In the blog of September 23, 2014 entitled “Basic Issues for Catholic Men,” we stated that: “Our relationship with Jesus Christ will be enriched and empowered as our understanding and appreciation of the Eucharist continue to grow.” So in this blog we will focus on how Catholic men can more fully and more deeply experience the Eucharist in their lives. (Also, refer to the blog of September 15, 2014, “God’s Will and the Eucharist: How To Get More Out of Holy Communion.”)
I’m going to keep this blog really simple. I’m not going to repeat what was written in the blog of September 15, 2014 on getting more out of Holy Communion.
The Eucharist at each Catholic Mass is the re-presentation of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. If we use our imaginations, then, during the Mass it is as if we are at Calvary. We can feel the burning sun. We can hear the screaming. The air is filled with dust. People are taunting Jesus. They’re spitting at Him. His body is already bloody from being tortured by the soldiers. Think what it must have been like to be physically there at Calvary.
In a very real sense, the suffering, scourged, crucified body of Jesus Christ is on the altar. This supreme sacrifice of Jesus is going to be made available to us in a special way, under the appearance of bread and wine. The Holy Spirit is going to come upon the bread and wine and make them into the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ, which will then be offered to us to consume.
In the mystery of the Eucharist, then, we will become united with the sacrifice, the sufferings of Jesus Christ. We will receive the graces, the forgiveness, the power, that flow from this most powerful event in the history of humanity, the suffering and death of Jesus.
As if this were not enough, there is even more to this mystery. By virtue of the power and the grace that are transferred to us by our reception of the Body and Blood of Jesus, and only by that power and grace, we pledge to sacrifice ourselves, to give our lives, for the good of others as Jesus did.
St. John Chrysostom described the altar as the “table of holy fear.” He referred to the mysteries that took place on the altar as “frightful,” because they demanded “reverence and trembling.” If we really knew the commitment that we were supposed to be making when we came forward to take the Body and Blood of Jesus into our own bodies, and if we were truly willing to make that commitment, our knees would be shaking. This would be the greatest commitment, the commitment of our own lives, which we are capable of making while on earth.
The martyrs of the early Church understood the commitment which they were making in their participation in the Eucharist. When it came time to actually die for their faith, they were living out a commitment they had already consciously made every time they had received the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ at Mass.
So if we are real men, real men who are followers of Jesus, we should be ready to come to the altar and say to Jesus, “Thank you, Lord, for the gift of your suffering and death. By the grace of your sacrifice for me, I pledge to give my life for the sake of my wife, my children, all of my loved ones, all of my brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, and all those who are in need. I can never do this on my own, Lord, but with your grace and power, I can unite my sufferings, the gift of my self, with your sacrifice on the Cross.”
The mission and identity of every Catholic man is captured in the words of Jesus at the Last Supper, the words that are repeated during the Consecration at every Mass, “This is my body which shall be given up for you.”
To prepare worthily and adequately for this coming Christmas, this coming “Christ Mass,” we should be guided by a single question, by a single motivation: “Lord, by Christmas of this year, will I be ready to die for you?”