April 23, 2024 // Bishop

‘The Eucharist Is Our Participation … in the Glory That Awaits Us’

Bishop Rhoades Reflects on Christ’s Eucharistic Sacrifice at Close of 40 Hours Devotion

On Tuesday, April 16, Bishop Rhoades celebrated a special Mass to close the period of 40 Hours Devotion at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Fort Wayne. In his homily, he preached on the eschatological dimension of the Eucharist – eschatology being the study of what the Church calls “the last things” – death, judgement, heaven, and hell.

The 40 Hours Devotion at St. Vincent began on Sunday, April 14, with adoration, worship, and a reflection by Father Jay Horning, Pastor of St. Bernard Church in Wabash. On Monday, April 15, solemn was chanting of solemn vespers and a homily by Father Mark Hellinger, Parochial Vicar at St. John the Baptist Church in Fort Wayne.

Photos by Marisol Sanchez
Bishop Rhoades incenses the altar during the closing Mass of the 40 Hours Devotion at St. Vincent de Paul Church on Tuesday, April 16.

At Mass to close the 40 Hours, Bishop Rhoades spoke of the past, present, and future dimensions of the Eucharistic mystery. In the past, the memory of Christ’s passion is revitalized. “At every Mass, the sacrifice of Jesus is re-presented and renewed upon the altar,” Bishop Rhoades said. “That’s why we call it the ‘Eucharistic sacrifice,’” In the present, Christ is received as food, and the soul is filled with grace. “This happens now, in the present, when we receive holy Communion,” Bishop Rhoades added. In the future, a pledge of glory is given to us. “It is an anticipation of the liturgy of heaven,” Bishop Rhoades said.

The past, present, and future all come together in the Eucharist. “The Paschal Mystery of Jesus is a real event that occurred in history – His passion, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven,” Bishop Rhoades said. “But it doesn’t remain only in the past, because all that Christ did participates in God’s eternity.”

Although each dimension of the Eucharist is important, Bishop Rhoades’ main focus was on the eschatological aspect – the Eucharist as a “pledge of future glory.”

During his homily, Bishop Rhoades discussed the story of the Last Supper and how Jesus points to the future by assuring the disciples that He will live anew in God’s Kingdom. “He will rise from the dead and ascend into heaven where He will prepare a place for His disciples at this banquet,” Bishop Rhoades said. “In instituting the holy Eucharist, Jesus gave us His body and blood to nourish us on our way to the eternal banquet of the Kingdom of God.”

Father Nathan Maskal, left, and Bishop Rhoades genuflect before the altar during Mass at St. Vincent de Paul Church on Tuesday, April 16.

Bishop Rhoades also reflected upon the other two readings during Mass and their vivid focus on the eschatological aspect of the Eucharist. He discussed how St. Paul, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews, “tells the early Christians that they have approached a mountain different from Mount Sinai, the mountain of the Old Covenant. He tells them that they have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. He describes a festal gathering with countless angels and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven. He tells the people, ‘You have approached God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect.’” Bishop Rhoades explained that “‘the just made perfect’ are those who have been redeemed by Christ, the saints.”

Bishop Rhoades then recalled John’s vision in the Book of Revelation and how he envisioned a great multitude of people standing before God’s throne wearing white robes and holding palm branches. “White is the color of resurrection,” Bishop Rhoades said. “Palm branches are symbols of victory. The multitude is worshipping God, crying out, ‘Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb.’ They are praising God and the Lamb for salvation and victory.”

Bishop Rhoades told those in attendance how one of the elders told John that the people wearing white robes are the ones who had survived the time of great distress because they washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Bishop Rhoades explained that those were the martyrs and the faithful Christians. “Jesus’ blood, the blood of the Lamb, has purified them, has cleansed them from all sin,” said Bishop Rhoades, who reiterated that the blood of Jesus “cries out for mercy and forgiveness. … It brings not a curse but a blessing, the blessing of eternal redemption, reconciliation, and the forgiveness of sins,” said Bishop Rhoades.

“The blood of the Old Testament sacrifices of sheep and other animals did not have that power or effect of the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God,” Bishop Rhoades said. “Salvation comes from Him, but we must wash our robes in His blood by believing in Him, accepting His Gospel, repenting of our sins, being washed in baptism, and living in the grace of our baptism. If we’ve soiled our white robes, we can go to the cleaners – go to confession – and be restored to our baptismal grace. And then we can participate in the Eucharist and be nourished by the body and blood of the Lamb and receive His sanctifying grace.”

Both the Letter to the Hebrews and the Book of Revelation indicate that Christian liturgy, particularly the observance of the Eucharist, aligns us with the worship conducted by angels and saints. “This is what we celebrate and what becomes present on the altar at every Mass,” Bishop Rhoades said. “The Eucharist is our participation now in the glory that awaits us, though now it is through sacramental signs.”

Bishop Rhoades concluded his homily by encouraging the members of St. Vincent to recognize the significant role of the Eucharist as “an anticipation of heaven and a promise of future glory.” He added: “The Eucharist commits us to live the Gospel of Jesus, to love and serve others, to say ‘yes’ to the salvation offered us by God by living our lives on earth like that multitude of saints in heaven who washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. How blessed we are at every Mass to behold the Lamb of God and to participate in the Supper of the Lamb!”

Bishop Rhoades was accompanied by several visiting priests who joined members of the parish for refreshments after Mass in celebration of the 40 Hours Devotion. Father Nathan Maskal, Pastor of St. John the Baptist in New Haven, who assisted Bishop Rhoades at Mass, said he believed the eschatological dimension of the Eucharist is the key point the faithful should take away from the Mass, and that the grace Christ has given us in the Blessed Sacrament “fills us with strength for the road ahead.”

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.