We become MORE united with Christ (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1391)
At first, this one sounds like a no brainer, but if we think about the fact that we actually become closer to God as a result of our faithful reception of the Eucharist you would think that daily mass would be packed! I mean, who doesn’t want to be closer to God? Many of us think about God and the idea of a relationship with the big man upstairs as something that we can’t actually obtain; therefore, we settle for being obedient ‘good Catholics’ our whole lives and hope that does the trick. What does it even mean to be more united with Jesus? A few things. First, it means that we take our seat right alongside the original apostles and partake of the same meal received in the Last Supper. Secondly, and we’ll address this a bit more later, we become stronger in our resistance against the temptations of the devil; saying “no” to sin becomes a whole lot easier. Also, there is a special grace that we receive by way of the Eucharist; a certain sensitivity, if you will, to the urgings of the Holy Spirit that directs us towards our life’s vocation and to the very longings of Jesus’ heart.
“He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” – John 6:56
We are separated from our sinfulness (CCC #1393)
We must never forget the whole purpose of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. If Christ died so that we might be forgiven and reconciled to God, so too do we partake of the same sacrifice for the forgiveness of our own sins always and everywhere. Of course, we must only receive of the Lord’s table in a worthy manner, that is, in a state of grace. While the Eucharist does not achieve reconciliation for our grave sins in the sacramental sense it certainly drives a wedge between us and our concupiscent nature; our tendency towards what is sinful. It is often said that the Body, Blood Soul, and Divinity that we partake of indeed strengthens us for the spiritual battle we must endure all the days of our earthly life.
“If, as often as his blood is poured out, it is poured out for the forgiveness of sins, I should always receive it, so that it may always forgive my sins.” – St. Ambrose
Our venial sins are LITERALLY wiped away. (CCC #1394)
Mortal sins, as we know, are sins of our full consent; they are moments when we decided against the love of God in favor of our own selfish desires. Mortal sins are, for that reason, a rejection of God and achieve the destruction of our relationship with God. Venial sins, on the other hand, are not an evil that we directly will; rather, they are instantaneous acts or side effects of our concupiscence. We live in a fallen state and this tells us that not long after that we have been reconciled we will surely sin again. Most commonly, venial sins represent disordered attachments to anything that might take precedent over Christ in our lives; it is a small problem that CAN and WILL grow if we neglect it. By uniting us, in a real way, to Christ and through the driving of that wedge between us and our tendency to sin, the Eucharist actually strengthens our charity that becomes weakened through the rigors of daily life.
“Since Christ died for us out of love, when we celebrate the memorial of his death at the moment of sacrifice we ask that love may be granted to us by the coming of the Holy Spirit.” – St. Fulgentius of Ruspe
Our communion with other Christians is strengthened. (CCC #1396)
In the sacrifice of the Eucharist, we must note that Christ is not present locally. This means that there is not a Jesus on your parish’s altar and another Jesus over at St. Ben’s two blocks over. The actual occasion of the Eucharist means that one Christ is present in all of these liturgical celebrations under the species of bread and wine. Also, it must be noted that one parish does not have, let’s say, a foot whereas another parish might have an ear of Christ. In every Eucharistic celebration Christ is fully and totally present. From this understanding we now know that when you receive from the table of the Lord and your friends in Omaha receive in their parish as well, the SAME CHRIST has been physically assimilated into your flesh and theirs. We gather from this truth a sense of fraternal bonding that takes root between all the faithful. We become brothers and sisters through the identical flesh and blood that we all receive. Pretty cool, eh?
“Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” – 1 Corinthians 10:17
We are reminded of those less fortunate than us. (CCC #1397)
Time and time again we read that Christ emptied himself and took on the form of a servant. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords humbled himself and became man like you and me in all except sin. When the Son of God fell and scraped his knee IT REALLY HURT! When Mary was making kosher-friendly buffalo wings for lunch Jesus had real, physical cravings! The Eucharist is a reminder of that humility; it is a reminder that the Son of Man became the object of sacrifice for our sinfulness and gave himself up to death on a cross! It also reminds us that we ought not to boast about anything. If Christ received what he deserved or what was owed to him, he would not have arrived here in a feeding troth. Christ became poor to save the poor. The Eucharist, therefore, reminds us of our duty to those who have less than us and who are struggling just to survive. The Eucharist empowers us to be the Church. Mass is, more than anything, an exercise in humility.
“In the present condition of global society, where injustices abound and growing numbers of people are deprived of basic human rights and considered expendable, the principle of the common good immediately becomes, logically and inevitably, a summons to solidarity… it demands before all else an appreciation of the immense dignity of the poor in the light of our deepest convictions as believers.” -Laudato Si #158