Eucharist As Gift!
The Eucharist is a gift! This past Sunday we celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi. This feast was instituted by Pope Urban IV in 1264, one year after an incredible miracle during Mass. A German priest, named Fr. Peter of Prague, was growing in doubt of the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Fr. Peter was under the influence of theologians who were also questioning the validity of transubstantiation. One day while he was saying Mass a miracle occurred. Directly following the prayer of consecration, the host in Fr. Peter’s hands began to bleed. Blood seeped onto the altar, and stained linen corporal. This stained corporal is still on display for pilgrims to visit in the Cathedral of Orvieto.
Pope Urban IV then declared it as a Feast of Thanksgiving for the gift of the Body and Blood of Christ and it was to be celebrated every year in the Catholic Church, two weeks after Pentecost.
Holy Eucharist…What Sets Us Apart
The primary factor that sets Catholics apart from Christians is our Celebration of Mass and our reception of the Holy Eucharist. We are taught that receiving the Holy Eucharist is the greatest gift and privilege we can have. The Catholic faithful are allowed to go to Mass and receive the Eucharist every single day. The Church, however, only requires the reception of Holy Eucharist once a year: during the Easter season. There are rules that revolve around the reception of Holy Eucharist. First, our Non-Catholic brothers and sisters, are not allowed to receive communion, even during a wedding or ordination Mass. Next, Catholics are not allowed to receive the Eucharist with a mortal sin on their soul. (The Sacrament of Reconciliation must happen before reception takes place.) Finally, unless given a dispensation, a Catholic must fast from food and drink for one hour before the reception of the Eucharist.
Holy Eucharist Rules…But Why?
Holy Communion is the ultimate gift from God, it is not a right. No one can claim “authority” to the Body and Blood of Christ.
Many people have a hard time with the Catholic Church requirements. For instance, if your spouse is not Catholic, it is difficult to see them go to Mass, and not receive the Eucharist with you. Again, if your soul is not right with God, it can be embarrassing to deny yourself the Eucharist in a public Mass. Finally, fasting can often be inconvenient and even uncomfortable. I know many Catholics who think: “If the Church wants us to receive the Eucharist, why do they make it so difficult?”
Are the Guidelines to Receiving the Holy Eucharist Really THAT Difficult?
Let me ask you this: just because you are married, do you have authority to take sex from your spouse whenever you want? I sure hope your answer is no!
Holy Communion is receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. It is a perfect union with Him. The marital embrace is the perfect union of the body and soul of a husband and wife. In order for husband and wife to enter into this unity some things must happen. We need to prepare physically and emotionally. The Church also asks that we wait until marriage until entering into that marital act. The same is true for the Eucharist…no one can obtain true unity with God without meeting the minimal requirements the Church has established.
The Eucharist is an ultimate gift…but it is not a right. No one has claim to it. Not just anyone can take it! Being in a state of grace, fasting for one hour, and being Catholic are not rules set up by Church Patriarchy to oppress us. They are not strict guidelines designed meant to alienate. When we see the Eucharist as a gift to be sought and pursued, (just as a husband pursues his wife)…They just make sense!