Holy: the Eucharistic call to be saints

North Texas Catholic
(Jul 22, 2019) Faith-Inspiration

Deacon Ruben Castañeda distributes the Eucharist during Saturday Mass at Sacred Heart Church in Breckenridge, July 29, 2017. (NTC/Ben Torres)

What is the goal of your life? We hear a lot about five-year plans and 10-year plans and even 20-year plans, but what about your 100-year plan?

I know that sounds kind of strange, but everyone needs one. It’s actually more important than all the other life-forecasting plans we could ever have.

What do I mean by this 100-year plan? In short, it is the universal call to holiness, or to put it another way, become a saint. Matthew says in his Gospel, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48) This call to perfection is the call to holiness. We are called as individuals and as a Church to be holy. In fact, the four Marks of the Church are: one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Thus, one of the distinguishing characteristics of every Catholic is to be holy.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Diocese of Fort Worth. Bishop Olson has designated the theme for this year as: The Eucharist makes us the Church. So, if the Eucharist makes us the Church, then it follows that the Eucharist makes us holy, makes us saints.

Just to be clear, when I say saint in this context, I am using the lower-case form of the word. The upper-case Saint is a canonized person who is in heaven. Yet the call to holiness has both dimensions. We, by faith and Baptism, are made holy and thus saints and we are called to live a life that continues this holiness. But, we are also called to strive to live in such a way that, after death, we may be deemed a Saint.

Jeff Hedglen is the campus minister at the University Catholic Community at the University of Texas-Arlington.

But, how does the Eucharist call us and make us holy? The Catechism of the Catholic Church outlines 14 specific effects of the Eucharist, and they reveal how receiving communion can help us grow as saints.

  • It cleanses and separates us from sin. (CCC 1393-95, 1436, 1846)
  • It commits us to the poor. (CCC 1397)
  • It communicates the mystery of the communion of the Holy Trinity. (CCC 950, 2845)
  • It establishes the community of believers. (CCC 805, 1396, 2637)
  • It is a foretaste of the future life. (CCC 1000, 1326, 1402-05, 1419)
  • It causes growth in Christian life. (CCC 1392, 1397, 1644)
  • It brings an increase of the grace received in Baptism. (CCC 1392)
  • It is the source of conversion and penance. (CCC 1436)
  • It is spiritual food. (CCC 1212, 1275, 1436, 2837)
  • It transforms man through Christ. (CCC 1074)
  • It unites us with Christ. (CCC 790, 1003, 1391)
  • It unites Christians. (CCC 1398)
  • It unites us with the heavenly liturgy. (CCC 1370)
  • Through it we participate in Christ’s sacrifice. (CCC 1322)

This list is full of some pretty deep and theological ideas and it is a lot to digest, so to help me take it all in I have used it as a kind of a prayer list. I take one paragraph number listed above and read it and meditate on it as a way to grow in my understanding and belief in the Eucharist. The title of each effect alone is amazing, but digging into the text of the Catechism really brings them alive. Praying with the text helps plant the truth deeper in my heart.

Just like our five, 10 and 20-year plans, the 100-year plan to holiness takes some effort and action. We can pray with the Catechism, or a holy hour of Adoration, or even something simpler like the advice I once heard during a homily.

The priest said the closest you are to Jesus is the 15 minutes after receiving communion, and we can take our most important intention to Jesus in that time. Once, for a whole year, my prayer during this time was, “Increase my faith in the Eucharist.”

The Eucharist makes us the Church. Take some time during this 50th year of the Diocese of Fort Worth and dive deep into the Lord’s Supper, the Source and Summit of our faith, the food that transforms and makes us holy.


Jeff Hedglen, columns, vocations, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, trending-english