Every day throughout the world, the Eucharist is celebrated in different languages by various people and nationalities, with the same Scripture readings and prayers. The Catholic Church has been commemorating the Eucharist with great honour on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi or the Body and Blood of Christ, since the 13th century. The Council of Trent (1545-1563) explained that, by consecration, the whole substance of the bread and wine changes into the Body and Blood of Jesus – the True and Real Presence of Jesus. This change is called Transubstantiation (cf. CCC 1736).
At every celebration of the Eucharist, we commemorate the event of the Last Supper in the Upper Room, where Jesus celebrated the Eucharist with His disciples. On that day, both the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Priesthood were born – “There can no Eucharist without the Priesthood, just as there can be no Priesthood without the Eucharist” (Pope Saint John Paul II, 2004). We are really grateful to Jesus Christ for the birth of these two Sacraments in the Church. They are gifts and mysteries of the Church. Till today, the Catholic Church marks Holy Thursday in remembrance of the institution of the Holy Eucharist and the Priesthood, as her greatest treasures.
We have heard and encountered many extraordinary Eucharistic miracle stories in our lives. When I went on pilgrimage to Eastern Europe in 2004 with a group of 40 people, we had an opportunity to stop over at a small village called Ludbreg in Croatia. It happened to be on the day of the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. We were fortunate to join the community in adoration, and at the end of the adoration, we were able take a closer look at the reliquary which contained the relic of the Blood of Jesus.
I later discovered that this relic was a miraculous transformation of wine into the Blood of Jesus Christ. It happened over 600 years ago, when a priest was celebrating the Eucharist, and he was consumed with doubt over the transubstantiation. However, when he lifted the chalice, the wine had turned into blood. The priest kept the chalice containing the Blood of Jesus at the Church of Holy Trinity in Ludbreg, for safekeeping. To this day, the Parish continues to expose the relic of the Blood of Jesus at the main sanctuary of the Church, for public adoration. The Universal Church is still studying and investigating the facts connected to this Eucharistic miracle.
In this time of Public Mass suspension, I continue to celebrate Mass in private. Sometimes though, as I celebrate Mass alone, I feel a sense of emptiness and despair, and I find myself going through the motions out of obligation. I sometimes find that my heart lacks preparation, prayerfulness and reflection, and I yearn to celebrate Mass with my Parishioners. Mass is not a private devotion – it is a communal gathering of faith! I am sure that many of you are experiencing this same feeling, as you participate in Mass virtually, but I hope that we can all persevere through this time of trial, together.
As Catholics, we truly and fundamentally believe in the Eucharist – the Living, True and Real Presence of Jesus – and we live by faith in the Eucharist, which fills us with strength, and nourishes our mind and body, spirit and soul.
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy