Not being able to receive the Eucharist during the current pandemic is a cause of sadness and distress for us who highly prize the Holy Eucharist as the “source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium). But I’m sure that this time of absence from the Mass can also be a time for us to discover afresh the wonder of the Eucharist, a time to appreciate the sentiment expressed beautifully by Pope John Paul II:
A truly indescribable mystery!
Simple with the greatest simplicity!
Rich with supreme richness!
(Italian National Eucharistic Congress, June 1988)
Just think of the joy there will be when this public health emergency is over and we are able to gather together to celebrate the Eucharistic again.
In the meantime I hope you will find the daily eucharistic reflections offered here a helpful way of remaining spiritually close to the Lord whose presence is always with us.
The reflections are drawn from believers across many centuries and in many different circumstances. At the centre of them all is the living Lord Jesus, offered, received and adored in the sacrament of his love.
Sunday 5th April
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
Ode to Christ the Saviour
Christ incarnate makes me worthy of God,
Christ humbled for me, raises me high,
Christ, the giver of life,
suffering in human nature,
makes me impassive.
And so, I sing a hymn of thanksgiving,
to Him who is glorified.
Christ crucified raises me high,
Christ who is slain makes me rise again with Him;
Christ gives me life.
And so clapping my hands with joy,
I sing to the saviour a hymn of victory
to Him who is glorified.
Cosmas of Maiuma
Saturday 4th April
Your sacrament, Lord Jesus Christ,
and the remission of sins;
You have suffered the passion for our sake.
For us you have drunk gall
to take from us all bitterness;
You have drunk a bitter wine for us
to lift us from our weariness;
You have been despised for us,
that the dew of immortality
might be poured upon us;
You have been beaten with scourges
to ensure to our frailty eternal life;
You have been crowned with thorns
that your faithful might be crowned
with the evergreen laurels of love;
You have been wrapped in a winding sheet
that we might be clothed in your strength;
You were laid in the tomb
that in a new age loving kindness
might again be granted to us.
Fragment from an ancient Eucharistic liturgy
Friday 3rd April
Sweet Sacrament Divine
Sweet Sacrament divine,
hid in thine earthly home,
lo, round thy lowly shrine,
with suppliant hearts we come;
Jesus, to thee our voice we raise
in songs of love and heartfelt praise:
sweet Sacrament divine.
Sweet Sacrament of peace,
dear home for every heart,
where restless yearnings cease
and sorrows all depart;
there in thine ear all trustfully
we tell our tale of misery:
sweet Sacrament of peace.
Sweet Sacrament of rest,
ark from the ocean’s roar,
within thy shelter blest
soon may we reach the shore;
save us, for still the tempest raves,
save, lest we sink beneath the waves:
sweet Sacrament of rest.
Sweet Sacrament divine,
earth’s light and jubilee,
in thy far depths doth shine
thy Godhead’s majesty;
sweet light, so shine on us, we pray,
that earthly joys may fade away:
sweet Sacrament divine.
Thursday 2nd April
The Eucharist: Source of the Christian spirit
It is from the Eucharist that all of us receive the grace and strength for daily living – to live real Christian lives, in the joy of knowing that God loves us, that Christ died for us, and that the Holy Spirit lives in us.
Our full participation in the Eucharist is the real source of the Christian spirit that we wish to see in our personal lives and in all aspects of society. Whether we serve in politics, in the economic, cultural, social or scientific field – no matter what our occupation is – the Eucharist is a challenge to our daily lives.
Dear brothers and sisters: there must always be consistency between what we believe and what we do. We cannot live on the glories of our past Christian history. Our union with Christ in the Eucharist must be expressed in the truth of our lives today – in our actions, in our behaviour, in our life-style, and in our relationships with others.
For each one of us the Eucharist is a call to ever greater effort, so that we may live as true followers of Jesus: truthful in our speech, generous in our deeds, concerned, respectful of the dignity and rights of all persons, whatever their rank or income, self-sacrificing, fair and just, kind, considerate, compassionate and self-controlled – looking to the well-being of our families, our young people, our country, Europe and the world.
