“Mondays with Mary” – Mary’s Relationship with the Eucharist

With yesterday’s celebration in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church of the great Solemnity of Corpus Christi (The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ), I felt the need to share with you some of the words from Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical, Eucharistia de Ecclesia, specifically where he focuses on the Blessed Virgin Mary’s relationship with the Holy Eucharist.

I think I have at least quoted some of these thoughts in previous blog posts, but have never brought them all together in just one article. The Holy Eucharist is a topic that I have written about numerous times in the past, most notably the article from my series, Quick Lessons from the Catechism.

If you are a faithful, devout, and practicing Catholic, the Holy Eucharist should be an important aspect of your spirituality, most importantly Sunday Mass and Eucharistic Adoration. If your parish has Perpetual or weekly Adoration, I can’t encourage you enough to sign-up for one hour to spend with Our Lord, particularly if you are involved with a liturgical ministry at your parish (sacristan, usher, lector, extraordinary minister of the Eucharist). I know countless people who have found a new love for their faith in an Adoration chapel.

If your parish does not have Eucharistic Adoration, I would highly encourage you to speak to your Pastor about bringing in this devotion to the life of the parish. For some reason, if you’re having a difficult time with this endeavor, ask for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary to assist you. She knows exactly how important the Holy Eucharist is to the life of the Church, because she was there at its inception.

Knowing how important the Eucharist is to the life of the Church, here are 10 quotes from the aforementioned encyclical written by the great 20th century Polish Pope about Mary’s relationship to the Holy Eucharist –

1. “If we wish to rediscover in all its richness the profound relationship between the Church and the Eucharist, we cannot neglect Mary, Mother and model of the Church. In my Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, I pointed to the Blessed Virgin Mary as our teacher in contemplating Christ’s face, and among the mysteries of light I included the institution of the Eucharist.  Mary can guide us towards this most holy sacrament, because she herself has a profound relationship with it.”

2. “Mary is a ‘woman of the Eucharist’ in her whole life. The Church, which looks to Mary as a model, is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy mystery.”

3. “With the same maternal concern which she showed at the wedding feast of Cana, Mary seems to say to us: “Do not waver; trust in the words of my Son. If he was able to change water into wine, he can also turn bread and wine into his body and blood, and through this mystery bestow on believers the living memorial of his passover, thus becoming the ‘bread of life’”.”

Our Lady of the Host by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

4. “Mary lived her Eucharistic faith even before the institution of the Eucharist, by the very fact that she offered 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. At the Annunciation Mary conceived the Son of God in the physical reality of his body and blood, thus anticipating within herself what to some degree happens sacramentally in every believer who receives, under the signs of bread and wine, the Lord’s body and blood.”

5. “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.”

6. “In her daily preparation for Calvary, Mary experienced a kind of “anticipated Eucharist” – one might say a “spiritual communion” – of desire and of oblation, which would culminate in her union with her Son in his passion, and then find expression after Easter by her partaking in the Eucharist which the Apostles celebrated as the memorial of that passion.”

7. “For Mary, receiving the Eucharist must have somehow meant welcoming once more into her womb that heart which had beat in unison with hers and reliving what she had experienced at the foot of the Cross.”

8. “Mary is present, with the Church and as the Mother of the Church, at each of our celebrations of the Eucharist. If the Church and the Eucharist are inseparably united, the same ought to be said of Mary and the Eucharist. This is one reason why, since ancient times, the commemoration of Mary has always been part of the Eucharistic celebrations of the Churches of East and West.”

9. “Mary sings of the “new heavens” and the “new earth” which find in the Eucharist their anticipation and in some sense their programme and plan. The Magnificat expresses Mary’s spirituality, and there is nothing greater than this spirituality for helping us to experience the mystery of the Eucharist. The Eucharist has been given to us so that our life, like that of Mary, may become completely a Magnificat!”

10. “…let us listen to Mary Most Holy, in whom the mystery of the Eucharist appears, more than in anyone else, as a mystery of light. Gazing upon Mary, we come to know the transforming power present in the Eucharist. In her we see the world renewed in love.”

