Eucharistic Reflection: Appreciating A Gift

by Diocese of Des Moines | May 3, 2021

Eucharist in a monstrance at Holy Trinity Church in Des

By Alex Kramer

You do not appreciate what you have until you no longer have it. This maxim holds true on many levels, on the level of human relationships whether the loss of loved one or a friend for one reason or another, the absence draws attention to what was prior but is not currently. On a more material level this is also true of possessions. One never realized how much one relied upon a favorite pen, until it is lost, is broken, or runs out of ink. During these trying times it is easy to blame politicians, priests, and even God for taking away the Eucharist. While these times were by no means easy, they call to mind two important realities.

First, the fact that in being a Christian you accept the reality of suffering. This acceptance does not make the suffering which we endure in life any easier, but it does act as a catalyst for hope. The suffering which we all endure for one reason or another has a redemptive quality. In the season of lent we prepare ourselves for the celebration of the resurrection, the lived witness to the hope and redemptive nature of suffering. The resurrection does not happen isolated and alone, but only after passing through the cross. In one of the ancient Lenten hymns the Church prays, “Ave crux, spes unica,” (Hail to the Cross, our only hope), recognizing in the suffering and in that instrument of death and torture, adorned with the precious body of our savior, we have hope. The monstrance in a similar way may be adorned with precious gems, but the most precious gem is that living sign of the passion, death, and resurrection of the Lord, namely the Eucharist.

The opening words of Psalm 42, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God,” can express poetically the desire which many have voiced in this past year of trial and tribulation. In losing access to the sacrament of sacraments, the most precious gem entrusted to the Church, the longing and yearning for the reception of the Eucharist grew. The desire for the Eucharistic Lord is one to be lauded, but sometimes we can fall into a routine which we go through without considering the true gift that is the Eucharist. The habit of attending Mass weekly or even daily is good, but care and attention must always be given to our participation. We are all called to actual participation in the Mass which does not mean simply doing a bunch of stuff, but rather encountering the Lord truly present in the scriptures and the Eucharist. Christ is the bread of life and instructs us, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4). Present as both the Word and the Eucharist we come to understand that we are called to be sustained by Christ on our journey to the Father’s house.

Bringing this all together we come to realize how the sufferings of this past year and the separation from the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, have led us to realize the great gifts God has blessed us with day after day. First, the gift of the Son, who suffered for us, so that we could have eternal life. Not only was his suffering the act of human redemption, but it also bore witness to God’s compassion, His suffering with us. God never abandons us and never leaves us without the help we need and thus has always been with us even if not in the reception of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the sign, symbol, and presence of God’s greatest gift to humanity, a gift freely given, and gift freely received. 

Alex Kramer is a seminarian of the Diocese of Des Moines from Holy Trinity Parish in Des Moines. 

Reflection Questions:

  • How has this past year helped me grow in appreciation for the Eucharist, which sustains us on our journey to the Father’s house?
  • Have I ever experienced the redemptive power of suffering, experiencing the resurrection after passing through the cross?

Petitionary Prayers:

  • For our Diocese, that this past year will stir in us a greater appreciation and yearning for the Eucharist, we pray…
  • So that we may have the eyes to see Jesus in our midst, who never abandons us or leaves us without the help we need, we pray…
  • We pray for the grace to more fully participate in the Mass, that we may be open to the infinite grace that is offered and by transformed by Jesus’ saving love, we pray…

Diocese of Des Moines

The Diocese of Des Moines, created in 1911, serves people over a 12,446 square mile area in the southwestern quadrant of Iowa, including 23 counties.