THESE past few days, I had the occasion to give first communion to two batches of little boys and girls. Doing so always gives me great joy, because I know that with that a Christian faithful, even if still very young, immerses himself more to the sacramental life that Christian life prominently is.
The sacraments, and the whole liturgical life of the Church for that matter, are essential to any Christian believer. With the sacraments and the active participation in the Church’s liturgy, one’s life is mysteriously but effectively hitched with that of Christ.
One is not left on his own. All his thoughts, desires and actions, as long as they conform to God’s will, that is, done with faith and love, and no matter how mundane, become also the thoughts, desires and actions of Christ.
These thoughts, desires and actions are not only one’s own, but become his and Christ’s. They are not simply human and natural. They also acquire a supernatural value and possess salvific effects.
The sacraments, instituted by Christ himself, make sure that Christ’s redeeming presence and action are perfectly applied on us, no matter how imperfectly one’s correspondence to these realities may be. This is how much Christ’s love for us is!
In Church language, the effects of the sacraments are carried out “ex opere operato,” that is, by the mere fact that the sacrament is administered. This is due to Christ’s power, and not so much our capability, although the better our dispositions to receive them are, the better the effects also would be in us.
These, of course, are truths of faith, and can only be best appreciated when one handles them with faith. They are based, among other things, on what our Lord himself said:
“I myself am the living bread come down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread he shall live forever. The bread I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (Jn 6,51)
These words should be made to reverberate more loudly and more often if not always in every Christian faithful’s ears, heart and mind. They remind us of the rich supernatural reality that also governs us but which we tend to take for granted.
What would greatly help in this respect is when we consciously develop what may be called as a Eucharistic culture, a kind of mentality accompanied by appropriate practices that give due recognition to the importance of the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ. It contains Christ’s real presence. As such, it is supposed to be the greatest treasure we can have here on earth.
With this realization, it is also very logical to consider it as the center and root of our spiritual life, the source and summit of the Church’s life. It is what builds our Christian life and our Church.
Being the sacrament of the real presence of Christ, the fullness of Christian revelation, it is easy to understand why, as the Catechism teaches, the Eucharist is the summary of our faith.
Thus, every time we avail ourselves of the sacrament, we should be aware also of the invitation to live in accordance to the spirit of the Eucharist, the spirit of Christ himself.
The Eucharistic culture therefore should vitally correspond to these truths, generating the appropriate attitudes and practices that should characterize all aspects of our lives—personal, family, social, professional, political, etc.
All these may sound, at the moment, too fantastic to be made real. But such impression or reaction cannot erase the objective reality about this Eucharist.
I think that the earlier we can reconcile ourselves more fully to these truths, the better for all of us.