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THE REAL PRESENCE The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist CHRIST IN THE EUCHARIST

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The Holy Eucharist and the Apostle of Christ

by J. Marianne Siegmund

Who prays before the Blessed Sacrament and does not become enflamed with love for God, for His greater honor and glory, and for all mankind to enter into His Kingdom? The Son of God Incarnate proclaims "I have come to cast fire on the earth: and what will I, but that it be kindled?" (Lk. 12:49). Every true apostle lives his life with Christ, in His Eucharistic Presence, the Sacrament of all sacraments. In fidelity to Jesus, he labors for souls and perseveres in his vocation as one who is sent1 because of his constant recourse to Him, present on earth in the Holy Eucharist. It is precisely love for the Eucharistic Lord that will make him a tremendous saint. Christ Himself, who "loved unto the end," (Jn. 13:1) is the source of one's sanctity and He dwells among man in time in each Tabernacle around the world.

Love for the Eucharistic Lord is the key to sanctity. It matters not whether one's vocation makes a worldwide impact on the history of Christendom like St. Bernard of Clairvaux, or whether one's song of love to our Eucharistic Lord be sung from the cloister of a Carmelite convent like St.Therese of Lisieux. The story is the same; Christ's apostle has the vocation of love: he loves Christ and His Church and has a deep desire for the salvation of all souls. This strong and powerful love, lifting man to heights of courage far beyond one's imagination, stems from and is nourished by Christ, the Eucharistic Lord, who is Love Himself. Who can doubt the Lord's immense and infinite love for himself as he kneels before his God? St. Paul perceives the depths of Christ's love when he cries out "I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself for me." (Gal. 2:20)

While love characterizes the life of the Catholic, it is sometimes a difficult and arduous task. Indeed, "charity bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things." (I Cor 13:7) It requires patience, self-sacrifice, and much prayer before Jesus Christ for the light and strength to live one's vocation to love. Yet the charity of Christ, poured into one's heart, is what makes the Church's members act; one knows that if love ever became extinct, apostles would not preach the Gospel and martyrs would not shed their blood2 Thus, since the very love of Christ compels the apostles to grow in love, he should spend time before the Blessed Sacrament. There, in the silence of his heart, he prays for an increase of his love for God and for perseverance in charity toward others.

At one point in her life, St. Therese of Lisieux came to understand that Love comprised all vocations, that love was everything, that it embraced all times and places… in a word, that it was eternal.3 Thus, all have a vocation to love. This love is for Christ, Present in the Blessed Sacrament, and love of Him produces heroic sanctity. Therefore, the apostle of Christ will spend even just a few moments visiting his Eucharistic Jesus daily. He will ask the King of Kings to increase his love for Christ and others. If one is able to say with Saint Paul, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith," (2 Tim. 4: 7) then Christ's apostle concludes his life having learned the lessons of love that Jesus teaches, reigning from all the Tabernacles of the earth.

1   Fr. John A Hardon, S. J., Modern Catholic Dictionary (Garden City: Doubleday, 1966) 35.
2   St. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul (Washington, D.C.: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1976) 194.
3   Ibid. 194.

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