liturgical ministry, in charge of decorating/undecorationg/redecorating nearly every day that week. And with no one currently in the ministry who knows what needs to get done if I’m unavailable (and hoping to keep my pastor in good health), I really need to be functional during that week.

More than that, I love being involved in ministry during the holiest week of the year. I love making God’s house beautiful for welcoming my parish family and guests. I love the somber celebration of Palm Sunday. The joy of the Gloria during the Chrism Mass—and the slight chaos of getting there in time after Morning Prayer. The enduring beauty of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. The barren sobriety of Good Friday. The glorious anticipation standing beside the fire and walking into a dark church after sunset on Holy Saturday. The breathtaking joy of Easter morning.

I love the prayers, the music, the hectic preparations, seeing everything fall into place according to God’s will—and the more thoroughly I’m involved in helping with those preparations, the more deeply I find myself ready to enter into the joy of the Easter season. Not just for one day, but for all fifty.

More than my own love and preparation and anticipation, though, I recognize that these are the feasts where my spiritual life is most abundantly fed more powerfully and more thoroughly than in any retreat. This is where the Lord strengthens and renews in me all the gifts I need for the coming year. These celebrations are our perpetual making present of the New and Eternal Covenant, the covenant Our Lord made in His Own Blood: the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.

“And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after supper, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

Luke 22:14-20

This moment of the Institution of the Eucharist, though, is only the beginning. The next day, the after Our Lord, Life Himself, has died on the cross, His Heart is pierced open, and blood and water flow out:

“But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.”

John 19:34

This is the fountain of salvation, from which we are called to drink. That water, a sign of the waters of rebirth by which we were reborn in Baptism. That Blood, the very Blood of the Covenant He instituted the night before.

And He goes one step further. Knowing we don’t understand, having experienced the rejection of so many of His followers during the Bread of Life discourse in John chapter 6, He reveals Himself in the Breaking of the Bread on the road to Emmaus:

“So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?”

Luke 24:28-32

The entirety of the Christmas cycle leads up to this. Lent prepares us for this. The rest of the liturgical year flows out from this truth: Our Lord has given His very Body and Blood, instituted at the Last Supper, consummated in His death on the cross, revealed in its fullness in the light of His glorious Resurrection.

This changes everything. This transformed the world. And every reception of the Eucharist has the power to utterly transfigure us into precisely that which we consume, Our Lord Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

We’re supposed to become what we eat.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting Vatican II, tells us, “the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324). Despite the earth shaking reality of this sacrament, Church only requires that we approach this sacramental celebration in the Holy Mass once a week (on Sunday). And we’re only required to receive Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament once a year during the Easter season.

And yet it seems clear to me that in a culture that promotes productivity over fruitfulness, busyness over interior reflection, and 24/7 work availability over Sabbath rest, we’ve lost our awareness of the meaning of the Eucharist life.

As a natural consequence, we’ve lost our awareness of the meaning of the Christian life.

In reality, contrary to the push and pull of the currents of modern culture, there is only one thing in this world that matters, and it should take priority over every other aspect of our lives. We were made to love and serve the Lord Our God.

He gave, has given, is giving us His whole self. We don’t deserve it. He had nothing to gain by His death. Except you and me.

Our whole lives, then, should be centered around sabbath rest, our schedules cleared of everything that stands in the way of our 24/7 availability to doing God’s will in every moment. Not because the Church requires it. But because God deserves so much more and yet has asked for only this: that we return our hearts to Him in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

In the Eucharist, He gives us His Heart, fully, freely, and faithfully. Can we keep watch one hour?

Back in 2015, about a year after I came back to the Church, I’d dropped the habit of daily Mass I developed in the months leading up to my Confirmation. It was partly due to a change in schedule; I was in my senior year of undergrad. I’d taken on too many credit hours. I had to commute an hour to and from campus (and I didn’t know how to tell then whether a church that lableled itself as “catholic” was actually Catholic). But in the absence of daily Mass, I found myself longing deeply for Sundays.

So I’ll leave you with a journal I wrote during that time:

The space between Sundays sometimes feels like years. The accumulation of a decade within seven days. The buildup of a thousand darknesses throttling one bright light. In the space between Sundays, I sink deeper and deeper inside myself and fail to acknowledge that there have been, are, will be billions of worlds beyond me.

In the space between Sundays I lose myself. I forget what I’m doing. I forget why I’m here. I don’t love enough. I don’t try enough. I’m not enough.

But for that one hour on Sunday, I am. My failings are forgiven. My heart is healed. My soul is free.

The space between Sundays is a long, returning winter, and Sunday is my spring.

About Author

Caitlyn Pszonka serves as our Editor. She is first and foremost a beloved daughter of God and uses her gifts as a co-creator for love of Him and His Body, the Church. With degrees in Creative Writing and Theology, she loves to get at deeper truths through telling stories in various forms, including novels, poems, plays, and songs. Caitlyn shares her visual art, in addition to reflections on diving ever deeper in love with God, at Heart to Sacred Heart.

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