Monthly Reflections on the Eucharist
Each month, learn about the Eucharist in bite-sized reflections, based on the the outstanding document from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, The Mystery of Eucharist in the Life of the Church.
Eucharistic Reflection | June 2023
FROM THE MYSTERY OF THE EUCHARIST IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
Food for the Journey
56. Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that the “love that we celebrate in the sacrament is not something we can keep to ourselves. By its very nature it demands to be shared with all.”80 We are not the only ones in need of the love that Christ has shown us. We are called to help the rest of the world experience it. “What the world needs is God’s love; it needs to encounter Christ and to believe in him. The Eucharist is thus the source and summit not only of the Church’s life, but also of her mission.”81 Jesus is sent by the Father for the salvation of the world. At the very end of the celebration of the Eucharist, we who have received the Body and Blood of Christ and have been incorporated more profoundly into his Mystical Body are likewise sent out to proclaim the Good News for the salvation of the world: “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”
57. Pope Francis has insisted that evangelization—spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ— is a task that belongs to every member of the Church, not just a few specialists:
All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients. The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized.82
He exhorts us all to become missionary disciples: “Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are ‘disciples’ and ‘missionaries,’ but rather that we are always ‘missionary disciples.’”83 What is essential is not that one have advanced training, but rather that one discover through Christ the love that God has for us and that one desire to lead others to that same joyful discovery: “[A]nyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love.”84 All that is needed is for one who has known that love—the love that is displayed most preeminently in the Eucharist—to tell other people about it.
All of us are called to offer others an explicit witness to the saving love of the Lord, who despite our imperfections offers us his closeness, his word and his strength, and gives meaning to our lives. In your heart you know that it is not the same to live without him; what you have come to realize, what has helped you to live and given you hope, is what you also need to communicate to others.85
* * * * *
58. We have offered these reflections on the Eucharistic faith and practice of the Church as a starting point. There is much more that could be said, but what is most important is that we enter more deeply by faith and love into this great Mystery of Mysteries. Let us all ask the Lord to call us into a time of Eucharistic renewal, a time of prayer and reflection, of acts of charity and sincere repentance. The Lord is with us in the Eucharistic Mystery celebrated in our parishes and missions, in our beautiful cathedrals and in our poorest chapels. He is present and he draws near to us, so that we can draw nearer to him. The Lord is generous to us with his grace; and so we, by his grace, should always humbly ask him to give us what we need.
59. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Risen Christ says to us, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give a gift from the spring of life-giving water (Rev 21:6). Brothers and sisters, let us thirst for the Lord who first suffered thirst for us (Jn 19:28). Let us adore Jesus who ever remains with us, on all the altars of the world, and lead others to share in our joy!
80 Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, no. 84.
81 Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, no. 84
82 Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, no. 120.
83 Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, no. 120.
84 Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, no. 120.
85 Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, no. 121
Eucharistic Reflection | May 2023
FROM THE MYSTERY OF THE EUCHARIST IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
Food for the Journey
- The lives of the saints and blesseds show us the importance of the Eucharist on our journey as disciples of Jesus. Many testify to the power of the Eucharist in their lives. We see the fruits of Holy Communion in their lives of faith, hope, and charity. It was their intimate union with Jesus in Holy Communion and frequently their prayer before the Blessed Sacrament that nourished and strengthened them in their journey to heaven. They teach us that “growth in Christian life needs the nourishment of Eucharistic Communion, the bread for our pilgrimage until the moment of death, when it will be given to us as viaticum.”74
- Blessed Carlo Acutis, a young Italian teenager, who died at the age of fifteen and was beatified in 2020, used to say: “The Eucharist is my highway to heaven.”75 Blessed Carlo attained sanctity at such a young age because the Eucharist was at the center of his life. He attended Mass daily and prayed each day before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration. He discovered the joy of friendship with Jesus and brought that joy, the joy of the Gospel, to others. He was an apostle of the Eucharist through the internet. He said: “To always be united with Christ: This is my life’s program.”76
- Likewise, St. José Sánchez del Río, a Mexican teenager who was martyred at the age of fourteen and canonized in 2016, was so filled with love of Christ and his Church that he was willing to give up his life rather than renounce Christ and his Kingship. While imprisoned, St. José Sánchez del Río was able to receive the Blessed Sacrament when it was smuggled into his cell along with a basket of food. Strengthened by this viaticum, he was able to endure torture and to remain faithful to Christ when his captors told him he must renounce his faith or be executed.77 He replied to his persecutors: “My faith is not for sale.”78 We encourage all, especially our young people, to learn about the lives of these holy teenagers. In the midst of many distractions in our life, Blessed Carlo and St. José Sánchez del Río teach us to focus on what is more important than anything else.
