My Dearest Brother and Sister in Christ, my Friend
Last week I drew attention to the Eucharist as a source of freedom. Today, I would like to invite you to look at the Eucharist as a school of love. By analogy, we can say that the Eucharist is for us as the sun – the source of life-giving energy. Where the sun does not reach, there is no life. In the darkness life does not develop. If a Christian does not participate in the Eucharist, his life of faith gradually dies as the dying plants die.
This was also the case in all subsequent persecutions. In German concentration camps and in Soviet camps, the priests, despite prohibitions and exposure to chicanery and even death, celebrated the Eucharist and passed on Holy Communion to the prisoners. Some of them gave their lives for celebrating Mass. A priest, a Jesuit named Walter Ciszek, who was arrested by Soviet communists in 1939 and sentenced to years of labour in the camps, mentioned in his book “With God in Russia,” celebrated holy Masses in Siberia in the forest: “Our spiritual consolation was the Holy Mass. From time to time we were able to go to the forest ourselves in secret. We did not wear liturgical vestments, the tree trunk was an altar and we had to keep watch for fear of being discovered (…) But the Holy Mass gave us strength. In this Sacrament we were able to offer all of our sacrifices together with the sacrifice of Jesus, to ask for a blessing for those who may themselves pray in secret but could not worship Him publicly. (…) The comfort of this sacrifice was in me when we returned to the barracks in the darkness and silence of the forest.’
The Eucharist has always been at the centre of the Liturgy of the Church; Mass was the first prayer of the Church and the summit of her prayer. Why? Because the Eucharist is the most important moment in the history of salvation: the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. This is the Sacred Sacrifice of the Church. In it Christ, our only Priest, who once offered himself on the cross for the salvation of the world, renews and presents his sacrifice. In the Eucharist, He always gives himself to the Father for us. In this act of surrendering of the Son, the Father participates in the whole Church, every one of us now participates.
The Body and Blood of Jesus is present in the form of bread and wine, separated by his death on the cross. This death, made present in the Eucharist, reveals to us the supreme love of God for man. The Eucharist is the living fulfilment of Jesus’ words: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” [John 3:16)
The magnitude of love is measured by the magnitude of the gift. God’s love for us is infinite, as the gift of the Father in Jesus Christ is infinite. If we discover inwardly the infinite love of the Father revealed to us in Jesus, then we will discover the essence of the Eucharist. On the other hand, the contemplation of the Eucharist and live participation in it can bring the infinite love of God to us.
We must always remember that love is measured by the gift. The Eucharist not only reveals the love of God to man, but infills us with that same love. Thanks to the Eucharist we are able to love as God loves us. Jesus says – “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you, abide in my love” [John 15:9].
Thanks to the Eucharist, we continue to love God Himself. And while our love is not infinite, like the Creator’s love, it is open to His love. Our fragile and weak love is made divine by the Eucharist. Saint Cyril of Jerusalem says that through the Eucharist, “the body and blood of Christ are spread among the members. Thus we become partakers of the Divine Nature and His Divine Love”.
The Eucharist is the source of all love for us: God, neighbour, ourselves, the world, charity of friendship, marriage, parenthood, priesthood, religious; love in every vocation and state of life. The Eucharist enables us to love as Christ loved us: “By this we know love, that He laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren’ [1 John 3:16)
This attitude of love, which gives life to others and for others, is possible only if, thanks to the Eucharist, we enter into the logic of true love, which is measured by the gift. For the measure of love is a measure of the gift. The greatest gift is always the ‘gift of life’; “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” [John 15:13]. The greater the gift for the loved one, the greater the love.
Each of our participation in the Eucharist, receiving Holy Communion, and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament asks us to question our love: who is it based on? Who most counts in our love? What is dominant in it – feeling, looking for impressions, sensations, or sacrificial effort of another?
Through the Eucharist we can measure and test our love. The Eucharist is also a warning to us not to base our love on human needs, experiences, expectations or even more demands.
With love, friendship and prayers – Fr Marcin
A beautiful and profound quote from St. John Paull II which is worthwhile considering in our personal meditation so as to improve in our love for Jesus, really, truly and substantially present in the Most Holy Eucharist.
“Each time we are reunited in the Eucharist, we are strengthened in holiness and renewed in happiness, for happiness and holiness are the inevitable consequences of being with God. When we are nourished by the Living Bread which has come down from heaven, we become more like Our Resurrected Saviour, who is the fountain of our joy, a joy which is for all people (Lk 2:10). May happiness and holiness always abound in your life and flourish in your homes. And may the Eucharist…be the center of our life, the source of our happiness and holiness
(Saint.John Paul II, Homily, Feb. 2, 1981).”