been present there. Each member of the faithful can thus take part in it and inexhaustibly gain its fruits. This is the faith from which generations of Christians down the ages have lived" (Ecclesia De Eucharistia 11).
Since Eucharist is the gift of Christ's saving work, we can say that this gift of himself is the gift of life for which all of mankind should eagerly thirst. Eucharist is the "ever-living and life-giving power" (CCC 1116) which flows forth from the Body of Christ, nourishing with life those whose love of the Savior has drawn them to the bountiful table of the sacred altar.
Since in consuming the Eucharist we receive the Risen Lord, the light and the life of men (Jn 1:4), it is truly the life-blood dynamic of the Christian. The Eucharist is therefore spiritual nourishment par excellence, for it is truly the Real Presence of Christ, and thus the highest and most sublime Gift ever possible.
Through the gift of Eucharist, our eyes of faith are sharpened as we enter into communion with Christ and share in his own life. Blessed John Paul II noted that "whenever the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the faithful can in some way relive the experience of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: 'their eyes were opened and they recognized him'" (Lk 24:31; Ecclesia De Eucharistia 6).
The Council Fathers informed the faithful that our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice at the Last Supper "in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages," entrusting to the Church "a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us" (Sacrosanctum Concilium 47).
Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI notes that the "first element of eucharistic faith is the mystery of God himself, trinitarian love." For "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, . . ." (Jn 3:16). "In the Eucharist Jesus does not give us a 'thing,' but himself; he offers his own body and pours out his own blood. He thus gives us the totality of his life and reveals the ultimate origin of this love" (Sacramentum Caritatis 7).
The "night is far gone, the day is at hand" (Rom. 13:12). This Advent, prepare to receive the Eucharist: the Gift above all gifts; the gift of incomparable Love: a love so great it cost our Savior's death in order to provide it. Let us first, though, be purified and reconciled through the sacrament of Penance, a direct encounter with the healing and regenerative grace of God, that we may then fruitfully rise, consume the Risen Lord at the Paschal Banquet, and thus be swept up into the divine life of the Holy Trinity. Then we may truly say: a new day has dawned. The "kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Mt. 3:2).
F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts anyone could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at catholicpathways.com
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Advent, Eucharist, the Real Presence of Christ, Holy Communion, the source and summit of the Church, Paschal Banquet, Last Supper, breaking of the bread, F. K. Bartels
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