The Importance of The Eucharist
According to St. Peter Julian Eymard, in his book THE REAL PRESENCE,” the Eucharist is heaven on earth, because Jesus is now in heaven, and He desires to be with His people on earth as well. He does this through the Eucharist!
St. Peter Julian Eymard is kind
of a forgotten saint among most Catholics, but his book THE REAL PRESENCE is a
treasure of immense value for those who want to find out what the Eucharist
really is. It IS Jesus Christ, the same
Jesus Christ who walked the earth almost 2000 years ago, and who did say “I
will be with you always, until the end of the world.” The Eucharist is his physical presence on
earth, which differs from Him being present spiritually in His Word, the Bible,
and in each one of us, as our very breath and life come from him (Our bodies
are temples of the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:19). What St. Peter Julian Eymard is saying is
simply this – When you go before the Blessed Sacrament, you are going before Christ
Himself. When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we are receiving His Body,
Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
We know from 1 Corinthians 6:17 that whoever is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. So when you go before Jesus in the Eucharist, you are also going before everyone who has died and gone to heaven. Most people think that visiting someone’s grave is to be near the departed loved one, but if that person is in heaven, you actually go before him or her when you visit the Blessed Sacrament. And as we all know, people in heaven are very much alive, not dead! You not only have Jesus and Heaven in the Blessed Sacrament, you also have the entire communion of saints, as they are truly united to Christ!
So how are we supposed to worship Christ in the Eucharist? There are 4 basic steps according to St. Peter Julian Eymard, and they are Adoration, Thanksgiving, Contrition, and Petition.
(Artwork by Tobin Pilotte)
The first one, Adoration, is
something that most people need to increase their awareness of. Going into a
Catholic Church and making a quick sign of the cross and a half-hearted
genuflection is hardly “adoration.” Getting down on both knees (if able to), or
a full bow for the arthritic, is the first step. A sincere sign of the cross, and telling
Jesus how much you adore Him for being God and creating you and then just
putting yourself in His presence – spiritually and physically – is a great
start. There are many bible verses to choose from here – for instance, singing
“Holy, Holy, Holy” along with the angels (Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8) is
good. The Psalms are full of verses singing praise to the Lord. Tobit chapter 8 is full of praises to
God. Or instead of bible verses, one
could just sing silently the song “Praise to the Lord,” or the first part of
“Angels We Have Heard On High,” or “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name.” Daniel 3 has one of the best litanies of praise
and adoration to God in sacred scripture:
Daniel 3: 51 Then these three as with one mouth praised, and glorified, and blessed God in the furnace, saying:
52 Blessed art thou, O Lord the God of our fathers: and worthy to be praised, and glorified, and exalted above all forever: and blessed is the holy name of thy glory: and worthy to be praised, and exalted above all in all ages.
53 Blessed art thou in the holy temple of thy glory: and exceedingly to be praised, and exceeding glorious forever.
54 Blessed art thou on the throne of thy kingdom, and exceedingly to be praised, and exalted above all forever.
55 Blessed art thou that beholdest the depths, and sittest upon the cherubims: and worthy to be praised and exalted above all forever.
56 Blessed art thou in the firmament of heaven: and worthy of praise, and glorious forever.
57 All ye works of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
58 O ye angels of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
59 O ye heavens, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
60 O all ye waters that are above the heavens, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.
61 O all ye powers of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
62 O ye sun and moon, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
63 O ye stars of heaven, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
64 O every shower and dew, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
65 O all ye spirits of God, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
66 O ye fire and heat, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
67 O ye cold and heat, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
68 O ye dews and hoar frosts, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
69 O ye frost and cold, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
70 O ye ice and snow, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
71 O ye nights and days, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
72 O ye light and darkness, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
73 O ye lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
74 O let the earth bless the Lord: let it praise and exalt him above all forever.
75 O ye mountains and hills, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
76 O all ye things that spring up in the earth, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
77 O ye fountains, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
78 O ye seas and rivers, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
79 O ye whales, and all that move in the waters, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
80 O all ye fowls of the air, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
81 O all ye beasts and cattle, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
82 O ye sons of men, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever.
83 O let Israel bless the Lord: let them praise and exalt him above all forever.
84 O ye priests of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
85 O ye servants of the Lord, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
86 O ye spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
87 O ye holy and humble of heart, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever.
88 O Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, bless ye the Lord: praise and exalt him above all forever. For he hath delivered us from hell, and saved us out of the hand of death, and delivered us out of the midst of the burning flame, and saved us out of the midst of the fire.
89 O give thanks to the Lord, because he is good: because his mercy endureth forever and ever.
90 O all ye religious, bless the Lord the God of gods: praise him and give him thanks, because his mercy endureth forever and ever.
