Lumen Gentium, a document of Vatican II, says the Eucharist is the, “fount and apex of the whole Christian life.” Another translation is that it’s the source and the summit of Christian life. Regardless of which translation the image given remains the same. I turned to this quote during the Solemnity of Corpus Christ (The Body and Blood of Christ) to base my homily on.
Every once in awhile it is good to examine where we are with certain things. The quote from Lumen Gentium is fitting in examining where we are in our reverence and respect for the Eucharist. It should go without saying that as Catholics we should be focused on Christian life, and if the Eucharist is the fount and apex of it, we should be focused on the Eucharist in our Christian lives. We can say that it is really the fount and apex of Catholic life since we are the only Christians that have the Eucharist.
The Solemnity of Corpus Christi is not just a feast where we celebrate the reality of Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist, but we also celebrate what the Eucharist is. The Eucharist, Christ’s Body and Blood, is what was freely given in the new covenant Christ established through Himself. The author of Hebrews discusses that Christ replaced the old way of offering sacrifice (that of animals) by becoming the sacrifice Himself.
“Brothers and sisters: When Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation, he entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God. For this reason he is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant, those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance.” Hebrews 9:11-15
In the Eucharist is the fount, the source, of that promised eternal inheritance. As water flows from a fountain so too does the life found in the Eucharist flow to us; life in the new covenant. Our lives as Catholics flow from this and is sustained by it. Just as water from a fount quenches our thirst, the Precious Body and the Precious Blood are given to quench that spiritual thirst.
“Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14
In the moments after we receive Holy Communion there is in us the actual real presence of God. Just think, the one from which all grace comes from is physically in you on your way back to pew! Those 10 to 15 minutes after receiving Him are a very special time to enter into prayer. Life with Christ is what we are aiming for as Christians and so we have a moment each week where are the closest we will get to it right now.
Striving for the life that Christ offers should be the highest goal of a Christian. I see it in the words of that second part of Lumen Gentium’s imagery; the apex. Life with Christ is the apex, the highest point, that we can aim for and the greatest thing we can attain. The Eucharist as our fount and source gives us the spiritual strength to keep going each day in our efforts. The spiritual nourishment we receive is the grace coming from Christ in order that we might get to Him. Christ is giving us the strength we need to make our way to Him. Think of a person who wants to get up to the top or summit of a mountain. That person is going to have to do some climbing to get to where they want. Doing this will require that person to train before attempting this. The eternal life with Christ is our apex, life that begins here, and also our summit that we wish to reach. This is what getting to Heaven is for us.
Like the person wanting to climb to the top or apex of a mountain needs continuous work and training, so too do we. We need to give attention to what things we do that contribute to our spiritual health. If a person wanting to get in shape does the bare minimum they will only get minimal results. The same thing applies for a person wanting to grow spiritually, doing the bare minimum will only get you minimal results. Of course, God can do anything, even with our minimal efforts. Still, we should not hope that God will make up for our lack of trying.
There are things we should be doing on a regular basis as a means of growing spiritually. We should be praying regularly, making a real effort to live the virtues, and to frequent the sacrament of Confession. All three of those things could have an article of their own so I just want to mention those.
Receiving Christ in the Eucharist is our source of new life, it is the highest thing we can do and it is a foretaste of the eternal life that we long for. As mentioned above, we need to examine where we are with the Eucharist in that way. Do we treat receiving Christ at Mass as the greatest thing we can do? How do live your life after Mass? Do you act like you have just received Christ in the Eucharist during the rest of your week? Do you prepare yourself for the next time that you will receive? Do you look forward to coming to Mass the next Sunday? Do you understand that when you say Amen what you are saying yes to? There are many other things we can ask ourselves as a way of examination but I’m sure you get the point.
Answering those questions are important for us because the Eucharist should be important to us. As Catholics focused on Christian life we need to see that the Eucharist is the fount and apex of it. It is from Christ in the Eucharist that this new life flows and it is also our aim to have that life forever in Heaven.