Archbishop's Message


The Eucharist is the sacrament par excellence of the life and mission of the Church and the period of Eastertide beginning with Easter Sunday and ending with Pentecost Sunday brings this reality so sharply to our consciousness!

After instituting the Holy Eucharist before his death on the cross Our Lord Jesus Christ ‘breaks bread’ with the two disciples on their way to Emmaus on the very day of the Resurrection and they ‘recognize’ him in that action. That action of Our Lord also becomes the springboard for the two disciples to run with joy to give the good news of the Resurrection to the Eleven who are still in fear (cf. Luke 24:13-35). Of course, the Risen Lord himself appears to the frightened Eleven soon after the Emmaus encounter, eats with them, opens their eyes, gives them the gift of his peace and constitutes them as his Spirit-filled witnesses to place before the whole of humanity the joyful call to ‘repentance for the forgiveness of sins’ in his name (cf. Luke 24: 36-49).

In the Eucharist we experience the presence of the Risen Lord with us who opens our minds to understand the mystery of his suffering, death and resurrection as told in the Scriptures, and the infilling of the Holy Spirit to be the courageous witnesses of Our Lord Jesus Christ in this world.

The Acts of the Apostles describe the early Spirit-filled fellowship of the believers who were united in the communion of the Church through the breaking of the bread, listening to the Word, heeding the Apostolic teaching, praising and worshipping God, holding everything in common, and proclaiming through word and deed the Good News of salvation in Christ.

This is the foundation of our Eucharistic tradition which has come down to us from the Apostles as the anamnesis (memorial) of our reconciliation in Christ (cf. 2 Corinthians 5: 16-20). In the Eucharist we actually remember and celebrate the reconciliation of the whole of humanity and creation in Christ. Here are the truth-bearing words of St. Paul: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1: 7-10).

Therefore, the Eucharist is the most sublime moment of prayer and contemplation, of our communion with the Holy Trinity, our communion with the whole Church in space and time, our communion with the whole of creation and our communion with one another. Every word and action of the liturgy takes us deeper and deeper into the mystery of salvation every time we participate in the Holy Mass.

To those whose hearts are not attuned to the divine, the liturgy can be ‘boring’ because the words of the Mass never change, they are always the same with seeming repetition and lack of spontaneity. Since the prayers are formal they can be boringly familiar and our mind can flee elsewhere. In such a situation the Eucharist does not become the prayerful encounter with the Risen Lord we should long for but an ‘obligation’ to be fulfilled.

As I was reading the book Prayer by Joyce Rupp (Bengaluru: ATC Publications, 2007), I was struck by some very profound yet practical thoughts on “Praying the Eucharist”. She speaks of the ‘spiritual potency’ of the Eucharist which she experienced on a day when, while standing in line to receive Communion with her outstretched hand, the consecrated hosts were over. She says, “I felt like a little bird with its mouth open, with nothing to be had. I stood and waited for what seemed an eternity until the Eucharistic minister returned with the remaining consecrated wafers. As I returned to my place, gratitude for the Gift I had received encompassed me” (p. 88).

She describes a familiar feeling many of us may have experienced when we see little pre-Communion children with eyes wide open, looking up eagerly and watching the elders receive Communion. She says: “At that moment, I regained my own wonder for what was taking place” (p. 89). Childlikeness is often synonymous with a sense of wonder and awe, and this is precisely what the Eucharist does to each one of us – it fills us with a sense of wonder and awe at the great and unfathomable mystery of our redemption in Christ.

The Eucharistic liturgy provides numerous opportunities for us to move into personal prayer: “If we are open and vigilant, a thought from a good homily, the lines of a song, a text from the scripture readings, or a phrase from the Eucharistic prayer can draw us into a deepening sense of how God is moving within and among us. For example, the words to the Our Father hold immense potential for transforming prayer. Just one line such as ‘forgive us our trespassers as we forgive those who trespass against us’ contains enough spiritual fuel to last a lifetime” (p. 89).

It's amazing, but true that we can receive healing of our physical and especially emotional wounds just with the words we address to the Lord before receiving Communion, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed’.

