Catholics believe in the fantastic, the miraculous, and the infinite!
God. Love. Forgiveness. Friendship. Heaven.
Friendship with God of the universe! Joy for eternity!
Truly, this is the stuff of celebration!
I’m a wine drinker – and a wine lover! One of my favorite sounds is the hearing the pop signaling the release of a cork from a bottle. It’s a cue for celebration – sometimes lavish and sometimes simple! Our earthly celebrations bring meaning to life.
All of our family’s most important celebratory moments happen in the context of good meals with wine – sacraments, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, job promotions, engagements, marriages, victories large and small. And there is a prayer of blessing for each occasion! Besides the food and drink, we also discover the blessing in the love of the people gathered there. In these simple earthly rituals we find nourishment and refreshment, and the presence of hope and love.
It is no wonder that Jesus desired to bring us his love in a way that would be a daily reminder of the reality of his true presence – a way to miraculously make his sacrificial love accessible and experiential.
With his friends, at the Last Supper, Jesus offered his very self through the ancient Jewish blessings of bread and wine…
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine…. Who brings forth bread from the earth…
The apostles gathered at that meal were accustomed to blessings and prayers of the feast, to gather and celebrate and remember. Yet, something more took place. After Jesus offered the familiar blessing and prayers, his disciples received a holy food that had never touched human lips before.
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Mt 26: 26-29)
If we attend Mass, we know these words of Jesus.
May we never miss the miracle of the moment — the more — that is captured within the familiarity of the Eucharistic Prayer. It is miraculous every single time.
The Mass resembles a meal, but it is a covenant. It is a bonding of persons – body and blood – a communion uniting God and all who partake of the food and drink. Eucharist is the largesse and goodness of God, and his impassioned forgiveness that consumes our sin as it pours out graces.
Mass is our thanksgiving for the fantastic, the miraculous, and the reality that an all-powerful God is overcome with love for us. He is so filled with desire for union with us, that he humbled himself, came from heaven, and offered himself on the cross for us.
Today, by the power of Jesus’ priestly prayer, God inhabits the gifts of our table: bread and wine. We receive a taste of heaven whenever we take part in the Eucharist. Bread and wine become more than gifts for earthly nourishment and enjoyment – they are supernaturally charged grace and power!
The Eucharist is Jesus’ true body and blood. This is why we call it The Real Presence. We will never fully plumb the depth of that mystery, just as we can never find the edges of His true love – it is infinite.
Pat Gohn is an author, speaker, retreat leader, and host of the “Among Women” podcast. Her book, “Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood”, won a 2014 CPA Award. A columnist and catechist with a Masters in theology, find links to her writing and speaking at PatGohn.net