The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
It is quite something to think that the Body and Blood of Jesus, His real presence, total and true, could be contained within the consecrated host and wine at Mass. Yet this is exactly what the Eucharist is. We believe that Jesus Christ is fully and truly present in the Eucharist at Mass. This has been the belief of the Catholic Church from the very beginning. The Eastern Orthodox Church recognizes the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist as well even though they articulate it in a different way than we do.
We believe Jesus has stayed present with His Church from the beginning just as God was present with the People of Israel when He instituted the Covenant with them through Moses. The Epistle to the Hebrews reminds us that Christ is always with His people as one who understands and sympathizes with our weaknesses. His one sacrifice replaces all other sacrifices (of the Old Law).
The Eucharist has been celebrated and believed to be Jesus since the very beginning of the Church. The Early Church Fathers taught beautifully about this. St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote profoundly on the transforming effects of the Eucharist. A person absorbs nutrition from the food and drink they take in. They turn that food and drink into flesh and blood. The opposite happens to believers who receive the body and blood of Christ. When we (as believers) partake of the Eucharist, we are transformed into Christ’s glorified body; we are fully immersed in his divine life. We are consumed by Him!
Cyril of Jerusalem knew how important the Eucharist is. He instructs the neophyte (or newly baptized) to receive the Eucharist with the highest respect. After receiving Communion, Cyril writes “Then, wait for the prayers, and give thanks to God who has counted you worthy of such mysteries.” How blessed we are indeed to partake in the mysteries of the Holy Eucharist!
Reflection: Ignatius of Antioch is an early Church figure who gave his life for the Faith. He taught about Communion and emphasized the Real Presence of Jesus in the consecrated bread and wine of the Eucharist. He held this knowledge of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist to be essential to the Catholic Faith and the Church’s unity. How are you, as a baptized Christian, contributing to building up the Body of Christ, the Church?
Reflection by Br. Matthew Marie, OSB
 These quotes from the Early Church Fathers on the Eucharist can be found in The Beauty of the Eucharist, by Fr. Dennis Billy, CSsR, New City Press. (2010).