NGUYEN: Knowing the living Christ in the Holy Mass

September 27, 2022

The Feast of Corpus Christi this past June has begun a truly momentous event in the life of the Church in the U.S.: the National Eucharistic Congress, which will be held in the summer of 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The results of a recent Pew Research Poll found that the majority of American Catholics are currently on a steep decline of faith; namely, they do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Undoubtedly, we need a Eucharistic revival. Fewer Catholics participate in the weekly sacred Liturgy of the Holy Mass. Only a handful of those reported being ever excited about attending Mass.

Attending Sunday Mass and/or daily Mass is a great privilege and blessing for Catholics, yet it can quickly become a monotonous routine. The purpose of this short article is to awaken in each of us a deeper sense of gratitude and genuine love towards the Eucharist as we approach the Holy Mass.

The Mass is not just a nice prayer service that we gather to have once a week; rather, it is a sacrifice. More specifically, it is the same sacrifice that Jesus offered to the Father on the cross over 2,000 years ago for the salvation of all mankind. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that when we celebrate the Holy Mass, God makes Jesus’s sacrifice present to us; and we participate in it with the company of angels and saints and offer it up to the Father with Jesus (CCC #1362-1372).

The Church also teaches us that when we gather on earth to celebrate this sacred Liturgy, Jesus is truly present through the assembly, the Word, the priest (in persona Christi), and the Eucharist (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7). He is truly present there and ready to offer Himself up as “the food and source of strength for the tired, weary and disoriented” (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI).

Jesus is food for our souls and our source of strength. When we receive Jesus through the Word and the Eucharist at Mass, we truly receive the very life of God in us to animate and revive our wretched souls.

I can attest to this fact: not long ago, I recall coming to Mass with a heavy heart. My energy had been depleted for days. Prior to Mass, I took a moment in silence, recollected myself, and intensely prayed with hope that God would lift that weight off me. Lo and behold! The moment I heard the cantor sing the refrain “The Lord hears the cry of the poor. Blessed be the Lord” from Psalm 34, I felt so comforted. It seemed like the heavy burden in my heart was slowly disappearing. Once the congregation finished singing the Psalm, amazingly, I found myself at peace.

Encountering the living Christ at the Holy Mass transforms, heals, forgives and draws us ever deeper into the mysteries of Christ. The Holy Mass is where loving encounters between God and man happen, so He can deeply care for everyone’s well-being… physically, emotionally and spiritually. Certainly, Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist at the Holy Mass. Eucharist is Jesus Himself.

For a more vivid image of Jesus in the Eucharist, sacrificing every drop of His blood and every cell of His body at the Holy Mass for the salvation of all mankind, I strongly recommend that you read the prologue to “Rediscover Catholicism” by Matthew Kelly. I guarantee that after reading this powerful story, you will find yourself in tears or even sobbing. May God give us genuine love for Him and grateful hearts for His many blessings each time we participate in the Holy Mass. †

Sister Maria Goretti Thuy Nguyen, OP, is an associate director with the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.