by Rev. Robert E. Lucas
from The Word, October 1963
At the holy supper, the Redeemer’s voice reverberated throughout the room in significant tones, “Do this is commemoration of Me.” Thus Holy Mother Church has since that day celebrated on myriad altars throughout time this great mystery and has united its faithful to Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
Our altars remain the centers of Christian life—the center for the priests who there go to offer the sacrifice and there make known the word of God. The Eucharist reposes on the altar and the altar must NEVER be regarded as a sacred shrine to be looked upon with reverence. But the Eucharist is a food to be received, it is food for life, for the proper living of the Christian life.
The greatest gift which the merciful God ever bestowed upon mankind is Jesus Christ. His delight was to be with the children of men. That He might be with them always as their changeless Friend, their inspiring Counselor, and their great High Priest, He instituted the sacrament of the real presence.
Here we have Divine Omnipotence emptying itself into the frail bosom of humanity. Here we find strength filling that which is weak. Here we have an antidote for the frailties and sins in which we abound. Here is divine love exhausting itself into the heart of man and giving it a new life, stripping Himself of the outward glory, of His incomprehensible magnificence so as not to overawe man with His dazzling splendor. Jesus Christ comes to us under the lowly appearance of the Eucharistic Host to weak and mortal man. Truly the love of God could not have been expressed more adequately because even now our mind reels and staggers in trying to comprehend how an infinite God could bestow upon us such an easily accessible means to salvation and grace.
Yes, this very same Christ Who cleansed the lepers, Who restored sight to the blind, Who healed the sick, Who pardoned sinners, Who died on the cross, Who gloriously trampled down death and ascended to His Father is the very same Christ Whom we receive in the Eucharist.
We like to refer to ourselves as followers of Christ, as Christians. We insist ours is a Christian civilization. But the substance of Christianity is the life of Christ within us, in our thoughts, in our personal action and in our public displays of faith. If such a life is obviously lacking, if we are integrating our spiritual and secular life into an imitation of the interior life of Christ, there remains nothing of Christianity but its hallowed name; and this is left to us not as a glory, but as a reproach and perhaps even as a condemnation. If we are nothing more than empty shells, conforming occasionally to some obscure Christian philosophy of life, but not living it to its fullest requirements in its daily functions, we should not desecrate the most Holy Name of the Divine Son by calling ourselves His followers.
Coming to Communion once a year is not honoring or remembering Christ as He desired. In so doing, we relegate ourselves to insignificant positions of lip service Christians, or not Christians at all. We cannot possibly sustain even a spark of grace within our souls by being recipients of Christ’s Body and Blood but once a year. This ostensibly is not what is close to Christ’s sacred heart, and assuredly is a source of much sadness to Him. We cannot possibly live holy lives and have right relationships with each other, and what is even more important, with God, if we receive Him so infrequently.
When we receive Christ, we avail ourselves of the greatest assistance in living an upright life and a holy life and a means which constitutes our surest defense against all the temptations which assail us.
In receiving Christ, we receive His strength for life; we imbibe freely of His love and this motivates us to a better relationship with others. As Christians we should be inebriated by Christ’s love, we should have Him so a part of us, that we no longer live to ourselves, but He glories in us. Christ comes from heaven’s heights and inspires Christian virtue and we in turn, as mirrors of the Divine Love, reflect Him, to others.
The desire of Jesus Christ, our beloved Saviour, and of His Mystical Spouse that all the faithful should often and frequently approach the sacred banquet is directed chiefly to this end, that the faithful being united to God by means of the sacrament may thence derive strength to resist their sensual passions, to cleanse themselves from the stains of daily faults, and to avoid those graver sins to which human frailty is liable; so that the honor and the reverence due to our Lord may he safeguarded, or that the Sacraments may serve as a reward of virtue bestowed upon the recipients.
St. John Chrysostom - November 13
Grace like a flame shining forth from thy mouth has illumined the universe, and disclosed to the world treasures of poverty and shown us the height of humility. And as by thine own words thou teachest us, Father John Chrysostom, so intercede with the Word, Christ our God, to save our souls.
Kontakion of St. John Chrysostom, Tone 2
Thou hast received divine grace from heaven, and with thy lips thou dost teach all men to adore the one God in Three Persons. O John Chrysostom, most blessed Saint, we rightly praise thee; for thou art our teacher, revealing things divine.