Friday 27 March 2020
In explaining the importance of the Holy Eucharist to converts and to Catholics who don’t fully appreciate It, I would always be at pains to say something along the lines of the following:
The Supreme and Most Wonderful Sacrament is the Holy Eucharist (Holy Mass and Holy Communion), and for three main reasons:
[i] It is Jesus Christ our Lord and God Himself. We know this from Christ Himself for He said: “I am the living bread that has come down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread I will shall give for the life of the world is My flesh…Whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood lives in Me, and I in Him…As I draw life from the Living father, so whoever eats Me will draw life from Me“ (John.6v51-57). He fulfilled this promise of giving us His Flesh to east at the Passover when He took bread, blessed it, broke it and said, “Take, eat, for this is My Body (Luke 22v19). The Holy Eucharist, being Holy God Himself, is thus the power-source of all the other Sacraments and the origin -and goal- of our entire existence.
[ii] It is Christ’s Saving Sacrifice on the Cross made present to us, for Christ said, “This is My Body given up for you...My Blood which is shed for you” (Lk.22v19-20). So, as Saint Paul tells us, “When you eat this Bread and drink this Cup you are proclaiming the Lord’s death” (1.Cor.11v26). St Paul said, “We preach a crucified Christ” (1 Cor.1v23), and we preach not only by words but in our actions in the holy liturgy, where we mystically proclaim/announce/show the separation of Christ’s Body and Blood on the Cross by the separate consecration of the bread into His Body and of the wine into His Blood: “whenever we eat this Bread and drink this Cup…”
[iii] It brings Heaven to earth. Since the Holy Eucharist is God and wherever God is Heaven is, whenever we come to Mass we are coming to Heaven, there to love and be loved by Holy God in the presence of all the angels and saints -and of all those who have died and are with God. Now, since Holy Mass is Heaven on earth, we do not need to die to go to Heaven -we only need to come to Mass, and since to come to Mass is to come to Heaven, to absent ourselves from Mass is to absent ourselves from heaven –and who wants that?
You know, there is room for seeing Holy Mass as the door to heaven. How sad that at this time of the Covid-19 pandemic we find ourselves locked out of our Church’s and literally knocking on heaven’s door. Without meaning to, what the Church has done is to say ‘No entry to Heaven here today”. Let us pray that the pandemic ends soon, with lives saved and the grief of those who have already lost loved ones assuaged by communion with God.
As a former nurse educated in nursing way back in the 1980’s how can I not say ‘thank you’ to all those in the acute areas of health care receiving patients with Covid-19: Accident and Emergency rooms; Intensive care units, and medical wards dedicated to Covid-19 patients. We must thank our paramedics, consultants, ‘junior’ doctors, anaesthetists, nurses, Health Care Assistants, pharmacists, cleaners, porters, ward clerks, dieticians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, psychotherapists, chaplains and a whole gamut of dedicated staff who are working in these highly stressful areas -and not only those but staff throughout our NHS. I shall offer private Masses for and end to the pandemic, the relief of patients and of family suffering, for the staff giving the care, and for the governments, advisors and scientists working to control and overcome this exceptional situation.