Always remember what Jesus went through for you during his passion to save you from hell, and adoration should become much easier to do. Meditating on the Passion of Jesus and all of the suffering He went through for each one of us always brings us healing, whether it’s of mind, body, or soul. Isaiah 53:5 says that “By His stripes we are HEALED!” Jesus doesn’t need any of our praise and worship to make himself complete; He is God after all. What this praise and worship of God does is to help make OURSELVES complete!
The second step, Thanksgiving, should be second nature to us, since our very lives and every breath we take comes from Jesus. Most of us have been given much in this world materially, and of course, we should thank God for those things like spouse, home, car, job, etc. But the most important thing that we have is our Holy Catholic Faith. Most people in the world do not have this, and we are so very fortunate to have this gift. We should thank God profusely for this gift. Why? Because it continually pulls us away from the very dark culture we live in, and into heaven. How many people are confused today about what sin is and what it isn’t! We Catholics don’t (or shouldn’t have) this problem!
The third step, Contrition, should also be easy for us, since we are all sinners. Every sin we commit, either by commission or omission, has an effect on the Body of Christ, His Church. Most people never think about the things they failed to do, but rather on the evil things they did do. But sins of omission are big in God’s eyes as well – Did we fail to love our family today? Did we fail to witness for Christ to an atheist? Did we fail to give alms to the poor? The list is almost endless as to what we have failed to do! Telling Christ, TO HIS FACE, that you are sorry for all of these things is a great way to build up resistance to sin, since his grace is pouring forth from His Sacred Heart in the Host onto us every second we sit before Him in the Blessed Sacrament! This is a truly great way to examine one’s conscience before the sacrament of Confession.
The fourth step, Petition, is how most people start to pray – Give me this, give me that, etc. And there is nothing wrong with petitionary prayer in its right context – AFTER Adoration, Thanksgiving, and Contrition. And always remember, that God will answer every prayer when we submit to his Holy Will. Sometimes He says yes, sometimes He says wait a little while, and sometimes He says no. Why? Because He not only is our loving Father, but He can also see into the future, and He knows what will happen to our souls if we get things that we think are good for us, but in fact, may turn out to be bad for us. Learning to trust in His judgment and saying either “Thy Will Be Done” like Jesus said in the Our Father, or “Be it done to me according to Thy Word” as Mary said at the Incarnation, after each prayer shows a lot of spiritual maturity on our part.
The Eucharist overcomes satan’s 2 lies to Adam and Eve about eating the forbidden fruit:
1. Satan told
them that if they ate it, they would not die, but then they did, first spiritually, and then physically later on. Jesus says if you eat His flesh and
drink His blood, you shall live forever, and we do (John 6:58).
2. Satan said that if you eat the forbidden fruit, “Ye shall be like God,” but in fact, they became less like God after eating it. Jesus said that if you eat the Eucharist, “I shall abide in you, and you in Me"(John 6:56).
The Jews were forbidden to eat the blood of animals in Leviticus 17 and Deuteronomy 12. Why? Because the life of the flesh was in the blood. This is why so many of Jesus’ Disciples in John 6:66 (666!) who heard Jesus say that they must drink His blood to have eternal life left him. They rightly heard him speaking literally, not metaphorically, about this. The actual Greek verb that Jesus used “to eat” actually meant “to gnaw on" or "to munch on.” They said, “How can Jesus give us his flesh to eat and his blood to drink? This is a hard saying,” and they left him. We know from Mark 4:34 that Jesus ALWAYS explained his parables to His Disciples, but here His Disciples leave Him, and He does NOT explain anything to them, like He did with the parable of the sower and the seed. And in fact, there aren’t any parables in John to begin with! His lost Disciples failed to recognize Christ as God, who had already changed the substance of one thing into another (water into wine), and who had multiplied a few loaves of bread into many, merely by mouthing words. So changing wine and bread into his blood and body isn’t really impossible for God! The same God who said “Let there be light,” and there was, also said, “This is My Body,” and so it became!
So the life of the flesh is in the blood, as we learn from Leviticus 17! That means that the life of Christ is in us, if we partake of the Eucharist. In fact, in John 17:22, during his High Priestly Prayer, we learn that Jesus gave his glory to His Disciples. How did He do this? Well, the only answer can be that this took place after the Last Supper, when Jesus gave His Disciples his sacred flesh and blood and the Eucharist!
