Updated: Apr 11, 2022
By: Allison Ramirez
April is the month in the church calendar dedicated to the Eucharist. The Eucharist is described in article 1324-1327 of the Catechism as “the source and summit” of the Christian life. However, in a recent 2019 study done by the Pew Research center, only 1/3 or roughly 30% of all Catholics actually believe that the bread and wine at mass truly becomes the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. Instead, the other 70% of Catholics believe that the bread and wine held up by the priest are viewed only as symbols of Jesus, but most do not actually believe that when the priest speaks the words of consecration –the words Jesus himself said at the Last Supper— “This is my Body, This is my Blood,” that Jesus himself becomes present to us as truly and really him.
In the year 1224, an army of soldiers under the command of Frederick II marched to attack Assisi, the place where St. Clare and her new community of religious sisters were living. St. Clare, even while being extremely ill at the time, went into the church, and took the host of Jesus into her hands and held it up before the oncoming soldiers for all to see crying aloud “O Lord, protect these Sisters whom I cannot protect now,” and when the soldiers gaze fell upon the host, they immediately fled.
As we enter into Holy Week, I invite you to spend some time reflecting on your own belief about the Eucharist. During your reflection, you may consider mediating on the words of Jesus at the Last Supper, included in all four gospel accounts: Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14: 12-26, Luke 22: 7-39, and John 13: 1-17:26. Specifically, we will be celebrating Jesus last supper and his Institution of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday this week.
Be honest with yourself in you reflection: “Do I really believe that when I take in the host at Mass, I am really taking in the true Jesus, as real and as alive as if he were standing right in front of me?” You might also consider rereading John 6, where Jesus gives his Bread of Life discourse on this very theme of Eucharist. For is the Eucharist is truly what the Church teaches, then every week you have God himself inside of you. Indeed, the Eucharist is the closest and most intimate you will ever be to Jesus this side of heaven. What an unbelievable gift.