Occasionally in this column I have written on some aspects of the Eucharist. There is so much we can say and reflect about on this rich gift that we have in our Catholic Church. Some time ago I received a letter of appreciation about one of these articles. The person asked if I could one day write something on the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

As a result I would like now to write briefly on the Eucharist as Presence.

In the Mass and later in the Blessed Sacrament reserved in the tabernacle, Jesus is truly present. St Thomas Aquinas (whose feast day we celebrate on the 28th January) teaches us that under the form of bread and wine Jesus is truly present with us in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

In other words, Jesus who is both fully God and fully human is truly present in the Eucharistic species.

What an unspeakable gift! The same Jesus, born in Bethlehem and who walked the breadth and length of Galilee doing a power of good and bringing the good news that our loving God was close to us, is with us now by his presence in the Eucharist.

When I was a child it seemed as if the only real presence of Jesus with us was in the Eucharist species. It was not taught but the impression was given.

Then along came Vatican II and reminded us that even in the Eucharist Celebration of the Mass, Jesus is truly present in other ways.

I would like to quote briefly from the Vatican document on the Sacred Liturgy in section 7.

"Jesus is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass not only in the person of his minister,'€¦but especially in the Eucharistic species. He is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. Lastly, he is present when the Church prays and sings'€¦'€¦"

So the Vatican Council, while affirming the presence of Jesus especially in the Eucharistic species has also very importantly reminded us that it is the same Jesus who is present in the Priest, the People and the Word. In other words Jesus is really present in these different ways.

So too, we know that Jesus is truly present with us in daily life through His Spirit in us and others. His risen presence is in all the good people around us and in our world. Jesus is present to us in the events of life. At any moment of any given day Jesus our risen Lord is with us '€“ truly present to us.

The more sensitive we are to one of these ways that Jesus is present and with us, the more I believe we will be to all the rich and many ways he is there, including and especially the powerful Eucharist.

Regarding the generous gift of himself to us in all these ways, let us tell Jesus often "we believe, help our unbelief".

Let us also stop and ponder, like Mary, all these things in our hearts.

One comforting conclusion we all come to is "don'€™t we all matter to our gracious God?"