Posted May 19, 2009
This tradition of love and devotion began with the early fathers of the Church. In the fourth century, St. John Chrysostom, a gifted preacher and patriarch of Constantinople, clearly grasped the profound meaning of the Eucharist, as evidenced by the words in one of his sermons: “To that Lord on whom the angels even dare not fix their eyes, to him we unite ourselves and we are made one body and one flesh.”
St Cyril of Alexandria, the champion of the doctrine of Mary’s divine maternity and the mystery of the Incarnation at the Council of Ephesus in the fifth century, also elucidated the meaning of this mystery when he noted that “as two pieces of melted wax unite together, so a soul that receives Communion is so thoroughly united to Jesus that Jesus remains in it, and it in Jesus. “
Later in history, St. Thomas Aquinas, the famous Dominican theologian of the thirteenth century whose treatises have left their imprint on theology to this day, described the Eucharist as “a sacrament of love and a token of the greatest love that God could give us.”
St. Teresa of Avila was a Carmelite nun in the sixteenth century who led a major reform among the Carmelites of her day and who founded many monasteries throughout Spain. Because of her extensive writings on spiritual and mystical subjects, she was proclaimed a “Doctor of the Church” in 1970-the first woman to be honored by the Church with this title.
Regarding her devotion to the Eucharist, St. Teresa wrote that she could never doubt God’s presence in the Eucharist, and that she chuckled to herself when she heard people saying the wished they had been around when Jesus was walking on the earth. “I know that I possess you in the Blessed Sacrament as truly as people did then, and I wonder what more anyone could possibly want.”
St. Teresa also marveled at God’s foresight in coming to us under the appearance of bread and wine: “How could I, a poor sinner who has offended you so often, dare to approach you, O Lord, if I beheld you in all your majesty? Under the appearance of bread, however, it is easy to approach you…. If you were not hidden, O Lord, who would dare approach you with such coldness, so unworthily, and with so many imperfections?”
The Healing Power of the Eucharist by Father John Hampsch, C.M.F. – Servant Books