We have a heavenly Father who knows our every need and goes to great lengths to give us what we require. Our daily bread is not a symbol or mere earthly sustenance; it is true spiritual food, the real flesh and blood of our Saviour the God-man. The Eucharist is nourishment that transcends ceremony and finds its power and its essence in the very workings of the Trinity itself.
Here are some of the effects of the Holy Eucharist:
- Union with Christ: Reception of Jesus in the Eucharist fuses our being with that of Christ. St. Cyril of Alexandria describes it as like “when melted wax is fused with other wax.” The Christian journey is a journey to become like Christ, to “abide in him” and he in us. The Eucharist is the means for this to happen.
- 2. Destruction of venial sin: The Eucharist destroys venial sin. Destroys! Through sin, the fervour of our charity can be dampened by venial sin. But when we receive the Eucharist, we are united with Charity himself, which burns away the vestiges of our venial sins and leaves us cleansed and ready to begin again.
- Preservation from mortal sin: While we should refrain from receiving the Eucharist when we are aware of being in a state of mortal sin, we should receive the Eucharist as much as possible when we are able because it preserves us from grave sin. It is as if the Eucharist’s power washes away the venial sin in our souls and then covers us with a protective coat which helps us to stay away from serious sin.
- 4. Personal relationship with Jesus: Many Christians speak of the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus, which is very true. But it is primarily through the Eucharist that we can truly have an intimate encounter with the Person of Jesus. Benedict XVI once pointed out this connection:
“Today, there is a need to rediscover that Jesus Christ is not just a private conviction or an abstract idea, but a real person, whose becoming part of human history is capable of renewing the life of every man and woman. Hence, the Eucharist, as the source and summit of the Church’s life and mission, must be translated into spirituality, into a life lived ‘according to the Spirit’” (Sacramentum Caritatis).
- Gives life: According to the Catechism, the Eucharist “preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism” (CCC 1392). In other words, reception of the Eucharist increases the life of grace already present within us. Sounds even better than a trip to a spa!
- Unity with the Body of Christ: Since we are united more closely to Christ through the Eucharist, we are therefore united more closely to all the other people who receive the Eucharist! In other words, the Eucharist is like the glue that keeps us united with Jesus and all our brothers and sisters in the Church.
- Commits us to the poor: The words of St. John Chrysostom shame those of us who leave the Eucharistic table without caring for Christ in the poor:
“You have tasted the Blood of the Lord, yet you do not recognize your brother, . . .. You dishonour this table when you do not judge worthy of sharing your food someone judged worthy to take part in this meal. . .. God freed you from all your sins and invited you here, but you have not become more merciful.”