Holy Eucharist: Christ’s entire body, blood, soul, divinity present
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Thank you all so much for your prayers for the repose of my father’s soul, and for me and our family. Once again, I have experienced these precious gifts of the power of prayer and of the unity of the Church in such a moving way. I am more grateful for your support than I can say. Please continue to pray for the dead very frequently, trusting in the mercy of God and the saving merits of our Lord’s Passion to cleanse souls from every sin. This is one of the spiritual works of mercy, an act of true charity well-known to our Heavenly Father (Mt 6:4).
It is the most perfect act of charity that our Lord Jesus Christ freely chose to suffer and die for us, so that we might become children of God in Him – members of His own Body, perfected and glorified, united with Him not only in His grievous Passion, but also in His glorious Resurrection. “Do this in memory of me.” (Lk 22:19) His eternal gift of the holy Eucharist to His Church unites us with Him daily. In this most holy sacrament, indeed in all the seven sacraments, we become by grace and mercy, what He is by nature – not only in our minds, as if memory alone makes His Passion and Resurrection present to us, but totally, profoundly, in every part of our being: body and soul, intellect and will, memory and intention, appetites and emotions – every part of us present and actively participating in the eternal Sacrifice of Christ.
The Eucharist, then, makes the Church. The action of the Church in the Holy Eucharist is the action of Christ Himself (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7). Christ is present in His People, the assembled faithful, and He is present in His Word, which we receive with great signs of reverence and faith. In a special way, Christ is present in each of the sacraments He entrusted to the Church. Therefore He is also distinctly present in His ordained ministers, who, each according to his calling and the separate, sacred power given to deacons, priests, and bishops, lead the Church in her apostolic mission. Most profoundly, Christ is “really, truly, and substantially” present (Trent, Decree on the Holy Eucharist, 1) under the appearance of bread and of wine in the most Holy Eucharist, His entire Body, Blood, soul, and divinity present in either form of the Eucharist.
Therefore, as Catholics, we know we must not only receive but also adore and worship our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Blessed Sacrament. The holy sacrifice of the Mass, by which, by His sacred power, priests and bishops make Christ “really, truly, and substantially” present on the altar for us, is our most sacred trust and obligation. But the holy Mass equally demands of us full participation in the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church. We must live the new life Christ has given us in Baptism. We must turn back to Him over and over again in Confession. We must be faithful and joyful in the sacramental vocations of Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders. We must develop a deeper life of prayer, in union with the whole Church, always and everywhere.
“The sacred liturgy does not exhaust the entire activity of the Church. Before men can come to the liturgy they must be called to faith and to conversion” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 9). Our lives of Eucharistic devotion, sacramental fidelity, and daily prayer lead us to proclaim by word and example the holy Catholic Faith. As our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, said last week at the Eucharistic Conference in Ancona, Italy: “To be nourished by Christ is the way not to remain foreign and indifferent to the fortunes of our brothers, but to enter into the very logic of love and of gift of the sacrifice of the Cross; he who is able to kneel before the Eucharist, who receives the Lord’s body cannot fail to be attentive, in the ordinary course of the days, to situations unworthy of man, and is able to bend down personally to attend to need, is able to break his bread with the hungry, share water with the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned (see Mt 25:34-36). He will be able to see in every person the Lord who did not hesitate to give the whole of himself for us and for our salvation.” All of us are, in a sense, prophets and evangelists, missionaries and catechists.
As we celebrate Catechetical Sunday on September 18, I offer my own thanks and support for this shared commitment to catechesis to all the faithful, and especially in two particular areas. First, I recognize and thank all Catholic parents, who embrace the sacred obligation to teach the Faith to their children. Your commitment and love in Christ are the foundation of everything the Church can do in the world. Second, I recognize and thank all commissioned catechists, whether lay, ordained, or religious, who share in the apostolic mission of teaching the Faith to all, in our religious education and sacramental preparation programs, and in our Catholic schools. Your dedication and willing sacrifice make these programs very fruitful.
We must remember that, in this life, our faith remains imperfect. It may be weaker or stronger by degrees, but none of us, no matter how strong our faith, can say that there is no more either to learn or to give. Our fidelity to the sacraments, devotions, and precepts taught by the Church also continuously strengthens our grasp on God’s generous gift of faith. Therefore, I believe it is fitting to schedule our Diocesan Faith and Ministries Conference to coincide with Catechetical Sunday. It is especially our parents and commissioned catechists who, I hope and pray, will find renewed depth, commitment, and enthusiasm for teaching the Faith by participating in this Conference. Indeed, all the faithful of the Diocese are welcome.
May the mercy and the consolations of our Almighty God increase in every heart! And may our hearts, strengthened by worshipping the Body, Blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, be united with His most Sacred Heart, both now and forever, for the salvation of many souls and the glorification of His most holy Name.
Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend Walker Nickless
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