The last tool of the series I hesitate to even call a "tool," because it is so much more, a "hard saying" that sets Catholics apart, the most blessed of all the sacraments, and the core of our very faith - the Eucharist.
There is so much to be said about Christ in the Eucharist, Christ who humbles Himself to appear before us under the appearance of bread and wine. This is the reason for every mass, the source of our strength, the most precious gift on earth. There is so much to be said that I feel overwhelmed at even attempting to encapsulate what the Eucharist means to us as Catholics, and compelled simply to let scripture do the talking for me.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took a cup, gave thanks, 16 and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matt 26:26-28)
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.
But I told you that although you have seen (me), you do not believe.
The Jews murmured about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven," and they said, "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, 'I have come down from heaven'?"
Jesus answered and said to them, "Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life.
Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."
Then many of his disciples who were listening said, "This is a hard saying; who can accept it?"
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you?
What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?
It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe." Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father." As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (John 6:35-36, 41-44, 47-58, 60-68)
The following is one of the most touching pieces of music concerning the Eucharist ever written, in my opinion...Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus.
(*Note that the last few words are not an exact translation of the Latin!)
I hope this series has been of some interest, it has certainly helped me to learn more about the wonderful tools we have as Catholics, and to more fully appreciate them.
A blessed and glorious Easter to all! Christ is Risen! Alleluia!