“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

7 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi

For the past two weeks in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, we have celebrated two great solemnities – Pentecost and Most Holy Trinity, but this week’s solemnity, Corpus Christi, is one that truly stands out for me since it focuses specifically on the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Holy Eucharist. In the document, Dominicae Cenae, Pope St. John Paul II says,

“A particular mention should be made at this point of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ as an act of public worship rendered to Christ present in the Eucharist, a feast instituted by my predecessor Urban IV in memory of the institution of this great Mystery” (#3).

The teaching of the True Presence is a fundamental teaching of the Catholic Church. This day is a day where being Catholic is just awesome! It’s like Catholic Candy Land! If these three solemnities were horses in a horserace, I would use them in a Trifecta bet, because these three solemnities are like the Supernatural Trifecta.

If you haven’t figured it out yet or you are a new follower to my blog, I am a John Paul II junkie. His writings have influenced my life and my work in extraordinary ways. Let us now read seven great quotes from the Polish Pope and Saint from his Corpus Christi homilies –

Mystery of faith! Today’s solemnity has been, down the centuries, an object of particular attention in various popular Christian traditions. How many public devotions have developed around the worship of the Eucharist. Theologians and pastors have striven to make the ineffable mystery of divine Love understood in human language. The great doctor of the Church, St Thomas Aquinas, has a special place among these authoritative voices. In his poetic compositions, he sings with inspired transport the believer’s sentiments of adoration and love before the mystery of the Lord’s Body and Blood. One need only think of the famous “Pange, lingua”, which is a profound meditation on the Eucharistic mystery, the mystery of the Lord’s Body and Blood — ‘gloriosi Corporis mysterium, Sanguinisque pretiosi’.”

“…This is why the Word was made flesh, died and rose and gave us his Spirit; this is why he left us the Eucharist, so that we could live on him as he lives on the Father. The Eucharist is the sacrament of the gift Christ made of himself for us: he is the sacrament of love and peace, which is the fullness of life.”

John Paul II raising Holy Eucharist

“Then, in the fullness of time, when the incarnate Son of God sheds his blood on the Cross for our salvation and is raised from the dead, history enters, so to speak, a new and definitive phase: the new and eternal Covenant whose beginning and fulfillment is the crucified and risen Christ. On Calvary, humanity’s path, in accordance with the divine plan, took a decisive turn: Christ is put at the head of the new People to guide them to their definitive goal. The Eucharist, the sacrament of the Lord’s death and resurrection, represents the heart of this spiritual, eschatological itinerarium.”

The institution of the Eucharist, the sacrifice of Melchizedek and the multiplication of the loaves:  this is the evocative triptych which the liturgy of the Word presents to us today on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. In the centre is the institution of the Eucharist. St Paul, in his First Letter to the Corinthians which we have just heard, recalled the event in precise words, adding: ‘As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes’ (1 Cor 11: 26)…”

“The Eucharist is our living Memorial. In the Eucharist, as the Council recalls, ‘is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself our Pasch and the living bread which gives life to men through his flesh – that flesh which is given life and gives life through the Holy Spirit. Thus men are invited and led to offer themselves, their works and all creation with Christ…’ (Presbyterorum ordinis, n. 5).”

“Today the Church shows the world the Corpus Christi – the Body of Christ. And she invites us to adore him:  Venite adoremus –Come let us adore him. The attention of believers is focused on the Sacrament in which Christ has left himself:  Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. It is the reason for considering it as the holiest reality:  “the Blessed Sacrament”, living memorial of the redeeming Sacrifice. On the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, we return to that “Thursday” which we call “Holy”, on which the Redeemer celebrated his last Passover with the disciples:  it was the Last Supper, fulfilling the Jewish passover supper and inaugurating the Eucharistic rite.”

“With untold emotion, we hear this invitation to praise and joy echoing in our hearts. At the end of Holy Mass we will carry the Divine Sacrament in procession to the Basilica of St Mary Major. Looking at Mary, we will understand better the transforming power that the Eucharist possesses. Listening to her, we will find in the Eucharistic mystery the courage and energy to follow Christ, the Good Shepherd, and to serve him in the brethren.”

To learn more about what the Catholic Church teaches on the Holy Eucharist, please read my Quick Lessons from the Catechism post – The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

As we celebrate this great solemnity, let us remember how beautiful the gift of the Holy Eucharist is for the entire Church. I would encourage you to sign-up for weekly Perpetual Adoration at your parish. If your parish does not have it, then I would encourage you to seek out a parish near by and sign-up there.