The Great Mystery: Jesus comes to Us on Our Altars
When invited to write this Eucharistic Reflection for The Catholic Telegraph, I recalled my similar article for a 2021 Advent edition of Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly that was concerned for the many people who stopped going to Mass.
I hope to motivate Church members to better appreciate the Eucharist. If what I write helps one person better understand Christ’s Eucharistic presence, my efforts are worthwhile.
GRACE OF GOD
Belief in Jesus’ real presence in the Eucharist requires the grace of God, which often works through us. With this said, we ask for the Holy Spirit’s wisdom as we reflect on the mystery of the Eucharist.
THE GREAT MYSTERY
When I celebrate Mass, I am keenly aware that I am in the presence of a Great Mystery that is more profound than the size of the universe or the number of stars in the sky. Although I did not use these words in my early years, I always regarded the Eucharist as a mystery. In theology class, we learned that early Christians referred to the Mass and Sacraments as “Celebrating the Sacred Mysteries.” What is this Great Mystery?
Words fall into insignificance as we search for ways to address the marvelous mystery that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” (Jn. 3:16). As He comes to us on our altars, the Eucharist celebrates the Great Mystery of Jesus’ dying and rising.
From childhood on, I learned that Holy Communion was really Jesus under the appearances of bread and wine and that it was important to receive the Eucharist often and participate in this Great Mystery.
As I grew, this realization that the Eucharist is Jesus, the Son of God, motivated me to attend daily Mass before school. To this day, it continues to remind me that there is no one and nothing greater than the God who made us, died for us, and remains with us in mystery. When celebrating the Great Mystery, Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross and His Resurrection come alive on our altars, and we remember Jesus who died and rose on Easter Sunday. This compels us to live as He lives in us, which He does regardless of the price tot love us.
As an adult, I know the theology underlying the Eucharist, but what I learned from theology books only enhanced my awe for this Great Mystery.
THE HEART OF IT ALL
I thought often of this Great Mystery during the Pandemic, when I lived alone for nearly two years. I wish I could have been with my parish to celebrate the mystery of Jesus’ dying and rising made present on our altars.
I celebrated the Eucharist by myself on a simple altar that I constructed in my home, where I encountered Jesus and experienced the Great Mystery. This renewal of the Last Supper and the Paschal sacrifice of Christ in its simplest liturgical form—not the color of the vestments, their shape, the music, or who was in attendance—made Jesus present on the altar. In my celebration, there was no splendor and little music. The vessels were simple as were the vestments. And yet, when I celebrated Mass, I was part of the entire Body of Christ, celebrating together the Great Mystery of God’s love all over the world.
Lord, give us a better appreciation of the Great Mystery and a deeper realization that you are with us as Love Incarnate in the Eucharist. Amen.
This article appeared in the December 2022 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.