"There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us." (St. John Vianney)
Recently, I found myself thinking about the first time that I really understood that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. Before receiving the Sacrament of my First Holy Communion I remember after Mass one Sunday my mother decided to ask the priest if he would explain the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to me. My mother wanted me to truly understand the Sacrament, and to be able to realize the incredible gift that I would be receiving on the day of my first Holy Communion; Jesus in the Eucharist.
I remember how delighted the priest was to oblige to my mother's request when she asked him after Mass that day. He took my hand and walked me to the altar, where I stared up at this beautiful, marble structure. He picked up his chalice and pointed to the stones on the side of it, which was his mother's stone from her engagement ring. Father told me it was a special chalice that was used to hold the Precious Blood of Christ. I remember not saying a word, and I must have been trying to make sense of it in the best way that I could make sense of it as a six year old. Then he guided me towards the tabernacle and pointed to it, kneeling down beside me and asked, "Do you know WHO is in there?" I remember staying silent for a moment, then telling him that I knew the hosts were in there, and he smiled at me. Then he said, "Yes, but WHO is in there?" This time I recall just staring at the tabernacle with my eyes fixated on the golden structure, until finally he pointed again, and said, "JESUS is in there, JESUS is in that tabernacle". I was completely and totally awed by these words, and my life was never the same after that day.
Let us never forget that Jesus Christ is really and truly present; Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity as True God and True Man in His Resurrected Glory in the Eucharist. The Son of God gave us the precious gift of Himself hidden in the form of simple bread and wine. Despite the challenges and difficulties we are facing during this ongoing pandemic, we can still be grateful for the Eucharist, especially those of us who are still permitted to freely practice our faith. There are places in the world where Catholics are being prevented from receiving the Sacraments due to persecution by their governments, so when we receive the Eucharist this Christmas Day let us offer our Holy Communion for those who are denied this most splendid and beautiful gift.
Have a very merry and blessed Christmas, and may the light of the Christ Child shine upon you today and throughout the new year. See you in the Eucharist!