February 14, 2023 // Bishop

The Sacrament of Love as the Center of Our Christian Life

More than 500 people witnessed Bishop Kevin Rhoades showcase an amazing three-part presentation on the Sacrament of Love, the Eucharist, to be as Sacrifice, as Presence, and as Communion, at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Granger on Saturday, Feb. 11. A joyful Votive Mass of the Most Holy Eucharist was celebrated midday followed by lunch in both gyms and the reception room. All the prayers set to music enhanced the day, especially Bishop Rhoades’ favorite Communion motet as a foretaste of Heaven, “Ave Verum” (Hail True Body), composed by W.A. Mozart.

Those in attendance were rewarded with one of the most comprehensive overviews of the beauty and meaning of the Holy Eucharist. Bishop Rhoades was able to show the biblical and 2,000-year Church theological history of how the faithful and saints understood the vastly deep treasure and blessing of the Eucharist. Basically, the way to become a saint is to love and live the Eucharist.

Photos by Molly Gettinger
Bishop Rhoades speaks to more than 500 Catholic faithful on the Holy Eucharist as Sacrifice, Presence, and Communion during the Eucharistic Revival Formation Day held at St. Pius X in Granger on Saturday, Feb. 11.

So meaningful and beautiful were the Eucharistic concepts, many expressed a desire that Bishop Rhoades would publish what he presented about the inspirational and fundamental gifts the Holy Eucharist offers for our eternity. The congregation responded with applause on several occasions and also offered a standing ovation. The bishop’s teaching would enhance their living in the exercise of their faith at Mass, in Adoration, and in private prayer. The Living Jesus is surely smiling as a result of this day.

Bishop Rhoades offered so much to the audience in his three talks. Here is a summary of things usually not thought about that were explained by Bishop Rhoades:

In teaching about the Eucharist as a Sacrifice, he described the Eucharist as a beautiful, unbloody sacrifice directly linked to the Jewish Passover of liberty from slavery, then embedded in Jesus’ commissioning of the Apostles at the First Mass at the Last Supper, and now actively and fundamentally lived again in its fullness at every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Jesus’ real Body and Blood are intentionally consecrated separately to show His death. His Body and Blood, therefore, need to be consumed for His sacrifice to be complete. As a result, the Holy Eucharist is the center of the Christian life.

Click here for more photos from the day.

In Pope John Paul II’s last encyclical, he wanted us to have “Eucharistic Amazement.” The Feast of Corpus Christi, encouraged by St. Thomas Aquinas and declared by Pope Urban IV in 1264 AD, was motivated by the Eucharistic miracle in Bolsena, Italy, when a priest, who doubted the real presence, saw blood dripping from the consecrated host. As a result of this, Pope Urban asked St. Thomas to compose hymns to honor the Eucharist which we still sing — the Pange Lingua on Holy Thursday and Tantum Ergo at Benediction. Pope Benedict XVI in his 2007 Apostolic Exhortation of the Eucharist stated that this sacrament of charity shows the infinite love that Jesus has for everyone.

True love requires sacrifice. Jesus’ True Love unites us in Holy Communion. His Love unites this sacrifice of Jesus with the love of the Father and thereby to us in the Trinity. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not a symbol, not just a remembrance of an important sacred event, but rather a real, live connection (Anamnois) to Holy Thursday, the Crucifixion, Easter, the Resurrection, and the Assumption. These connections are amazing! It is, of course, a remembrance of the long history of the Jewish Passovers’ blood of the lamb and the tribulations of the Exodus. Nevertheless, the God of the Exodus is with us in our New Exodus.

We participate in the Divine Eternity when we receive the Holy Eucharist. At the time of receiving the Holy Eucharist, Heaven is with us, and God is within us even in our physical life pulsing through our veins for about ten minutes. His Living Grace renews us within our spiritual lives. The Mass has always been recognized as a sacrifice and with Jesus’ Real Presence. Jesus is really there as both High Priest and sacrificial victim. Jesus is standing with our validly ordained priests at Mass.

The Council of Trent reinforced our understanding of the Holy Eucharist in face of its rejection by the Reformation. They could not believe in this profound mystery and/or could not accept that Jesus fully expiated our sins.

After the Gospel’s proclamation, we are to offer ourselves for the Offertory. We can enter into Jesus’ sacrificial offering along with Mary, the other saints, and those still yearning for Heaven in this Communion of the Eucharistic Banquet. The Mass is offered on the meal table and sacrificial altar. It is a blessing to accept this Gift of Immortality.

The second talk by Bishop Rhoades was on the Eucharist as a Presence. He told the audience that Jesus continues to dwell with us spiritually, of course, but also with His physical presence in the Holy Eucharist as St. Thomas Aquinas’ last prayer hymn speaks: “Adoro te Devote” (Devotedly, I adore You hidden Divinity). We acknowledge Jesus in the Eucharist as we genuflect and bow before the tabernacle and during the reception of Holy Communion. Jesus’ physical presence is the greatest treasure of our Church.

Indeed, we have Jesus’ spiritual presence in all of the Seven Sacraments, but the water of Baptism, for example, is not ‘substantially’ changed. However, the bread and wine are transubstantially changed. We are beautifully connected with St. Mary because the Jesus of her womb is the same Jesus who is also inside us after we receive Communion. Another essential part of this dynamic mystery is that we are thereby spiritually and for a time physically connected to all our fellow Catholics who also receive Communion. What a brotherhood with Jesus we have!

The doubts of Jesus’ Real Presence began during the Enlightenment when science, rationalism, and the focus on reason gradually took over much thinking. They wanted everything to be empirically proven. They separated faith from reason. Reason and science alone are suffocating. However, faith and reason are compatible and complementary. They are the “two wings” for our understanding. Faith is superior to reason, however, because God is superior to science and creation. God created out of nothing. God can change the natural order. Hundreds of Eucharistic miracles showcase this fact.

Bishop Rhoades referenced several saints and blesseds whose holiness grew as a result of the Eucharist; such as our first American saint, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and recently Blessed Carlo Acutis. Even Cleopas and his son, retreating to Emmaus, recognized Jesus in the “Breaking of the Bread”, which was first ‘broken’ at the Last Supper.

The third and final teaching of the day by Bishop Rhoades was on the Eucharist as Communion. The reception of the Eucharist is a communal event with Jesus and all those with whom we receive. It is the Sacrament of Church Unity. We are to be one bread and one body (1 Cor 10:17). We have become sons and daughters of God through Baptism and Jesus is our brother. The Holy Eucharist augments this brotherhood with Jesus and others. It is our necessary food for our journey to Heaven.

The Eucharist is a “marvelous exchange” of God becoming man and, thereby, man becoming more like God. We are to become “Christ bearers” (Christophers). When the priest adds water to the wine, he is showing that we, as water, become part of the Divine Mixture. We are part of the “Cup of Blessing.” We are to be transformed into “icons of Jesus.”


The Eucharist is the way that Jesus stays with us. We need this visible Eucharist for community with Jesus and others. We also need the invisible Eucharist to sustain our state of growing Grace and to be encouraged to do Jesus’ works. Likewise, Adoration also helps us grow in faith and in appreciation of this tremendous treasure. During Adoration, we can simply talk with God, meditate on His Scripture, pray the Rosary or novena, or just easily sit in silence before Him.

Finally, the priest at the end of the Mass commissions you on a mission to be Christ to others. That’s where the word, “Mass”, comes from: “Eta Missa Est” (Go, you are sent!).


For more on the Eucharistic Revival and events in our diocese, visit diocesefwsb.org/eucharist.

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