- There are many people who have been attracted to the Catholic Church and entered the Church because they came to believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Our first U.S. born saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton, is one of these converts. She was drawn to enter the Catholic Church after she witnessed the devotion of Catholics to the Blessed Sacrament. She wondered about that devotion. God’s grace led her to faith in the Real Presence. While still an Episcopalian, she found herself at worship in her church in New York looking out the open window and praying to Jesus in the tabernacle one block away in a Catholic church. On the night after her entrance into the Catholic Church and her First Communion, St. Elizabeth Ann wrote in her journal: “At last GOD IS MINE and I AM HIS.”79 For the rest of her life, her deep faith and pioneering service to the Church in our young nation was nourished by the Holy Eucharist.
- In recent years, increasing numbers of Christians in our country have left their churches and become religiously unaffiliated. We invite Catholics who have left the Church or who no longer practice the faith to come home. We miss you and we love you. We pray that Jesus will draw you back to your Catholic family, his Mystical Body, through his Eucharistic Body. We repeat words attributed to St. Teresa of Calcutta: “Once you understand the Eucharist, you can never leave the Church. Not because the Church won’t let you but because your heart won’t let you.”
74 Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1392.
75 See “A Youth of Our Time Captivated by Christ: In Assisi Cardinal Vallini presides on behalf of the Pope over the Beatification of Carlo Acutis,” L’Osservatore Romano (October 16, 2020).
76 See Nicola Gori, Carlo Acutis: The First Millennial Saint, trans. Daniel Gallagher (Huntington, Ind.: Our Sunday Visitor, 2021), Introduction.
77 See “José Anacleto González Flores and eight Companions—biography,” Vatican News Service (November 20, 2005).
78 “Postulator Recalls St. Jose Sanchez del Rio Saying ‘My Faith Is Not for Sale,’” National Catholic Register (October 17, 2016).
79 Journal Entry of March 25, 1805, in The Beauty of the Eucharist: Shaping and Sustaining Our Catholic Identity, Eds. Rosemary Vaccari Mysel, Andrew J. Vaccari, Peter I. Vaccari. Boston: Pauline Books and Media (2005), p. 6.
