The location of the cross in relation to the altar in the Catholic Church is of utmost importance to our celebration of the Eucharist because it reminds us that the body and blood of Jesus Christ that becomes present on the altar for you and me is the very same body and blood that Jesus gave as a holy sacrifice for our salvation. Though Jesus died only once, the celebration of the Eucharist brings about (by grace) a re-presentation of the sacrifice Jesus gave on Calvary, only now in a non-bloody manner.
From the very beginning of Christianity, Jesus’ disciples have believed that the bread and the wine truly become the body and blood of Jesus during the liturgy of the Eucharist. St. Paul, writing around the year 56 A.D. to the Christian community in Corinth, confirms this early Christian truth when he says: “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16) Paul confirms for us that the early Christians believed Jesus, who tells us even today, “My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (Jn 6:55-56)
Our “Amen” truly changes our lives every time we receive Communion! Our every “Amen” allows us to be nourished and renewed by the atoning power of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is this sacred ritual of the Last Supper, commended to us by Jesus when he said “Do this in remembrance of me”, that allows Catholics to say: not only have I been saved, but I am being saved. Make no mistake, our accuser (the father of lies) stands ready to make a case against us, but our continuing, eternal salvation abides in the Sacrament. And if we say “AMEN!” with great faith to the Eucharist, we can also, in that faith, respond to the miserable liar: “Even if what you are saying about me is true, I am redeemed in the body and blood of Jesus Christ. So there.” The body of Christ…Amen! The blood of Christ…Amen!