Week 52 | On the Road to Emmaus w/ Bishop Boyea | Reception of Holy Communion | Bonus film: Tom Monaghan Interview

June 7, 2024

Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is Week 52 On the Road to Emmaus, our year-long pilgrimage through the Holy Mass. So, is this the end of the road? Not quite. We’ve had such a remarkable response to this series that we are going to continue our journey for just a little bit longer. Through until August, in fact. Amongst other things, that will allow us to enjoy July’s National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis together. That’s the first national Eucharistic Congress since 1941 and it should be quite a powerful occasion. Hence, I’m glad we can go together.
And so, to the topic of this week’s installment of On the Road to Emmaus: Our reception of the Eucharist at Holy Mass.
“The Body of Christ.”  “The Blood of Christ.”  And we say, “Amen.”  Then we receive “Holy Communion.”  This is all about communion, a word which means “with union” or “with oneness.”  However, if we switch the words around, we have “union with” or “one with.”  And that is a better description of what is taking place.
St. Paul captures the two most important aspects of this “union with” (I Cor 10:16-17): “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?  The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?  Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for all partake of the one loaf.”  So, there are two aspects to this “union with”: we are in union with the Body and Blood of Christ and we are in union with one another.
It is not enough that we have life due to the reception of the Eucharist as Jesus tells us in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel (vv. 56-57): “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.”  The intimacy with Jesus is even much deeper than this gift of life. As St. Augustine of Hippo stated in an Easter Homily (#227): “If we receive the Eucharist worthily, we become what we receive.”  We become what we eat!  We become Christ. This reminds me, in a way, of the Borg in the Star Trek shows. We actually become assimilated to Christ himself, to his very Spirit.
The preacher to the Papal Household, Father Raniero Cantalamessa (Third Lenten Homily, March 25, 2022) uses the analogy of Marriage. He says this: “The Eucharist—to use a bold but true image—is the consummation of the marriage between Christ and the Church. Therefore, Christian life without the Eucharist is marriage which has been ratified, but not consummated….  [T]he immediate consequence of marriage is that the body (that is, the whole person) of the husband becomes the wife’s and, vice versa….  This means that the incorruptible and life-giving flesh of the Incarnate Word becomes ‘mine,’ but also my flesh, my humanity, becomes Christ’s.”
The Catechism (#1393) makes note that we cannot be united to Christ “without at the same time cleansing us from past sins and preserving us from future sins.”  Now the Catechism adds (#1395): “The Eucharist is not ordered to the forgiveness of mortal sins—that is proper to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The Eucharist is properly the sacrament of those who are in full communion with the Church.”
This brings us to the second aspect of “union with.”  Now, clearly we have all been made one by our Baptism into Christ. Nonetheless, as we are all being united more closely with Jesus in Communion, this cannot but deepen our communion with one another.  This is why not “being in communion” with other Christians is a scandal for which Jesus is always praying that we may be one.  So, our partaking in the Lord’s Body and Blood is always a challenge to us to seek that perfect communion with our sisters and brothers which the Lord himself is seeking, even as we know that such unity remains imperfect at this time.
This union with others takes on a special coloration since our union with Christ has made us other Christs.  As such, we are his eyes and ears and hands and feet and this brings us to service of those whom Christ most loved to serve, the poor and the needy.  The 25th chapter of Matthews Gospel calls us to serve anyone in need as if we were serving Christ himself.  As we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, we become Jesus serving Jesus in one another.  That is communion beyond our imagining. 
And so, to this week’s challenge. Here it is: Go to Confession this week before receiving Holy Communion.

That’s obviously an imperative if one is in a state of mortal sin. But even if you are not in a state of mortal sin, going to Confession is always great preparation for a fruitful reception of Our Eucharistic Lord.
Finally: To conclude our pilgrimage On the Road to Emmaus today, here’s a bonus short film featuring one of our fellow pilgrims. He’s Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino’s Pizza and a son of the Diocese of Lansing. Despite his busy schedule, Tom has made the daily reception of Holy Communion a part of his life for many decades, as he now explains. Enjoy the film!  

+ Earl Boyea
Bishop of Lansing