In a recent pastoral letter, a British bishop has encouraged Catholics to make the “awesome reality” of the Eucharist a central focus of their life and prayer during Lent.
“In this Eucharistic Year for the Diocese I am inviting us all to reflect more deeply on the mystery and reality of the Eucharist,” wrote Bishop Mark Davies of the Diocese of Shrewsbury.
“At the beginning of Lent, I want to draw your gaze especially towards the Altar where Christ’s Sacrifice, by which He loved us to the end, is made present anew,” Davies continued, drawing attention to the sacrifice of the Mass.
Davies cited Vatican II’s Sacrosanctum Concilium, explaining that the sacrifice of the Mass was instituted by Christ on the night before he died to “perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the ages until he should come again.”
Davies said that Christ makes himself “wholly and entirely present” in the Eucharist during the Mass, evoking “the very words of institution, ‘This is my Body given for you,’ and ‘this chalice which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in my Blood.’”
While during the Mass the “central event of salvation becomes really present,” Davies asked whether Catholics “have allowed the Mass to become reduced in our minds to merely a communal meal and celebration rather than the paschal banquet, the supper of the Lamb of God sacrificed for us?”
“Have we thereby allowed new generations to become bored and uninterested in the Mass, by not allowing them to glimpse the awesome reality of this Sacrifice and Sacrament?” Davies asked.
The British bishop evoked the words of Pope St. John Paul II, who said that the Eucharist displays a love which “knows no measure.”
“How, then, could our hearts ever remain unmoved by this love beyond all others?” Davies questioned.
“At the altar, we learn love and sacrifice not only by imitation, but we receive the grace and power to live sacrificial lives in the service of Christ and one another in all of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy,” he continued.
Davies encouraged the faithful in his diocese to spend time meditating on the mystery of the Eucharist, especially during the sacrificial season of Lent, so as to grow in wonder at its beauty.
“In Lent, we think of the many sacrifices we are called to make,” Davies said.
“In turning our gaze towards the Altar and the Cross, let us pray that we may recognize with faith and ever growing wonder the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”