Growing up in a devout Catholic home, the one thing my sisters and I could count on, was when Sunday morning rolled around, my family was at Mass. Rain or shine, no matter what our sports schedules were, or the excuses we tried to pull the night before, we were there. And I’ll be honest, I dreaded going. It was excruciatingly boring to me. You would have thought my parents asked me to do the impossible, to just be able to sit quietly without bugging or fighting with my sisters for one hour. I always remember telling myself, “just get to the ‘Our Father’ and then you’re on the home stretch.”
My problem was this; I was looking at what was happening in the Mass each week, but I wasn’t seeing. There is so much immense beauty, and it was hidden in plain sight right there in front of me.
I have been on the incredible life changing journey of studying Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body for three years now and one of the greatest blessings I have received has been the eyes to SEE what is happening at Mass. I want to share briefly the most profound theology I have ever heard on the Eucharist and how it changed everything for me.
So here it is: Pope John Paul II illuminates in his teaching that in Ephesians 5:31-32 (“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church”) St. Paul tells us that the great mystery is that our Earthly marriage between man and woman refers us to the heavenly marriage of Christ and the Church. The earthly marriage is the icon.
Well what happens in our earthly marriage? Man and Woman stand at the altar and give themselves as a complete gift to one another with their words: totally, faithfully, fruitfully, and freely. And this is the immense beauty of God’s design, he then gives us sex as an incredible gift to be able to represent and commit our wedding vows with our bodies over and over again.
Well as St. Paul says in Ephesians, this earthly marriage points to the heavenly marriage. How does Jesus consummate the marriage with the Church? As Bishop Fulton Sheen says, he mounts the marriage bed of the Cross, and there in mounting it, he consummated his marriage and joined himself to his bride, us, forever.
This is where everything changed. Just like in our earthly marriage when we re-commit our wedding vows by giving our bodies fully to each other, how does Jesus re-commit his vows to us, his Bride? He gives us his actual body in the Eucharist! Every single time we go up for Holy Communion Jesus is recommitting his wedding vows to us! As St. Paul says, the two become one flesh; Jesus’ Body enters into ours and we become one with him. He longs for perfect union with us and we have that in the Eucharist! There is absolutely nothing boring about the Eucharist or Mass!! Mass is truly heaven on earth. We are able to participate RIGHT NOW, in the mystical union with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, every single time we receive the Eucharist. I went to Mass almost every Sunday for 23 years and was looking the whole time, but never saw. I pray that everyone can ponder this incredible gift of the Eucharist and have the eyes to see the immense beauty that is unfolding right in front of us in the Mass. If we have the eyes to see, our lives will never be the same, Jesus guarantees it.