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Father Muench Says...

‘True closeness to our Savior’

January 17, 2024

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today, I would like to share something with you about the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. This came to mind for me because the presentation at this week’s RCIA meeting was on the Holy Eucharist.

I am certain you are aware of how important this Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is for us, Catholics. The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is the very heart of our spiritual life. So, you can see how important the presentation on the Holy Eucharist was for the RCIA – the program of formation for those who are preparing to enter the Catholic Church. It was important to help them understand our teaching about the Holy Eucharist.

You know how difficult it is to explain all we, Catholics, believe about this Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, especially to those who are not Catholic. Further, you certainly know how difficult it is to convince someone who is not a Catholic to accept and believe all we believe about the Holy Eucharist.

Every Sunday we, Catholics, join at Mass for the Eucharist. The very word, Eucharist, helps to explain what we are about at Mass. Eucharist, from the Greek, means “thank you.” Our prayer is a prayer of gratitude. We, Catholics, come to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, at each Mass as the people of God offering our gratitude to God for the Lord’s great love for us all.

Today, I would like to take this space to review with you our Catholic belief – what we believe about the Holy Eucharist. I will use the words of our Catholic Catechism here.

Let us begin with the real presence. We believe in the real presence of the Lord Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. The Catechism tells us in these words, “By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ is present in the proclamation of God’s word, in the Eucharistic assembly, in the person of the priest, but above all and in a wholly unique manner in the Eucharist. We call this presence ‘real’ because it is a presence in the fullest sense.”

The Catechism goes on to say that Catholics believe “this presence is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.” We call this transubstantiation – the substance of the bread and wine is changed into the substance of the Body and Blood of Christ. At the consecration of the Mass, the ordained priest uses the words that Jesus used at the Last Supper, and the bread and wine sacramentally becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus.

At Mass, when we receive Holy Communion, we believe that we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus through the consecration of the ordained priest. The Lord is really present with us. Let me add here that we, Catholics, further believe that the real presence of Jesus endures in the consecrated element even after the Mass is ended. So, we believe in the real presence of the Lord Jesus in the consecrated Eucharist in the tabernacles of all our Catholic Churches. It’s an excellent practice for people of a parish to visit their parish church and pray in adoration of the Lord Jesus truly present in the Holy Eucharist in the tabernacle.

Through reception of the Blessed Eucharist in Holy Communion and through prayer in the presence of Jesus truly present in the Blessed Eucharist, we are all leads, each one of us, to a powerful relationship, a wonderful friendship, with the Lord Jesus. In many parishes, there are times when the Blessed Sacrament is placed in a monstrance on the sanctuary altar for prayer and meditation – for the people of the parish is come for personal prayer, a holy hour, in the presence of the Lord truly present in the Holy Eucharist. We are all united in a true closeness to our Savior.

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