Saturday, July 20, 2024

Eucharistic Revival Series: Creating a New World

A few years ago, I was reading somewhere on the internet a post about mystical experiences of saints. I remember this story vividly, and although I can’t remember the name of this particular mystic, her story is one to recount.

During prayer, this mystic (let’s call her St. Evangel) prayed at the foot of the Cross, “Lord, may I experience what you see from Your throne?” Through the workings of the Holy Spirit who used her imagination, she found herself sitting like a bird on top of the Cross, while Christ was nailed to it. She looked down at Christ’s crowned head and uttered a sob in shock. He said to her, “Look!”

With that, she looked toward the horizon and saw thousands and thousands of people in a wavy path walking toward the Cross. She asked, “Who are they?” Christ answered, “They are all the souls who, from all eternity, have responded to the grace of their baptism and committed themselves to following me.” Off to the left was another group of people who followed the path away from the others. This path led the group into an endless circle. As St. Evangel saw them, she asked, “Who are they?” Christ answered, “They are the souls who have chosen to live apart from me. For many reasons, they have chosen to act contrary to my law. This means that by doing so, they become cut off from my grace.” Spinning off from this group was a slow trickle of folks.  The mystic asked, “Who are these souls?” “These are the ones who have committed themselves once again to me,” Christ responded. “They have entered a new history of love and truth.”

I could not help thinking of this story as I continue my series on the Eucharist. Recently, I was reading a blog published by EWTN that was written by Pope Benedict XVI. It describes the theology of the Mystical Body of Christ come alive in the sacraments. You can find the entire article here.

“Celebrating the Eucharist means that, Christ gives us himself, his love, to configure us to himself and thereby to create the new world. … ‘the cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the Body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread’ (Cor. 10:16-17). In these words, the personal and social character of the Sacrament of the Eucharist likewise appears. Christ personally unites himself with each one of us, but Christ himself is also united with the man and the woman who are next to me. …  Thus, Christ unites all of us with himself and all of us with one another. In communion, we receive Christ. But Christ is likewise united with my neighbor. … And thus, we are all one bread and one body. We also perceive the full realism of this doctrine. Christ gives us his Body in the Eucharist, he gives himself in his Body and thus makes us his Body, he unites us with his Risen Body.”1

In St. Evangel’s mystical experiences, she also wrote that she could sense the joys and the sorrows of each communicant as they receive Communion. Reflecting on her writings at the time, (which I can no longer locate because I cannot recall her name), I was struck over the understanding that we enter into communion with not only those present at the specific Eucharistic celebration in which we are present but also to every communicant throughout the entire world. I do not think that the average Catholic reflects on this reality enough. We are not only united to Christ, but also to every human being. In a sense, we become one heart and one soul with every other human being.

Let us end this reflection with the words of Pope Benedict in the blog post referenced above: “Let us pray that by his closeness we may always he moved in the depths of our being so that joy may be born — that joy which is born when Jesus really is at hand.”

1 https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/mystical-body-of-christ-comes-alive-in-the-sacraments-6963

By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness

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