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The gift of Jesus in the Eucharist

Our life, our Mom and Dad, our health, these are natural gifts from God. We cannot earn these natural gifts, we cannot merit these gifts. However, we can merit a greater love for them by the way we receive and respond to these gifts.

When we respond to these gifts by caring for our par-ents and taking responsibility for our health by eating well and exercising, we can grow in happiness and love of these gifts.

The same can be said about the supernatural gifts from God. Our baptism, the opportunity to go to confession, receive Holy Communion and the other Sacraments are sacred gifts from God that we cannot earn, we cannot merit. Jesus earned them for us by his suffering, death and resurrection, and by receiving them appropriately from his Church with care and joy, we merit more of Christ’s divine understanding, love and grace.

On this feast of Corpus Christi, which is Latin for “Body of Christ”, we want to respond to the natural and supernatural gifts of God with praise and thanksgiving, especially the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist. The more we understand what the Lord Jesus has done for us and gives us, the more we can cooperate with divine grace and merit God’s deepening life, love and happiness within each of us.

Much like exercising our body, when we exercise our faith by praying, making a good confession, reading Sacred Scripture, serving the Church and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist in the state of grace, we grow strong in our love for God and others. This increase of love and grace inspires us to deepen our mission to provide our children and others the opportunity to follow Jesus Christ.

To receive Holy Communion in the state of grace is to receive the pledge from God of future Glory in heaven; but we must believe in the whole faith that Jesus teaches us through his Church, because Jesus gave his whole self on the cross and does so again in the Holy Eucharist. We worship God by giving our whole self to Christ for his glory and the salvation of souls.

The Holy Eucharist is the holiest sacrament, for it is truly Christ himself, his sacred Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. To prepare to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist our hearts should love God above all and love everyone appropriately. Our minds should be thinking about the truths of the faith, our souls should be humble and grateful to Jesus who merited this sacred meal for us by his suffering, death and resurrection.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reinforces the sacredness of Holy Communion: Paragraph #1385: To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” (1 Cor. 11:27-29). Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Recon-ciliation before coming to communion.

When we receive Holy Communion, we are communicating to everyone that we are in full communion with Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church, that we believe and practice all that God teaches us through his Catholic Church. We believe with reason that God has created everyone with equal, natural dignity and so life is the first and preeminent human right, and access to natural gifts like food and education are also basic human rights.

Thus, we have a responsibility to protect life and the appropriate opportunities for human flourishing which come from God. As well, we have the responsibility to protect the faith and promote the responsibilities of living fully in Christ and his Church.

If a person believes that abortion, or pornography, or greed or polygamy are good things, should that person receive Holy Communion? No, they should not, because God has revealed to all reasonable people who understand the gift of human life and the purpose of human sexuality, that each of these things are intrinsically evil and thus are evil actions always and everywhere.

When a person does not believe what Jesus and his Church teaches, or does not practice the Ten Commandments with love, and receives Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin, that person commits another mortal sin called sacrilege, which jeopardizes their salvation.

Fortunately, a Catholic can repent of mortal sin by con-fessing to a priest the number and kind of mortal sins to the best of their ability and thereby receive assured forgiveness and absolution. Responding to God’s love through penance and a firm intention to avoid sin, they can return to full communion with God and his Catholic Church and receive Holy Communion.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains how we are to prepare to receive Christ in the Eucharist:

#1387: To prepare for worthy reception of this sacrament, the faithful should observe the fast required in their Church. Bodily demeanor (gestures, clothing) ought to con-vey the respect, solemnity, and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest.

#1416: Communion with the Body and Blood of Christ increases the communicant’s union with the Lord, forgives his venial sins, and preserves him from grave sins. Since receiving this sacrament strengthens the bonds of charity be-tween the communicant and Christ, it also reinforces the unity of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ.

Our Eucharistic Lord delights in his people, and rejoices that so many are adoring him at daily Mass and Eucharistic Adoration, and serving him with love in one another. Jesus Christ has won this opportunity for us, let us continue to practice the Catholic faith and merit more of his love and grace for the salvation of all.

Peace in Christ, Fr. Thomas McCabe


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