Eucharistic Reflection | April 2023
FROM THE MYSTERY OF THE EUCHARIST IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
48. We also need to keep in mind that “the celebration of the Eucharist presupposes that communion already exists, a communion which it seeks to consolidate and bring to perfection.”67 The Eucharist is the sacrament of ecclesial communion, as it both signifies and effects most fully the communion with Christ that began in Baptism. This includes communion in its “visible dimension, which entails communion in the teaching of the Apostles, in the sacraments and in the Church’s hierarchical order.”68 Likewise, the reception of Holy Communion entails one’s communion with the Church in this visible dimension. We repeat what the U.S. bishops stated in 2006:
If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to reject the defined doctrines of the Church, or knowingly and obstinately to repudiate her definitive teaching on moral issues, however, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the Church. Reception of Holy Communion in such a situation would not accord with the nature of the Eucharistic celebration, so that he or she should refrain.69
Reception of Holy Communion in such a situation is also likely to cause scandal for others, weakening their resolve to be faithful to the demands of the Gospel. 70
49. One’s communion with Christ and his Church, therefore, involves both one’s “invisible communion” (being in the state of grace) and one’s “visible communion.” St. John Paul II explained:
The judgment of one’s state of grace obviously belongs only to the person involved, since it is a question of examining one’s conscience. However, in cases of outward conduct which is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm, the Church, in her pastoral concern for the good order of the community and out of respect for the sacrament, cannot fail to feel directly involved. The Code of Canon Law refers to this situation of a manifest lack of proper moral disposition when it states that those who ‘obstinately persist in manifest grave sin’ are not to be admitted to Eucharistic communion. 71
It is the special responsibility of the diocesan bishop to work to remedy situations that involve public actions at variance with the visible communion of the Church and the moral law. Indeed, he must guard the integrity of the sacrament, the visible communion of the Church, and the salvation of souls.
50. Before we receive Holy Communion, we should make a good examination of conscience to ensure that we are properly disposed to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord.72 If we find that we have broken communion with Christ and his Church, we are not properly disposed to receive the Eucharist. However, we should not despair since the Lord in his mercy has given us a remedy. He loves us and deeply desires to forgive us and to restore our communion with him. On the first Easter night, the Risen Jesus gave to the Apostles and their successors the power to forgive sins and to reconcile sinners with the Church. He gave the Church the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation when he breathed on the Apostles and said to them: Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained (Jn 20:22-23). Whenever we sin, we have this beautiful opportunity to be renewed and strengthened by God’s grace. If we have sinned gravely, the sacrament provides us with the opportunity to recover the gift of sanctifying grace and to be restored to full communion with God and the Church. All the sacrament requires of us as penitents is that we have contrition for our sins, resolve not to sin again, confess our sins, receive sacramental absolution, and do the assigned penance. We encourage all Catholics to a renewed appreciation for this wonderful sacrament in which we receive the Lord’s pardon and peace. In the words of Pope Francis, we say to all Catholics in our country: “Don’t be afraid to go to the Sacrament of Confession, where you will meet Jesus who forgives you.”73
67 Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, no. 35.
68 Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, no. 35; see also Code of Canon Law, c. 205, and Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, c. 8.
69 USCCB, “Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper”: On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist, p. 11; see Code of Canon Law, can. 916: “A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.”
70 See Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2284.
71 Pope John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, no. 37; see Code of Canon Law, can. 915: “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” Likewise, the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches states that “those who are publicly unworthy are forbidden from receiving the Divine Eucharist” (c. 712).
72 For the Church’s teaching on conscience, see Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, no. 16; Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 1776-1802, Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, nos. 31-34 and 54-64.
