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The Eucharist (continued):

Previously, three fruits of the Eucharist were described: growth in virtue, the call to service, and unity in diversity. Three more fruits are identified:

4) Transcendent Unity in Grace: The unity brought about through being joined to Christ in the Eucharist transcends even space and time. As the Prefaces of the Mass instruct us: “We join the angels and the saints” in praise and thanksgiving to God. At the Mass, prayers are always offered for those who have died as well, since by his Cross, Christ has won salvation for all. 5) Remission of Venial Sin: Reception of the Eucharist with sincere contrition remits venial sins, as Christ fills us with his presence. This grace also assists and strengthens us to resist sin in the future. However, because serious or “mortal” sin breaks the unity to which the Eucharist is directed, any such grave sins must first be forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance before the individual may worthily share in the Eucharist as one in the state of grace. 6) Strength of Soul: Countless Catholic men and women across 2,000 years would tell us with joy and fervor the great consolation they have received from Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. Many of the saints have handed on to us the solace and strength they gained through the presence of Jesus in the

Blessed Sacrament; multitudes of other believers also shared in the same heavenly food. He who is our Lord and Savior is also our spiritual food and drink that we might have strength for the journey of life (see I Kings 19:5-8). Receiving our Lord in the Eucharist is the closest possible union with him we can experience in this life. Pope John Paul put it strikingly: “We can say not only that each of us receives Christ, but also that Christ receives each of us” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 22).

The summit of the Church's life and worship, therefore, is the celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy, often simply called the "Mass." The faithful who have been baptized into Christ are called to be a Eucharistic people. In the words of Saint Paul, they are to “give thanks always and for everything” (Ephesians 5:20). This exhortation is affirmed in the Preface of every Mass: “Father, all-powerful and ever-living God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” The word "eucharist" comes from the Greek eucharistein, meaning literally "thanksgiving." And so, we come to the Eucharistic mystery to celebrate our redemption. Our celebration is as rich and fruitful as our awareness of God's love in our lives, and our capacity to “give thanks always and for everything.” As we come to the Eucharist, we are thankful for all things, but primarily for the gift of salvation and new life in Jesus Christ.

In him all things are made new (Revelation 21:5). In the Eucharistic liturgy, therefore, we offer ourselves in sacrifice along with Christ to the Father. In turn, we receive from the Father, through Christ and in the Holy Spirit, the gift of an ever-greater share in divine life.

Catechetical Sunday

Each year, the U.S. Bishops designate Catechetical Sunday near the beginning of school and the faith

formation programs in parishes across the country. The 2022 theme connects with the larger theme of the Eucharistic Revival: This is my Body, given for you.”

While Catechetical Sunday often highlights those who offer their service as teachers and catechists in our faith formation programs, it reminds us that each one of us has the opportunity and responsibility, by virtue of Baptism, to hand on the faith and witness to the Gospel.

We are all missionary disciples – we learn from Jesus and are sent with this Good News.

Most of our “mission work” is done in the regular circles of our lives … family, parish, workplace, school, neighborhood, friendships, shopping, and so on. To be a Eucharistic people means that we gratefully witness to the presence of Jesus in an increasingly secular world – not only in liturgy and devotions, but in our daily living.

Secularism is a challenge, but also an opportunity. It creates a spiritual gap, and a hunger, that we are poised to fill with respectful witness and patient planting of seeds. It requires what Pope Francis calls “apostolic patience” – to be content with doing what is good, right, and constructive, and trusting that God will oversee the growth of those seeds we plant. We may not see it ourselves; this “apostolic patience” gives us serenity so that we do not need to results in order to persevere. What will you do this week out of the awareness that Jesus has sent you as a missionary disciple?

Fr. Tom

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