How am I to understand the Eucharist? The Mass? Especially the body of Christ? The Blood of Christ?

Fr. Dan Borlik

Yes, I believe in the Eucharist! and it’s an honor to share some personal thoughts with you as my friends and colleagues!

First, let me introduce some caution.  It’s one thing to experience the Eucharist (which is what I’m writing about) and quite another to explain the Eucharist.  Over the centuries, so much has been spoken, written, sung, and fought over, trying to definitively explain the Eucharist that it can feel exasperating, even pointless!  So, I am writing this only from my faith and experience as a baptized Catholic Christian.

Fear not, my Catholic-Christian brothers and sisters – and all other seekers–if you insist on clear explanations, of course, they do exist!  In fact, there are plenty of scholarly reflections on “how the Eucharist happens.” Even if these are not scientifically indisputable, they can help some of us; indeed, we consider a few of these to be doctrine, footnoted with authoritative sources.  Some reflections are beautiful poems, hymns, or art. Others are very philosophical treatises, heavily nuanced so as to include the best (or at least, the clearest) of all sides of the discussions over the centuries on the question. Our Catholic Catechism does a good job of outlining what we believe today (ccc.usccb.org_catechism. See especially numbers 1153 and the following).

Still, what did Jesus mean 2000 years ago by “Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body which will be given up for you …  Drink from [this cup], all of you, for this is the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins”? What do His words mean for us who follow Him today?  

Clearly, Jesus was sharing much more than words of comfort and confidence only hours before his own passion and death.  How am I supposed to believe something like that? Is this really the Body of our Lord? It was shocking then and can still be shocking for many today.  But it’s our faith–itself always a gift from God–and it is absolutely essential to respond to the Lord’s invitation!

Since childhood, I suppose that I’ve known this, but today, with age, I’m experiencing more and more just how incomplete I am; how hungry, emptied out, and frustrated I am–that I need the Lord! I need God’s Spirit, his healing, his help to do better and to see good in this world (something I can be otherwise blind to).  The Eucharist re-binds me to the Lord and, through Jesus-in-the-Eucharist, and re-knits me with you and with everyone else ! I can get up again, I can forgive myself and others, I can do something worthwhile and good… without worrying about the cost. All because of the Eucharist!

So, for me,” Take..and eat; take…and drink… this is my Body and Blood”  is real and wonderful! In the end, that belief in faith can only be given to you and to me and never earned or proven.

I, for one, do believe.  And am very grateful for that gift!