Jesus said in Revelation 2:17
that he will give hidden manna to those who conquer. Now manna was the Old
Testament bread given daily for the physical sustenance of God’s chosen people
in the desert. But the manna stopped
falling from heaven when the Israelites reached Canaan, the Promised Land. So
what is the “hidden manna?” This can
only be a reference to the Eucharist, which is also given daily to God’s chosen
people in the Church for our spiritual sustenance. It is “hidden” because we
cannot physically see or taste the Body and Blood of Christ in it. But in the New Testament, we walk by faith,
not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), so this isn’t a big deal for true believers. In fact, during these New Testament times,
Jesus set it up so that we would not become slaves to signs and wonders, like
the Old Testament times, where people had to see miracles in order to believe
in Christ. Jesus said “blessed are those who do not see, and yet believe (John
20:29). Luke 11:29 says that it is an
evil generation who seeks a sign. No real Christian need see Christ in order to
believe in him, and the same goes for the Eucharist. Jesus hid his divinity
from the Jews and Romans of His day, and they never would have crucified Him
had they known who He really was. The Eucharist is exactly like Jesus – The
Divinity of God hidden under the appearance of a material thing. In John 6:63, Jesus says that his discourse
on the Eucharist in John 6:48-58 are SPIRIT AND LIFE, which are code words for
SACRAMENTAL. All sacraments are
spiritual and give us life. Mark 13:22 even warns us that it will be the false christs and prophets who will be leading us astray with signs and wonders!
Both Ezekiel (Ezekiel 3:3) and John (Revelation 10:10) had to eat a scroll (the Word of God) that tasted like honey. This is a reference to the Eucharist as well, as Jesus is the Word of God made Flesh, and the honey is a reference to the daily bread from heaven, manna, which tasted like honey. It seems that we, like Ezekiel and John, are saved by eating the Word of God made flesh, just as we lost our salvation in the Garden of Eden by eating forbidden fruit.
And then there are the two references to daily in the Our Father, as in “give us this day OUR DAILY BREAD.” Why didn’t Jesus just say, “Give us this day our bread,” or “give us our daily bread?” Why the two references to “daily,” or “day?” Because the Jewish listeners who heard him say it would have immediately recognized “daily bread” as a reference to manna, which their ancestors ate in the desert. At the Last Supper, Jesus changed the significance of the Passover meal from the Old Testament “anamnesis,” (or memorial sacrifice made present today) concerning the freedom of Jews from physical slavery, to the “anamnesis” of the New Testament sacrifice of Christ, which sets us free from the bondage of the slavery of sin, offered daily at the Catholic Mass. And in both cases, one has to actually physically eat the lamb (the Lamb of God!) to be saved.
In the Old Testament, there was the “Bread of the Presence,” sometimes called “showbread” in different versions of the Bible (Exodus 25:30). This was holy bread that only the priests could eat, on the tabernacle in the Temple. God said that it shall be set before Him FOREVER. In Numbers 15 we learn that there were flagons (chalices) of wine next to it. In Hebrew, a more accurate translation is “Bread of the Face of God.” This is reminiscent of Exodus, when Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu ate and drank in the presence of God on Mount Sinai. In Leviticus 24, we learn that this Bread of the Face is to be served on every Sabbath day, FOREVER. In Ezekiel 41, he refers to the table that the Bread of the Face is set on as an altar with incense. An altar is only to be used for sacrifices, and this is an unbloody sacrifice, or “minhah” in Hebrew. Why is all of this important? Because in addition to changing the continual Passover sacrifice of the Lamb to his personal sacrifice for our sins, He also changed the structure of the Bread of the Presence (or Face) to His Real Presence in the Eucharist, the New Testament sacrificial meal.
The multiplication of the loaves and fishes by Christ when feeding the multitudes is also a type, or foreshadowing, of the Eucharist. The blessed and multiplied bread represents the unlimited Eucharist throughout the ages, whereas the multiplied fish represent the increase in the number of Christians as a result of partaking in the Eucharist.
In Hebrews 13:10, Paul says that we now have an altar that not everyone is welcome to eat from. We know that altars are sacrificial tables, but what is he referring to about eating? It can only be the Eucharist, which not everyone is free to partake of. We know this from Paul’s dissertation in 1 Corinthians 11:27, where he says that if you eat the Eucharist unworthily, that you will profane the actual body and blood of Christ, not merely a “symbol” of the body and blood of Christ! This is also reminiscent of the Passover meal, which was reserved for the Jews only (Exodus 12:43). Paul earlier, in 1 Corinthians 10:16-21, compares the sacrifice of the Eucharist to the altar sacrifices of the Jews and pagans, saying that our sacrifice is an actual participation (not a symbolic participation) in the body and blood of Christ, while their sacrifices are real participations in idols and demons! It is amazing that so many Christian churches today do not even have an altar, when Paul clearly has one in Hebrews 13:10.