Musings on the Eucharistic Life: Placing the Eucharist At the Heart of One’s Life Journey
For this month of July, Pope Francis shares his prayer intentions, guiding the faithful towards meaningful spiritual reflections, as follows:
“We pray that Catholics may place the celebration of the Eucharist at the heart of their lives, transforming human relationships in a very deep way and opening to the encounter with God and all their brothers and sisters”.
In line with the Holy Father’s aforesaid intentions, we delve into a profound aspect of Christian life: the Eucharistic Life. It is not merely a concept reserved for theologians, those in the religious life and the consecrated persons but likewise a way of living that touches the hearts of everyone of us, of believers from all walks of life. The Holy Father is reminding us of the importance of this way of life, and in this write-up, we’ll attempt to explore its significance, contemplating how it can transform our lives and bring us closer to God’s love and mercy.
“Eucharistic” is derived from the word “Eucharist”. And for us Catholics, based on the Church teachings and from what we’ve learned, the word Eucharist pertains to the Holy Eucharist or the Holy Mass, which is one of the 7 Sacraments. During the Holy Eucharist’s celebration, we believe that the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, wherein parishioners can then partake the Sacred Host during the Holy Communion. Attending the Holy Mass or the Eucharist, or the Holy Communion (particularly on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation) is an essential requirement that Catholics must follow – it is the central act of worship, remembering the Last Supper of our Lord Jesus Christ with His Apostles before His crucifixion.
How about the Eucharistic Life? Eucharistic Life pertains to living a life centered around the Eucharist, which is a central sacrament in our Catholic faith. Living a Eucharistic life means recognizing the significance of the Eucharist and allowing it to shape and guide one’s life. It involves a deep appreciation for the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
Practically, living a Eucharistic life means participating in the Eucharist regularly, attending Mass, and receiving Communion with reverence and gratitude. It also involves recognizing the unity and fellowship that the Eucharist signifies, fostering a sense of community and love among fellow parishioners. Additionally, a Eucharistic life entails allowing the grace received through the Eucharist to transform one’s actions, attitudes, and relationships, seeking to live in accordance with the teachings of Christ and serving others in love. Overall, a Eucharistic life is about making the Eucharist the center of one’s spiritual life, allowing it to nourish, strengthen, and shape one’s faith and relationship with God and others.
What are some ways on how we can adopt and utilize Eucharistic life in our daily lives?
According to Pope Francis, in one of his previous talks and homilies, having a Eucharistic life involves a “sense of mission”. After attending the Holy Mass and receiving the Holy Communion, we should say an Adoration Prayer (perhaps in an Adoration Chapel or before the Blessed Sacrament). However, that should not stop there. He informed and encouraged all of us that after the Holy Mass, we should go out, evangelize and spread the Good News. The Holy Father further stated that “we cannot truly understand or live the meaning of the Eucharist if our hearts are closed to our brothers and sisters, especially those who are poor, suffering, weary or may have gone astray in life.” Indeed, there is a need to feed others especially those who hunger for food, who hunger for attention, companionship and consolation. Thus, there are so many in which we can lend a hand to those in need with the end view of glorifying God by the way we choose to live our lives. Treating others with compassion, respect and empathy everyday of our lives means that we can truly go out into the world in great peace, and that when we do this and when we live this way, this is how we can have a Eucharistic life.
Unfortunately, the Holy Father expressed his disappointment that many Catholics today perceive the Eucharist as merely a symbol rather than the reality of the Lord’s presence and love. This issue is prevalent even in countries with a majority Catholic population. In the Philippines, for instance, out of over 100 million people, approximately 85 million identify as Catholics, yet not all actively participate in church activities. Merely 13 million individuals attend Church regularly, leaving a substantial number of 72 million categorized as “Unchurched” Catholics, as emphasized by a priest during his homily (in one of the previous Holy Masses I attended) , supported by a slideshow presentation.
The transformation and attraction of these “Unchurched Catholics” is of utmost importance, especially including the millennials who have seemingly drifted away from the Church and the marginalized individuals in grassroots communities who have not been adequately exposed to the fundamental teachings of Catholic faith. Encouraging their integration into faith communities would greatly assist the Church in achieving its evangelization goals. Furthermore, fostering a Christian community rooted in love, discipleship, and a shared responsibility for both wealth and social obligations would ultimately contribute to the long-term transformation of individuals and the nation/entire world as a whole.
Below is an example of a holy person who had faced numerous challenges in life but have still managed to live a Eucharistic life. Based on accounts, St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Catholic priest, is a remarkable example of someone who lived a Eucharistic life despite immense challenges. During World War II, Kolbe was imprisoned in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Amidst the brutal conditions, he continued to inspire and uplift others through his unwavering faith. In a particular instance, a prisoner escaped from the camp, prompting the Nazis to select ten prisoners for execution as a form of collective punishment. One of the chosen men cried out in despair, revealing that he had a wife and children. Touched by his plea, Kolbe volunteered to take the man’s place, willing to sacrifice his own life for the sake of another. Kolbe spent his remaining days in the starvation bunker, encouraging and praying with his fellow prisoners. Witnesses recall that even in that dire situation, he remained full of faith and hope, leading prayers and singing hymns. His unwavering belief in the presence of Christ in the Eucharist sustained him and gave him the strength to endure. He is the patron saint of drug addicts, people with eating disorders, families, journalists, amateur radio operators, prisoners, and the pro-life movement.
This kind of selfless acts of love and the ability to maintain a Eucharistic life even in the face of extreme adversity is what we should pray for.
Loving and generous God, please help and guide us in our quest to be good followers of Yours. May we be able to place the celebration of the Eucharist at the center of our lives and be able to demonstrate how our faith and relationship with You can transcend challenging circumstances and inspire others to live according to the teachings of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
O Holy Mary, our hope, handmaid of the Lord, pray for us.
Jesus, King of Mercy, we trust in You. Amen.