Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

A sculpture showing an expectant Mary with Joseph traveling to Bethlehem is seen in a Missouri church during the season of Advent, the time of anticipation and hope before Christmas. CNS PHOTO/LISA A. JOHNSTON

Advent and the Eucharist: An intimate connection


Advent is a period of joyful anticipation and preparation for the coming of Christ. It is a time when Catholics reflect on the mystery of the Incarnation and prepare their hearts to welcome Jesus, both as the infant born in Bethlehem and as the Lord who will come again in glory. As we journey through the liturgical season of Advent, there is a profound connection between this period of awaiting and the Eucharist.

The Eucharist holds a central place in Catholic worship. It is the sacrament in which the Church receives the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. During the Eucharistic celebration, the Mass brings together the past, present, and future as it celebrates the memory of Christ’s passion, his presence in the Eucharist, and the promise of his second coming.

In the context of Advent, the connection between it and the Eucharist becomes even more profound. Advent prepares us for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. In the Eucharist, we encounter the resurrected Christ, who was born of the Virgin Mary and became one of us. It is through the Eucharist that we enter into intimate communion with Jesus, who comes to us in the humble form of bread and wine.

Just as Advent is a time of waiting for the arrival of Christ, the Eucharist is a constant source of expectation and longing for Christ’s presence in our lives. Every time we participate in the Mass, we are reminded of the Incarnation. We remember how Christ became Emmanuel, “God with us,” humbling himself to be born in a manger. Similarly, in the Eucharist, Jesus humbles himself again to be present among us, hidden under the simple elements of bread and wine. Through the Eucharist, Christ continues to be with us, nourishing our souls with his love and grace.

Advent prepares us for Christ’s coming with repentance and conversion. It is a time of introspection, as we examine our lives and strive to remove any obstacles that hinder us from fully embracing Christ’s presence in our hearts. Likewise, the Eucharist calls us to examine ourselves and seek reconciliation with God and our neighbor before partaking in the divine banquet. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we cleanse our hearts of sin, preparing ourselves to receive the Eucharist worthily.

Advent also reminds us to be watchful and vigilant, awaiting Christ’s second coming. As Catholics, we believe that Jesus will return in glory to judge the living and the dead. The Eucharist draws our attention to this eschatological dimension of our faith. When we receive the Eucharist, we not only encounter Christ’s historical presence in the past but also experience His future coming. The Eucharist becomes a foretaste of the heavenly banquet that awaits us in eternity.

Advent and the Eucharist share a profound connection within the Catholic faith. Both provide an opportune time for reflection, expectation, and preparation. Advent prepares us to celebrate Christ’s birth while Eucharist allows us to commune intimately with Jesus. These two liturgical realities invite us to be vigilant and watchful, anticipating the second coming of Christ. As we journey through the season of Advent, let us remember the importance of the Eucharist in deepening our relationship with Christ and helping us draw closer to Him as we await His coming.

Dcn. Jay W. VanHoosier is the Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Owensboro. For more information visit, email [email protected] or call (270) 852-8324.

Originally printed in the December 2023 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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