As the Church departs the glorious season of Easter and returns to Ordinary Time, we take a moment to pause and remind ourselves how we may grow in holiness during the “normal” course of our spiritual lives. The liturgical seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter immerse us in the greatest mysteries of our faith, but they are special seasons. The return of Ordinary Time signals an important truth about spiritual growth: it doesn’t happen in a season. It takes place in an organic process over long periods of time and with diligent, sustained effort.
For advancement along that arduous pathway of holiness, we need both sustenance and courage; and that is the role of the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.
The Catholic Catechism tells us that the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of our faith (n. 1324). That is another way of saying that it is the very reason why the Church and each individual Christian believer has the gift of faith at all. As the “source” of the Church’s faith, it means that even those separated Christians who do not believe in the Eucharist have faith in Jesus Christ because of the Eucharist! As the “summit” of our faith, it is the culmination of all goodness, the treasure of God’s Life, and the very thing that holds both the Church and the world in existence. What a marvelous gift is this Most Blessed Sacrament!
In this Sacrament we find the entire Christ: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. His Body and Blood, given to Him by the Virgin Mary, we are now able to consume sacramentally for the transformation of our souls. He literally squanders His Soul and Divinity upon us like a holy Prodigal Son who cannot cease spending Himself for those He loves. How is it that every Christian is not flocking to Mass every single day to be nurtured by the Lord’s very Life in the Eucharist?
The Eucharistic is also a sacrifice, not just a meal. To reduce the Eucharist to a simple banquet is to miss the essence of Jesus’ redeeming act of love. The Eucharist is His perfect act of self-giving on Calvary that He asks each of us to imitate. This Sacrament is the one font of all consolation for all the myriad sacrifices of our lives, those willed directly and those suffered. Every pain and sorrow in heaven and on earth can be offered to the Sacrificial Victim on the altar and will be met with the deepest of compassion and understanding. We must stay in His divine Presence long enough to hear His tender words that address our particular sorrows: “Be not afraid, my dearest friend, I have trod this path before you. You are not alone!” What strength that consolation gives us for the journey and difficulties of life!
As the epicenter of our spiritual lives rivers of grace flow inexhaustibly from the Eucharist. In Ordinary Time, let us renew our love for the greatest gift ever poured out upon mankind. The gift of God’s very essence has no equal in this world. Given faith and time, this Most Blessed Sacrament will transform us, strengthen our virtue, detach us from sin, purify our imperfections, inflame our charity, and perfect our souls. He Himself calls and invites us to center our lives once again on Him in the Eucharist. Who could possibly turn down such a gracious invitation from the Eucharistic King of Heaven?