Eucharistic Reflection: Reaching the Age of Reason

by Diocese of Des Moines | July 23, 2021

Jeanne Wells

By Jeanne Wells

At the age of reason, for me April, 1963, I received my First Communion.  I remember the white purse with the brown scapular, even though I didn’t know what that was, and the delicate rosary.  I remember the beautiful prayer card of Mary and receiving my very own prayer book.  Of course I remember the white dress my mom sewed and the veil my aunt made with the satin bow.  Yep, that’s what I remember.

And Jesus. I received Jesus and knew it was Jesus because Sister Mary Leocadia told me it was Jesus. Who needed to be of the age of reason when Sister Mary Leocadia told you it was Jesus, of course it’s true.  

But, is it reasonable for a seven year old to comprehend the bread becoming the body of Christ?  After all, there are adults today, Catholic adults, who don’t believe it’s the body of Christ, to them it is not reasonable at all.

Fast forward 50+ years since that first Communion and I wonder what ‘reason’ has to do with receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.  It is faith in the mystery of the transubstantiation that brings me here day after day.  Faith in the love, mercy and forgiveness of Jesus.  So much love, mercy and forgiveness that He allows me, invites me to receive Him everyday.  

     • Faith in His incarnation, not faith in my own inadequacy.  
     • Faith in His sanctity, not in my sinfulness.
     • Faith in His divine humanity, not even in my humility.
     • Faith in knowing who He is and knowing who I am not; bringing me to my knees as I contemplate receiving Him.

Through faith in that moment of receiving Jesus, I am made perfect by His presence in me.  Just as the hemorrhaging woman in the Gospel was healed by touching the hem of His garment, so are we healed by receiving Him in the Eucharist.  

As our priests consecrate the bread, I hear Jesus say to me as He said to His disciples, “Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my Body, which will be given up for you.”  In that moment, I cup my hands, receiving in those words, Jesus body.  Holding His body, knowing and believing that all of humanity sins, then and now.  In those few seconds, Jesus’ death and resurrection are framed by the expiation of our sins and the hope of eternal life.   How humbling to acknowledge that He died for our sins, and not just any ‘he’, rather the Son of God, died for us.  And He’s giving Himself to us, whether or not we believe… 

Moments later, as our priests consecrate the wine, again I hear Jesus say to me as He said to His disciples, “Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  The wine is changed and the Blood of Christ is here for us too, poured forth from the heart of Christ, for us!  This is the New Covenant, fulfilling what was promised to Noah or Abraham or David, we are restored in our relationship with God, and by this amazing grace, we now can reach the true promised land.  

Is it reasonable bread and wine can be changed into anything?  Perhaps incomprehensible, but certainly believable when given the grace to believe.  

Reflection Questions:
     • What does Jesus’ true presence in the Eucharist evoke in you? (faith, awe, gratitude, confusion, doubt, etc…) 
     • What do you think about during the consecration of the bread and wine?

Petitionary Prayers:
     • For a deepening in our Faith in Jesus, truly present in the Eucharist, we pray…
     • That God might continue His work of healing and restoration, drawing all people to Himself, we pray…
     • For a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our Diocese, that fed and transformed by the Eucharist we may be a credible witness to God’s love in the world, 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.