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Editorial | Moving forward toward the Eucharist

We’re invited to gather to experience the Eucharist — the true presence of the Body of Christ

As the world moves forward on the path of healing following the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone in the Archdiocese of St. Louis is invited to gather together again to experience the Eucharist — the true presence of the Body of Christ — in its fullest form.

In a video released by the archdiocese upon the lifting of the dispensation to attend Mass during the restrictions of the pandemic, Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski stresses that “nothing is more important than the celebration of holy Mass.”

In visiting parish communities over the last several months, Archbishop Rozanski said, he witnessed how being together at Mass is so central to our faith, so important to being Catholic and a demonstration of our universal love for God and each other.

Jesus has been with us all along — and He longs for us to rejoin Him at Mass with open arms, everybody together.

In an article in this week’s Review, Archbishop Rozanski reminds us of the beauty of the Eucharist, the nourishment that comes from the Eucharist to our spiritual lives. Our teaching explains that the consecration of the bread and wine during Mass results in a real change of its substance into the Body and Blood of Christ, even though to our eyes there is no physical change in the appearance.

St. Francis de Sales, in the “Introduction to the Devout Life,” explains that “the species and appearances of bread are like a tapestry behind which our Lord is really present and sees and observes us, although we do not see Him in His own form.” The look, taste, color, shape, smell and other “accidental” characteristics of the host stay the same, we understand. But Christ is substantially and personally present in a real, but mysterious way.

Here’s a reminder. As the U.S. bishops have written on the reception of Communion:

“In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (Canon 916). A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all.” The bishops also note that in the United States, Catholics should bow as an act of reverence before receiving the sacrament.

Our bishops have said that “the Communion Procession is an action of the Body of Christ. At Christ’s invitation … the members of the community move forward to share in the sacred meal, to receive the Body and Blood of Christ which is the sign and the source of their unity.” When we receive Communion in an unworthy manner, we are breaking from that unity.

The beauty of our faith is that we have many opportunities to reflect on the Real Presence in the Eucharist, whether in eucharistic adoration, at Mass, during a Corpus Christi procession or in private prayer. Please invite others to share in them as well. A little of that can go a long way.

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