A Personal Reflection by FATHER IGNATIUS YEO.
The Eucharist as “the Heart and vital Centre” of Priestly Ministry.
In the teaching of Vatican II, the centrality of the Eucharist has been repeated in numerous post-conciliar documents. The document of the Ministerial Priesthood issued by the Synod of Bishops in 1971 and the Directory for the Life and Ministry of Priests, published in 1994, underscores the Eucharist as “the heart and vital centre” of priestly ministry.
Pope St John Paul II in many of his annual Holy Thursday letters says the same in Dominicae Cenae (1980) where he declares that the Eucharist is the principal reason of the priesthood. So profoundly interconnected are the priesthood and Eucharist, he says, that “there can be no Eucharist without the priesthood, just as there can be no priesthood without the Eucharist.”
How true these words of Pope St John Paul II. Personally, for me, I am awestruck every time I pronounce the words of consecration at Mass. I recall what St John Mary Vianney once said “… even if you had the purity of the Angels, and the holiness of Saint John the Baptist, you would still be unworthy to touch this Sacrament. For it is not due to any merit of his own that a man is allowed to consecrate and handle the Sacrament of Christ, and receive the Bread of Angels (Ps.128:26) as his food.”
What a great privilege God has given me – to call me, me an unworthy creature! Indeed a priest is but the minister of God, and using the words of the Lord by His own command and appointment: God who is the principal agent and unseen worker, to whose Will all things are subject,(Wis. 12:18) and whose command all creatures obey, and by these words of the priest makes Himself present to His creatures through His priest…
Such an awesome privilege of a priest! I am granted, though most unworthy what is not granted even to the Angels; “for only a rightly ordained priest has power to celebrate the Eucharist and to hallow the Body of Christ… and the angels surround and assist the priest when he is celebrating Mass.” (St Augustine).
Every time I hold the Lord in my hands an overwhelming surge of feelings of awe and love fills me. Here I am an unworthy mortal, holding in my hands MY LORD and MY GOD. When I see Him and hold Him, I testify to you, you will forget all worldly pursuits and to sacrifice yourself in this way. In place of Christ, He has willed me, His priest to behold His real presence to the world. It is incredible that the priest is so close to God himself. And by the power of the Holy Spirit I am a channel for the biggest miracle in the world.
When I hold up the Sacred Host for you to see and proclaim to you the words of Saint John the Baptist; Behold the Lamb of God and when I say: The Body of Christ, I truly mean it! And, with St John Mary Vianney I too cry out from within my heart “… don’t look to me, look at Him, He looks at you, it is Him and He is here! He is here! He is here!
This just shows God’s astounding love. Is there anything more magnificent than following Christ who wants nothing more from me as His priest than to communicate to souls the tremendous truth that God DOES love all His Children by making Himself present to them now in this very moment – as I hold Jesus Christ truly present in the Holy Eucharist.
If you firmly believe in this supreme miracle which by God’s power takes place in the Mass, you will believe that faith works miracles by His mysterious love. You will only want to live for this life of Christ’s Eucharistic love.
“Vocations arise from deep love of the Blessed Sacrament,” said Mother Teresa. If you received this magnificent revelation of the Eucharist, so may you desire to sacrifice your life for the Eucharist, for nothing could be better, there is nothing more purposefully fulfilling in life than this.