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  A Christian Faith Magazine January 2005, Volume 10, Issue 6  
Rev. Mark Connolly Finding Inner Peace through the Eucharist
Rev. Mark Connolly
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During the 19th century in London, England, there was a mental institution known as the house of Bethlehem. It was filled with men and women who had serious mental problems for which they had no medication. You have to remember that today we have wonderful and advanced medications for depression and anxiety and a host of other mental problems. In that era medications that worked were few and far between. It was common to tie people in bed. It was common to let people practically starve to death so their mental problem would disappear. That is how much in darkness we were concerning the mentally sick. Inasmuch as the place called the house of Bethlehem was being filled with far more people than the institution could handle, there was chaos and confusion constantly. Because of this chaos and confusion, the house of Bethlehem became known as the house of bedlam. So today in our English language the word bedlam is a derivative of the word Bethlehem.


In our society, in our civilization, in our culture, there is a tremendous amount of chaos and confusion in and out of the Catholic Church. So if we are going to have peace that is spoken and sung about so often during the New Year, we have to be anchored to one of our religious teachings in such a way that peace will never escape us. If there is one teaching that has to be upper most during this age of chaos and confusion, it is the teaching of Christ in the Eucharist. All during this age in which we live, thousands of words are spoken to us every day - thousands spoken by politicians, thousands spoken by television commentators - and at times we are overwhelmed by all the words that we hear. The more overwhelmed we are, the less peace we are going to have.

There is no doubt in the mind of God, there is no doubt in the mind of Christ that the words both God and Christ would want us to dwell on are the words, this is my body and this is my blood. These are the most powerful words Jesus Christ ever spoke. The one purpose was to bring us inner peace that is so often lacking in so many lives. Just recall the scene at which Christ spoke these words. All his apostles were at the Last Supper and Christ stood before them and said, this is my body, this is my blood. If he had taken the time to lengthen those words, he could have said, this is the body of the boy who was circumcised in obedience of the Jewish law of circumcision, this the body of the boy carpenter, this is the body of a man who stumbled on his way to Calvary, this is the body of the man who was nailed between two thieves. If he had lengthened the expression, "this is My Blood", he could have said this is the blood that will stain the marble pavement of Herod's house, this is the blood that will be shed in the garden in Gethsemane, this is the blood that will pour from my side as I die on a cross. When you think of all of the words that Christ had in his vocabulary have you ever wondered why he selected those words? He could have selected thousands of other phrases, but he selected the phrases this is My Body, this is My Blood. And why? Because these words were part of a special plan that only a God could devise.

All during his public life, he told his apostles I will not abandon you, I will never leave you orphans, I will be with you until the consummation of the world. He knew He would die and be resurrected, but He also knew He would stay with his followers in a most intimate fashion and that was in the Eucharist.


When you analyze those words, this is My Body and this is My Blood, it really almost seems hard to believe that this miracle of the Eucharist is something God gave to us so the body and blood of Christ could always stay with us. Think of it this way, on the day when you were married you stood before an altar and you said to your wife, I take you for better or worse, in sickness and in health. Your wife made the same response. On the day when the young men and women who are defending us in Iraq took their oath without any change in their appearance, they were transformed from the single state to the military state. On the day when I took my vows to the priesthood, without any change in my appearance, was transformed from the single state to the religious state. If you and I through the words we speak can bring about iliese tremendous changes in our own lives, don't you think that an all powerful God through the words he speaks can transform lifeless bread into the bread of life? That is what the Eucharist is. It is the Bread of Life. There is no bedlam in it. It is true, simple and clear of Christ's presence being with us through the Eucharist. When you receive the body and blood of Christ, as St. Paul reminded you, you can walk away and you can hear the words of St. Paul when he said, "it is no longer I who live, but it is now Christ who lives within you."

That moment of the Eucharist when you receive the body and blood of Christ is more important than any private audience with the Pope. It is God's way of guarantee us true and lasting inner peace.

You and I have been given a special gift. You and I have been given an extraordinary gift in being able to receive the gift of Christ through the Eucharist at the Mass where he said, this is My Body, this is My Blood. If you want to make this New Year a spiritual one, if you want to make it a very sacred one, if you want to make it as Christ intended it should be, then your devotion to Christ in the Eucharist will bring you an inner peace that so many people will never achieve.

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