In answer to our prayers we now know that we will be able to return to Mass at the end of this month of May. The Lord has not let us down. We continue to prepare for those days when we can join his people to celebrate his love — his Covenant love — at the Table of the Lord. We must be ready not just for the resumption of our Eucharistic celebrations but for answering God’s call to take part in these gatherings with greater understanding and a deeper desire to share Christ’s life to the full, both in church and at home and on the job and with our families. These articles are an attempt to get us ready for these riches from heaven.
It takes a life time to grasp fully these mysteries of our eternal happiness. We know these days of contemplation offer a reward of joy and peace in the Lord we love.
Our main approach here has been to appreciate better the full scope of the Eucharistic Mystery. We are not youngsters anymore and cannot be satisfied with what we first learned when making our First Communion. There is a lot more. In those former days we began with Jesus at the Last Supper and took to heart his command to take and eat my body which is being offered up for you and take and drink my blood of the new covenant poured out in sacrifice for you. We learned and practiced that our Communion meant that Jesus really entered our hearts and made his dwelling there so that our whole life would follow him in love of God and neighbor. For so many believers it stopped there and we told ourselves that we knew it all. God did not let us alone. He stirred up his people near and far with a deeper desire to understand what was going on at Mass that made it so powerful in our lives. This got moving from the beginning of the twentieth century and culminating with the meeting of our bishops worldwide during the 1960’s and their giving impetus to the changes to fashion our lives within the Church’s life more in harmony with Gospel of Jesus Christ. Liturgical reform became the center of our renewal. We have benefited from it ever since. Had this not occurred we would not have been so ready to draw deeply from the springs of salvation during these pandemic days. So we have listened to God’s word during what I call our desert days and reexamined our lives in Christ as leading to worship of the Father, through Christ, in the Spirit. Our faith has matured. The essentials have come to the fore. We proceed (and hopefully never cease) to use God’s gifts to please him more and more.
In this series of articles we have been going beyond our understanding (and practice) of our earlier years regarding the Mass. We realize that just knowing and celebrating eating and drinking the Body and Blood of Jesus, will leave us at a standstill in our faith practice and degenerate so easily in a soulless routine of faith that does not lead us to sing a new song to the Lord as he wants. Our experience of these couple of months will not let us grow complacent again.
So to shake us up I have offered a wider perspective of what goes on at Mass. It is all important and we put ourselves into the Eucharistic action every minute. Some of things might not be new, others may be. So our review should offer some amazing new insights. I hope it will help us to bring these faith matters to our second graders whose First Communion is yet to be rescheduled.
In our discussions we have reached how the Holy Spirit has an essential at Mass. We have concentrated almost exclusively at times on the real presences of Jesus that we have not paid attention enough to the role of the Holy Spirit without which there is no Mass. Keep in mind that brothers and sisters in the faith who witnessed the resurrection of Christ have told us repeatedly that the Holy Spirit became a great part of their life. Just read the Acts of the Apostles. It is a lot more than just Pentecost. For instance, the readings of the Fifth Sunday of Easter tells us of the group of Seven, sometimes called deacons, who were chosen to serve the Church. They identified the ones they selected because they were filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom. Think of what that means and ask ourselves if we can identify men and women in our own time that way.
Last session of these articles dealt with Invocation of the Holy Spirit in the Eucharistic Prayers as essential to the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. It is a change that only God could make. In this piece I want to show other invocations of the Holy Spirit at Mass asking the Father to send that same Spirit upon the assembled congregation to bring about unity in the body of Christ.
Here are some examples of a second invocation of the Holy Spirit in the Eucharistic Prayers after the consecration
Therefore, as we celebrate
the memorial of his Death and Resurrection,
we offer you, Lord,
the Bread of life and the Chalice of salvation,
giving thanks that you have held us worthy
to be in your presence and minister to you.
Humbly we pray
that, partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ,
we may be gathered into one by the Holy Spirit.
(Eucharistic Prayer II)
Look, O Lord, upon the Sacrifice
which you yourself have provided for your Church,
and grant in your loving kindness
to all who partake of this one Bread and one Chalice
that, gathered into one body by the Holy Spirit,
they may truly become a living sacrifice in Christ
to the praise of your glory.
(Eucharistic Prayer IV)
Look kindly, most compassionate Father,
on those you unite to yourself
by the Sacrifice of your Son,
and grant that, by the power of the Holy Spirit,
as they partake of this one Bread and one Chalice,
they may be gathered into one Body in Christ,
who heals every division.
Notice first of all that these prayers about us who are going to Communion. Notice as well the Church is praying that the Holy Spirit come down upon us and that he unite us in the body of Christ, the Church. There you have the purpose of the Mass. Added to this, in the first example above, is that the Lord gathers us into his presence to serve him. So at the Eucharistic Table we have been brought into God’s presence — this presence is what we are missing during these days when we have no Mass. Notice, too, in the last example given that what happens when the Holy Spirit unites us at Mass we receive God’s healing, his salvation, so that we can worship him as is his due (second example). Do not forget that the same Spirit who changes the bread and wine into Jesus’ Body and Blood is the same Spirit that comes upon us who eat his Body and Drink his Blood and forms us by so doing into the image of Christ and unites us to our fellow worshipers.
From this we go home and carry with us not only Jesus and his image within us but we also carry the Holy Spirit, who guides us in all our ways. We still have those presences when we come back to Mass. Through our celebration and participation those presences increase. That is why Jesus commanded do this in memory of me — which his follow have done frequently and regularly since the beginning. We do not want to be the ones who stop this tradition. We shall return to regular Mass participation to keep the faith going from generation to generation. Be more aware what you are bringing to Mass — love of the Father, image of the living Christ, and the wonderful heavenly gift of the Spirit.
Commentary Easter Sunday