The Eucharist: A Remedy to Boost Spiritual, Physical and Psychological Health
Kathleen Beckman, L.H.S.
During times of long suffering one searches for some remedy. A disciple of Christ is subject to many temptations that promise to help us escape for a while, to deaden the pain or to find solace in things that distract. Like many non-believers, we can look for things that make us feel better for a while, such as mindless entertainment, entrapping environments with New Age allurements, consumerism, and any number of things contrary to Christ-centered healing. Great numbers of people are taking up New Age practices and Eastern philosophies offering mystical revival. People are searching for answers to the complex reality of our modern lives. Somehow people sense the sickness of our culture without realizing it is sin-sickness, which can only be healed through repentance and communion with the God of miracles!
Many people are discouraged about finding a spiritual remedy in the Catholic Church at a time when she is plagued by scandal and undergoing purification. It takes grace to understand that Divine Mercy is at work in every process of purification. It takes grace to understand that God is bringing to light what has existed in darkness to correct the disordered sin-nature of His people. He will restore the Church! This unfolds over time in an organic manner. Throughout the history of the Church, there have been grave, human errors. The need for repentance and reparation is present in every age.
We find no fault in the Blessed Sacrament. Now, when there is a fascination with magic as evidenced by the Harry Potter global phenomena and various currents of the New Age movement, the Church directs us to the Blessed Sacrament to rekindle Eucharistic amazement! The Church has the remedy for what ails mankind! Jesus, the Divine Physician (cf. Catechism n. 1503) is alive, able to bring about the complete restoration of His Mystical Body. The omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent Lord remains with His people in the tabernacles of the world. In the Blessed Sacrament, he is present in a particularly tangible, intimate manner that begs communion and fills the God-shaped hole in each of us. The Catechism tells us:
Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us,” is present in many ways to his Church: in his word, in his Church’s prayer, “where two or three are gathered in my name,” in the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned, in the sacraments of which he is the author, in the sacrifice of the Mass, and in the person of the minister. But “he is present…most especially in the Eucharistic species.”1
The Eucharistic program that Pope John Paul II outlined at the start of the Third Millennium is a treasure. He foresaw wondrous things that occur when a person takes up a Eucharistic vocation.
The healing power of the Eucharist impacts us spiritually, physically and psychologically. Holiness is healthy for our body, mind and spirit. The dignity of the Eucharist reveals the dignity of the entire human person. Ven. Fulton Sheen expresses this well:
Neither theological knowledge nor social action alone is enough to keep us in love with Christ unless both are preceded by a personal encounter with Him. Theological insights are gained not only from between the two covers of a book, but from two bent knees before an altar. The Holy Hour becomes like an oxygen tank to revive the breath of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the foul and fetid atmosphere of the world.2
I appreciate Archbishop Sheen’s analogy since I struggle with asthma and can relate to the need for oxygen. My daily holy hour (often two) has become a spiritual oxygen tank that increases the breath of the Holy Spirit in my life. More important than daily inhalers that regulate asthma is the daily visit to the Blessed Sacrament. What good is health of body without health of soul? At the core of personhood is the deep integration of body, mind and soul. We can never comprehend the sublime mystery of the Eucharistic Presence of God. We need not understand, only believe! Our faith is increased by hearing the testimonies of lives changed by the sacramental graces of the Church. Let our lives be a witness of the healing effects of Eucharistic life. To witness is the mission of the Christian.
The Church proclaims Jesus, the Healer! People sometimes turn toward something or someone who will not provide the remedy that God provides. God often heals through medical physicians, as the Bible teaches. My brother and sister-in-law are physicians dedicated to the care of the sick, and it is edifying to witness the miracles of modern medicine. Medical conditions are affected by emotional and psychological pathologies and/or stress on the human body. Science continues to reveal the connections between the mind, heart, and body. The Church has always recognized these when addressing the dignity of the human person in its totality. The Church has the remedy for spiritual, physical and psychological ailments! An intensely sacramental life is healing! We need physicians, psychologist, priests and prayer! How good it would be if there were more incorporation of all four together.
The present culture of death and the hedonistic lifestyle are toxic. The Lord of the Universe is able to reach into all of these areas and heal his people. The buzzword these days in the health and wellness field is “detoxification.” A steady diet of frequent reception of Holy Communion, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and regular visits to the confessional provides the best detoxification of the human heart and mind. An intensely sacramental life brings spiritual fortification and produces an integrated wholeness in the person. The Lord is concerned with every part of our lives! He grants graces for healthy bodies, minds and spirits. May it please God to attract people back to His Eucharistic heart which contains the medicine for what ails humanity at many levels! These proclamations of Popes Leo XIII and John Paul II are also our prayer:
Our own belief is that the renovation of the world will be brought about only by the Holy Eucharist.3
Closeness to the Eucharistic Christ in silence and contemplation does not distance us from our contemporaries but on the contrary, it makes us open to human joy and distress, broadening our hearts on a global scale. Anyone who prays to the Eucharistic Savior draws the whole world with him and raises it to God.4
Kathleen Beckman, L.H.S., is the Co-founder and President of the Foundation of Prayer for Priests. This reflection originally appeared in her book Rekindle Eucharistic Amazement: Healing and Holiness through the Mass and Holy Hour (Queenship Publishing, 2008).
1 Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1373.
2 Fulton J. Sheen, Treasure in Clay: The Autobiography of Fulton J. Sheen (New York: Image Books/Doubleday, 1982), 200.
3 Pope Leo XIII, quoted in “Quotes on the Most Blessed Sacrament 2," Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association, 1998, accessed July 17, 2014, http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/tes/quotes2.html.
4 Pope John Paul II, Letter to the Bishop of Liege on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of the Feast of Corpus Christi, May 28, 1996.