How to gain a deeper appreciation
How then do we go about regaining an appreciation of this great and mysterious gift of Christ? For a faithful Catholic, everything should begin and end with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
Attend Mass Each Sunday
The Holy Eucharist is what makes us Catholics—it is, indeed, our identity. In this sense, the one who calls himself or herself a Catholic and does not participate in the Holy Sacrifice of Mass every Sunday is being untruthful to one's commitment to Jesus—they are living a lie. We are the Eucharistic People of God. The Catholic Church exists because of the Eucharist. We will begin rebuilding our faith in the Eucharist by attending Mass each Sunday, each day when possible, and thus be faithful to Christ’s commandment to “do this in memory of me.”
The second way to come to a more intimate knowledge and love of the Eucharist is through prayer. As St. Bernadine of Siena said over 500 years ago: "Prayer is the best preparation for Holy Communion. Prayer is the raising of the mind to God. When we pray we go to meet Christ Who is coming to us.” Daily prayer, and preparatory prayer before Mass is the way that we prepare ourselves for what should be the highlight and the center of our week, reception of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. It is easy to miss what is happening at Mass if we don’t take some time beforehand to get ourselves ready. In the Mass we are nourished by God’s Word in the readings, and by Jesus' own Body and Blood. So we need some time of silent prayer to get our ears attuned to listening to God speaking to us, and some time to reflect on our lives and our own spiritual hungers which we need the Eucharist to satisfy.
Live What We Receive
Another way that we can begin to appreciate the Mass more is if we try to truly live that which we receive. The word “Mass” comes from the Latin dismissal, “Ite Missa est!” ("Go you are sent!") We have to recognize that the Eucharist is meant to give us the strength, the courage and the grace to live as faithful Christians in the world. So at the end of Mass we are all sent out, newly refreshed and refilled with grace, to do God’s work in this world. Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to tell her sisters, that just as the priest at Mass so carefully handles and cares for the Eucharist, so they must go out and handle and care for the poor. The Eucharist is not meant to be something separate from our daily lives and work, rather we are meant to bring our daily life to Mass with us, and to take the Mass and Jesus Christ back out into our daily lives.
Next: Who can receive the Eucharist?