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Father Muench Says...

A period of time without the Eucharist

March 25, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I am writing this as we, the people of the USA, begin a time of serious isolation from each other as we respond to the coronavirus crisis. Every activity that involves groups of people gathering together are to be cancelled. Included in this list is all public Masses and services of our Catholic Church.

I am fully aware that Bishop LaValley had no other decision in this regard. So, because of this pandemic there will be no public Masses or services. The first thing that came to my mind is that many people will not be receiving the Holy Eucharist during these weeks.

For us, Catholics, the Holy Eucharist and Mass are the heart and soul of our prayer life. I believe, as the Catholic Church teaches, that Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is present in a special way in the Sacred Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. I believe, as our Catholic Church teaches, that Jesus instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice, the banquet of divine life, at the Last Supper. The Eucharist is the summit and source of our Christian life. I believe that Jesus is present in the Holy Eucharist body and soul. The Eucharist is the memorial of Christ’s saving life, death and Resurrection.

The word Eucharist means thanks. The sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is an eternal gift from God. We express our gratitude through this sacrament for all that Jesus did for us through his Passion, death and Resurrection.
Our reception of the Holy Eucharist unites us with Our Lord Jesus in a special way and with each other in the Mystical Body of Christ.

Through the Eucharist, God gives us the power and sustenance to live a good life, a life filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. Each time we receive Holy Communion, our Lord Jesus becomes one with us. Like all food, the Lord truly becomes one with us so that we are truly transformed. In this sacrament, we become a new person.

Today, I want to share with you my concern that many of you will not receive the Holy Eucharist for several weeks. So, what should I suggest to you during this time without Holy Communion? A friend suggested to me the answer will be living well as part of the Body of Christ. St. Paul speaks often of the Church as the Body of Christ – like a human body the Church has many parts, each different, but all working together.

The Adult Catechism says this: “The Church, the Body of Christ, is the assembly of people gathered into her by Baptism and their participation in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, which open their minds and hearts to the Trinity, a loving communion of divine persons. In the communion of the Church, the members are called to love God, others, and self, and so to be a communal witness of the love by which Christ saved the world. By divine love, we are joined to the communion of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

During these weeks without Holy Communion, I believe we must, through our prayers and our way of life, continue to live each day so well that we unite ourselves with the Lord and with others, united in this Body of Christ. In this way, we draw closer to the Lord, and we become more alive in the Spirit as living part of the Body of Christ.

This must be our goal, our call in this time of Lenten conversion and of new life. This becomes our time of living as part of the Body of Christ, just as when we receive the Holy Eucharist.

I believe the challenges will be to commit each day of union with Our Savior. Our question of now: How well will I be the Body of Christ, at work, at home, at school?

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