Friends, Let's All Pay Attention
Next Thursday – Holy Thursday – we will commemorate Jesus Christ’s institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. We actually do that at every Mass. “Do this in memory of me,” He said. We have; we will at Holy Thursday Mass; and we will until He returns.
The Eucharistic Prayer in every Mass includes the prayers of Consecration, which result in God enabling the Transubstantiation. Bread and wine truly become the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus.
Consider this from the Catechism: “The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as ‘the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend.’ In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist ‘the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained’” (CCC 1374).
St. John Chrysostom said, “It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us, Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God's. This is my body, he says. This word transforms the things offered” (CCC 1375).
In “Light of the World,” the book-length interview he did a decade ago with European journalist Peter Seewald, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said it this way: “Something quite special is going on here! He is here, the One before whom we fall on our knees! Pay attention!” The pope-emeritus was reacting to people who attend Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and approach the receipt of Jesus’ body and blood as though it were not really what it is. As you approach the altar to receive the Eucharist, does that occur to you? Do you realize and understand that you are part of something quite special? Do you acknowledge that He is there?We all must … pay … attention, friends. Truly understanding what is happening is not tough. I recently heard about a 5-year-old who “gets it.” A catechist friend emailed about a “little buddy” she has been teaching about the Mass. In her own words, here’s what happened one recent Sunday: “I get his attention right before the consecration. I situate him where he can see the altar, and I have him watch Father as I explain what is happening. So, today when the time came, I grabbed him and told him that the ‘holy part’ was coming. He came to me and stood quietly and all of a sudden said, ‘I know what's going to happen. God is going to work through Father to turn the bread into Jesus.’”
My catechist friend has explained the transubstantiation to that youngster, but the power and grace of that 5-year-old’s understanding are God’s.
Be assured of my prayers that your Holy Week is filled with God’s power and grace. And remember, please – pay attention.