Holy Hour Reflection: Eucharist - the Action of our Sunday Worship
by Diocese of Des Moines | April 21, 2021
By Bishop Emeritus Joseph Charron, C.PP.S.
The fathers of the early Church used the Greek word - eucharist - to describe our Sunday worship. The word means thanksgiving. In celebrating the Eucharist we give thanks to God for all his gifts - the greatest of these being our salvation through Jesus.
It is important to remember that the Church has always had faith in the words of Jesus - This is my body, this is my blood. The bread and wine experienced by our senses is transformed into Jesus’ flesh and blood. They are no longer bread and wine. They are the Lord! The transformation of the bread and wine and the reenactment of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross are the mystery of the Eucharist.
A mystery is not something we should pick apart and analyze. This mystery calls us to faith. This mystery invites us to enter into the awesome presence of Christ, the Son of God. It cannot be totally defined by words but experienced through the grace of the Holy Spirit. As the body and blood of the Lord are once again offered to God, we receive the greatest gift of God. It is a miracle through which we are graced by God giving his very self to us - personally!
The wisdom of choosing the word eucharist by the early Christians to describe our Sunday worship is so very appropriate. How can we not be moved by this miraculous action? How can we not experience awe at this sublime mystery? How can we not be moved to love - love of God and one another?
An open heart and mind to the grace of the Holy Spirit can help us be moved and awed. The disciples were so moved at Pentecost. You may recall that one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit is fear of the Lord. This fear is not being afraid but includes reverence and respect. Who can stand in the presence of God and not be moved to reverence... to thanksgiving?
Another marvelous part of this mystery is that our worship is more than that of individuals in the same place at the same time. It is the worship of the entire church - living and dead. It is the worship of the Body of Christ with Jesus at our head. St. Paul completes his teaching on the Eucharist by describing this very belief! More recently, Pope Pius XII wrote an encyclical letter (Mediator Dei) on this element of our faith. At the altar we join with all of God’s creation, redeemed in the blood of Christ, in praise and thanksgiving. Often when I celebrate the Eucharist, I am moved to recall my loved ones who have preceded me in death as well as “all the angels and saints in heaven,” as the prayers of the Mass remind us. It is a mystery as it is only God who could accomplish such an awesome deed! It is the Eucharist which unites us. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Eucharist as the sacrament of our unity.
This is why the Church (as part of its Tradition) has asked us to celebrate the Eucharist each and every Sunday - the Lord’s Day. The Eucharist makes us who we are. The Eucharist is “the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the fount from which all the Church’s power flows.”
- How has the Eucharist caused me to grow in gratitude, in thanksgiving for the awe-inspiring gift of Jesus truly present in the Eucharist?
- Do I experience the mystery of the Eucharist as a reality that invites me into deeper faith and love, or as something to “pick apart and analyze”?
- That all people may grow in faith in the words of Jesus, who has taught us that the Eucharist truly is his body and blood, we pray…
- We pray that all of our activities may be directed to the summit of the Eucharist, so that we may bring an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord of our work, our talents, and our very selves we pray…
- May God continue to pour forth His grace in our Diocese, so that from the fount of the Eucharist we may be transformed, we pray…
Reflection from “Do This in Memory of Me”, a pastoral letter written by Des Moines Bishop Emeritus Joseph Charron C.PP.S., in celebration of the Year of the Eucharist, 2004.