The Lord God has revealed to us during these pandemic days what he expects of us regarding the Sunday Eucharist by taking it away from us for a while. He, at his own good pleasure, will restore us to our tradition of keeping the Lord’s Day centered in our participation in gathering with the Catholic assembly to praise him in a thanksgiving way and to draw more deeply of the eternal gifts he bestows on us there. He wants more from us. That is really a blessing. So by examining more closely what we are missing at the moment he knows we shall return to Sunday worship with minds and hearts renewed and a more fervent participation in his blessings. The Lord is sanctifying his people.
Previously we had looked at the Mass by comparing it to the virtual presentations we have been using of the Eucharist. By revisiting spiritual communion prayers we have seen there is more to such a prayer now than what we learned growing up. The Eucharist includes everything from beginning to end, not just the going to Communion part.
The question remains what deep down make the Mass so important. The answer lies in the encounter or the personal exchange that takes place in the dialogue at Mass between God and us. This is what we wish to touch upon today.
To refresh our memories here is brief list of the Order of Mass: the gathering, the dialogue that begins The Lord be with you…, the plea for merciful love, the Church’s prayer (Collect) of thanksgiving and petition, the active listening to the word of God with proper response, the homiletic application of the word of God his presence in life here and now, the profession of our faith by saying who we are, putting thanksgiving into action by joining Christ in sacrifice, showing that we are united in Christ by saying the Lord’s Prayer together and changing a sign of peace, the consumption of the Body of Christ as food for our spiritual growth in response to his saving word and consumption of the Blood of the Covenant, Jesus himself, indicating our allegiance to God’s love in uniting us to himself in his family bond, finally he being sent forth to live the Christ we have just celebrated. So to tie all these things together for us think of making a spiritual communion for all these things — the total word and sacrament.
So what is happening when we faithfully, consciously, actively participate in this whole ritual?
The Mass is a personal encounter and exchange between the Person of God and the persons of mankind. We meet God. We listen to him. We converse with him. We let his feed us with his word and with his Son’s life. We go home from Mass and can say: This day God and I spent time together and I came away with more than I gave. Everyone who put their heart and soul in participation in the Eucharist received more of the same that God had given in the past — I am more alive with Christ’s eternal life of his kingdom. Mass is real communion of persons — one of which is divine. That is what life is really all about.
Eucharist is about unity — Christians united together in the body of Christ, the Church. This is one of great things we have sensed was mission during the past few weeks. God’s plan is to being his people together in the joyful bond of being one. By ourselves we are incomplete. God has planted in us the constant desire to be with others. This takes place in the action of the Mass. The source of the unity is the Holy Spirit. The real presence of the Holy Spirit during the Eucharist parallels the real presence of Christ throughout the Mass. We are trying to understand and be conscious of the several real presences of God when we are gathered around the table of the Lord. We can see now that we cannot have unite among us at the Eucharist without the Holy Spirit bringing that about. Saint Augustine many years ago eloquently taught the newly baptized that it is their unity as the body of Christ which is placed on the altar in sacrifice and which is consumed. We eat the presence of Christ so that his presence increase within us. That unity continues even after we are sent forth from Mass.
There is much more to talk about. We shall continue this the next time.