Eucharistic Reflection: The Eucharist and Mary
by Diocese of Des Moines | July 12, 2021
By Father Nick Stark
While researching a paper on the Eucharist in seminary, I came across a catechesis by Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) given at the Eucharistic Congress in Quebec in 2008. In it he said:
“We ask for the grace of receiving Communion as Mary received the Word and letting it become flesh again in me; for the grace to receive the Eucharist from the hands of the Church, putting our hands out like a paten (meaning manger), feeling that it is our Lady who places the host there and entrusts it to us; for the grace to sing with Mary the Magnificat in that moment of silence that follows communion; the grace to look forward in the Eucharist all that will be in our day or week, with all the good and positive offered together with the bread, and all that is suffering and passion offered along with the wine; for the grace to believe and to put with love all our hope in that first fruit and pledge of salvation that we already have in each Eucharist, in order to then shape our life in the image of what we receive.”
How beautiful it was for me to read about this devotion to the Eucharist through our Blessed Mother shortly before I was to be ordained a deacon. I’ve heard it said many times that a good priest always has a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother, a deep desire for which I’ve been praying for years. I was a man who was preparing to hold Jesus in my hands each and every day. Realizing that it was Mary who held him first and gave him to the world leads me to a deeper love and amazement of the Mother of God.
Pope Francis, in this snippet of his catechesis, is inviting us to form ourselves to be a fundamentally Marian church. To remember that Mary, who both held Jesus in her womb and in her arms, eventually gave her son to the world. To remember not only this, but that the mother of Jesus (an image of the Church), who knew both suffering and sadness, joy and gladness, places her son into our hands so that we too can offer our own joys and sufferings at each sacrifice of the Mass and have it truly mean something.
We’re invited in each Eucharist to renew the effects of the incarnation in ourselves, to receive the Word of God and to allow him to utterly change us. We are called to say yes, to carry the Word of God within us, to cultivate the fertile ground in our hearts so that we might bear fruit by being an image of what we receive. We need not look any further than Mary’s deep relationship with the Eucharist to guide us on our journey of faith and to receive the Eucharist each and every time we go to Mass as the beautiful gift and seed of the Word that it was always meant to be.
- What does Mary’s example reveal to me about receiving Jesus?
- Do I allow the Eucharist to “shape [my] life in the image of what [I] receive?
- That by God’s grace we might cultivate “the fertile ground in our hearts”, so that our reception of the Eucharist might be fruitful, we pray…
- That Mary may inspire us, and intercede for us, so that we may say yes to God’s divine action in our lives, we pray…
- That like Mary, we too might make a home for Jesus in our hearts, so that we might carry Him out into the world, we pray…