The Eucharist -- Heart and Center of Our Faith -- Part 4
In St. John's Gospel, Jesus tells us insistently that He is the bread of life. He tells us that He came to give life to the world. He tells that if we do not eat His flesh and drink His blood, we do not have life within us.
As Catholics, we understand that He’s talking about the great gift He gives us in the Eucharist. His Body and Blood truly become present on the altar at every Mass. We truly receive them in each holy communion.
The Church teaches us that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith; all the other sacraments, vital as they are, give us God’s grace. Only in the Eucharist do we receive God Himself.
The Devil is intensely jealous of all the gifts we receive. At the very beginning, he threw away everything that God wanted to give him, and he desires to draw as many after him as he can.
And so it is that he wants to steal from us the very source and summit of our faith. It's quite simple: No priest, no Eucharist. And so the Devil desires strongly to damage the priesthood as much as he can so that he can stop us, Christ’s beloved people, from getting the gifts that Jesus died to give to us.
I am quite sure that nearly all of us have heard about horrifying things about Catholic priests. We’ve been brought face to face, again, with the reality that there are priests and bishops who have betrayed the gifts God gave them and betrayed you, God’s people.
If you are sad, angry, disappointed, disheartened, a whole host of negative adjectives, I’m right there with you. I thought that we’d cleaned all this up in 2002, the year I began to discern the priesthood.
These scandals remind us that the devil is real, and he has worked hard to exploit the weaknesses of the clergy. That doesn’t excuse what anyone else has done. The people involved gave the devil a chance, and he took it.
He took it because he wants to take the Eucharist away from you. So I ask you: don’t let him win.
Certainly I wish the state of the Church were better. For the first time since I was ordained, I’m self-conscious about wearing a collar in public.
I know many of my brother priests are struggling with the same anger and discouragement I feel. I’m not going anywhere, but those of us who do strive to be faithful need your prayers.
I have no program to fix things, except this: When God renews His Church, do you know how He does it? He sends saints. He sends people whose love for Christ, for His Church, for His people, burns in them so strongly that they give heat and light to our cold, dark world.
You can be one of those saints. Where do you start? In confession, if need be. And then you come to the altar, because, despite the weaknesses, failures, even betrayals of men, God gives Himself here to you, His beloved people, so that you may have life forever.
And then let what you receive at Mass transform you into what only God can make of you: a saint who can change not just the Church, but also the entire world.
The priest, who is the author of this article, asks to remain anonymous.