The miracle that is the Eucharist

On June 11, the Church celebrates Corpus Christi Sunday. On this Solemnity, several years ago, the Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, had an unusually clear glimpse of Jesus' Real Presence in the Eucharist:

... On Corpus Christi Sunday, an incident occurred that helped set the tone for Fr. Chris' trip and his priestly ministry. 

Father Chris was leading a Eucharistic procession through the neighborhoods when two young men stopped him in his tracks and shouted vulgarities aimed at the Blessed Sacrament.

"I was at complete peace," Fr. Chris recalls. "All I did was grip the Monstrance tightly because I knew they wanted to desecrate the Eucharist in some way. They threatened me, but they were more concerned with wanting to desecrate the Eucharist. Then one of them grabbed the Monstrance, and the moment he grabbed it, his hand was thrown off the Monstrance, and it appeared to have burned his hands. He gripped his hands in pain. We all saw it. The man then stepped back, and the two of them got out of the way."

Father Chris continues, "God once in awhile gives a sign, and man did He give a sign! I left Canada with a renewed wonder for the truth of the Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, and secondly, a renewed love for the Native American people." ...

As it was with Fr. Chris and the monstrance, so was it in the Old Testament with the Ark of the Covenant and the Levitical priests: Only the Levites, the priests who were members of the tribe of Aaron, could touch the Ark of the Covenant. 

At that time he [David] said, "No one may carry the ark of God except the Levites, for the LORD chose them to carry the ark of the LORD and to minister to him forever" - 1 Chr 15:2.

When that prohibition was violated, there were consequences.

As they reached the threshing floor of Nodan, Uzzah stretched out his hand to the ark of God and steadied it, for the oxen were tipping it. Then the LORD became angry with Uzzah; God struck him on that spot, and he died there in God's presence - 2 Sam 6-7.

State of grace
Now "The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in mercy" (Ps 145:8). He does not smite down all those who lay hands wrongly on Jesus in the Eucharist - if that were the case, so many of us would have dropped dead a long time ago for coming forward for communion when we had broken the fast, weren't in the state of grace, or were otherwise ill-disposed to receive! No Satanist would ever have used the Eucharist in their rituals.

There is precedent for those who receive the Eucharist wrongly to become ill, and sometimes, even to die (see 1 Cor 11:29-31). Still, that's usually a spiritual death rather than a physical one, but all the more serious for being a spiritual death.

We are called to receive communion in the state of grace, having confessed our mortal sins and prayed to properly dispose ourselves for welcoming the Body and Blood of Jesus into the temple of our bodies.

Let us pray, this Corpus Christi Sunday and always, that we never become complacent about the awe-inspiring mystery of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Let us ask God to help us be open to His grace, and so cooperate with the transformation He wishes to work in our minds, hearts, and souls whenever we receive the Eucharist.


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