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Church Bells Are Ringing #8

Categories: Father Fay's Section

As promised we shall continue our exercise of first looking at just a small part of the Mass — and try to base our celebrating Mass on that alone. So here is what we have:

 

Take this, all of you, and eat of it,
for this is my Body,
which will be given up for you.

Take this, all of you, and drink from it,
for this is the chalice of my blood,
the Blood of the new and eternal covenant,
which will be poured out for you and for many
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this in memory of me.

 

 

The Body of Christ.
Amen.

The Blood of Christ.
Amen.

 

 

 

If we begin at the words said to us when we go to Communion it may sound as though we are assenting with our Amen the real presence of Jesus. In other words that the change (called transubstantiation) has taken place from bread to Body and from wine to Blood of Christ. What follows then is our amazement that we have witnessed a miracle of God before our eyes and that we can go home happy for that privilege.

The Words of Institution above, however, have more to them. In the older missals only some of the words were capitalized: FOR THIS IS MY BODY and FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD, OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL TESTAMENT, MYSTERY OF FAITH, WHICH FOR YOU AND FOR MANY SHALL BE POURED OUT FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. Other words of Jesus were given second place and hence of secondary importance. If we do this we are missing much.

 

So I must say the Church has become curious as to what all this means and where do we go to get the larger picture. These few words in themselves are not enough. Who is the Christ whose Body and Blood we share? Who are all of you to whom is he speaking? Does he really want us to eat and drink? We can do that at home or in a restaurant. What is the being given up for you mean? Is not the forgiveness of sins out of place? We go to confession for that. The only thing that seems to fit is going to Communion often to carry out his command to do this in memory of me. So if we are going to say Amen, why is that necessary?

There has to be something more than these few words if we are to have a meaningful Mass.

 

The first source is going to be the scriptures. Each Mass has some of them toward the beginning and then throughout the rest of the Mass. These last few days at Mass the Church has given us Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel. Let us use it to give us an idea how much we can learn about what we do at Mass from God’s word. Listening to God speak to us is a feast and celebration in itself. John tells us Jesus is the bread of life, come down from heaven, i.e. given to us by God, I am the living bread, i.e. the Person of Jesus is bread (therefore take and eat), I give my flesh for the life of the world (give my life –my body— offer it up for you), for whoever feeds on me will have me live in them and they in me (Christ lives in his people, his body, the Church), whoever eats my flesh will live forever (eternal Covenant), I will raise him on the last day (the risen Lord shares his glory, even now). This is the Christ to whom we say Amen. There is something of utmost importance at the beginning of Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel — John was very good at giving the timing of the multiplication of the loaves, the walking on the water and the discourse on the Bread of life, namely, The Jewish Feast of Passover was near. All of this was happening and our Mass is happening in the context of the new Passover, the renewal of the Covenant. The Eucharist we celebrate is our renewal in commitment to God’s gift of the Covenant and from this a deepening of our life in him — drink my Blood of the (re)newed Covenant.

 

The second source of understanding better what Christ Jesus is doing in the Eucharist is the Tradition of the Church. For this we shall use the Tradition as found in the altar books. The whole structure of the liturgy of the Eucharist is not just icing on the cake but integral parts of the mystery. Each part contributes to sharing in the Eucharist — in the full presence of Christ .Otherwise something is missing from the encounter. As we have studied the Mass in recent years God has opened our eyes to each element of our Eucharistic celebration and how each contributes to the several real presences of Christ that come together in what we call the Eucharistic action — the real presence of the Lord in his people present at Mass, the real presence of Christ in his living word, the real presence of Christ in his appointed priest to speak and act in his name, e.g. the Eucharistic Prayer, and the real presence in the sacred food and drink. There is one Christ and one real presence coalesced from these many forms together. We all have realized how richer the Mass is for us with good faith-filled homilies.

 

The third source of understanding the Mass better is the realization that the Holy Spirit is given us at the actual time of our participation in the sacred mysteries. This more subtle, of course, but no less real. We have all experienced this but I will use my own experience of the presence and working of the Holy Spirit as an example. Prior to action of the Mass I have found it helpful to look at the scripture that will presented to us ahead of time. You have probably done the same. At the time there are certain words of scripture that jump out and fix themselves in my mind. The thinking goes on and often these ideas find their way into the homily. But the surprising thing — which occurs with more and more frequently is that during the action of the Mass — is that something new and different comes to me and reveals God at work at that moment. For example, as Mass begins I become aware that present at that Mass is a family who are mourning the loss of a loved one. Immediately the word of God takes on new meaning and I see more clearly Christ’s dying for us and his love and the love of those near him at that very time. This is the working of the Holy Spirit. I leave Mass at Christ sending us forth with a closer communion with Christ’s and his people. It is not something I could have prepared ahead of time. It is true that we learn something at every Mass if we are open to the Spirit.

 

I know this has been lengthy. However, we need to put time in considering this great Mystery which Christ offers us in the celebration of his Eucharist. So we shall continue our search next time — so much we look forward to going to church for Mass.

 

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Holy Thursday Homily
Good Friday Homily
Easter Vigil Homily
Easter Day Homily
Easter II Homily
Easter III Homily

Commentary Easter Sunday
Commentary_Easter_2

Commentary Easter _3

 

Commentary Easter4

The Bells-Part One
The Bells Part Two

The Bells Part Three
The Bells Part Four
The Bells Part Five
The Bells Part Six
The Bells Part Seven
The Bells Part Eight

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Andrea Bocelli_1
Andrea Bocelli_2

First Station
Second Station
Third Station
Fourth Station
Fifth Station
Sixth Station
Stations Seven, Eight, Nine
Tenth Station
Eleventh Station

Twelfth Station
Stations_Thirteen & Fourteen