We Need to Be Able to Explain the Eucharist
John Lee, Johannesburg – Do we Catholics realise how neccessary it is for us to explain to fundamentalists and other critics attacking or enquiring, the exact meaning of the Eucharist, since it is the very summit and source of our spirituality and our personal relationship with our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?
Words like the Mass and the Eucharist are rooted in Greek and Latin and many do not seem to understand them.
Sometimes it seems that the Mass and other sacraments are talked about as though they are simply “things”, ceremonies or obligations rather than Christ-centred encounters with the living God in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The word Eucharist simply means thanksgiving and is a response of obedience to Jesus in Luke 22:19-20.
It is not simply an intellectual remembering or a nostalgic remembering, but a remembering that makes present for us the great once-and-for-all sacrifice of Jesus for us on the cross.
The Eucharist does not sacrifice Jesus again, as many anti-Catholics would have it, but makes present to us and allows us to participate in the once-and-for-all sacrifice that remains eternally fruitful and powerful, and that Jesus wants to be accessible to all generations.
By reception of Communion is made available to us the body, blood, soul and divinity of the living, glorified Lord in the Mass.
The central place given by Catholics to the Eucharist is a way in which is fulfilled the injunction, “ For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
Not that God cannot act in marvellous ways outside the liturgy.
The Eucharist is spoken of as the summit and source of worship. While the spiritual life is not limited solely to participation in the liturgy, we are also called to pray with others, to enter into our bedroom to pray in secret (Matthew 6:6); furthermore, we must pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Sometimes, out of insecurity, the form of the Mass can be focused on or “clung to”, almost as a substitute for a wider and more continual personal relationship with God.
What goes on outside the Eucharist in the lives of us individual Catholics is critical for the true flowering of the Eucharist.
We must produce good works — the fruit of the Eucharist which gives evidence and proof of our authenticity as Catholic Christians.
The last words of the Eucharist are a powerful call for us to evangelisation: “The Mass is ended; go in peace to love and serve the world.”
It is useless being one of those “isolated, mystical” Catholics, not making contact with or unknown to our fellow parishioners.