I started working this week at the USDA. It’s a pretty fun job. I like the people I work with and its way better than doing retail, but not quite as fun as being a vendor (which perhaps is slightly retail too). The only thing I don’t like is that the long hours make it absolutely impossible to go to Mass on days that I work, and I’ve become pretty accustomed to going to Mass everyday. Some people would wonder why I would want to go to Mass everyday. Do I think I’m being more holy or righteous by doing so? Do I think I’m earning brownie points with God? The answers are no. The reason I go is because it is one of the best ways to draw near to God. It is a good place to go and pray without the distractions of the world. In fact it is in itself a prayer, the best prayer to God that there is because Jesus himself is made present in the Eucharist. That is actually the primary reason I go to Mass. It’s for the Eucharist. Nowhere else is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ made present in all the earth, than in the Catholic Mass. I can’t explain the awe and love that pulsates through my veins when the priest holds up the consecrated host, when I take part in the Supper of the Lamb as Christ commanded me to do.
So they said to him, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'” So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen (me), you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it (on) the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him (on) the last day.” The Jews murmured about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven,” and they said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? Then how can he say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Stop murmuring among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: ‘They shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 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. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.” These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you twelve? Yet is not one of you a devil?” He was referring to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot; it was he who would betray him, one of the Twelve. -John 6:30-71
The bread of the Eucharist is the bread of life, Christ himself, and he has commanded me, all of us to eat of it. If we do not eat of it, we do not have eternal life. This, in my opinion, is the most important teaching of the Catholic Church, and ironically, it is the teaching that separates us from other Christians more than any other teaching. It is the thing that makes me most happy to be Catholic. It is the single thing that draws me closer to God. How much closer to God can you get than eating Christ’s flesh and drinking his blood?
And that is why I like going to Mass everyday. I am so glad it is Friday because I do not work on Fridays and I now have three days in which I can go to Mass, and you’d better believe that I will go, rain or shine, because it is the most important thing that any of us can do, the supreme act of worship, the height of our spiritual life on earth. It was the first thing that drew me into the life of the Church, and it will be the thing that will sustain me through every trial and suffering I experience. The thing that will give me hope in the depths of every frustrating conversation I have. The light at the end of every dark night. The life that will form me into a holy servant of the Lord.