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The Goal: Union in Christ’s Body and Blood

“O sacred Banquet, wherein Christ is received, the memory of His passion is recalled, the soul is filled with grace, and there is given to us a pledge of future glory.” —St. Thomas Aquinas, O Sacrum Convivium (hymn for Corpus Christi)

Salvation History—the unfolding story of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection and its meaning for our lives—involves a past, present, and a future. In his hymn for the great feast of Corpus Christi, O Sacrum Convivium (“O Sacred Banquet”), St. Thomas Aquinas precisely identifies three crucial moments of Salvation History that are all woven into the mystery of the Holy Eucharist:

• at a particular moment in the past, Jesus Christ suffered and died for our salvation;

• today, that supernova of grace becomes present to us once again on the altar of sacrifice, and we are able to receive His Body and Blood;

• and in a future is promised, one we begin to taste now as we celebrate the Eucharist, but which will be definitively fulfilled in heaven.

The world today has lost its sense of meaning. People often lack any deep sense of purpose or direction. Their goals are too often reduced to seeking pleasure, rest, or distraction. And when those goals prove unsatisfying, they give up altogether on the goodness of life.

In the Holy Eucharist, we find the exact antidote to this cancer of the human spirit. The truth that the all-holy Son of God chooses to become present among us, chooses to nourish us, to share His life and strength with us, chooses to remain with us so that we can worship Him and grow in friendship with Him, infuses our lives with an immeasurably rich meaning. We find this meaning in the story of our salvation, made present in the Holy Eucharist. The saving death of the Son of God, the graces the risen Son gives to us today, and the promise that we will live with Him, and with the Father and the Holy Spirit, forever, charges every moment of our lives with drama and importance.

Pope Benedict XVI, in a 2007 document on the Eucharist, Sacramentum Caritatis (“The Sacrament of Charity”), uses an apt expression: “the eucharistic form of the Christian life.” We have in this single phrase an encapsulation of the immeasurably great and rich reality into which we are immersed when we encounter Christ in the Eucharist, and into which we invite others as we evangelize.

The Christian life is eucharistic in many senses, some of which we explored in the first article on the Eucharist as the “source” of the Christian life. My focus here is on the Eucharist as the “summit” to which we aspire, to which the pilgrimage of our entire earthly lives is directed.

Our focus on the Eucharist as the summit of our lives will take shape as an exploration of four themes: union with Christ and each other in Him, the Eucharist as the Sacrament of Peace, the Eucharist and the Universal Call to Holiness, and the Eucharist as a foretaste and promise of heaven. We will see that these themes are closely interrelated, and all of them are also closely related to the themes we considered in the article on the Sacrament as the source of the Christian life.

Read more at Catholic World Report

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