Lydia Cristini

WORD MADE FLESH

Corpus Christi – June 7, 2015
Exodus 24.3-8 | Psalm 116 | Hebrews 9.11-15 | Mark 14.12-16, 22-26
June 1, 2015

Theoretically, the Eucharist is one of my favourite topics. Ever since I attended a Youth 2000 retreat the summer before my Grade 12 year, the Eucharist has been a central, if not the central, focus of my faith life.

Until then, no one had told me the meaning of the wafer and wine I took at Mass, at least not in a way I really understood. At 17, when the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal told us about the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, it changed my life.

After that, Mass was not just a way to practise my faith, but an opportunity for physical and spiritual communion with the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ.

He entered once and for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood. – Hebrews 9.13

'He entered once and for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood.'

Hebrews 9.13

Despite all this, the Eucharist is only "theoretically" my favourite topic. This is because, when I look at the words I've just written about this experience and reality in my life, they seem a little pat, and entirely insufficient.

How does someone verbalize the intimacy of an encounter with Christ in the Eucharist? It transcends the limits of language.

Not only that, but the experience is both constant and constantly varying.

Sometimes, it is the beauty and peace of sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament, exposed during adoration. It is an echo of the Peasant of Ars: "I look at him, and he looks at me."

Other times, it is the familiarity and comfort of Christ's presence in the tabernacle of a chapel: the first place I go when tragedy strikes, or when the demands and responsibilities of life reach a pitch higher than I can handle.

Still other times, when doubts or discouragement about my faith set in, it is going to daily Mass, knowing that receiving the Eucharist is the simplest and most powerful act of faith I can muster when words and good works fail me.

Seeking Christ in the Eucharist outside of Mass means trusting that God is transforming my heart by my simply being in his presence, even though I may not feel any different at the time. Receiving Christ in the Eucharist at Mass means trusting that God is transforming me into the food I eat, even though I might not be able to measure the difference in the moment.

I am thankful the Church helps us to reflect, through the feast of Corpus Christi every year. In spite of all these experiences, I still do not fully understand it, or know how to fully express it.

Jesus, Lord of All Creation, gives us this immeasurable gift, this gift of his very self, in the humble disguise of bread and wine.

There is no better image, or experience, of his love for us. It is both physical and metaphysical. It is both humble and beyond our imaginations.

If we open ourselves to the grace and beauty of the Eucharist, through it, God will be able to complete the good work he has begun in us.