The Bread of Life, the Eucharistic presence of Jesus, will strengthen us in our struggle to preserve and uphold the value of human life. Jesus established this sacrament, preserved without change in the Catholic Church for almost 2000 years, at the Last Supper in the company of the first apostles.
As a personal testimony, as a Catholic, I can tell you that each time I receive Communion at the mass, I know I receive our Lord. The Eucharist is not merely symbolic of Christ. When Jesus said "I am the living bread come down from Heaven...Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him", many left him because there was no mistake that he was not speaking in metaphors. The tragedy is that they did not understand, as many still do not understand today, that the receiving of our Lord in the Eucharist is not a savage act, but in fact a selfless gift, the gift of our Lord to us.
Happy are those who are called to His Supper! This means you!
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst." John 6:35
Amen, amen I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. John 6:47-48
I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world. John 6:51
Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever. John 6:53-58
The Early Christians - Acts of the Apostles
They were convinced by his (Peter's) arguments, and they accepted what he said and were baptised. That very day about three thousand were added to their number.
These remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.
The many miracles and signs worked through the apostles made a deep impression on everyone.
The faithful all lived together and owned everything in common; they sold their goods and possessions and shared out the proceeds among themselves according to what each one needed.
They went as a body to the Temple every day, but met in their houses for the breaking of bread; they shared their food gladly and generously; they praised God and were looked up to by everyone. Day by day the Lord added to their community those destined to be saved. Acts 2:41-47
St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians
I say to you as sensible people: judge for yourself what I am saying. The blessing-cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ, and the bread that we break is a communion with the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 15-16
For this is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread, and thanked God for it and broke it, and he said, 'This is my body, which is for you; do this as a memorial of me.' Until the Lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death, and so anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be behaving unworthily towards the body and blood of the Lord.
Everyone is to recollect himself before eating this bread and drinking this cup; because a person and drinks without recognising the Body is eating and drinking his own condemnation. 1 Corinthians 23-30
O Sacred Banquet
O Sacred Banquet,
In which Christ is recieved,
The memory of his Passion is renewed,
The mind is filled with grace,
And a pledge of future glory is given to us. Amen.
From the Roman Breviary, attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas
The Body of Christ
"As he revealed Himself to the apostles in
true flesh, so He reveals Himself to us now
in sacred bread...Let us, as we see bread
and wine with our bodily eyes, see and
firmly believe that they are His most holy
Body and Blood living and true. And in
this way the Lord is always with his faithful,
as he himself says:
Behold, I am with you until the end of the age."
St. Francis of Assisi
"Imitate the Eucharist and you will become a saint." St. Therese of Lisieux
Pope John Paul II on the Eucharist
The great precdecessor pope of the current pope, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II in announcing a Year of the Eucharist from October 2004 to October 2005, called Catholics to receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, and develop a personal relationship with him though Adoration. He asked all Catholics throughout the world to return to and lead people to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. This call continues today as Catholics are encouraged to frequently attend Mass and receive Communion, make Holy Hours of Adoration and to start Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration in all parishes and Christian communities worldwide.
"This worship, given therefore to the Trinity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...must fill our churches also outside the timetable of Masses...this worship must be prominent in all our encounters with the Blessed Sacrament...Adoration of Christ in this sacrament of love must also find expression in various forms of Eucharistic devotion: personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, Hours of Adoration, periods of exposition-short, prolonged and annual (Forty Hours)-eucharistic benediction, eucharistic processions, eucharistic congresses...The Church and the world have a great need of eucharistic worship. Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love. Let us be generous with our time in going to meet Him in adoration and in contemplation that is full of faith and ready to make reparation for the great faults and crimes of the world. May our adoration never cease." (Pope John Paul II, Dominicae Cenae, Ch 1, Sec 2, Art 3).
The Luminous Mysteries: The Story of the Eucharist
The luminous mysteries of the rosary show the biblical basis for belief in the Eucharist as the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Each mystery points to Jesus as the sustaining Bread of Life, the Lamb of God, who we experience so fully when we receive the Eucharist at the holy Catholic mass.
The First Luminous Mystery: The Baptism at the Jordan
The first mystery, Jesus' Baptism at the Jordan, John the Baptist calls Jesus the Lamb of God:
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." John 1:29 What does this phrase, the Lamb of God, mean to the Jewish people of that time?
At the time of the first Passover in Egypt, God directed Moses and Aaron to tell the Israelites to celebrate a sacrificial meal to forever recall the events of the night of their deliverance. The sacrificial meal is to be an unblemished lamb. In referring to Jesus as the Lamb of God, John the Baptist prophesizes Jesus as the unblemished Lamb, the food who will sustain us.
The Second Luminous Mystery: The Wedding at Cana
In the second mystery, Jesus, his disciples, and his mother Mary were invited to a wedding.
When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." John 2:3 Jesus knows what she is asking of him, and he does not refuse her.
His mother said to the servers, "Do whatever he tells you." Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, "Fill the jars with water." So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter." So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now." Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him. John 2:5-11
By the miracle at Cana, Jesus' transforning water into wine, he shows us how he is capable of transforming matter, foreshadowing the transformation of wine into the cup of his blood.
The Third Luminous Mystery: The Proclamation of the Kingdom
In the third luminous mystery of the rosary, the Proclamation of the Kingdom, Jesus proclaims repentance, for the kingdom of God is at hand. We can find repentance in the sacrament of reconciliation.
The Fourth Luminous Mystery: The Transfiguration
On Mount Tabor Jesus is transfigured and stands with two holy men, Moses and Elijah. Could this be a symbol of the holiness of the sacrament of holy orders? We also might see transfiguration as a symbol of the Eucharist.
The Fifth Luminous Mystery: The Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper
On Holy Thursday Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the last supper, our sacrament of Holy Communion.