Core decorum: the Eucharist

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Illustration courtesy of Cecilia Lang

During these days of quarantine and social distancing, we realize how often we take for granted physical presence and contact. 

As most of us are experiencing, this is true even for attendance at Mass and receiving the Holy Eucharist. 

During this time then—especially during Holy Week—may we meditate more deeply on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  

Venerable Fulton J. Sheen said, “The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white Host.” Indeed, what could more perfectly express Christ’s desire to come to us, to sacrifice Himself for us, to nourish us, than by becoming our food? 

It was not enough for God to become man so He could dwell with us—He wanted to become our very sustenance to dwell within us. In order to show how He spiritually feeds our souls, He has us physically consume Him.

One of the most beautiful reflections on the Blessed Sacrament is the sacred hymn “Panis Angelicus.” The words of the hymn were composed by St. Thomas Aquinas. He himself had a strong devotion to the Eucharist, and said that it is “the consummation of the whole spiritual life.” In an English translation from the original Latin, the lyrics proclaim, “Oh, miraculous thing! The body of the Lord will nourish the poor, the servile, and the humble.” 

This period of COVID-19 has probably been a wake-up call to just how incapable and dependent we are in so many ways, and it has likely caused us to recognize that we are indeed “the poor, the servile and the humble,” in need of God’s nourishment. May we remember how the Eucharist strengthens us and never take it for granted. 

The last Sunday Mass I went to before the stay-at-home order, the priest told us to “receive Holy Communion like it is the first, last and only time you will receive.”

At a time when we miss embracing many that we love, may we remember how Christ embraces us in the Eucharist. At a time when many of the shelves in our grocery stores are empty, may we remember how Christ becomes our food.

As quarantine makes us realize how integral physical presence is in our lives,  how much we miss it, let us remember that God has known how important it is since the beginning and that this is why He dwells in the Blessed Sacrament. 

Of course, this is not to say Christ can no longer strengthen us without our receiving Him in the Eucharist; He sees our desire to receive Him and is still with us in a special way. 

But, so often we neglect the Eucharist and do not see it for the awe-inspiring miracle that it truly is. Thus, may one of the chief blessings of this hardship be a greater thankfulness, devotion and love for the Holy Eucharist.

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