“Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mt 26:41).
How can we find the help we need to overcome the temptations in our life? The seven sacraments give us strong graces to be able to say “no” to the temptations and “yes” to Jesus. Six of these sacraments produce effects and give graces corresponding to each sacrament. But the sacrament of the Eucharist is Jesus Christ in His very Person! The source and summit of the Christian life is the Eucharist!
One always experiences a type of emotion when one arrives to the source of the river Piave or of the river Tevere or of some other great river, because those streams of water recall to mind important facts for Italy and for the whole world. In the same way this happens when we pause, without hurry, before the Eucharist: from this sacrament there has gushed forth the whole life of the Church expressed throughout 2000 years of history.
From the Eucharist the martyrs received courage and strength. During the persecutions, the Christians invented every stratagem in order to bring to the condemned the Eucharistic bread.
From the Eucharist there has gushed forth a river of charity that has given rise in the world to hospitals, hospices for the incurables, orphanages and other charitable institutions. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta would open her religious houses only if there was the possibility of having the Mass and of having Eucharistic adoration “because, she would say, one cannot love the poorest of the poor if one does not feed himself or herself at the source which is Jesus”.
From the Eucharist a great number of Christians obtained wisdom. Saint Thomas Aquinas, held by the Church as the unparalleled teacher, acquired his knowledge from Jesus in the tabernacle, on which he often rested his head.
The Eucharist, the source of the life of the Church, gives rise to unity: “one bread, and one body” (1Cor 10:17).
With the Eucharist we are intimately inserted into the life of Jesus as members of His Body. For this it is called “communion”: it leads us to overcome our instinct to close ourselves in our egoism and it opens us up to the divine love toward others; it makes us one body, as it is one the bread that we eat.
Also the Eucharistic procession seeks to express this unity not static, but of life, of collaboration, of a journey made together.
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An Experience of Life:
Cardinal Van Thuan, during the Jubilee year, preached the Spiritual Exercises to the Pope and to the Roman Curia. In his reflections he recounted many facts of his lived experience in a concentration camp in Vietnam, where he passed 13 years in prison, nine of which were in solitary confinement.
“Put in prison I succeeded in writing to my friends, who sent me a little wine with the label “medicine for the stomach” and some hosts hidden in a sealed torchlight. I can never express my great joy: each day, with three drops of wine and a drop of water in the palm of my hand, I celebrated Mass… They were the most beautiful Masses of my life! So in prison I felt beat in my heart the same Heart of Christ. I felt that my life was His, and His was mine.”
“In the indoctrination camps we were divided into groups of 50 people; we would sleep on a common bed, each allotted 50 centimeters. At 9:30 pm one had to turn off the lights and all had to go to bed. In that moment I curled myself in bed in order to celebrate the Mass, by memory, and I distributed Holy Communion by passing my hand under the mosquito net. We even put together little sacks with the wrappers of cigarette packs in order to conserve the Most Blessed Sacrament and to bring it to others. Eucharistic Jesus was always with me in my shirt pocket.”
“Each week there was an indoctrination session, in which the whole camp had to participate. During the interval, with my catholic companions, we took advantage of this moment in order to pass a small sack to each of the other four groups: all knew that Jesus was in their midst. During the night the prisoners took turns in adoration. Eucharist Jesus helped in unimaginable ways with His silent presence: many Christians returned to the fervor of the faith. Their testimony of service and of love had an ever increasing impact on the other prisoners. Even the Buddhists and other non Christians came to the faith. The strength of the love of Jesus was irresistible.”