The Holy Eucharist is—really, truly, substantially and living—the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ was formed in the first Tabernacle in which Jesus Christ lived upon earth—namely in the sweet womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The precious blood of the infant Jesus in its first tabernacle upon earth flowed between Mary and her newly conceived child.
The Christ Child had His origin when the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary at the moment she responded to the Angel’s request to become the Mother of the Son of the Most High with the words: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:38)
The Holy Eucharist is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ really and substantially present under the appearance of bread and wine. He becomes present when the authorized priest, speaking in the Person of Christ Jesus, says the words: “This is my Body … This is my Blood.”
At the same moment as the two-fold consecration, Jesus offers Himself in sacrifice. It is the same sacrifice once offered on the Cross—now perpetuated. Jesus comes to be received as spiritual food in Holy Communion for our growth in grace, for our life in Him.
We shall have a higher place in heaven, and enter into the eternal bliss of heavenly glory more intensely, every time we worthily receive our loving Savior in Holy Communion. St. Thomas Aquinas said that those who received Holy Communion worthily and frequently upon earth would, in their resurrected bodies, wear a special badge of glory for all eternity.
Can you imagine the badge of glory the assumed immaculate body of our Blessed Mother must wear in heaven. At the moment of her creation, free of original sin, she already had more grace than all the angels and saints collectively. What is more, Mary grew in grace day by day as she fully embraced God’s will at each moment, even unto becoming God’s Mother.
If, besides the glory of our souls in heaven, we shall wear a special badge of glory for worthily receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, what is it like for Mary, Our Lady of the Holy Eucharist, who gave us that very Body and Blood and who carried Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in her holy womb as in a tabernacle?
We are grateful to Pope John Paul for adding the five mysteries of light, the Luminous mysteries, to the fifteen Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries that Christians have prayed and contemplated for centuries. How precious it is in that fifth Luminous mystery, “The Institution of the Holy Eucharist,” to enter into the mystery of the Last Supper with Mary our Mother. As we contemplate with Mary and pray the ten Hail Mary’s we recall the night when Jesus gave us His Body, offered up, and Blood poured out in a new and everlasting covenant and which we receive to attain future resurrection and glory with Jesus, Mary, all the angels and saints.
Do you want peace? Pray the Rosary. Meditate on its mysteries, and Our Lady of the Eucharist, who is the Queen of Peace and Queen of the Rosary, will bring you peace. Do you want happiness and unity in your family? Pray the prayer of the family—the family Rosary—while meditating on the twenty mysteries of Jesus Christ, for the Rosary is a Gospel prayer.
In his apostolic letter on the Rosary of the Virgin Mary, Pope John Paul II wrote:
The revival of the Rosary in Christian families, within the context of a broader pastoral ministry to the family, will be an effective aid to countering the devastating effects of this crisis typical of our age (n. 6).
As a prayer for peace, the Rosary is also, and always has been, a prayer of and for the family. At one time this prayer was particularly dear to Christian families, and it certainly brought them closer together. It is important not to lose this precious inheritance. We need to return to the practice of family prayer and prayer for families, continuing to use the Rosary (n. 41).
When Our Blessed Mother came to Fatima she came as Our Lady of Peace—all of Light—and she came as Our Lady of the Holy Eucharist. Why do I say this? Well, the day of her first appearance, May 13, was the liturgical feast of Our Lady of the Holy Eucharist. But a year before Our Lady came the Angel came with the Holy Eucharist and gave the three little shepherds Holy Communion—the first Holy Communion for Blessed Jacinta and Blessed Francisco. The Angel left the Chalice containing the Host and the Precious Blood of Jesus suspended in mid-air while he fell in adoration to the ground. The children did the same, saying these words with the Angel:
O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly. I offer You the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He is offended. Through the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg the conversion of poor sinners.
The angel, in giving the children Holy Communion, taught them to offer their Holy Communion in reparation for those who abuse this Most Blessed Sacrament in various ways:
Rising, the Angel took the chalice and the Host. He gave the sacred Host to Lucia. He gave the precious blood of Jesus in the chalice to Jacinta and Francisco, saying: “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Repair their crimes and console your God.”
And notice what happens, the very first time Our Blessed Mother appears. First she asks the question: “Do you wish to offer up to God all the sufferings He desires to send you in reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners?”
“Yes, we do,” answers Lucia.
“Go then, for you will have much to suffer, but the grace of God will comfort you.”
Remember, this is happening on May 13, the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Eucharist. At the moment that the Mother of God pronounced the words “the grace of God” she, the Mediatrix of grace, opened her hands for the first time, shedding on the children a light so intense that it seemed to be glancing from her hands and penetrating to the inmost recesses of their hearts. They saw themselves in God, Who was that Light, more clearly than they could see themselves in a mirror. Then by an interior impulse also communicated to them, the children fell upon their knees, repeating in their hearts: “Oh, most Holy Trinity, I adore You! My God, my God, I love You in the most Blessed Sacrament.” From the very beginning, with the Angel and with our Blessed Mother, the children are led to Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
Fatima begins with the Holy Eucharist. It ends with the Holy Eucharist. Our Blessed Mother is the Lady of the Holy Eucharist. Can we not say of Sacred Scripture, both Old and New Testament, that the Bible begins with an orientation toward Jesus Christ and his everlasting covenant perpetuated in the Holy Eucharist? The culmination of our worship as given in the New Testament is likewise the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, the source and summit of the Christian life. And the Eucharist offered today brings into our lives all the mysteries of Christ.
In his recent Encyclical, The Church of the Eucharist, Pope John Paul II speaks of Mary as the “Woman of the Eucharist.” The Pope tells us that Mary and the Holy Eucharist go together. He writes:
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. And is not the enraptured gaze of Mary as she contemplated the face of the newborn Christ and cradled him in her arms that unparalleled model of love which should inspire us every time we receive Eucharistic Communion? Mary, throughout her life at Christ’s side and not only on Calvary, made her own the sacrificial dimension of the Eucharist. (n. 56)
Our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, recalling that he recently gave us the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary with the fifth mystery of light being the institution of the Holy Eucharist, concluded his Encyclical on the Holy Eucharist saying:
Above all, 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. Contemplating her, assumed body and soul into heaven, we see opening up before us those “new heavens” and that “new earth” which will appear at the second coming of Christ. Here below, the Eucharist represents their pledge, and in a certain way, their anticipation (n. 62).
Fr. Robert J. Fox is the founder and director of the Fatima Family Apostolate International, the editor of the Immaculate Heart Messenger magazine, and author of over 50 books. He assists daily at Mother Angelica’s Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Hanceville, Alabama.