The Catechism of the Catholic Church says “the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life” (CCC 1324). Through the process of transubstantiation, the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. When we say, “Amen” before receiving Him in the Eucharist, we are asserting the belief that “Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: his Body and his Blood, with his soul and his divinity” (CCC 1413). And if that wasn’t enough to contemplate, in every single Mass we have the opportunity to receive Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. We become living tabernacles for Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, the Great I Am. Let that profound reality sink in.
Blessed, Broken, Taken, Shared
In recognition of the True Presence, the Eucharistic Body of Christ is blessed, broken, taken, and shared. Likewise, we are blessed, broken, taken, and shared as the Mystical Body of Christ. The Eucharist grants us the graces to fill in where our brokenness, flawed humanity, and short-comings leave gaps. I cannot do the work prescribed as a member of the Body of Christ without receiving Him and as often as possible. In the Eucharist, Jesus is our daily bread and provides the sustenance we need to complete the work of the Kingdom.
As a Eucharistic people, we are blessed & broken, in order to be taken & shared through our participation in God’s will. Every time we go to Mass and receive the Eucharist we need to make ourselves consciously aware of the graces dispelled in the Sacrament. Then in turn live a life worthy of this Gift, to bring the Body of Christ outside the confines of church.
Ite, missa est
In every Mass, the priest will say the familiar phrase, “the Lord be with you.” Do we ever pause to recognize the implications of this prayer? This prayer is intended as a blessing before attempting a dangerous task. At the beginning of Mass, before announcing the Gospel, Liturgy of the Eucharist, and the close of Mass we say these words. These are times in which we need the Lord to be with us before moving forward.
At the end of Mass, after the priest asks the Lord to be with us, to offer protection for the journey ahead, we come to the roots of the Latin phrase “ite, missa est” spoken at the dismissal. Literally translated to mean, “Go, she – meaning you, the Church – has been sent” (USCCB). To hone in on the magnitude of this call, we can look to the etymological significance of the word, “mass.” We derive the word “mass,” from the Latin “missa” which is correlated to “missio,” the foundation for the English word, “mission.” Go, you are sent on mission.
The Mass is not the end. It’s the beginning of our work to bring the Body of Christ to all we encounter. We are sent on this mission armed with the grace and nourishment of the Body of Christ. It is not sufficient to dwell in the warm & fuzzy feelings of spiritual consolation, and then disregard the call to action. Young adults of the Church are called to do something. Being sent on mission is in direct opposition with the indifferent, apathetic attitudes plaguing our generation.
It is not enough for us to simply think about loving the poor, but we need to actually do it. We cannot wait idly for community to be formed around us. We have to invest our time and gifts to make it happen. Discipleship is not a passive role. The circumstances that may have hindered us in our youth no longer present the same obstacles or excuses. As young adults, we have the potential and the duty to heed the call of discipleship with courage and to bear the fruits of the Eucharist to all.
Let us recall the words of Pope Saint John Paul II during his historic visit to St. Louis in 1999,
“Remember: Christ calls you, the Church needs you, the Pope believes in you and he expects great things of you!”