By: Natalie Plumb
A lady friend (former Protestant, current Catholic) said it perfectly the other day in so many words: “You Catholics are like fish who don’t know they’re in water! You’re floating in grace, surrounded by the Sacraments. And some of you are so lukewarm… If you truly believe what you believe… Do you not realize Who you are consuming?”
If we truly believe that Christ is present – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – in the Eucharist…should we not fall to our knees after receiving Him? Should we not shut our eyes and block out this world and listen to what He has to say? Should we not humble ourselves, as He has humbled Himself?
I’m not going to list three things we should do, but three theological musts:
1. Don’t leave until Mass is over
It is important that we remember as Catholics to remain in Church until the Mass has ended. Too many leave before the celebrant has left. If you do, I must ask you: Do you know that Christ Jesus is inside of you? Do you know that Christ has entered your flesh? If your answer is yes, then stay a little while and sit, kneel or stand in silence with Him and pray. Do not leave and enter your busy life again. For…Could you not watch with me for one hour? (Mt 26:40).
2. Don’t eat or drink anything (except water or medicine) one hour before receiving the Eucharist (CCL83 no. 919)
It is imperative that we remember as Catholics that Christ entering our bodies is no small matter, and it should not be taken lightly. Consumption of beverages or food one hour prior to Mass should be strictly avoided. If you cannot do this, refrain from receiving.
Abiding by this instruction strictly ensures that you never forget the reality of what is happening: Christ Jesus is becoming Body for you to eat and Blood for you to drink. This, my friend, should rock your world and make you happy to fast before receiving Him. Think about having only Him as your nourishment and sustenance: Isn’t that quite beautiful? Does He not fulfill you and your needs completely? For man does not live on bread alone (John 4:4).
3. Don’t receive the Eucharist when you have committed a mortal sin you have not yet confessed
It sounds so silly to say it, but this imperative is often – astonishingly – ignored.
It is amply important that we remember as Catholics to be in a state of grace when we receive the Eucharist. If you are not in a state of grace, stay back and be an example — refrain from receiving him — for those who are equally too afraid to stay back. (Do not be afraid.) No one will judge you if they have a true Christian heart. And even if they do, you have done what is just and before God you are not damned, so what does it matter? Be spiritually in commune with Him instead.
I was told in Sunday school at a very young age quite a beautiful reality: If you are standing before a person, covered in filth and rotting food and stench, do you want a hug? Christ will surely give you one. But if you are standing before your God with mortal sin – equal to the analogy of having measles – on your soul… Christ wants to enter your vessel, but you are too sick to receive Him (1 Corinthians 11:29). Receiving Him in a state of mortal sin is another mortal sin, and deprives us of grace. In fact, it leaves us in a state worse than the deprivation of divine life. We are under His judgment.
If you truly understand Who the Eucharist is, you will certainly not argue with the realities of what preparing for receiving Him requires.
Christ would rather die on a cross than spend eternity without you.
Christ chose to die on a cross rather than spend eternity without you. Why, then, can we not prepare our hearts to receive Him? Why, then, can we not face Christ with the integrity that He offers us when He says: Take and eat; this is my body (Mt 26:26). …When, in fact, He offers Himself to be a wafer, a piece of bread, a simple host…all so that we might receive Him.
How many of you say: I should like to see His face, His garments, His shoes. You do see Him, you touch Him, you eat Him. He gives Himself to you, not only that you may see Him, but also to be your food and nourishment. -St. John Chrysostom
Natalie writes on Thursdays about faith, dating, relationships, and the in between. May her non-fiction stories and scenarios challenge you. May they help you laugh, cry, think and wonder.