A testimonial of how the Eucharist was celebrated in early Christian times tells the story very simply:
"On the day called the day of the sun, all the people living in the city or in the country gathered in one place.
They read to each other the writings of the apostles and the prophets, and then the person who leads the assembly exhorts the people to imitate such beautiful inspirations. Later, they all stand up and pray for themselves and for all peoples, wherever they are.
After the prayers they kiss each other. Bread and wine mixed with water are brought to the one who leads the assembly… The leader takes them and praises God at length, to the Father of the Universe in the name of the Son and the Holy Spirit and gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) for being worthy of these gifts. After this thanksgiving the deacons distribute to all present, "eucharistized" bread, wine and water and take them to those who were missing…"
Take time to relive memories of a celebration of the Eucharist that marked your life. This testimonial can guide us in our prayer today.
We are together "in the name of the Father, the Son and the Spirit". "We praise and glorify the Father of the Universe, in the name of the Son and the Holy Spirit…" and we are sent to continue our ordinary life with the "blessings of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit".
We can say that when we take part in the Eucharist, we are integrated in the Trinitarian community. All the Eucharistic prayers place us in the presence of the Trinity, in communion with Mary, with all the saints and created beings. Eucharistic Prayer III is a good example of this: "… For Jesus Christ, your Son, with the strength of the Holy Spirit, gives life… and brings together your people… In this way, Father, we humbly ask you that the Holy Spirit bring together in unity the people who shared the Body and Blood of Christ… with Mary and all the saints…"
In the Eucharist, we find the resurrected Christ, the promise and beginning of the transformation of all the material and human world.
The Word we are reading is the incarnate Word, which restores and brings to its fulfilment the entire creation. "In the Eucharist, we hold the whole creation up to God praying that it be drawn ever more deeply into Christ, and that being transformed in Him it might find its fulfilment in the divine life." We know that the entire creation has been groaning in one great act of giving birth "not only that, but we ourselves… we also groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free." (Rom 8:22-
In the bread and wine that we bring to the altar, Christ the redeemer takes on all creation, to transform it and present it to the Father…
Christians, when they thank God through the Eucharist, should be conscious that what they do is in the name of all creation, aspiring to the sanctification of the world and working intensely for such an end.
Many mystics and saints have tried to find words to convey what the Eucharist means to them.
Teilhard de Chardin, while doing geological research in China, found himself at sunrise without bread or water or wine for saying Mass. This situation evoked in him the following beautiful prayer. "I will raise myself beyond these symbols up to the pure majesty of the real itself; I, your priest, will make the whole earth my altar and on it will offer you all the labours and sufferings of the world…My paten and my chalice are the depths of a soul laid widely open to all the forces which in a moment will rise up from every corner of the earth and converge upon the human spirit".
Maria Droste’s prayer is equally universal in spirit. "… The love of the Lord urges me. I ask for eternal love for all people. May they place your love in their hearts; welcome the poor with mercy, and those who are in danger, those who suffer… Bring them to your divine heart, you the Good Shepherd."
St. Mary Euphrasia regarded the Eucharist as our treasure. For her the Eucharist is "the dearest and most comforting of memorials, the holiest pledge of the merciful goodness and incomprehensible love of our adorable saviour. It is from this sacrament that we draw light, strength and life for our souls. It is the Church’s true treasure; for all of us, it is our treasure".
"Do this in memory of me". The Eucharist is a living memory, and at the same time an encounter with God, who loves us and whom we love. God embraces us with all God created, creates and will create.
"We give you thanks Lord and Father, we bless you and we glorify you because you have created all things… You never abandon us… you accompany your pilgrim Church, giving it the strength of your Spirit… Through your Son you open for us the path of life, through which in this world we will reach the perfect joy of your kin-
Reflect and pray:
What feelings arise in me as I reflect on the Eucharist?
How do I incarnate the Eucharist in my life?
How am I being called to deepen my experience of Eucharist?
We conclude with advice from St. John Eudes for assisting at the Eucharist: "Having adored our Lord Jesus Christ, Who becomes present on the altar to receive the homage and adoration we owe Him, pray that He, who changes the material nature of bread and wine into His body and blood, may also change and transform the heaviness, frigidity and dryness of our hearts into the ardour, tenderness and vitality of the holy dispositions of His divine Heart."
If you wish, you can go into Supplementary Tools to deepen your reflection with photos, videos etc.