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GUEST COLUMNIST | Eucharistic heart of Mary: Tabernacle, monstrance and minister

Photo Credits: Jaymie Stuart Wolfe
Catholics who want to grow in holiness and virtue can’t do much better than focusing on the two pillars of our spiritual treasure — the Eucharist and Mary – which anchor us as little else can.

The Eucharist teaches us the value of presence, self-sacrifice and communion, and reveals the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Mary gives us the model of Christian discipleship: She is the portrait of what it looks like to fully embrace God’s love and His will wherever we are.

One could spend a lifetime contemplating these two gifts, but we usually don’t get around to considering how they are connected. As the three-year National Eucharistic Revival in our country begins to ramp up, taking time to meditate on the eucharistic heart of Mary can enrich us.

Catholics have done a bang-up job of linking what happens on the altar at Mass to the sacrificial death of Jesus that won our salvation. Mass is a perpetuation of Calvary: Through it, we stand at the foot of Christ’s cross and receive the life-giving fruit of His total gift of self.

But the Mass also perpetuates the joyful mysteries of Nazareth and Bethlehem. By the power of the Holy Spirit, called down at every Mass, bread and wine are transformed into the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ. The Word becomes flesh in Eucharist; the Incarnation is extended to us. Christ comes to dwell not just with us, but within us.

The key to the synergy between Mary and holy Eucharist lies in this mystery of incarnation. The Angelus prayer can help us unpack it.

“The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary, and she conceived of the Holy Spirit.” One way to understand what occurred at the Annunciation is to realize that by carrying Jesus in her womb, Mary became the tabernacle of God’s real presence. Never before had the Most High been Emmanuel, God-with-us as one of us. God in the flesh.

—“Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to your word.” Mary’s fiat, her total embrace of God’s plan for her, makes the divine presence visible. As the child within her grew, Mary became more than just a tabernacle of God’s presence. She was a living monstrance, as well.

—“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Mary didn’t keep Jesus to herself; she gave Him to the whole world. Shepherds visited the stable where she gave birth. Crowds, disciples, religious leaders, pagan soldiers: Jesus lived among them all. Mary gave her son to all of us, placing His body into our hands. By God’s grace, we are all tabernacles, monstrances and ministers. Like her, every baptized Christian is a tabernacle of God’s indwelling presence. The choices we make and the purpose that guides us reveal this reality. We are monstrances when we choose self-sacrifice over self-interest, and when we accept our own suffering as a gift and willingly accompany others in theirs. We reveal the face of God by recognizing His image in every human being and by answering the call to follow Him.

And more, we are sent to bring Jesus into the world as Mary did. We are not to keep Christ for ourselves or merely show Him to others. We are told to give freely what we have freely received (Matthew 10:8) — our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a sinner, Catholic convert, freelance writer and editor, musician, speaker, pet-aholic, wife and mom of eight grown children, loving life in New Orleans.

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