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image: Medieval painting in Valencia, Spain, depicting Jesus Christ holding the Eucharist or Sacramental Bread via jorisvo / Shutterstock.com

By Peter Kwasniewski, Catholic Exchange, Jan. 19, 2021

Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, Thomistic theologian, liturgical scholar, and choral composer, is a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College in California and The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. …

Editor’s note: This article is adapted from a chapter in Dr. Kwasniewski’s latest book, The Holy Bread of Eternal Life: Restoring Eucharistic Reverence in an Age of Impiety. It is available from Sophia Institute Press.

Each year, as Maundy Thursday comes around, the Catholic Church celebrates three mysteries tightly bound together: the institution of the Holy Eucharist, the institution of the Christian priesthood, and the great commandment of charity. They are bound together for many reasons, but this one above all: God is asking us to love in a way that is impossible to our unaided human nature. The Word became flesh, the Word became Victim, the Word became food. He took on our humanity, that we might take on His divinity. He loved with a human heart and gave that heart to us, that we might love with God’s own love.

O admirabile commercium — O wondrous exchange!

No priesthood, no Mass; no Mass, no Eucharist; no Eucharist, no life within us; no life within us, no love within us, either. The Holy Sacra­ment of the Altar is the concentration of all of God’s saving works: they come together here like all the threads of a grand story in the final chapter. His abiding desire to save and His indescribable generosity find in this Sacrament their most outstanding — indeed, one might almost say, outlandish — expression. He is the Lover who can make reality bend to His will for the sake of reaching, touching, entering into, and taking possession of the beloved.  …