We cannot speak of the convergence point of all things without speaking of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. For if the living heartbeat of the entire universe is interpersonal communion, the embrace of persons in abiding intimacy, then the most vivid realization of this reality in the contours of this life is Holy Communion, the reception of the gift of Christ in the Eucharist. For this is the sacrament of sacraments, the source and summit of the Christian life, because in it is contained the full Person of Christ, incarnate in his entire humanity under the appearance of bread and wine; and he is present as a gift of vulnerability surrendered to us for the sake of communion. When we receive him and respond with the reciprocal gift of ourselves, we allow him to truly consummate with us the mystical marriage for which God created us. This marriage will be our everlasting gladness in heaven, occurring there in the nakedness of face-to-face vision and direct embrace; but it occurs already now through the medium of faith, and in the veiled mystery of the sacramental gift—in which Christ is wholly contained and wholly given, and in which he unites himself to us in the most profound intimacy.

As John Paul said, “The Eucharist is the Sacrament of the Bridegroom and of the Bride. Christ, in instituting the Eucharist…thereby wished to express the relationship between man and woman, between what is ‘feminine’ and what is ‘masculine.’ It is a relationship willed by God in both the mystery of creation and in the mystery of Redemption.” Here indeed is fulfilled that reality to which the spousal meaning of the body aspires; here is consummated the mystery of masculinity and femininity in its deepest virginal state before God—an anticipation of the eternal consummation that awaits us in the new creation. Here the whole incarnate human person is touched and pervaded by the incarnate Person of the Son, and in him by the Father and the Spirit too, and the Trinity comes to live in the very sanctuary of human flesh, as human flesh is taken, in and through the Eucharistic Christ, to live in the inner life of the Trinity. “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us” (Jn 17:21).

Here too we see the deepest essence of the Church as communion realized in the most explicit and total way. Indeed, we see that characteristic trait of the Catholic mystery as the intersection of incomparable singularity and universal communion brought to full flower. For here each incomparable person, in all of their singular bodiliness and in their unique struggles, desires, and experiences, draws near to the singular Christ, the one and only Son of the heavenly Father, who has taken to himself a singular humanity, a unique body. And yet this body, this singular flesh of Christ, by being united to the divine Person of the Son—who lives eternally in the bosom of the Father, even as he lives in the heart of historical time—is also a body in which all bodies are drawn together into unity. Thus the singular humanity of Jesus Christ is also a humanity that is universal in the breadth of its loving embrace: and we see this in the Eucharist, as the redeemed children of God approach the altar of God to receive the single gift of Christ, and in this drawing near, are also made one with each other through their union with One. Here universal communion is effected within the embrace of the incomparable singularity of One.

And this is a universal communion that is not abstract, not anonymous, but uniquely shelters, affirms, and cradles each singular child of God, and it can do this precisely and only because it is born from nothing else than the singular gift of Christ, the only-begotten Son of God (cf. Jn 1:18). For he loves each one of us uniquely, as if we are the only person ever created, for whom he uniquely died and gave his life, a capacity to love which is born from his own eternal and undying experience of the Father’s unique and incomparable love for him. This is expressed beautifully in the fact that the one sacrifice, offered on the altar of the Cross and on the altar of the Church—a single moment of history bursting beyond the limits of history, and thus being made perpetually present at the heart of history in every single liturgy—is given uniquely to each person who approaches to receive it. Here eternity penetrates time to the full, in this incomparable moment when I approach the altar and hear the words, “The Body of Christ,” the Body of Christ the Bridegroom given to me in this instant, and I respond in the words of the Bride, “Amen”—“Yes”, “Let it be!”

Here eternity intersects with time—here and now—in this instant with all the baggage I may bring to it, with all the fears, aspirations, memories, and hopes. Here the eternal Love of the only God, in the everlasting circulation of the Trinity’s innermost life as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, comes to meet me and to unite with me where it finds me, exactly where it finds me. And here, too, the very non-spatial presence of the entire Trinity permeates space—the unique space that is my bodily being, my corporeal nature in skin, muscle, ligaments, bones, heart, brain, blood, down to the very smallest particles of matter! And this union is not merely a corporeal union, of Body and body, of Blood and blood, but of Person and person, indeed of the three divine Persons and my unique created person! Here the body is made wholly spousal, and is but the radiant and transparent incarnation and expression of the gift of the inner person. Here the Bridegroom gives himself in an ecstasy of love to his bride, making a gift of his whole being in and through the body—a gift which is simultaneously acceptance and donation—and the bride, who is I myself, welcome this gift into me and allow it to permeate me, in a reception which is simultaneously reciprocal surrender.

