A few weeks ago, we heard in our Sunday Gospel reading the first of the seven “I AM” statements that Jesus uses in the Gospel of John. This first statement: “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35) might be His most important title, as it is at the heart of His teaching on how He offers Himself to us in His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, which is the “source and summit” of our lives as Catholics. In that same Gospel passage, as Jesus is describing this gift He will give, His disciples say: “Sir, give us this bread always.” (Jn 6:34) Their hearts had been stirred and they desired to receive this gift as often as possible.
It is my hope that our focus on the Eucharist over the past several weeks has stirred in your hearts a desire to receive our Lord in Holy Communion with greater love and to receive Him more frequently. It is on the topic of frequent reception of the Eucharist that I would like to conclude our reflections on this most important topic of our faith. You may recall that I have mentioned Pope St. Pius X in a couple of my Sunday homilies, how we was the pope that lowered the age for first reception of Holy Communion. He also wrote about the proper motivations we should have when receiving the Eucharist. One of the most significant topics he addressed in his writings on the Eucharist was the encouragement to receive Holy Communion more frequently, even daily if possible. Before that time, frequent reception of Holy Communion, even every Sunday, was not very common. Some Catholics were content only to receive Holy Communion once a year during the Easter Season, which is the origin of the term “Easter Duty.” To instill a greater love for this gift and to open the door to the graces contained in this gift, the Holy Father wrote:
But since it is plain that by the frequent or daily reception of the Holy Eucharist union with Christ is strengthened, the spiritual life more abundantly sustained, the soul more richly endowed with virtues, and the pledge of everlasting happiness more securely bestowed on the recipient, therefore, parish priests, confessors and preachers, according to the approved teaching of the Roman Catechism should exhort the faithful frequently and with great zeal to this devout and salutary practice.
The Eucharist, as Pope Francis reminds us, is medicine for our weaknesses, and the more we receive this medicine, the stronger we become. It has been my experience that those who commit to frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist make significantly greater progress in living the life of Christian discipleship and find greater peace and fulfillment in their lives.
Here at the Cathedral, we have daily Mass at 7 am and 5:15 pm Monday through Friday, and at 8 am on Saturday morning. Maybe you cannot make it to Mass every day, but could you start by trying to get to Mass for at least one daily Mass a week apart from Sunday? That is how I started many years ago, going on Friday morning on my day off. As I grew in my love for Jesus in the Eucharist, I wanted more, so I started going nearly every morning. That decision to make the Eucharist a daily part of my life was one of the primary catalysts that led to my entering the seminary and eventually becoming a priest. Frequent reception of the Eucharist transformed my life drastically, and very much for the better. The Lord wants to do the same in your lives as well. Will you give Him the opportunity to do so?