After pronouncing the words of consecration, the priest held up the Host. I felt as if the last drop of doubt had drained from me. With all of my heart, I whispered, ‘My Lord and my God. That’s really you! And if that’s you, then I want full communion with you. I don’t want to hold anything back’ (Rome Sweet Home, pp. 87-88).
Those who struggle to believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, don’t have to rely on Gospel passages and the opinions of Church fathers and converts alone.
For hardcore skeptics, our merciful Lord has permitted 153 approved Eucharistic miracles attesting to his Real Presence in the Eucharist, across the ages and in many countries of the world. In this Internet age, it is easy to learn more about them. The most famous are the miracles that occurred in Italy in Orvieto (1263), Lanciano (8th century) and Siena (1730).
In each miracle where bread and wine have taken on the appearance of flesh and blood, the flesh has been confirmed to be cardiac tissue and the blood is always Type AB. A website called therealpresence.org gives details about the 153 approved miracles of the Eucharist and other miracles that are well-documented but not formally approved.
In light of Jesus’ words, in light of the central mystery of our faith, the constant teaching of the Church and hundreds of miracles through the centuries, how will you approach Communion today? As a routine, without giving it much thought?
If it’s been months or years since you’ve been to Confession, do you get in the line for Communion anyway, to prevent other people from thinking that you’ve committed some awful sin? Actually THAT, receiving the Eucharist unworthily, is a truly grave sin. It is a sacrilege to receive Holy Communion while being in a state of mortal sin. If you’ve not fulfilled the obligation for once yearly Confession, if you’ve intentionally skipped Mass on a Sunday without adequate reason, such as illness, you may not be in a state of grace to later receive the Eucharist unless this grave sin has been confessed and absolved.
.Quoting St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians, the Catechism warns:
“Whoever, therefore, eats of 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. … 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 reconciliation before coming to communion” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1385).
Our belief in the Real Presence must, therefore, guide our reception of the Eucharist and permeate all of our actions when we are in church. Sacred silence, reverent genuflections and proper attire for worship are all manifestations of deep reverence and faith. But don’t confine your reverence and gratitude for this greatest imaginable gift to the interior of the church. When you leave Mass after receiving Communion worthily, you carry Jesus within you and you live in him. Let us try always to be aware of this extraordinary grace, into the parking lot and beyond.
Fr. James Farfagliais the Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, TX. You can visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org.