While the official closing of our Diocesan “Year of the Real Presence” took place on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi in June, hopefully our love and gratitude for the awesome gift of Jesus in the Eucharist continues to grow greater and greater. In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, where the Sacred Body and Precious Blood of Christ are made present, we are privileged and blessed to be humble recipients of this divine gift, one that ultimately leads to life.
Jesus Himself assures us of a share in the victory that He won for us through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection as He proclaims, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (John 6:54). The glorious Communion of Saints understood this, recognized this, and never took this gift for granted.
The Saints had an intimate relationship with Jesus as they longed to be in communion with Him, and they allowed Him to transform them, knowing if they were being nourished by Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Eucharist, they would become more and more like Christ with each reception.
Through our Baptism, we are called to a life of holiness, but our Lord doesn’t abandon us and say, “Good luck. You’re on your own.” Instead, He personally provides us the means to grow in holiness and one day reach sainthood, as He gives us Himself out of pure love in this Most Blessed Sacrament.
St. John Chrysostom wrote, “Grant that I may partake of Your precious Body and Blood to the sanctification, enlightenment, and strengthening of my humble soul and body; renewing me entirely.” The Saints realized the blessing of the sweet Sacrament that is Jesus and are now enjoying the fruits of Christ’s sacrifice in the glory of Heaven.
St. Anselm, a 12th century Doctor of the Church, prayed, “Thank you for the good gift of this, Your Body and Blood, which I desire to receive as cleansing from sin and for a defense against it.”
St. Bonaventure wrote, “Grant that my soul may hunger for You, the Bread of Angels, the Refreshment of Holy Souls, our daily Bread that gives strength and contains in itself every sweetness, every delight, and every pleasing taste.”
St. Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorists, while in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament wrote, “I believe that You are present in the Sacrament of the Altar. I adore You from the depths of my nothingness. I thank You for the many graces You have given me, and especially, for having given me Yourself in this Sacrament.”
St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “If you love Jesus in the Eucharist, you will put that love into action.” The Saints gave us inspirational stories of how much they loved Jesus through their actions.
St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan priest from Poland and imprisoned at Auschwitz during World War II, celebrated Holy Mass in secret for his fellow Catholic prisoners who would save a portion of their daily bread to be consecrated. In imitation of Jesus who gave His life for us, Kolbe likewise offered his life in exchange for allowing another prisoner, who was a husband and father, to live.
May we always imitate the love that the Saints had for the Real Presence of Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament, and so someday join them eternally in Heaven. St. Ignatius wrote in his autobiography that “the desire to imitate the Saints came to him, promising with God’s grace to do as they had done.”
Gratefully that same grace is available to us!
By Father Thomas Bortz, pastor of St. Ignatius Loyola, Sinking Spring and St. Francis de Sales, Robesonia.