Braden Lynch, Theology II, Mount St. Mary’s Seminary
About eight years ago, I do not think I could have told you that Christ is truly present, body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Blessed Sacrament, under the appearance of bread and wine. Along with this, I am not sure if I firmly believed in God’s individual love for me, the reality of sin, and the mystery of grace and redemption; if I did, it meant little to me and had little effect in my daily life. Fast forward through a time of reversion, initial discernment of priesthood and seminary, six years of seminary formation, and ongoing conversion. I now strive to center each moment of my day around God, whose love I have profoundly experienced; I do so most especially through the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
Today we celebrate and meditate on the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood by Our Lord at the Passover meal, the Last Supper. Christ, through this meal, shared with us the heavenly banquet—the meal of His body, blood, soul, and divinity. This is the food by which we commune with God, partaking in His eternal life—which is love itself (or charity). For this reason and more, Saint Thomas Aquinas called the Eucharist the “sacrament of love.” At the Last Supper, Christ also instituted the priesthood—most especially when He charged the apostles as the ministers of His eucharistic sacrifice, saying, “Do this in memory of me” (Luke 22:19).
My heart is made to burn with the love of Christ through my reception of Him in Holy Communion and my time before His presence in the Blessed Sacrament. This is often not a sensible experience. Yet I trust, through faith, that at the core of my being I am transformed to be more like the one whom I gaze upon and receive. I become, in a way, like the lamp in the sanctuary—that sign which tells us that we are in the presence of the Eternal King. I am given a foretaste of and prepared for that long-desired goal: eternal life with God. I am strengthened supernaturally, through God’s love, to do my daily responsibilities, and, for the love of God, to love and assist those around me.
But this is not all. The Lord has offered to me the opportunity to give my heart entirely to Him, that I might be conformed in a special way to be like Him and love as He does. This is the gift of the priesthood. Through the hands, words, and intention of the priest, Christ obediently becomes present on earth in the Blessed Sacrament. How much more, then, does my heart burn for this immense gift of priesthood!
I reflect and see how I must never go back to where I was eight years ago. Some might consider as one grand “waste of time” the thousands of hours which I have spent before the Blessed Sacrament and in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Well, that is okay—I hope to continue to “waste” time on earth with Christ in the Eucharist, as one wastes time with a friend. I hope to “waste” eternity with that friend who has set my heart ablaze through His Eucharistic presence. I desire to “waste” my strengths, gifts, ambitions, and all that I am through participation in Christ’s priesthood—bringing the love of God to souls through the sacraments, and allowing God to use me to set other hearts on fire with His love, as He has done in me.
Braden Lynch is in Second Theology at Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Braden is 23 years old, from Laurel, Maryland. Please God, Braden will be ordained to the diaconate in May 2023 and to the priesthood in Summer 2024. Please pray for Braden!