Preface II of the Most Holy Eucharist

For more information on the Preface in general, see The Eucharistic Prayer (2) and The Eucharistic Prayer (3)

This preface is used for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) and for other celebrations showing our devotion to the Eucharist.

The fruits of the Most Holy Eucharist

The prophet Elijah, making a long pilgrimage to Mt. Horeb during a crisis of faith (see 1 Kings 19:1-8), was given bread by an angel not once, but twice, as the angel warned, “else the journey will be too great.” This miraculously produced bread is a prefiguration and foreshadowing of the Eucharist, and it is no mere coincidence that the angel enjoined him to eat not just once, but twice. Elijah’s faith was shaken and his motivations were wavering. He wanted to just give up, but the angel told him that was not an option.

The journey from here to eternity is long for us too, fraught with dangers, setbacks, and doubts. No one sets out on a long journey with an empty stomach and no intention to fill it. The Eucharist is that Bread that Our Lord gives us, “else the journey will be too great.” Elijah needed to keep nourishing himself for the journey, just as we need to keep partaking of the Eucharist.

“Nourishing your faithful by this sacred mystery, you make them holy, so that the human race, bounded by one world, may be enlightened by one faith and united by one bond of charity. And so, we approach the table of this wondrous Sacrament, so that, bathed in the sweetness of your grace, we may pass over to the heavenly realities here foreshadowed.”

The Eucharist is not just another food that sustains a normal biological life. It fills us with a new life, a life begun at Baptism and nourished every time we receive the Eucharist in a state of grace. In ancient liturgies the catechumens (adults preparing for Baptism and the other sacraments of Christian initiation) would be sent outside before the Liturgy of the Eucharist began. The Eucharist wouldn’t help them yet, because they had not yet received new life in Christ through Baptism. Every believer knows that if he or she has committed a grave sin the Eucharist is fruitless for them, because the divine life in them has been extinguished until they receive the sacrament of Reconciliation. The Eucharist nourishes and sustains our holiness, because the journey to eternity without holiness is even more dangerous and prevents us from reaching the destination to which Our Father calls us.

The Eucharist also ensures that we don’t make this journey alone. Anyone who has travelled alone knows the feeling of being just one more stranger on a train or plane. People are headed in the same direction, but Heaven knows their reasons. As believers sharing the Eucharist we know where we’re all headed (“bounded by one world”), how we can get there and why (“enlightened by one faith”), and help each other along the way for love of God and of neighbor (“united by one bond of charity”). The Eucharist is a participation in the Heavenly liturgy taking place in eternity. The more we’re drawn to the liturgy, the more the light of divine grace shines down on us and, one day, draws us into that Heavenly liturgy with all the saints in Heaven.

Let’s keep nourishing ourselves on the Eucharist, “else the journey will be too great.”

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