This is not a theological piece; it is a meditation on the Blessed Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist which just happens to be saturated in scripture. Writing this (and hopefully reading this) was an act of worship for me, rejoicing in the marvelous gift that God has to given to his dear Church.
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The Eucharist is a Sacrament – “an outward physical sign of an inward spiritual grace.” But more than that, there’s the objective presence of Christ’s body & blood in the bread & wine. The “inward spiritual grace” is the effect of the real presence – the real contact between God’s holy self and our still-not-yet-holy self. That is why we approach with such reverence and awe after having undergone self-examination and confessed our sins to God. And so we receive the actual blood of Christ. This is part of the work of the atonement, for the sacrifice is only part of it.
Praise be to God, our paschal lamb has been found, though Satan tried to take him away! Alleluia, Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us! But while that act is completed, there’s more to be done. The blood is poured out and taken by the priest for the sprinkling – not only on the altar but also out on the people. So Jesus, both the Lamb and the High Priest, has taken his own shed blood on the altar of the cross and is now sprinkling us with it, for without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
You could say that we’re catching that blood in the chalice (like this picture here) and drinking it into our very bodies. For in the Old Covenant, the blood was only sprinkled; drinking it was forbidden, for the life of the animal is in the blood, and we cannot presume to think that we can attain eternal life from an animal. But our sacrifice was the perfect, spotless Lamb, Jesus the man without sin; his blood does give us eternal life!
So every time we come to the Eucharist it’s another wave of the hyssop branch, sprinkling blood onto us – blood which not just lands on us to wash us outwardly as Old Covenant purification through the washing of hands accomplished, yielding whitewashed tombs, but blood that we take into our selves, purifying our entire selves – soul and body.
Each time we receive Communion, then, we’re made that much cleaner, brought just a little bit closer to that full and total sanctification that God has promised to his children. No wonder we call it “eucharist” – an act of thanksgiving! Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast. Alleluia!
the Prayer of Humble Access
We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord,
trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies.
We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table.
But thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy.
Grant us, therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh
of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink His blood,
that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body,
and our souls washed through his most precious blood,
and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us.