|THE REAL PRESENCE||CHRIST IN THE EUCHARIST|
The Eucharist is a sacrament giving us the real body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus, the Son of God. Although it does not look like the body and blood of Jesus we see on a crucifix, His Real Presence is hidden within the appearance of a small white consecrated host (altar bread). This is a great mystery, something we cannot fully understand. Yet we have the words of Jesus Himself who said: I Myself am the Living Bread come down from heaven. Whoever eats this Bread will live forever; and the Bread I will give is My flesh, for the life of the world" (John 6: 51). All this is possible because Jesus is God and God who is almighty can do all things.
The sacrament of the Eucharist was first given to the apostles by Jesus Himself on Holy Thursday, the night before He died on the cross for our sins. In a special room prepared for the Last Supper, Jesus gathered His apostles and offered the First Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. There in the Last Supper room Jesus prayed with all His heart as He offered to His Heavenly Father all that He would suffer on the cross the next day. This great and powerful offering of Jesus' death on the cross came to be known as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
After Jesus offered Himself in an unbloody way as a sacrifice to His Heavenly Father on Holy Thursday, He shared with His apostles the great gift of Himself in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. While at the Last Supper and during the First Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus took bread and wine and by His power as God He prayed a prayer of consecration over it, changing it into His own body, blood, soul and divinity.
The Church has a very special word for the change which takes place, a word which it uses only for this great miracle of God's love. The word is "Transubstantiation". This word reminds us that the substance of the bread and wine are truly changed (transformed) into the substance of the Body and Blood of Jesus.
After Jesus changed the bread and wine into His body and blood, He gave it to His apostles to eat and drink. The bread and wine changed (transformed) into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus is known as the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. It is the greatest of all the seven sacraments because it is not just a sign and symbol of His divine life with us, it is truly the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. It is Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament!
After Jesus gave Himself to His apostles in the Holy Eucharist, He made His apostles priests. He then commanded them to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in memory of Him. By His power as God, Jesus gives every priest on the day of his ordination the power to change bread and wine into His real body, blood, soul and divinity at the consecration of the Mass. It is through the priesthood that Jesus remains with us in the Eucharist, and that we who profess the Catholic faith and believe in the Eucharist are able to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. What Jesus actually suffered on Good Friday in a bloody way on the cross is offered and renewed in an unbloody way as priests around the world offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass everyday.
We receive the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist each time we worthily (having no serious or mortal sin on our souls) receive Jesus in Holy Communion. This holy uniting of our body and soul with the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus in Holy Communion strengthens our holy friendship with Jesus begun at the time of our Baptism. In Holy Communion we live the words of Jesus who said, "Abide in Me and I in you." (John 15:4) With Jesus abiding in us we have the strength to do good and avoid evil (bad), and to help others to do the same.
One of the greatest treasures of our Catholic faith is to have the Sacrament of the Eucharist JESUS- reserved in the tabernacle of our Catholic Churches day and night. A tabernacle is a small cabinet-like enclosure usually decorated in gold and always made of very heavy solid material to protect the Blessed Sacrament from any damage. It is fixed securely (unable to be moved about) on an altar and is always kept locked to protect the Blessed Sacrament from being taken and shown any disrespect or violation. With great reverence we refer to the Real Presence of Jesus reserved in the tabernacle as the Most Blessed Sacrament. A blest candle burns constantly near the tabernacle to tell us that the Real Presence of Jesus the light of the world is truly with us in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
When the three kings came to adore the little Jesus as the new born King, they offered Him gold. It was the best they could give Jesus. As faith-filled Catholics, the best reverence and respect we can give Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament is the gold of our silence. Silence has a drawing quality. It literally draws our heart to the silent Heart of our Eucharistic Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. That's the whole reason why Jesus is in the tabernacle - not to be ignored but to be adored. Silence before Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament draws us to adore Jesus alone. It helps us realize that Jesus' presence is more important than ours and deserves all our attention. It's just common sense when one realizes that first we owe our respect and reverence to God and not our neighbor. After all, we're only the creatures but He is the Lord. That is why silence should be strictly observed; it is the best reverence and respect we can give Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament. Except for times of formal public prayer we should always remain as quiet as possible before our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament and to help others to do the same by our good example.
As faithful Catholics who believe in the Real Presence, we acknowledge Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament by a reverent genuflection. A genuflection is a bodily gesture of respect that reflects (shows) our genuine (real) belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Reverent genuflections are made facing the tabernacle and then bending our right knee to the point of it touching the floor after which we raise our body to an upright standing posture. It is a silent "hello" to Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Faithful Catholics genuflect before entering and leaving their pew, when coming directly before or passing by the tabernacle. When we genuflect we reflect on whose presence we acknowledge in the tabernacle. It is the Lord! We owe Him our greatest respect and those who truly know and respect Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament gladly give Him the homage (respect) of their reverent genuflection. It is a powerful witness of one's faith in the Real Presence and of helping others to recognize Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament by our good example.
Eucharistic Adoration is a very privileged (special) time of prayer. This time of prayer takes place in a Catholic church or chapel. An ordained priest places the Most Blessed Sacrament within a sacred vessel known as a monstrance. The monstrance containing the Real Presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament is then place on the altar in exposition for the faithful people of God to adore Jesus. Faithful Catholics leaving and entering a church or chapel during times of Eucharistic Adoration make a double genuflection. This is done facing the monstrance, bending both knees to the point of touching the floor, bowing our head and then raising our body to an upright standing posture.
Our time of prayer in Eucharistic Adoration before Jesus is very special and powerful. The only prayer more powerful is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. During Eucharistic Adoration Jesus exposes His Sacred Heart, opening it wide for us to draw abundant graces won for us by His most painful death on the cross. Yes, Jesus has treasures beyond what we can imagine but we have to come and claim them. During times of Eucharistic Adoration we can have a private audience with Jesus, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Prince of Peace. So much does He love us! The more we adore Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration, the more His grace brings down blessings of every kind upon us. Jesus waits for us to come. So much does He long to be with us in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Let us be encouraged to develop a practice of Eucharistic Adoration by reflecting on the words of Pope John Paul II who wrote of his personal experience of Eucharistic Adoration:
"It is pleasant to spend time with him, to lie close to his breast like the Beloved Disciple (cf. Jn 13:25) and to feel the infinite love present in his heart. If in our time Christians must be distinguished above all by the "art of prayer," how can we not feel a renewed need to spend time in spiritual converse, in silent adoration, in heartfelt love before Christ present in the Most Holy Sacrament? How often, dear brothers and sisters, have I experienced this, and drawn from it strength, consolation and support!" (John Paul II, Encyclical Letter: Ecclesia de Eucharistia p. 34.)
The Eucharist is to the Church what our heart is to our body. The Eucharist keeps the Church alive. The Eucharist is the heart of the Mystical Body of Christ. The Mystical Body of Christ refers to all persons baptized into the family of God who form one big body (group) of people called the Church. As a baptized child of God you are part of the Mystical Body of Christ the Church. At the heart of this Mystical Body is the Eucharist, Jesus - truly present in a small white host from the moment of consecration during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, reserved in the Most Blessed Sacrament within the tabernacle, and exposed in His Real Presence during times of Eucharistic Adoration.
The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is Jesus, the Heavenly Father's greatest gift of love for us. It is the memorial of Jesus' passion and death the total giving of Himself, His flesh for the life of the world. The word Eucharist means thanksgiving. Let us thank Jesus often by offering Him this prayer:
O Sacrament Most Holy,
O Sacrament Divine,
all praise and all thanksgiving
be every moment Thine.
Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association
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