Because we live in a time when the body of the Christ is divided into umpteen million different denominations and independent congregations, we Catholics frequently have to defend our faith. As youth ministry leaders, we want our young people to know their faith and to be able to provide a biblical basis for what we believe.
This is often the case with the Eucharist. We try to equip our teens with the answer to the question: “Is the Eucharist really Jesus?” The answer is “yes”!
Unlike our times, the early Church never had to defend Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist. It was a given. If you were an orthodox Christian, you believed the Eucharist was the actually body and blood of Jesus. Their biggest Eucharistic question was not, “Is it Him?” Instead it was: “Why is it Him?” I think if we answer the second question well, our teens will better be able to answer the first. The answer to “why is it Him” is found in the Eucharistic Prayer at every liturgy:
- Eucharistic prayer #2: “May all of us …be brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit.”
- Eucharistic prayer #3: “…may we be filled with the Holy Spirit, and become one body, one spirit in Christ.”
- Eucharistic prayer #4: “…by your Holy Spirit, gather all who share in this one bread and one cup into the body of Christ, a living sacrifice of praise.”
- Eucharistic prayer for reconciliation #2: “Fill us with his Spirit through our sharing in this meal. May he take away all that divides us.”
I could continue with the other Eucharistic prayers, but they all contain the common themes: bring us into unity in Jesus and fill us with the Holy Spirit. If this is what the liturgy itself says the purpose of the Eucharist is, then all of our education, prayer, and planning should move us to being filled with the Holy Spirit and unified together in Jesus Christ. If our teens encounter this reality, they will know the Eucharist is the real presence of Jesus.