“You are what you eat.” This popular phrase is usually related to eating healthy food, but some have raised the question as to whether this applies to eating the Body and Blood of Christ[JR1] . When I first heard someone connect the two several years ago, I wondered if it was truly possible to become more like Jesus Christ as a result of attending daily Mass and partaking of the “daily bread” that we hear about in the Our Father. As we can learn from the saints who have gone before us, the answer to that question is yes. Attending daily Mass changes us in many ways.
We Become More Hungry
No, this isn’t the earthly food that I’m referring to! Instead, I’m referring to the Eucharist, “the source and summit of the Christian life.”[JR2] If God leads and we follow, the Eucharist—and by nature, the Mass—will become the center of our life and of our days. As St. John Vianney said, “There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.” [JR3] The more we understand the beauty of this gift from God, the hungrier we become to regularly receive it.
We Grow in Holiness
Our faith increases because we learn more, both intellectually and spiritually. As the Word of God enters our minds and our hearts, we begin to be transformed, seeing, in part, how to change vices into virtues. Sometimes, we see elements of our own lives in the readings or the homilies that we hear, allowing us to make a personal goal of aligning ourselves to the ways in which God wants us to live. Receiving the Eucharist continues this transformation, helping us to understand how to love as God does. As St. Therese of Lisieux stated, “I understood that love comprises all vocations – that love is everything, and because it is eternal, embraces all times and places[JR4] .” This love is not only our own but also God’s.
Visiting Jesus daily in the Tabernacle can also help us to grow in holiness. St. John Paul II said: “Love Jesus present in the Eucharist. He is present in a sacrificial way in Holy Mass, which renews the Sacrifice of the Cross. To go to Mass means going to Calvary to meet him, our Redeemer. He comes to us in Holy Communion and remains present in the tabernacles of our churches, for he is our friend[JR5] .” In the same way that the women and the Beloved Disciple likely grew in holiness as they stood with Jesus through his Passion and Death, we, too, have the opportunity to grow in holiness as a result of being at the foot of the Cross during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Specifically, we begin to see our own crosses as a cause for joy as we stay near the never-ending hope of our Savior’s Cross.
We Become Detached From Sin
At the same time we grow in holiness, we grow a distaste for sin.
The desire to attend Mass and to follow Jesus wholeheartedly helps us to conquer vices and grow in virtue.
We Receive More Graces
The graces we receive may not be known immediately, but we know that God is ready to pour them out onto us. St. Faustina wrote in her Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul that Jesus said to her: “I desire to unite Myself to human souls. Know, My daughter, that when I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, My hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul” (1385). The math here is easy: the more that we attend Mass, the more graces we receive–assuming that we are open to them.
We Can Live Our Vocation and Our Avocation(s)
Attending daily Mass gives us the ability to live our vocation and our avocation(s) to the fullest. St. Faustina wrote that the “bread of the Strong gives me all the strength I need to carry on my mission and to do whatever the Lord asks of me[JR8] .” While the tasks that God may reveal to us during our time communing with Him may seem daunting if we think that we are being called to this vocation or avocation alone, being able to receive Holy Communion regularly during the Mass will allow us to live as we are being called and realize that we are truly not alone.
We Want to Spend More and More Time with Jesus
Soon, we will find that attending daily Mass just isn’t enough; we will feel called to spend more and more time with Jesus, leading us to participate in Holy Hours and in Adoration. St. Teresa of Calcutta alludes to this with the statement that the “time you spend with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the best time you will spend on earth.” [JR9] When we spend enough time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament that we come to this same realization, we will do what we can to maximize our time spent with Him.
So, then, what is a good elevator speech about what happens when we attend Mass each day? Perhaps St. Leo the Great answers that the best: “Our sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ has no other purpose than to transform us into that which we receive.” [JR10]
[JR6]Cochem, Martin. Cochem’s Explanation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. New York, 2014.
[JR7]Also found here http://catholicapologetics.info/modernproblems/newmass/graces.htm