73 Pope Francis on Twitter (@Pontifex), December 13, 2013.
Eucharistic Reflection | March 2023
FROM THE MYSTERY OF THE EUCHARIST IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
- Christ began his public ministry by calling people to repentance and conversion: Repent, and believe in the gospel (Mk 1:15; cf. Mt 4:17). It is thus fitting that, at the beginning of every Mass, we are invited to acknowledge our sins in order to prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries. We confess that we have sinned, and we implore the Lord’s mercy. This is necessary since we are all sinners and sometimes fail to live up to our vocation as disciples of Jesus and to the promises of our Baptism. We need continually to heed Christ’s call to conversion. We trust in his mercy, the mercy that we behold in his body broken for us and his blood poured out for us for the forgiveness of our sins. We are to approach the Lord with humble and contrite hearts and to say with sincerity: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
- While all our failures to do what is right damage our communion with God and with each other, they fall into different categories, reflecting different degrees of severity. This brings us to the distinction between venial and mortal sins. Venial sins are those sins and everyday faults that, although they reflect a degree of selfishness, do not break the covenant with God. They do not deprive the sinner of friendship with God or of sanctifying grace.61 Venial sins are not to be taken lightly, but they do not destroy communion because they do not destroy the principle of divine life in us. Indeed, reception of the Eucharist strengthens our charity and wipes away venial sins, while also helping us to avoid more serious sins.62 Pope Francis brought attention to this medicinal character of the Eucharist when he pointed out that it “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”63 He also warns us against the Pelagian error of forgetting our constant need for grace and thinking that living a holy life depends on our own force of will.64
- There are some sins, however, that do rupture the communion we share with God and the Church, and that cause grave offense to human dignity. These are referred to as grave, or mortal, sins (see 1 Jn 5:16-17). One commits a mortal sin by freely, knowingly, and willingly choosing to do something that involves grave matter and that is opposed to charity, opposed to love of God and neighbor.65
- One is not to celebrate Mass or receive Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin without having sought the Sacrament of Reconciliation and received absolution.66 As the Church has consistently taught, a person who receives Holy Communion while in a state of mortal sin not only does not receive the grace that the sacrament conveys; he or she commits the sin of sacrilege by failing to show the reverence due to the sacred Body and Blood of Christ. St. Paul warns us that whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself (I Cor 11:27-29). To receive the Body and Blood of Christ while in a state of mortal sin represents a contradiction. The person who, by his or her own action, has broken communion with Christ and his Church but receives the Blessed Sacrament, acts incoherently, both claiming and rejecting communion at the same time. It is thus a counter sign, a lie—it expresses a communion that in fact has been broken.
61 See Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1863.
62 Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 1394 and 1395, citing Council of Trent: The Eucharist “is a remedy to free us from our daily faults and to preserve us from mortal sin,” Session 13, Decree on the Sacrament of the Eucharist, ch. 2.
63 Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, no. 47.
64 Pope Francis, Gaudete et Exsultate, nos. 48-62.
65 St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I-II, q. 88, art. 2.
66 See Code of Canon Law, c. 916; Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, c. 712. The exception to this rule is a situation in which the person has both a grave reason to receive and no opportunity to confess; however, the person is obligated to make an act of perfect contrition and to resolve to confess at the earliest opportunity.
Eucharistic Reflection | February 2023
FROM THE MYSTERY OF THE EUCHARIST IN THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
Transformation in Christ Continued
- Pope Francis has warned us that in our “throwaway culture” we need to fight the tendency to view people as “disposable”: Some parts of our human family, it appears, can be readily sacrificed for the sake of others considered worthy of a carefree existence. Ultimately, “persons are no longer seen as a paramount value to be cared for and respected, especially when they are poor and disabled, ‘not yet useful’—like the unborn, or ‘no longer needed’—like the elderly.”53 As Christians, we bear the responsibility to promote the life and dignity of the human person, and to love and to protect the most vulnerable in our midst: the unborn, migrants and refugees, victims of racial injustice, the sick and the elderly.
- The Second Vatican Council stresses the importance of reverence toward the human person. “Everyone must consider his every neighbor without exception as another self, taking into account first of all his life and the means necessary to living it with dignity, so as not to imitate the rich man who had no concern for the poor man Lazarus.”54 The Council goes on to say that
“whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or willful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury.55″
- Just as we are impelled by the Eucharist to hear the cry of the poor, and respond in love, we are also called to hear the cry of the earth and, likewise, respond with loving care.56 Pope Francis, like Pope Benedict XVI before him, has eloquently drawn the connection between the celebration of the Eucharist and care for the environment.57 All creation gives glory to God, and journeys toward divinization, toward union with the Creator.
- We look forward to the day when all such evils will be eliminated, when the Kingdom of God is established in its fullness. Then, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, and the human community will dwell in a new Jerusalem, in which God himself will dwell with his people (Rev 21:1-3). No one will suffer from poverty or injustice or violence. We will be able to see each other as God sees us, without any of the distortions caused by sin or by structures of sin such as racism or the various manifestations of the throwaway culture. No one will be seen as “disposable.” We will be able to love each other in a way that reflects the way God loves us.