Here all the lines come together, as my heart beats in unison with the Heart of Christ which beats within me. Just as, when a mother and child look deeply at one another, sharing a precious moment of mutual presence, their hearts begin to throb within milliseconds of one another, so the same is true in the gift of Eucharistic Communion. Christ comes and harmonizes his heartbeat with my heartbeat, his breath with my breath—for in his Risen Body he is capable of permeating my flesh in such a way that he becomes my body, transforming the very matter of my body into the incarnation of his own Body, which is actually to say, however, that he transforms me into himself. “And the two will become one flesh…” (Gen 2:24). As Saint Paul explains, “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the Church to himself in splendor… For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cares for it, as Christ does the Church” (Eph 5:25-27, 29).

Here two persons become one without ceasing to be two. Here the mutual abiding of the Trinity’s life takes me up into itself, such that God lives in me and I live in God in total reciprocal indwelling: “I in you, and you in me, that they may also be in us” (Jn 17:21). This is heaven realized already on earth. This is veiled, it is true, by mortality and by the fabric of time and space which has not yet received its definitive re-creation and renewal. And yet this gift, this intimacy, is the pledge of what is to come, the purifying and transfiguring union which is already making my corporeal body spiritual, already joining my mortal body to the immortal Body of Christ. And one who receives the Immortal into her mortality, insofar as she does not sever herself again from this union, cannot die forever. For she is wedded to the One who is the Resurrection and the Life. Therefore, “even if she dies, she will live.” Therefore, she lives with the certainty that, “whoever lives and believes in him will never die” (Jn 11:25-26). As Christ said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me” (Jn 6:54-57). Yes, what is eternal life but a living participation in the eternal circulation of love and the everlasting intimacy of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

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In his unique humanity, the incarnate Son has effected a marriage of God and humanity, drawing we who were scattered and lost back together into the unity of his reconciling embrace (Jn 11:51-52). This occurred already from the first moment of his Incarnation, when he was a microscopically small child in the womb of his mother, and throughout every single moment of his human life, but it found its full expression and fulfillment in his Passion and Resurrection. For here Christ explicitly and totally gave his body as a gift—“This is my body, given for you” (Lk 22:19)—pervading all the energies, faculties, and experiences of his incarnate flesh and his created soul with the gift of the eternal Person, both sacramentally in the Eucharist and existentially, sacrificially in his suffering and death. And this gift, this loving surrender of his incomparable Person (solitude), through the very sacrificial laying down of self through suffering (nakedness), made possible the deepest intimacy (unity) that has ever been: redeeming lost and lonely human hearts into the nakedness of encounter and communication and thus into the joy of authentic communion, both human and divine, once again.

This is the significance of the Resurrection, the Resurrection as the definitive victory over sin, suffering, and death. For suffering and death entered the world through sin, as sin was—in its original act in the infidelity of Adam and Eve—and continues to be—in every sin committed throughout history—a tearing of the fabric of harmonious relationship between God and his beloved children. And thus it is also a tearing of the fabric of communion between human persons, and between persons and the entire creation. Indeed, it is a tearing of the unity that exists within the personal subject himself or herself, such that the inner faculties are in disarray, and the body and spirit are no longer in harmony, and the “I” in its incomparable beauty is submerged under projections, fears, shame, and confusing guilt. In his Passion Christ entered into all the suffering, all the anguish and pain that our sins have brought upon us. He entered into the experience of loving compassion, of profound and total solidarity with us, in the deepest darkness and most agonizing pain that our sins have inflicted on ourselves and on others. Thus, whatever pain we have born, whatever suffering our sins have caused or the sins of others have inflicted on us—Christ has borne it. He has come to be with us here, drawn ardently by the depths of his love and longing. He was here, and he is here, in the time-transcending eternal significance of the Paschal Mystery.

