by Pat Gohn
There are many, many reasons to love the Eucharist, but let’s focus on one: The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist prepares us — and is indeed a pledge — of our future glory. Yes, the Eucharist is a promise of heaven. Let’s unpack this reality as we approach the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ on June 18.
Read this thoughtfully:
Having passed from this world to the Father, Christ gives us in the Eucharist the pledge of glory with him. Participation in the Holy Sacrifice identifies us with his Heart, sustains our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life, and unites us even now to the Church in heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints (CCC, 1419).
When we actively participate in the Holy Sacrifice — the Mass — we gain graces and a glimpse of our destiny.
Here are four ways the Eucharist prepares us for heaven:
1. The Eucharist identifies us with the heart of Jesus.
Jesus, present in the Eucharist, offers the perfect prayer to his Father, and ours, in heaven. In the Mass, perfect praise and perfect thanksgiving are given to God.
In the Eucharistic sacrifice the whole of creation loved by God is presented to the Father through the death and the Resurrection of Christ. Through Christ the Church can offer the sacrifice of praise in thanksgiving for all that God has made good, beautiful, and just in creation and in humanity. The Eucharist is a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Father, a blessing by which the Church expresses her gratitude to God for all his benefits … through creation, redemption, and sanctification (CCC, 1359, 1360).
Jesus’ heart is not only directed to the Father, but also toward us!
Jesus loves us so much that he died on the cross for us. His merciful love takes away our sins. As we recall Jesus’ Last Supper, we are “bound by the command the Lord gave on the eve of his Passion: ‘Do this in remembrance of me’” [1 Corinthians 11:24-25] (CCC, 1356).
When the Church celebrates the Eucharist … the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present [see Hebrews 7:25-27] (CCC, 1364).
The sacrificial character of the Eucharist is manifested in the very words of institution: “This is my body which is given for you” and “This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my blood” [Luke 22:19-20]. In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” [Matthew 26:28] (CCC, 1365).
This is how the graces come to us via the sacraments — through the blood shed by Jesus on the cross. It paid the price for our eternal glory.
2. The Eucharist sustains our strength.
Jesus is our “bread of life” that prepares us for eternity (see John 6:31, 35, 48, 51). The Eucharist makes us stronger by wiping away venial sins that weaken us.
What material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life. Communion … preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism (CCC, 1392).
Holy Communion separates us from sin (CCC, 1393).
St. Ambrose fittingly taught: “Because I always sin, I should always have a remedy.” The Eucharist restores lost strength. It also “preserves us from future mortal sins” (CCC, 1395).
3. The Eucharist makes us long for eternal life.
Jesus promised to come again, and so we pray and wait.
Whenever the Church celebrates the Eucharist she … turns her gaze “to him who is to come.” … “Marana tha!” “Come, Lord Jesus!” [Revelation 1:4; 22:20; 1 Corinthians 16:22] (CCC, 1403).
Therefore we celebrate the Eucharist “awaiting the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ” [Roman Missal] asking “to share in your glory when every tear will be wiped away. On that day we shall see you, our God, as you are. We shall become like you and praise you for ever through Christ our Lord” [Eucharistic Prayer, III] (CCC, 1404).
4. The Eucharist unites us to the Church in heaven.
Heaven and earth meet in the Eucharist. That means that those already in the glory of heaven, such as Mary, the Mother of God, the saints, and our faithful departed, pray with us.
To the offering of Christ are united … [with] those already in the glory of heaven. … The Eucharistic sacrifice is also offered for the faithful departed who “have died in Christ but are not yet wholly purified” (CCC, 1370, 1371).