During this week, let us contemplate these words and implement them into our daily prayer life. If you do spend time in Adoration, I would encourage you to do a “lectio divina” type of prayer with these words. Meditating and praying upon these saintly words might open for you another avenue in your devotion to the Holy Eucharist and in your relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is there always leading us closer to Jesus Christ in this sacrament of all sacraments.

Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament…Pray for Us

Pope Saint John Paul II…Pray for Us

Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament

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 says,

“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). 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? To answer this questions, we turn our attention to Chapter Six of Ecclesia de Eucharistia – At the School of Mary, “Woman of the Eucharist.”

Mary and 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 St. 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, Pope St. 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 in her titled as, Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament, will assist us in our love and commitment to the Eucharist.

Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament…Pray for Us. 

Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament with Pope Francis

At 8:00 A.M. Arizona Time, tomorrow morning (11:00 A.M. EST), Pope Francis will gather with the universal Church on the Feast of Corpus Christi to adore the Most Blessed Sacrament in Adoration. This historic event in the life of the Church is bringing many graces and giving the people of the Church energy in times of great distress. It’s the event in the Year of Faith uniting Catholics worldwide as one. See the National Catholic Register – Adoration with the Pope Energizing Catholics Worldwide. I encourage you to locate a parish that is offering Adoration tomorrow so you can join Pope Francis and Catholics worldwide in prayer.

Holy Eucharist

Personally, I love the practice of Eucharistic Adoration (currently every Monday night at 8:00 P.M.). I first learned of it when I was an adolescent at my parish here in Arizona when our pastor at the time built an adoration chapel. The parish exploded with great faith, enthusiasm, and love for the Body and Blood of Jesus Church as Perpetual Adoration (24 hours a day) began at the parish. Throughout my life, Eucharistic Adoration has been an important part of my prayer life. From my days in the Saint Ignatius Institute at University of San Francisco as an undergrad to my days as a graduate student at Franciscan University of Steubenville, adoring the Most Blessed Sacrament has been fundamental for my personal friendship with Jesus Christ, His Blessed Mother, and the universal Church.

Although in Adoration most people often pray during their one-hour time with Jesus, I have found myself often reading spiritual books or studying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I know I am in good company since many of the great Saints and Doctors of the Church did the same thing. St. Thomas Aquinas would often write before the Blessed Sacrament and when he really had a difficult time with a theological concept, would rest his head upon the Tabernacle. It has not come to that for me as of yet, but of course I am nowhere near the theologian Thomas was in his day (not even close!!).

If you don’t sign up for Adoration, you will never go! I say this from experience.

If your parish does not host Perpetual Adoration, then go to your Pastor and ask him to start it. It’s his responsibility to do so!  If he refuses, locate another parish and attend Adoration there.

JP II and Holy Eucharist

To conclude, I give you the words of Blessed John Paul II from his Encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, in the hope that his words will give you the strength to spend one hour a week with Our Lord Jesus Christ in His Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar –

“”The worship of the Eucharist outside of the Mass is of inestimable value for the life of the Church. This worship is strictly linked to the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice…It is the responsibility of pastors to encourage, also by their personal witness, the practice of Eucharistic adoration, and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in particular, as well as prayer of adoration before Christ present under the Eucharistic species…This practice, repeatedly praised and recommended by the Magisterium, is supported by the example of the saints…St. Alphonus Liguori, who wrote: “Of all devotions, that of adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest after the sacraments, the one dearest to God and the one most helpful to us”” (#25).

Let us pray that we come to love and adore the Most Blessed Sacrament of our Lord Jesus Christ more each day through the celebration of the Holy Mass but also through the worship and adoration of His most precious Body outside of the Liturgy. We ask all the Saints and the Blessed Mother under title of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament to intercede and pray for us each day. 

“Mondays with Mary” – Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament

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…”

Holy Eucharist in Monstrance

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.

Mary and Eucharist

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.