The essence of the eucharist is the love of God

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on Saskatoon’s St. Peter’s College website

28 November 2007

By Kiply Lukan Yaworski

SASKATOON — The essence of the eucharist is the love of God as expressed in the communion of the Trinity, said Bishop Raymond Lahey of Antigonish, Nova Scotia in the opening keynote address of the recent diocesan eucharistic congress in Saskatoon.

“Ultimately, to be able to call the eucharist the bread of love is to go beyond our own love, regardless of how deep or sincere that might be, and to become conscious of God’s love for us,” Lahey said.

The eucharist is the sacrament of the divine love of the Holy Trinity made present to the world, Lahey said. “Our communion here on earth is always the sharing of that communion and unity of full and perfect love that exists between the three persons of the Trinity themselves, and that is their great gift to us in the eucharist.”

He noted that, although much attention is given to the words of consecration, we are often less aware of the importance of the words calling down the Holy Spirit.

“It is the Spirit who binds us together with unbreakable bonds of love, so we become one body, one spirit in Christ,” he said. “It is the Holy Spirit who is the agent of eucharistic love and unity, and it is the action of the Holy Spirit that makes our own communion truly a communion with the body and blood of Jesus Christ,” Lahey said.

It is the action of the Holy Spirit that makes the eucharist the source of unity in the church, he added.

In the eucharist, the Holy Spirit creates the body of Christ from the many diverse peoples of the world, with all their diverse gifts and talents, reflecting the perfect unity that exists within the Trinity itself, Lahey said.

Quoting the document on ecumenism from the Second Vatican Council, Lahey noted that it is through the sacrament of the eucharist that unity is both signified and made a reality. It is also by the power of the Holy Spirit that the eucharist forms the Church. “Ultimately, the church of Christ is formed because, through the Holy Spirit’s power, the body and blood of Christ forms those that partake of it into the one body of Christ, the one people of God,” he said.

“Thus, through Christ and above all in the eucharist, we become a priestly people, united to Christ by God’s love in the bonds created by the Spirit,” he
said. “It is then that we are fully church, for it is here that we are most fully involved in Christ’s paschal mystery.”

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults has done much to increase understanding that it is indeed the eucharist that makes us a church, and that the eucharist is the ultimate sacrament of initiation to which baptism and confirmation lead.

“I think that it is precisely for this reason that the sacrament of the eucharist cannot be used as a tool to foster Christian unity,” he said. To do so transforms the end into a means that serves some other end.

“The eucharist is the sacrament of unity because it is always the end toward which all ecumenical activity is directed,” he said. “We can never enter into deeper union with Christ in eucharistic community except with an ecumenical heart — one that draws us closer to all who, by baptism or by their faith, are in any way united to Christ’s body.”

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