By Father Glenn J. Comandini, STD
In the encyclical letter of Blessed Paul VI entitled Mysterium Fidei , we are told that the Eucharist is “the font of life that cleanses us, strengthens us to live not for ourselves but for God and to be united to each other by the closest ties of love.” This is an important point because the pontiff is pointing toward the social dimension of the Eucharist. Think about it, if Christ dwells in the Eucharist, he raises the level of morals, fosters virtue, comforts the sorrowful, strengthens the weak and stirs up all those who draw near to him, to imitate him, so that they may learn from his example to be meek and humble of heart and to seek not their own interests but those of God with eager and unselfish love. Devotion to the Eucharist, as evident by the witness of daily communicants and those who are committed to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, exerts a great influence upon the soul. Followed to its proper end, such devotion should lead elicit a response of “social love,” in which one puts the common good ahead of one’s private good. As such, many narrow the scope of this love onto the social needs of the community, the parish, the universal Church. The social impact
of the Eucharist should move both the individual and community to disseminate charity, assisting members of Christ however we can. In a word, the sacrament is in service of the community. The concrete situation of the community requires that each person revise his life.
Some of those who advocate the social impact of the Eucharist, such as Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, even Pope Francis, would accentuate the practical and social dimension of the Eucharist through the term “orthopraxis.” In other words, it’s not enough to be “orthodox” about what we believe concerning the Eucharist – we have to be concerned about putting our orthodoxy into practice by helping the poor and disenfranchised, those who feel alienated from the Church or marginalized.
The Church exists to give food to others and this food is both material and spiritual. The effect of the Eucharist is to create those human attitudes which make for fraternal solicitude in all the spheres of life.
As we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, let us commit ourselves to putting our faith into action (orthopraxis) whenever
we receive the Eucharist so that we might become more and more that community whose primary mission of evangelization will transcend words through an active sharing of our goods both material and spiritual, which is what we mean by the term “charity.” This seemingly lofty goal will be continually challenged and created anew in the Eucharist until justice will be, one day, on a par with charity. Yes, Christ will transform our “selves,” beyond a passive reception of the Eucharist, in such a way that the Bread of Life and Cup of Salvation will fortify our resolve to liberate those deprived of freedom, justice and peace.
Indeed, after endless human attempts, trials and suffering, the social impact of the Eucharist will manifest itself in the final judgment of this world. At that time, rapture for the righteous, and the Eucharist will cease to exist. Why? There will be no need for it, insofar as we will be in the presence of the glorified person of Jesus, himself, who, upon our arrival, will invite us to take a seat at his table in Heaven. And what follows the joy, the glory, the praise, the rapture, the ecstasy I will leave to your imagination!