While the Eucharist has always been a consoling mystery with an ecstatic, mystical language surrounding it (such as “Happy are those who are called to the wedding feast of the lamb,” Revelation 19:7-9), it has also been clothed in the language of suffering, blood, and death.
It makes clear the connection that the mystics always confirm: there is an inherent link between love and suffering.
I think the tradition is correct in saying that somehow this mystery of the Eucharist is both festive meal and the inevitability of suffering for what we love.
So this wedding table is not decorated with a cake but with a cross.
The Eucharist embraces both the great love and the great suffering that are the only things strong enough to take away our pretentiousness and our illusions. They are our avenues to the Real.
Contact with reality is what redeems you, and Jesus is the Really Real.
In the Eucharist, the Real is brought to a focus and to a moment. I believe we are transformed when we eat the Real, and every part of the Real: the good and the bad, the dark and the light, the suffering and the ecstasy both.
We say therefore, that the Eucharist is the ongoing celebration of the cross and the resurrection. Not the cross OR the resurrection, but precisely BOTH, and even the connection between the two. I am not sure which is harder.
With Jesus, we find the power to hold the pain of life until it transforms us.
The Eucharist is all about changing: changing bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus, which then changes us into the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is too much to think or understand with the mind alone; we can only eat it until its very nutrition changes us.
I have often said when celebrating the Mass that it is much easier to convince bread and wine that it is Christ than it is to convince most people! The bread and wine believe immediately. We hedge our bets and slowly wait to be convinced.
From Daily Meditation, September 26, 2014 [I reformatted the paragraphs]
Adapted from Eucharist as Touchstone (CD, MP3 download)