The Eucharist is the “fount and apex of the whole Christian life"

06-19-2022Weekly ReflectionFr. Chris Axline

Happy solemnity of Corpus Christi! Today we celebrate as a Church the gift of the Eucharist, the Body of Christ (Corpus Christi), in a special and particular way. Specifically, it also provides the chance to reflect on the role and prominence of the Eucharist in our life. For me, this feast holds a special significance as nine years ago (2013) my first Masses as a priest was for this solemnity. Thus, each year I find myself reflecting on the words of the Second Vatican Council: that the Eucharist is the “fount and apex of the whole Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, 11). What, though, does it mean to say that the Eucharist is the fount and apex of Christian life?

Most importantly, it means that we should recognize Christ is truly present in the Eucharist and that we know we can see God face to face and speak with Him as the Apostles did. Wherever the Eucharist is reposed, we know where to encounter God. This was a reality I remember coming into special focus during my seminary formation: specifically during my Spanish immersion in Guatemala. I lived in Antigua Guatemala for 10 weeks and went to Mass everyday. While I didn’t know the language (at least not yet), I did know Who was present in each church I visited. That Christ was there brought great comfort and that’s the cool thing about being Catholic, no matter where we travel, Christ is present in the nearest Church. The Lord makes Himself available to us wherever we go.

The second aspect of making the Eucharist the fount and apex of our life is that the Eucharist helps orient our desires and actions towards Christ. For example, we can use the Eucharist and our desire to remain/be in a state of grace in order to worthily receive Him as a deterrent to making a choice that would separate us from being able to receive Christ (Mortal Sin) in the Eucharist. The Eucharist isn’t our right, it’s God’s gift to us. and His gift is to dwell among us as the ultimate house guest! Have we ever cleaned our houses before company comes over? Shouldn’t we do the same for our eternal house, the soul? Absolutely we should. This is why the Church encourages a proper, thorough examination of one’s conscience before receiving.

St. Paul articulates this idea powerfully in 1st Corinthians 11:27-29 (1st Corinthians was written ~55 AD, about ten years before the first Gospel making this the first of the New Testament Eucharistic writings to be written), “Therefore whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment [translation may vary] (NABRE).” The Church, following St. Paul’s admonition (and the unbroken line of Tradition), provides us the means to make this examination: sacramental confession and recollection of sins during Mass.

Confession is the beautiful sacrament and the normal means by which all mortal sins are removed from the soul. However, we also recall our sins and ask God’s mercy several times during each Mass. First, we start with the penitential act, “I confess…” followed by a minor absolution from the priest “may Almighty God have mercy on us….” Next, we have the Kyrie Eleison (Lord have mercy). Already twice we’ve recollected our sinfulness and we’re not even at the first reading! Later in the Mass the priest washes his hands (at the offertory) and prays to the Lord to remove his own sins, followed by the “Lord I am not worthy…” prayer, the cry of the centurion from Matthew 8:5-13 immediately before finally communicating! Three times the people are invited to cleanse themselves with an additional two times for the priest! As the Lord comes and knocks on the door of our souls, let us prepare ourselves so that He may be our welcome guest!

A third way to make the Eucharist the fount and apex of our life is to spend time with Him in adoration. We are blessed at St. Mary Magdalene to have a perpetual adoration chapel giving us 24/7 access to Jesus! Adoration changes lives and stirs the heart in unique ways. I remember the first time I was invited to come adore Christ in the Eucharist. I was in college and the Newman Center was having a 24 hour adoration vigil open to all students. I’d not heard of this before but my friends were signing up so I did too, even though they only had early AM hours, but something compelled me to sign up for a 2am shift, and it was amazing! I had no clue what I was doing (remember this was my first time in adoration) but I remember what the Lord was doing: He stirred my heart in such a powerful way that I wanted more. But, that Newman Center didn’t have perpetual adoration so that meant daily Mass! That meant I was now at Mass 4 days a week! This was the final stirring that solidified my priestly vocation. Knowing what the Lord did for me, I want to extend an invitation to have a similar experience. We have many hours open where Our Lord is waiting for YOU!

Sunday: 3:00am, 12:00pm, 1:00pm, 7:00pm
Monday: 5:00pm, 6:00pm
Tuesday: 1:00am, 2:00am, 6:00pm
Wednesday: 1:00am, 2:00am, 10:00pm
Thursday: Midnight
Friday: 1:00am, 2:00am, 3:00am, 4:00pm
Saturday: 2:00pm, 3:00pm

I want to say thank you to all who have already signed up for an hour and invite those of you who are not to sign up for one of these open hours. You can sign up HERE, or you can call the office and we’ll help you.

St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta is famous for saying that the Lord is never outdone in generosity and I guarantee that whatever hour you give to the Lord, will transform your life!

May this feast of Corpus Christi increase our desire for Jesus present in the Eucharist.