Most people today will be celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, but the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist will be celebrating their primary feast day – Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration also regard this day as equally important. Before we discuss the role our Lady has in relation to the Blessed Sacrament, let’s first briefly talk about the Holy Eucharist and Eucharistic Adoration.
The Holy Eucharist is one of the most profound teachings within the Catholic Church. As Catholics, we believe that simple bread and wine through the words of consecration said by a priest truly become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The Doctrine of Transubstantiation proclaims that the nature of the bread and wine is transformed into Christ’s body, blood, soul, and divinity. While the bread and wine remain in appearance, the natures of the two substances have been transformed into Jesus Christ himself. The sacrifice on the Cross-and the Passover meal Christ presided over at the Last Supper are united to form the New Eucharistic Covenant that He gave to his Apostles and the entire Catholic Church.
In his Encyclical Letter, Ecclesia de Euchrasistia (On the Eucharist In Its Relationship to the Church), Pope St. John Paul II states,
“The Church has received the Eucharist from Christ her Lord not as one gift – however precious – among so many others, but as the gift par excellence, for it is the gift of himself…When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the memorial of her Lord’s death and resurrection, this central event of salvation becomes really present and “the work of our redemption is carried out”…The Eucharist thus applies to men and women today the reconciliation won once for all by Christ for mankind in every age. “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice”” (#11-12).
Besides receiving our Lord in the Holy Eucharist during Mass, we have the ability to adore the Holy Eucharist through the Blessed Sacrament at Adoration outside of the Mass. This is where we sit and adore the consecrated host – truly Jesus Christ present in the monstrance. (See picture below). The average Adoration time is to stay with our Lord for one hour (Read Mt 26:40).
Many parishes around the world practice Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. This is a practice that many of the saints of the Church practiced on a common basis. Saint Alphonsus Ligouri said, “Of all devotions, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest of all after the sacraments…”
So how does Mary play a role in relation to the Blessed Sacrament? For this, we turn to Chapter Six of Ecclesia de Eucharistia – At the School of Mary, “Woman of the Eucharist” –
In order to understand the importance that the Eucharist has in relation to the Church, we must not forget about the role of Mary within the Church. As Mary guides us in our relationship with Christ; so she can help us with our relationship with the Blessed Sacrament. The Gospels don’t say much about Mary in relation to the Passover Meal (Last Supper), but we do know that she would have participated with the Apostles and the early Church when they broke bread.
Pope John Paul II says, “Mary is a “woman of the Eucharist” in her whole life”” (53). From her Fiat at the Annunciation when the Holy Spirit came upon her to the death of Christ on the Cross-, “Mary lived her Eucharistic faith by the very fact that she offered up her virginal womb for the Incarnation of God’s Word. The Eucharist, while commemorating the passion and resurrection, is also in continuity with the incarnation” (55).
Beyond the Incarnation and Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, Mary displays her “Eucharistic faith” by interceding at the Wedding at Cana and going up to the hill country to visit Elizabeth with the Word made flesh in her womb. At Cana, her words of “Do whatever he tells you,” says to us that we must trust Jesus and that he is truly present in the Holy Eucharist (54).
In regards to the hill country, John Paul II says, “…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 voice of Mary” (55).
While standing at the foot of the Cross-, Mary experienced an “anticipated Eucharist” or a “spiritual communion” that united her with Jesus while he suffered his passion and death. It must have been a great joy for Mary to receive the Eucharist for the first time, because it was the same body that she carried in her womb for nine months, and the same body she watched suffer on Calvary for three hours (56).
As she is taken into the home of Saint John, she comes into our homes even more so. After Calvary, Mary is the Mother of the Church and all humanity. Just as she intercedes for our prayers, she also mediates and leads us to Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament. She is truly present at all the Eucharistic celebrations of the Church – both West and East (57) throughout all of time.
It’s through Mary’s Magnificat where we can come to fully understand the relationship between the Eucharist and the Church. “This truth can be understood more deeply by re-reading the Magnificat in a Eucharistic key. The Eucharist, like the Canticle of Mary, is first and foremost praise and thanksgiving”(58). When she praises the Lord and Savior, she is essentially praising Jesus with a “Eucharistic attitude.” As she sings her canticle praising the works of God, Mary teaches us that we need to know the Holy Eucharist in this world and for the world to come (58).
Just as Mary said “yes” at the Annunciation, said “yes” to God’s plan at Calvary, and said “yes” to being the Mother of all humanity, we must take on the Marian disposition and say “yes” to Our Lord in his Most Blessed Sacrament.
As Catholics, we must believe with our hearts and minds, that Christ is truly present – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist. We must also say “yes” to Our Lord by sacrificing one hour a week to adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament. Let us pray that Mary – Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament – assists us in our love and commitment to the Eucharist.
Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament…Pray for Us.
Beautiful reflection, I hope many who read this will be inspired to take place in the Catholic world-wide (pardon the redundancy) Holy Hour on Sunday June 2 at 5 pm Rome time. Pope Francis will lead the Holy Hour in Rome, but everyone, everywhere should join in this beaufiful act of faith, and expression of the Church during this Year of Faith. Everyone should spread the word about this Holy Hour!