With so much disrespect and lack of reverence shown to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, much of it either allowed or even encouraged by Church leaders, it's good idea to focus our thoughts this Passiontide and Easter on the reality of the Holy Eucharist.
Our Blessed Lord Himself lays it out very clearly in the sixth chapter of St. John's Gospel, and so clearly that it is often blown right over: The key to eternal life is Holy Communion.
Let's go through a couple of the points. "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life within you" (John 6:53).
That is a staggering statement in its implications. The life Our Lord is referring to is the life of sanctifying grace, obviously, not natural life.
Without reception of the Blessed Sacrament — and let's be extraordinarily clear here — without the eating, actual physical eating, of the Flesh and Blood of Our Lord, a person does not possess or retain sanctifying grace.
If you do not leave this earthly existence bathed in sanctifying grace, then you are immediately damned and proceed directly to Hell.
Forget about all these nefarious and malicious theories and evil propaganda that there is something called the Final Option, whereby after you die, God somehow ignores all the choices you've ever made in this life, all the sins, and gives a person a chance to one last and final time opt for Him — hence the term the "Final Option."
That final moment, final option, is given to us, hopefully, on this side of death, not the other side. The theory is that a soul, no matter how mired in sin, upon seeing God after dying would never choose to not choose Him. This theory, of course, results in almost everyone being saved. Does all this sound familiar?
No, it doesn't work like that. There are no "second chances" after death. Nor does God so present Himself to a soul who has willfully chosen to reject sanctifying grace that the effect is to wipe away the soul's free will.
The time for choosing is already present. You do not choose anything at death; rather, your life's choices are judged and the results of your own free choices adjudicated, pronounced and executed: eternal happiness or eternal damnation.
And the key to that final reality is if you are in a state of grace or a state of mortal sin. Each simple condition leads to one simple conclusion. A person's everlasting fate is not determined by some nutty theological notion that allows a kind of end run around your life's choices; it's determined by those choices.
If you made choices which resulted in dying in a state of sanctifying grace, you merit Heaven. If you made choices which resulted in dying in a state of mortal sin, you bring Hell down on yourself. Why do so many theologians and clerics these days strive so mightily to deny or circumvent or ignore this final reality?
You die in a state of sanctifying grace, with the life of the Blessed Trinity in you, by eating the Flesh and drinking the Blood of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, like He said in Capernaum. "No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6) So the next logical question is: Then how do we get to Jesus? And as well: Why do we need to get to Jesus ?
Both questions again do not require a degree in advanced theology. Almighty God so loved humanity that He drew human nature into Himself. Human nature is lived through our bodies. We experience our humanity in the flesh. Our bodies are constituent of who we are, each one of us. I am me with this body. It goes into making me who I am, how my humanity is lived out.
So while we use the expression "save souls," the reality is we mean saving the complete person, body and soul, for that is what each one of us is — a composite of body and soul, material fused to immaterial, an awesome, wonderful, beautiful mystery — the life of God breathed into these fleshy homes.
This is why Our Lord commands us to eat His Flesh — because He wants to save not just our souls but our bodies as well, because they are us. I don't exist without my body (the time prior to the Resurrection excepted, of course).
This is the key to understanding that beautiful promise from Our Lord near the end of the sixth chapter: "He who eats my flesh abides in Me and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:54).
When we eat Our Lord's Flesh, He is preparing not just our souls but our physical bodies as well for the Resurrection. Our bodies will rise from the dead and in a flash be glorified like unto His own Flesh, because we had already been receiving in this life that glorified Flesh.
The Son of God so loves man that He wants to be as united as possible to Him as He can possibly be. We have an experience of this even in the natural order. Have you ever witnessed a welcome home scene at an airport? It is tears and hugging and touching and not letting go. It's one of the most beautiful and warm moments of human existence.
The same is true in reverse, of course; saying goodbye to those we love, no longer being in their presence, which we get by being around their body. Airport goodbyes are among the most revealing moments of what we are created for: unity, not separation. And that unity is according to the flesh, the body of earthly existence.
That need to be united, drawn up in the same flesh, so fused together, comes from the love of God. Here on earth, of course, it is not possible to be fused to those we love.
But it is possible in the supernatural order, at least temporarily, in reception of Holy Communion, in the eating of the Flesh of Our Lord. By eating His Flesh He instituted on Holy Thursday, we will be able to rise with Him on the Last Day, with our flesh now "fused" to His Flesh, which He instituted on Easter Sunday.
"He who eats my flesh abides in Me, and I will raise Him up on the Last day" (John 6:54). Holy Thursday is the means to Easter Sunday. We just have to spend this life going through Good Friday first.
This is why Catholics must always advance the truth of the Holy Catholic Faith and resist all attempts to weaken it.
A Holy and Happy Easter to each of you and your friends and family and loved ones.