Another miracle that takes place at the Eucharistic table is the ‘awareness of other people who gather for the Eucharist’ – the awareness that we are truly the Body of Christ. I can still remember a man in a parish in the U.S. who would never respond ‘Amen’ to the words, ‘the Body of Christ’ but would say, ‘yes, that’s what we are’. We are called to look beyond the bread we eat and the cup we drink in order to be ‘Eucharistic’ people. In the presence of the Eucharistic Christ, we allow ourselves “to be taken by Jesus, blessed, broken, and distributed to others for their nourishment, passing on the gift, the wonder, and the grace of Christ” (p. 90).

Joyce Rupp speaks of the mystical way in which Christ reaches out to us through each person who gathers for prayer. Through the Eucharistic Christ we are connected with one another. She narrates the incident of a teenage girl:

“One time a teenage girl next to me hung her head and slumped back on the pew throughout the service. Her body language told me this was the last place she wanted to be . I wondered what caused her mood, perhaps a painful menstrual cycle, or a breakup with a young love, or alienation from a parent. I felt drawn to extend kindness and understanding to her. Throughout the liturgy, I deliberately united Christ’s compassion to the young woman. I longed for her to be at peace. Eventually, I felt a gentle communion between myself and the unhappy teenager. This experience taught me the possibility of ‘passing on the gift, the wonder, and the grace of Christ’ to others” (pp. 90-91).

When we participate in the Eucharistic liturgy, it is good to ask ourselves what may be going on in the heart of each person who is present with me before the altar of the Lord and try to be part of that person’s joys as well as sorrows as we lift up each one of them to the Lord. Let us remember that we are joined by our common faith, our common hope and our common love that binds all of us together into the one Body of Christ and it is this truth that makes all the difference between our sacramental unity in the Church and any gathering outside the Eucharist.

As the devil tries to lure the world more and more into sin we can witness the marvellous surge of daily Mass attendance and Eucharistic Adoration Centres in every diocese of the world including ours. Isn’t it truly a sign from God that the defeat of the devil lies in the power of the Eucharist?

Here are some powerful personal testimonies from a diocese in the USA as they prepare for the National Eucharistic Congress (June 17-21, 2024). It is called Project ‘I Am Here’:

“I have experienced the healing and transformative power of the Eucharist through my relationships, in freedom from past struggles and sins, and in an unending desire for closeness with God. Little did I know before heading out on this journey of daily Mass that my vision and focus were so clouded. I constantly measured myself by those around me, but I didn’t look at the summit of creation, Jesus Himself! Since going to Mass daily, I have been confronted with my own brokenness and poverty; this is something I had never truly contemplated. I felt like the Eucharist was given to me to get through life rather than to be truly impacted by it. I certainly never thought I would ever get over my past failures as a teammate, son, and friend. Through the Eucharist, I have come to know a love and peace that gives me the strength and desire to express its power to others. The Eucharist has altered my focus and direction in life. It has shown me the need for community and the need for relationships with God and other people”.

“While I am at adoration and praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I often think about how radically different and mysterious our faith truly is. Adoration is one of those spaces in which I love to experience Christ’s love. While at adoration, I take on the image of being before Christ at one of His many teachings expressed in the Bible, sitting before Him, and experiencing His words and His love, and truly being able to experience the truth He is expressing. Being in the Real Presence of Christ in that way expresses the closeness that God desires to have with us”.

“My life has completely changed since I came to realize the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. I was away from the Church for 40 years when the Holy Spirit revealed to me the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and I had to return to the faith I was born into. Today, I am not the same person I was 16 years ago. I have developed a real friendship with Jesus Christ, and adoration allows me to communicate with Jesus on a personal level”.

“I give my time and love to Jesus, and He gives His time and love back to me. That fills me with an unexplainable peace that helps me to love others”.

“I love Mass because it takes me to the Last Supper and reminds me of how much Jesus loves me (and all of us). The readings remind me of how His presence was foretold and how God never deceives us. The presence of other people during Mass reminds me that we are one Church, the bride of Christ and God’s children. The presence of others in the Mass also reminds me of the good people who have died – some martyrs for the Faith and others who did what they could to share their faith throughout their lives. In the Eucharist., we come together as one Church to be the one Body that is Christ within our world. He lives through us”.

Yours sincerely in the Lord,
+ Anil J. T. Couto
  Archbishop of Delhi