The truth of our union with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is tested by whether or not we really love our fellow men and women; it is tested by how we treat others; especially our families, husbands and wives, children and parents, brothers and sisters. It is tested by whether or not we try to be reconciled with our enemies, on whether or not we forgive those who hurt or offend us. It is tested by whether we practice in life what our faith teaches us. We must always remember what Jesus said: “You are my friends if you do what I command you”. (John 14:14)
Pope John Paul II
General Audience, 1979
Wednesday 1st April
Our Thirst for Jesus
O most sweet Lord
Jesus Christ, transfix the affections of my inmost soul with that most joyous
and healthful wound of your love, with true, serene, holiest apostolic charity,
that my soul may ever languish and melt with entire love and longing for you,
that it may desire you, and faint for your court, long to be dissolved and to
be with you.
Grant that my soul may hunger after you, the Bread of Angels, the Refreshment of holy souls, our daily and supersubstantial Bread, who have all sweetness and savour, and the delight of every taste. Let my heart ever hunger after and feed upon you, upon whom the Angels desire to look, and my inmost soul be filled with the sweetness of your savour.
May it ever thirst for you, the Fountain of life, the Source of wisdom and knowledge, the Fountain of eternal light, the Torrent of pleasure, the Richness of the House of God.
May it ever yearn for you, find you, stretch towards you, attain to you, meditate upon you, speak of you, and do all things to the praise and glory of your holy name, with humility and discretion, with love and delight, with readiness and affection, with perseverance even unto the end.
Be ever my hope and my whole confidence, my riches, my delight, my pleasure and my joy, my rest and tranquility, my peace, my sweetness, and my fragrance, my sweet savour, my food and refreshment., my refuge and help, my wisdom, my portion, my possession, and my treasure, in whom my mind and my heart may ever remain fixed and firm, and rooted immovably, henceforth and for evermore.Amen.
13th century Italian Franciscan theologian and philosopher
Tuesday 31st March
The Eucharist enkindles Charity
As bodily nourishment
restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends
to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins.
By giving Himself to us Christ revives our love and enables us to break our
disordered attachments to creatures and root ourselves in Him:
Since Christ died for us out of love, when we celebrate the memorial of His death at the moment of sacrifice we ask that love may be granted to us by the coming of the Holy Spirit. We humbly pray that in the strength of this love by which Christ willed to die for us, we, by receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, may be able to consider the world as crucified for us, and to be ourselves as crucified to the world…Having received the gift of love, let us die to sin and live for God.
(St. Fulgentius of Ruspe)
Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1394
Monday 30th March
Christ our Love
There is but one Lover of souls and He loves each one of us, as though there were no one else to love. He died for each one of us, as if there were no one else to die for. He died on the shameful cross. The love which He inspires lasts, for it is the love of the unchangeable. It satisfies, for He is inexhaustible. The nearer we draw near to Him, the more triumphantly does He enter into us; the longer He dwells in us, the more intimately have we possession of Him. It is an espousal for eternity.
St. John Henry Newman
Sunday 29th March
Gift of Gifts
Come to me, life-giving Jesus, in thy sweetness and might. Give to me a greater longing for thy gift of gifts. Satisfy my hunger with the Living Bread, and slake my thirst with the Wine of God.
Now I see thee dimly in thy creatures, and now darkly I know thy love. I feel the wickedness of my heart, and am cast down greatly when I think of my unfaithfulness to thee.
Purify me more and more, and cleanse me with the fire of thy Heart. Wash me with thy Precious Blood, and I shall be white; give me more of thy Holy Spirit, and I shall be cleansed.
I adore thee, Jesus, in the Blessed Sacrament, and with all my heart I wish to make myself a fitting temple for thee. Come to me, O Loving Jesus.
Saturday 28th March
How lovely is your dwelling-place,
Lord, God of hosts.
My soul is longing and yearning,
is yearning for the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my soul ring out their joy
to God, the living God.
The sparrow herself finds a home
and the swallow a nest for her brood;
she lays her young by your altars,
Lord of hosts, my king and my God.
They are happy, who dwell in your house,
for ever singing your praise.
They are happy, whose strength is in you,
in whose hearts are the roads to Sion.
As they go through the Bitter Valley
they make it a place of springs,
the autumn rain covers it with blessings.
They walk with ever growing strength,
they will see the God of gods in Sion.
O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer,
give ear, O God of Jacob.
Turn your eyes, O God, our shield,
look on the face of your anointed.
One day within your courts
is better than a thousand elsewhere.
The threshold of the house of God
I prefer to the dwellings of the wicked.
For the Lord God is a rampart, a shield;
he will give us his favour and glory.
The Lord will not refuse any good
to those who walk without blame.
Lord God of hosts,
happy the man who trusts in you!