He is here as the Love that pierces the loneliness of sinful solitude, the Presence that dispels all isolation, the vulnerable gift that—naked before us in the indestructible weakness of love—allows us to feel safe enough to be naked before him too, naked in all the depths of our vulnerability and weakness and sin, that he may touch us here, may communicate himself to us here, and may establish with us—in the bond of redeeming and re-creating grace—the true intimacy for which we were created and for which we thirst.

How humble is this union, how little and hidden and apparently insignificant, and yet how breathtakingly beautiful—the center and fulfillment of all things! Here is revealed and consummated the sacramental meaning of the human body—its spousal or nuptial meaning, its meaning as a gift oriented towards intimacy. Here is revealed, indeed, the sacramental beauty and meaning of the entire visible universe. For if bread and wine can become the bearers of Christ’s own living Body and Blood, the very locus of his full and incarnate presence, then this reveals something profound about the nature of all material and created reality. It is not impermeable to God. It is not a mere “thing,” composed of matter coming together randomly from various particles to make up a single organism, whether living or non-living. Indeed, it is not merely a union of matter and form as Aristotle said, and as Aquinas affirmed. It is this, certainly, but it is also more: it is a bearer of the divine mystery. This is so because each created reality, however insignificant, speaks a word from God who made it and who sustains it without ceasing. It bears, in all of its littleness and limitation, an intimation of infinity. Even if it is bounded on every side, horizontally, it is open upward, vertically—by the very fact of its existence—to the infinite and eternal existence of he who is Existence itself, Being itself: the Triune God.

It is thus above all in the sacraments, and in the prayer and life of the human person who is gradually permeated by the currents of grace flowing, through the Heart of Christ, from the depths of the Trinity, that the world again becomes what it was created to be. It becomes again a garden paradise for the union of Bridegroom and Bride. It becomes again the sanctuary of intimacy. It becomes again a temple of true worship and heartfelt love, in which the whole created order—drawn into unity within the human heart—sings a hymn of love to the everlasting God. It becomes a living-space of communion between created persons, manifesting and participating in the very eternal communion of the divine Persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is the great gift of the sacraments, and especially of the Church’s liturgy, of the Eucharist that lives at the heart of the Church as the ever-present and ever-renewed gift of her Bridegroom within her. And this flows out to permeate the whole creation, to flow into every human heart longing for intimacy and love, to heal, renew, and transfigure in the likeness of God, and to sweep all up at last into the everlasting consummation of all things within the security and joy of the Trinity’s embrace.

Here in the sacraments, here in prayer, here in the Heart of Christ, every human life, every vocation, every expression of love, self-giving, joy, suffering and every other experience there may be finds its meaning and its fulfillment. Here the cry of the suffering heart is echoed back by the compassionate Christ: “I am with you. I unite your pain with the suffering of my own total and loving gift on the Cross, and thus open the way for you to share in my definitive victory over suffering, in the undying joy of my Resurrection, both in and for yourself as well as for all of your suffering brothers and sisters and for the entire universe.” Here the gift of my body, whether in marital communion or in virginal surrender—and in, through, and beyond all in nuptial contact with Jesus—is joined to the spousal-virginal gift of Christ which has forever consummated the perfect Marriage, a Marriage which will be the endless happiness of all humanity at the end of time.

Here I share already in this fulfillment, and begin to taste, and thus to long, with all the fibers of my being, for the eternal Consummation that awaits. Here my every feeling, my every act, my every sensation, thought, or desire—my whole personal being in both body and spirit—is unveiled in its true beauty, is given its ultimate significance in the light of eternity. And it will never die, will never pass away. Nothing that has been or will be throughout my life, held in the inner sanctuary of my incomparable person, will be destroyed, but will live forever in God, as it is made new, made right, made whole by the redeeming and re-creating grace of the Trinity pouring out into me and sweeping me up, in and through Christ—Incarnate, Crucified, Risen, and Eucharistic—into the inner dance of ecstatic love and perfect intimacy lived eternally by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.