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Chapter 17. The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Christian Life • 227

spiritual needs.” Having offered ourselves to the Father in union with

Christ, we practice active participation in the Mass in its highest form.

This inner drama at each Mass contributes to the process of our

spiritual transformation into Christ. It all takes time. When we receive

Communion, we need to remember that we are not changing Christ into

ourselves. Jesus is transforming us into himself. This requires a proper

understanding of the Real Presence of Jesus under the appearance of

bread and wine. It is not simply a symbol that merely points to Jesus.

Nor is Christ’s presence just a projection on our part in the sense that we

make him present when we receive him. As Pope Benedict XVI told the

young people gathered for the Twentieth World Youth Day:

The Body and Blood of Christ are given to us so that we our-

selves will be transformed in our turn. We are to become the

Body of Christ, his own Flesh and Blood.

We all eat the one bread, and this means that we ourselves

become one. In this way, adoration, as we said earlier, becomes

union. God no longer simply stands before us as the One who is

totally Other. He is within us, and we are in him. His dynamic

enters into us and then seeks to spread outwards to others until

it fills the world, so that his love can truly become the dominant

measure of the world. (Benedict XVI, Homily at Marienfeld,

Twentieth World Youth Day [August 21, 2005])

The consecrated bread has become Christ’s Body. The consecrated

wine has become Christ’s Blood. Jesus Christ is substantially present in a

way that is entirely unique. This happens by the power of the Holy Spirit

through the ministry of the priest’s or bishop’s acting in the person of

Christ during the Eucharistic Prayer. At Mass, when we are offered the

Host and hear the statement “The Body of Christ,” we answer, “Amen,”

that is, “Yes, I believe.”

Only Jesus can transform us into himself. Our inner receptivity is

critical. To receive love, we need to be open to it. The sacrificial gift

of self at every Mass is the best way to be continuously transformed

into Christ. Then in Christ we become bread for the world’s bodily and

spiritual hungers.