Welcome to this special Thanksgiving week series, "Why the Eucharist Matters [for Families]." Since Eucharist means "thanksgiving", we're going to take some time this week to look at why the Eucharist is essential for healthy family life.
By the time I had graduated from elementary/middle school, three of my four grandparents had died. By the time I had graduated high school, all of my grandparents have died. I only got to meet/know two of my grandparents-in-law, and I loved them both dearly.
Even though I never even met one of my grandparents, and the others died 10 years or more ago, I miss them dearly. I miss my grandparents-in-law. Sometimes, one of my grandparents will show up in a dream of mine (and it's often a very vivid, comforting dream). I wish that they were still here, and that they could know our girls, their great-grandchildren.
I've known other people who have died, too. I've had friends who have lost their unborn children, due to miscarriage or stillbirth. My husband's uncle recently died of cancer. I've had dear teachers die far too young. And sometimes, I think of these people, and I really, really miss them.
When I was studying theology, something that I learned about but that I hadn't heard of before was "the mystical body of Christ," which is a fancy name for the Church. The Church is the body of Christ, and Christ is the head of that body.
What does that mean for our daily lives? It means we are all connected. It means that not even death can separate us from our brothers and sisters in the Church. And nowhere is that more real than in the Eucharist.
Fr. John Riccardo is one of my favorite speakers to listen to, and, at some point, I was listening to one of his talks and he gave the most beautiful description of the mystical body of Christ. He was talking about how, when we are at Mass and the priest elevates the host, the Body of Christ becomes like a portal to heaven. On the one side of that portal is all of us - the Church on earth. But on the other side is the Church triumphant...those in heaven! When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we aren't just united to Him in that moment - we are united to every member of the body of Christ! We are even united to those who have gone before us, and who have hopefully gotten to heaven (which is why we pray so fervently for their souls...because we're still connected to each other!).
The Eucharist is Jesus, and Jesus already defeated death. "O, death, where is your victory?!" Through Jesus in the Eucharist, not even death can separate us from those we love. Through the Eucharist, we remain connected to one another. Death cannot defeat the love of Christ!
This also applies to us when we are physically separated in this life. When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we are joined to everyone, everywhere in the Church. That can be a real comfort when distances separate us from those we love the most. A friend of mine always signs her e-mails to me "See You in the Eucharist." She's referencing this song, which summarizes the beauty of this teaching perfectly:
"Every soul in heaven and earth now is present in the body of Christ..."
- Danielle Rose, "See You in the Eucharist"