A vast mass of literature has been written on the subject of the Holy Eucharist–also known as the Mass. At every Eucharist celebrated by a priest or bishop who has been empowered through the Apostolic Succession there are two main features. There is, as in every other Sacrament, the helping of the individual communicant, and there is also in this Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist the distribution of spiritual help and power throughout the world and the inner planes as well. For in the Eucharist Christ descends directly upon the earth, and in that re-incarnation of our Lord his blessing, power, peace, and healing grace floods through every atom of the planet and those within its life-sphere. It is no wonder then that the Irish have said for centuries: “Only the Mass matters.” For it is the Sacrament of Life.
The Heart of the Eucharist
The central point of the Eucharist is the Prayer of Consecration, in which the elements of bread and (in some traditions, unfermented) wine are transformed from elements of earth into the very divine light and life–the Consciousness–that manifested as the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In other words, the bread and wine are transmuted into the living consciousness of Christ which takes the form of bread and wine, as two thousand years ago it took the form of a human body in Bethlehem. Thus in the Holy Eucharist we do not receive literal flesh and blood, but rather the Life and Consciousness that is Christ the Lord. And this becomes assimilated into our own life and consciousness, thus bearing us further along toward the goal of our own Christhood.
Greater love than this there could not be, and greater love than this shall never be–that we, the children of the Kingdom, should come to live with Christ’s own Life. The bread and wine become very truly channels and vehicles through which the life of God Himself is brought directly and immediately into our life. This is the wonder which is sometimes called “transubstantiation.” It is indeed miraculous–that is to say, the exchange of bread and wine for Christ Consciousness is effected in accordance with laws of nature which are far beyond the ken of ordinary human beings. But it is not beyond the ken of the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit who work the wonder at every Eucharist. When this wonder occurs, the whole place becomes filled with power and blessing from on high. It is filled with the Divine Life that now has taken on the forms of bread and wine. And this spiritual force and blessing begins to spread abroad, ultimately reaching every particle of “the earth and all that therein is” (Psalms 146:6).
The Purpose of the Eucharist
This is one of the main purposes of the Eucharist. It is as though a shaft were driven through a dense cloud overhanging our earth, and through that shaft a brilliant ray of sunlight were to reach us from regions far above the cloud and then to be spread abroad laterally on our side of the cloud. That is the Lord’s way of spreading His blessing and giving His help. This Sacramental method was instituted by Him as a very effective means of imparting His love to all. Further, each one who receives Holy Communion at the Eucharist enters into very real union with Christ–both Jesus Christ and the Cosmic Christ. If this communion with Him is repeated week after week or day after day, it must inevitably have the effect of so stimulating the communicant’s real inner life that he increasingly reproduces in his own life the nature and character of the Lord Himself–thus experiencing what Saint Paul meant when he spoke of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
Universal blessing and individual union with Christ are the two essential features of every true Eucharist. The Lord himself comes to us in his divine status and spreads his heavenly life upon all the world. And he unites himself with every communicant and in this way, especially if this union is repeated continually, he assists the evolution of the communicant’s inner life to an extent that we cannot estimate, enabling the Initiate of Christ to say in the words of the First Ode of Solomon:
The Lord is on my head like a crown.
And I shall not be without Him.
They wove for me a crown of truth,
And it caused Thy branches to bud in me.
For it is not like a withered crown which buddeth not;
But Thou livest upon my head,
And Thou hast blossomed upon my head.
Thy fruits are full-grown and perfect,
They are full of Thy salvation. Alleluia.