By Susan Ciancio

Do you remember the joy you felt on the day of your First Communion? This long-anticipated day was so incredibly special that family members came from near and far, you excitedly dressed up in a fancy suit or stunning white dress, and you happily smiled for countless pictures.

Everyone wanted to help you celebrate the fact that you were about to receive the most precious gift imaginable—that of Christ Himself.

As Catholics, we know that, at the Transubstantiation during Mass, the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. This is not just a nice thought or a mere symbol. This miracle really does occur right before our very eyes. And we should feel immensely blessed to witness this miracle at every Mass.

Christ gives Himself to us to nourish and renew us, but we must be worthy of His wonderful gift.

How do we make ourselves worthy? We must be free of all mortal sin. This isn’t a suggestion. This is part of our Catechism, which teaches: “Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive Communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance.” 

In other words, anyone who has committed a mortal sin and who has not sought forgiveness in the confessional should not present himself for Communion until he has been to confession.

Of course, not many people know of the sins we commit unless we do so publicly or unless we’re a public figure, such as a politician or someone in a leadership position. To protect the sanctity of the Eucharist, Canon 915, from the Code of Canon Law, says that “those . . . who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

According to Canon law, a priest, deacon, bishop, cardinal, or any Eucharistic minister must deny someone the precious gift of Christ’s body and blood if that person publicly advocates for anything contrary to Catholic teaching. This includes abortion.

With a president in office who claims to be Catholic, yet who publicly advocates for abortion, this is a subject that has become widely discussed lately.

In addition to this, our American bishops have recently come up with a plan for what they call a Eucharistic revival. A LifeSiteNews article quoted Bishop Andrew Cozzens of the Diocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, who stated that this renewal would lead to a “movement of Catholics across the United States, healed, converted, formed, and unified by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist—and sent out in mission for the true life of the world.”

The article describes the three stages of this revival:

The “Diocesan Revival” stage, from July 2022 until June 2023, will focus on the formation of priests and other diocesan leaders. Diocesan Corpus Christi celebrations and days of adoration and confession will be organized.

The Parish Revival Stage, from July 2023 until June 2024, will focus on the education of parish small group leaders — those who will be Eucharistic missionaries, starting in their own parishes.

The third stage, held from July 2024 until mid-2025, will involve a National Eucharistic event and the sending out of the Eucharistic missionaries trained over the previous years of the movement.

While a revival would certainly be a wonderful way to help people focus on Christ being present—body, blood, soul, and divinity—in the Eucharist, we cannot deny the fact that we must all teach respect for Christ in the Eucharist. And we must all protect Him.

This reverence and protection starts with a foundation of understanding and a belief in the true presence.

Talking with teens

Have you spoken with your teens about this subject? Do they understand what moral courage is and that sometimes it takes a lot of moral courage to help build a culture of life? Do they see the connection between being pro-life and protecting Christ in the Eucharist?

Being pro-life is a lifestyle. It means seeing the dignity in each and every person—born and preborn. It means reaching out to others in truth and charity to guide them when they seem to be at odds with Christ’s teaching. It means loving each and every person, but not condoning or accepting sinful actions. Living a pro-life life isn’t something that comes and goes. It must be part of our being. And it is something that must be lived every day.

We, at the Culture of Life Studies Program, understand that it can be really difficult to talk with teens about protecting Christ in the Eucharist, especially if you don’t know or understand all of the nuances yourself. That is why we created a Conversation Starter about politicians and the Eucharist.

In this Conversation Starter, you will not only learn about the importance of the body and blood of Christ, but you will be transported to the year 390, when Christianity had not even been legal for a century yet. You will learn about the moral courage of St. Ambrose, about how he faced the man who ordered the slaughter of 7,000 innocent people, and about how he protected Christ in the Eucharist. 

Remember that Christ said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” 

The Eucharist is integral to our Catholic faith. And, with this six-page mini-lesson about the Eucharist, canon law, and St. Ambrose, you can help your teens understand the importance of protecting Christ in the Eucharist.

Not only will the questions and answers at the end spark thoughtful and intelligent conversations between you and your children, but the lessons they will learn and the knowledge they will gain will help strengthen that Catholic foundation your teens so desperately need in our increasingly secular world.

When you finish this lesson, your students will hopefully have a renewed sense of closeness to Christ and a passion to protect His precious body and blood.

Maybe you will even rediscover that joy you felt on that day you received Christ for the very first time.

Image courtesy of Xavilupe