The most holy body and blood of Christ, the Eucharist, is a rich source of abundant blessings, and it has many powerful effects.

A private audience. It is almost impossible to gain access to very important people for a personal encounter. It would be extraordinary and rare to have a private audience with the pope, a personal meeting with the president or a backstage pass to visit a famous performer. But in the Eucharist, Jesus is neither remote nor protected behind layers of security. The Eucharist gives the recipient unhindered access, not to a famous person, but to the Son of God, and not just for a handshake or a few pleasantries, but for extended quality time to be with the Lord.

An intimate conversation. While it is possible to speak with Jesus in prayer anytime, anywhere, the Eucharist provides a privileged and heightened opportunity to converse with him. The Eucharist is the real presence of Jesus; it is an intensified and heightened presence. It is an invitation for the communicant to have a close and intimate conversation with Jesus, who is totally available for a warm and personal exchange.

Companionship. Through the Eucharist, Jesus is faithful to his promises, “I am with you always” (Mt 28:20) and “I will not leave you orphans” (Jn 14:18). Life is a journey, and along the road there are many twists and turns, ups and downs. It is foolish to travel alone. The Eucharist is bread for the journey, and when Jesus comes to us in the Eucharist, he remains with us and walks with us as a faithful companion, not only when the road is smooth, but also, and particularly if, we pass through a dark valley. In the worst of times when it seems that one more step is beyond what we can do, Jesus sets us on his shoulders and carries us.

Transformation. When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist and he takes up residence within us, it enables us to become more and more like him. St. Paul aptly wrote, “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20). We are to become who we receive. If Jesus is loving, truthful, generous, merciful, self-sacrificing and obedient to his father, the recipient is supposed to become more loving, truthful, merciful, self-sacrificing and obedient to God, and the Eucharist provides the grace that facilitates this spiritual transformation.

Communion with the community. The reception of the Eucharist unites the communicant with everyone else who receives holy Communion. It places a person in fellowship with other believers, those attending that Mass, the other members of the parish and Catholics throughout the diocese and the world. It keeps a person linked to an immense spiritual family, the body of Christ — the Church — and establishes and strengthens a spiritual bond that is shared with brothers and sisters in faith everywhere.

Spiritual power, strength and endurance. Physical food is necessary for healthy muscles that have strength to do work over a long time. The Eucharist is spiritual food that gives the strength and power to do mighty deeds: to study and master difficult subjects; to speak and uphold the truth, even in the face of fierce opposition; to perform endless household chores cheerfully; and the capacity to take on a major task or carry a heavy load for the long haul.

A spiritual defense mechanism. Physical food strengthens the immune system, so antibodies can fight off germs that can harm or kill the body, and the Eucharist is spiritual food that equips a person to fend off temptations that can harm or kill the soul. The Eucharist fortifies a person’s internal defense mechanisms, equipping the person with potent spiritual weapons that repel or neutralize the injurious and lethal attacks of the devil, and to preserve a sterile environment, a soul that is clean and pure.