What happens when we receive the Eucharist?
When you receive the Eucharist, you become a tabernacle or a vessel of the Lord. Jesus Christ truly resides within you – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. As such, there are many amazing spiritual effects that come from this experience:
- we receive grace from God that forgives us of our venial (or “lesser”) sins and strengthens us to do what is right and to avoid evil (cf. Jn 6:54);
- we enter into intimate communion with Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 6:56);
- we enter into intimate communion with the members of the Church spread all over the world (cf. 1 Cor 10:17).
Sometimes receiving the Eucharist can be an emotional experience, especially for adult converts to Catholicism who are receiving the Eucharist for the first time. Other times there can be no emotional response at all. The absence of an emotional response does not discredit or negate the Presence of Christ that is truly within you. But, if this Presence is going to bear fruit in our lives – if we are going to actually experience the increase in holiness and friendship with God that the Eucharist provides – then we must approach the Lord’s Table with the proper disposition. In other words, we must have knowledge that the Eucharist is Christ, truly believe it to be so, and have no mortal (or “grave”) sins on our soul that would keep us from Him.
As a vessel of the Lord, we are then called to go out and bring Christ to the world, by the way in which we witness to our Catholic faith in word and deed. That’s why, at the end of Mass, the priest says, “Go in Peace to love and serve the Lord.” And, since we have received such an amazing gift in our Eucharistic Lord and such a noble mission in making Him known, we can’t help but say, “Thanks be to God!”
Of course, often times, we grow so accustomed to receiving the Eucharist every Sunday that we forget how truly amazing it is. We grab our little wafer, return to the pew, wait until we can sit down, sing our one verse, and then rush out the door. We talk with friends and family as we file out of the church and then we go about the rest of our day – forgetting that just moments ago we received the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
If this happens to you (and trust me, it happens to the best of us), then perhaps kneeling in your pew after Mass and saying a small prayer of thanksgiving to God will help you to focus your mind and to better appreciate what has just taken place. A popular custom is to pray the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel after Mass too, so that he will guard you as you walk out into a world that is hostile to Christ.
Peace of Christ to you,
Nicholas Hardesty, WIMM Board Member
Director of Religious Education, Blessed Mother Catholic Church
Feel free to email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org