- While it is all too obvious that in our current world the Kingdom has not been fully established, our communion with the Lord shows that the Kingdom of God is not simply something we await at the end of time. The Kingdom is already present, if not in its fullness: “The kingdom has come in the person of Christ and grows mysteriously in the hearts of those incorporated into Him,”58 until its fulfillment when he comes again in glory. The mystery of the Kingdom remains present in the Church because she is joined to Christ as the members of a Body are to their Head. In the communion which is the Church, “the Kingdom of heaven, the Reign of God, already exists and will be fulfilled at the end of time.”59
- God has not only called us out of sinful indifference to do whatever we can to contribute to the coming of the Kingdom; through Christ he has given us the grace we need to do this. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church explains:
“Men and women who are made “new” by the love of God are able to change the rules and the quality of relationships, transforming even social structures. They are people capable of bringing peace where there is conflict, of building and nurturing fraternal relationships where there is hatred, of seeking justice where there prevails the exploitation of man by man. Only love is capable of radically transforming the relationships that men maintain among themselves.”60
53 Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti, no. 18, citing his Address to the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See (January 11, 2016).
54 Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, no. 27.
55 Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, no. 27.
56 Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, no. 49.
57 Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, no. 236; Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, no. 92.
58 Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 865.
59 Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 865.
60 Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 4.
Eucharistic Reflection | January 2023
Transformation in Christ
- The person who shares worthily in the Eucharist is enabled more and more to live the new law of love given by Christ precisely because Christ communicates himself in the sacrament of the altar. The foundation of our personal and moral transformation is the communion with himself that Christ establishes in Baptism and deepens in the Eucharist. In the celebration of the Mass, we are shown what love truly is, and we receive grace that enables us to imitate the love that Christ shows us. St. John Paul II noted that the moral life of the Christian flows from and is nourished by “that inexhaustible source of holiness and glorification of God” that is found in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist: “by sharing in the sacrifice of the Cross, the Christian partakes of Christ’s self-giving love and is equipped and committed to live this same charity in all his thoughts and deeds.”49
- The personal and moral transformation that is sustained by the Eucharist reaches out to every sphere of human life. The love of Christ can permeate all of our relationships: with our families, our friends, and our neighbors. It can also reshape the life of our society as a whole. Our relationship with Christ is not restricted to the private sphere; it is not for ourselves alone. The very solidarity or communion in Christ’s self-giving love that makes the Church and makes us members of the Church orders us beyond the visible community of faith to all human beings, whom we are to love with that very same love that forms our communion with the Lord. Otherwise, if we do not love all human beings in this way, our communion with the Lord is impaired or even contradicted. This love extends particularly and “preferentially” to the poor and the most vulnerable. We all need to be consistent in bringing the love of Christ not only to our personal lives, but also to every dimension of our public lives.
- It is the role of the laity in particular to transform social relations in accord with the love of Christ, which is carried out concretely in actions that work for the objective common good. Lay people, “conscious of their call to holiness by virtue of their baptismal vocation, have to act as leaven in the dough to build up a temporal city in keeping with God’s project. [Consistency] between faith and life in the political, economic, and social realm[s] requires formation of conscience, which translates into knowing the Church’s social doctrine.”50 Lay people who exercise some form of public authority have a special responsibility to form their consciences in accord with the Church’s faith and the moral law, and to serve the human family by upholding human life and dignity.
