Catholic Understanding of the General Truths of the Eucharist (Part II)

The Eucharist is also the marriage of Heaven and Earth. John Paul II claims, with all the Catholic and Orthodox Tradition, that the Eucharist has a “cosmic” character. It is the marriage of heaven and earth. Creation is joined with its maker. For Jesus is God and man, one person. He touches the extremes of being. He is no angel, he is a man. And all men are physical. The very atoms have become the Son of God since they are elements of Jesus’ human substance. In the Eucharist, the very bread and wine is become the body and blood of Jesus. Hence, heaven once again touches earth, and earth heaven. And we the participants are caught up in this act. We witness the choirs of angels hymn the glory of God, “Holy, holy, holy….” All the while, we are the lowly Roman who begs, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.” In the Eucharist, Jesus is espousing his Bride, the Church he instituted, leads, instructs, and feeds.

Of course, it takes the eyes of faith to know this marriage is occurring. We are not yet there. We pilgrims! That is to say, this marriage is under a veil. The Eucharist is the nuptial event, but darkly: “Now we see through a mirror, darkly, but then we shall see face to face.”

Jesus has yet to present his Bride pure and spotless to the Father, since her members fall daily at least into the lesser sins called “venial”. For this reason, we must never lose cite of the “eschatological thrust” of the sacrament. (Eschatology points to the ‘last things’; hence, an eschatological thrust is the movement towards eternity.) For precisely in its reality the Eucharist is but a “foretaste of the fullness of joy promised by Christ” (see John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, art. 18).

In uniting us with the members of the heavenly Church and bringing about a marvelous union with our Bridegroom, the Eucharist ushers us forward, so that we say with Paul, “Maranatha!” This exclamation, of course, leads us deeper into that conversion by which we are more closely united to Christ and by which we come to serve our neighbor more lovingly.