Friday 27th March
Jesus in our midst
If we really understand the Eucharist,
If we really centre our lives on Jesus’ Body and Blood,
If we nourish our lives with the Bread of the Eucharist,
it will be easy for us to see Christ in that hungry one next door,
the one lying in the gutter,
that alcoholic man we shun,
our husband or our wife,
or our restless child.
For in them we will recognise the distressing guises of the poor:
Jesus in our midst.
Thursday 26th March
Prayer of Praise
Strengthen, O Lord, the hands which are stretched out to receive the Holy Things, that they may daily bring forth the fruit of good works.
Grant, O my Lord, that the lips that praise thee may be worthy to sing to thy praise in thy temple, and glorify thee for ever;
that the ears which have heard the sound of thy canticles may never listen to the noise of fear and dissension;
that the eyes which have seen thy great love may also behold thy blessed hope;
that the tongues which have sung Holy, Holy, Holy, may speak truth;
that the feet which have walked in the church may tread in the place of light;
and that the bodies which have fed upon thy living Body may be restored to newness of life.
Let thine help come upon this congregation and let thy fathomless love remain with us;
may we more widely shew forth thy glory, whose divinity we worship, and may a door be opened to the prayers of us all.
By the gift of the grace of the Holy Ghost we have been able to draw near and become fellow-partakers in these most excellent, holy, divine and life-giving mysteries;
let us praise and rejoice in God, who gave them.
A prayer said by a deacon during the Lord’s Supper in the Liturgy of Malabar. Originally a poem by Ephrem the Syrian.
It was translated from Syriac to English by Charles Humphreys & Percy Dearmer in The English Hymnal, 1906.
Strengthen for service, Lord, the hands
that holy things have taken;
Let ears that now have heard thy songs
to clamour never waken.
Lord, may the tongues which Holy sang
keep free from all deceiving;
the eyes which saw Thy love be bright
thy blessèd hope perceiving.
The feet that tread Thy holy courts
from light do Thou not banish;
the bodies by Thy body fed
with Thy new life replenish.
Wednesday 25th March
(Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord)
There is a profound analogy between the Fiat which Mary said in reply to the angel, and the Amen which every believer says when receiving the body of the Lord. Mary was asked to believe that the One whom she conceived “through the Holy Spirit” was “the Son of God” (Lk 1:30-35). In continuity with the Virgin’s faith, in the Eucharistic mystery we are asked to believe that the same Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary, becomes present in his full humanity and divinity under the signs of bread and wine.
“Blessed is she who believed” (Lk 1:45). Mary also anticipated, in the mystery of the incarnation, the Church’s Eucharistic faith. When, at the Visitation, she bore in her womb the Word made flesh, she became in some way a “tabernacle” – the first “tabernacle” in history – in which the Son of God, still invisible to our human gaze, allowed himself to be adored by Elizabeth, radiating his light as it were through the eyes and the voice of Mary. And is not the enraptured gaze of Mary, as she contemplated the face of the newborn Christ and cradled him in her arms, that unparalleled model of love which should inspire us every time we receive Eucharistic communion?
Pope John Paul II
Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 2003
Tuesday 24th March 2020
When last you went to Communion, what were the dispositions of your heart as the bell tinkled in the sanctuary? Were you waiting for him like the shepherds of Bethlehem; were you keeping watch, as they were, over your thoughts, as they over their flocks, so that you were ready for his coming? Or was you heart like the wayside inn, too full of other guests to give a thought to his miraculous birth?
When we make our preparation for Communion, there should be a silence as of midnight in our hearts; not a feverish activity of aspirations and petitions, but an interior silence that banishes form the mind the busy echoes of its daily preoccupations; those plans we were forming, those grudges we were nursing, those anxieties we were harbouring, those fears we were encouraging – well, perhaps it is too much to ask that we should banish them altogether, but they should be hushed, as men’s footsteps are hushed outside the door of a sick-room.
It is in the silence of the heart that we shall hear that whisper, Hoc est Corpus meum, and know that Christ is born.
But if our Lord’s Presence in the Holy Eucharist means a birth, it also means a marriage; the moment at which we receive the Blessed Sacrament is the moment at which he plights his love to us in a supreme manner, making us one with himself…Just in that moment, we want to be all for him, dilectus meus mihi, et ego illi (my Beloved for me, and I for Him); that is the good part surely, which shall not be taken away from us.
R. A. Knox
The Window in the Wall