- The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that the “Eucharist commits us to the poor. To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, his brethren.”51 Preaching on Matthew 25, St. John Chrysostom observed: “Do you wish to honor the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk only then to neglect him outside where he suffers cold and nakedness. He who said: ‘This is my body’ is the same One who said: ‘You saw me hungry and you gave me no food.’”52 St. Teresa of Calcutta is an outstanding example in more recent times of someone who learned to recognize Christ in the poor. It was her deep faith in the Eucharist and her reception of Holy Communion that motivated her loving care of the poorest of the poor and commitment to the sanctity of all human life. In beholding the face of Christ in the Eucharist, she learned to recognize his face in the poor and suffering. Mother Teresa is said to have asserted: “We must pray to Jesus to give us that tenderness of the Eucharist. Unless we believe and see Jesus in the appearance of bread on the altar, we will not be able to see him in the distressing disguise of the poor.”
49 Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, no. 107.
50 V General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, The Aparecida Document, no. 505; see also Code of Canon Law, cc. 225 §2 and 227, and Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, cc. 401-402 and 406.
51 Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1397.
52 St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew, 50, 3-4: PG 58, 508-509, as cited by Pope John Paul II in Dies Domini, no. 71.
Eucharistic Reflection | December 2022
Thanksgiving and Worship
30. Having been sanctified by the gift of the Eucharist and filled with faith, hope, and charity, the faithful are called to respond to this gift. Indeed, it is only natural that we give thanks to the Lord for all that he has given to us. How can I repay the Lord for all the great good done for me? I will raise the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord (Ps 116:12). The word “Eucharist” literally means “thanksgiving.” Even our manner of giving thanks comes from God, for we do so by following the command of the Lord: do this in memory of me (Lk 22:19).
31. The Second Vatican Council taught that, in order to give thanks properly in the celebration of the Mass, we should “take a full, conscious, and active part in the liturgical celebration.”44 We need to be conscious of the gift we have received, a gift that is none other than the Lord himself in his act of self-giving. We become conscious of this gift when we actively engage our minds, hearts, and bodies to every part of the liturgy, allowing God through the words, actions, gestures, and even the moments of silence to speak to us. We actively and consciously participate by giving our full attention to the words being spoken in the prayers and the Scriptures, even if we have heard them hundreds of times before. We do so also by listening to the homily and reflecting upon how the Lord may be speaking to us through his ordained minister. We are actively giving thanks when we join in singing and in the responses; when we kneel, stand, and sit; and when we pay attention to the liturgical seasons where the entire history of what God has done for us, in and through his Son, is revealed to us.
The gratitude that inspires us to give thanks and worship God in the celebration of the Eucharist should be nurtured and enriched by the beauty of the liturgical action itself. Bishops and priests have a particular duty to ensure that the Mass is celebrated in a manner befitting the sacredness of what takes place. As Pope Francis recently wrote to the bishops of the world, “I ask you to be vigilant in ensuring that every liturgy be celebrated with decorum and fidelity to the liturgical books promulgated after Vatican Council II, without the eccentricities that can easily degenerate into abuses.”45 Priest celebrants of the Mass should have a prayerful understanding of the liturgical books, as well as of the feasts and seasons, and be faithful to the texts and rubrics established by the Church.46 In doing so, they will lead the people more deeply and reverently into the exchange that is the dialogue of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.47
32. Our gratitude is also expressed in our worship of the Blessed Sacrament outside of Mass. These forms of worship are all intrinsically related to the Eucharistic celebration.
In the Eucharist, the Son of God comes to meet us and desires to become one with us; eucharistic adoration is simply the natural consequence of the eucharistic celebration. Receiving the Eucharist means adoring him whom we receive. Only in this way do we become one with him, and are given, as it were, a foretaste of the beauty of the heavenly liturgy.48
We rejoice in the growing numbers of the faithful who pray in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, a testament of faith in the Real Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. We encourage this devotion, which helps all of us to be formed by the self-giving love we behold in the Lord’s gift of himself in the Eucharist. St. (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta reportedly once said: “When you look at the crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then. When you look at the Sacred Host, you understand how much Jesus loves you now.”
44 Second Vatican Council,