Jesus Is Truly Present In the Eucharist

We are looking forward to the Diocesan Eucharistic Revival. It will be an opportunity for us as Catholic people in Brooklyn and Queens — clergy, religious, and laity — to reflect on the gift and mystery that Our Lord Jesus, truly and sacramentally present in the Eucharist, is for us. 

The Tablet asked Father John Cush, a professor of dogmatic and fundamental theology at our diocesan seminary, St. Joseph’s Seminary and College (Dunwoodie), for some thoughts about what we, as a diocese, might take away from this great experience of praying with Bishop Robert Brennan and so many of our sisters and brothers in our diocese. 

Father Cush brings our attention to St. Thomas Aquinas. Far from being a dry and dusty old philosopher who created obscure doctrines that are difficult to understand, St. Thomas was a man in love with Jesus Christ. 

All the theology that he wrote, all the philosophy that he helped to clarify, were a deep, beautiful labor of love for St. Thomas. For him, there was no distinction between philosophy and theology, between dogma and spirituality, between our prayer life and our “real” life. 

All was one, and St. Thomas, ultimately a scriptural theologian, was truly, deeply enraptured with the one Divine Person with two natures, human and divine, the one who is fully God and fully human: Jesus Christ. 

Jesus was the center of his life. The “Doctor Communis,” the universal doctor of the Church, had a tremendous mystical experience on Dec. 6, 1273, the feast of St. Nicholas. While writing about the Eucharist, while studying and trying his best to offer a synthesis on all the Church’s teachings on the Eucharist, the Corpus, the figure of Christ on a crucifix, spoke to Thomas. It was Our Lord directly speaking to this Dominican friar. The words spoken to Thomas were, “Bene scripsist de me, Thoma. Quam ergo mercedem accipies.” The translation of those words might go like this: “You have written well of me, Thomas. Whatever it is you desire, I will grant you.” 

Imagine that Our Lord Jesus spoke directly to you and you alone. Imagine, just for a moment, that He said to you, and to you alone, whatever you most wanted in life, He would grant to you. What would you say? What would I say? Just for a moment, putting aside all the things that I would want to say, what would I really say? Would I ask for power, for prestige, for material goods, for blessings on my family and friends? For what would I ask? What would you say? 

St. Thomas believed above all else, that if you have the Lord Jesus and Him alone, you have everything! When we have the Eucharist, we have Jesus, truly, substantially present under the form of the consecrated bread and wine. 

Not simply a sign, not merely a symbol, the Eucharist whom we celebrate Sunday after Sunday, weekday after weekday in our churches and chapels, is Our Lord, just as He Himself promises to us in the Bread of Life. Christ Jesus tells us that He Himself is the Bread of Life. It is the Bread of Life on which we feast. It is the Lord Jesus Himself who lives in us who become living tabernacles of Christ, the most-high God. 

St. Thomas tells us that “the things that we love tell us what we are.” Do we love Jesus Christ in the Eucharist with our whole heart and soul? Do we try our best to learn the doctrines of our Church about the Eucharist? And will we communicate them to the world after our diocesan Eucharistic Revival?