Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Let us be enamored of this sacrament!"

"Dear brothers and sisters, in the school of the saints, let us be enamored of this sacrament!” Pope Benedict XVI recently wrote these words as an exhortation for Catholics to fall in love with the Eucharist. Right on, Holy Father! It has been especially as a priest who offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass daily that I am enamored of this sacrament. In my thanksgiving after Mass, I constantly say to the Lord that I am not worthy to offer, celebrate, participate, share in, and receive the Eucharist. I am truly unworthy to be the vessel through which Consecration happens by the power of the Holy Spirit.

"Let us willingly and frequently converse, face to face, in the company of the Most Blessed Sacrament!" I was speaking about this with a woman yesterday who I am preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. We spent the prior two meetings talking about the Eucharist, Mass, and Adoration. One of the main points of our discussion was that conversing in the company of the Most Blessed Sacrament is so personal, so life-changing. Adoration is such a powerful experience of the presence of God and so needed for each one of us. When we are praying face-to-face with the Eucharist, we should be enamored of this encounter: we are looking at the Body of Christ, the Son of God! People who put themselves in this situation are not just enamored at what they are looking; they are often enamored of the overwhelming experience of peace and joy. It truly is the Real Presence of Christ. It truly is the Real Presence of Peace and Joy. We all long for the peace and joy of Christ; we find it in the Eucharist.

It is a tremendous gift to see people every day being enamored of the Blessed Sacrament. We have about 40 people who attend our daily Mass at the Newman Center. Many of them are workers in the area who take their lunch break to attend Holy Mass. They truly live out the reflection of the Holy Father: "Let us understand well why St. Thomas and other saints celebrated the Holy Mass shedding tears of compassion for the Lord, who offers himself in sacrifice for us, tears of joy and of gratitude…Let us participate in the Holy Mass with recollection to obtain its spiritual fruits, let us nourish ourselves on the Body and Blood of the Lord, to be incessantly nourished by divine grace!”

It has also been a blessing to read comments of bloggers over the years who are enamored of the Eucharist. One blogger recently wrote the following:

Over the last four years, I’ve been fortunate enough to begin to discover the intricacies of the Eucharist. What I’m learning is that the understanding the Eucharist is not a one time, “I get it” moment - it’s a culmination of many “I get it” moments.

A few years ago I heard the bread of life discourse mentioned in a homily. I didn’t know what the priest was talking about. I kept my ignorance (and pride) to myself and went on-line to see what I could learn. I found an article that referenced a prayer by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French Jesuit philosopher that I’d never heard of. Teilhard de Chardin’s prayer is heavy reading, but after reading it a few times, the end of his second sentence jumped out at me.

“Lord God, when I go up to your altar for communion, grant that I might derive from it a discernment of the infinite perspectives hidden beneath the smallness and closeness of the host within which you are concealed. Already I have accustomed myself to recognize beneath the inertness of the morsel of bread a consuming power which, as the greatest doctors of your Church have said, far from being absorbed into me, absorbs me into itself.”

When I read, “…far from being absorbed into me, absorbs me into itself” I felt like I’d been hit on the head with a 4x 4. I realized I’d been approaching communion with the thought of Christ becoming part of me but never, ever thought in terms of me becoming part of Christ. John 6: 56, “Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood remains in me and I in him” took on a whole new meaning for me. At that moment, I realized the obligation that comes with my assent, my “Amen” to the priest’s, “…through Him, with Him and In Him…”.

A second truth that I believe the Eucharist reveals has to do with suffering. Pain and suffering are something I have a hard time grasping and embracing. I was thinking about the Eucharist I realized that when I receive Christ’s body, I have to be willing to take the whole package –the good, the bad and the ugly. I know I want the salvation end of His deal, the good stuff – who wouldn’t want eternal life surrounded by nothing but calm and love? But, at that moment, I realized that suffering goes hand in hand with salvation. It's all part of eternal life. Somehow the suffering we all endure made a little more sense.


Matt Shoemaker said...

Wow, FG, that was a really impressive post. I've seen my own devotion to the Blessed Sacrament increase over the past year culminating over the weekend at Sunday Mass where I was the Extraordinary Minister- being able to hold Eternity and Love in one's hands was amazing and grace filled. I can only imagine what it is like to do that every day.

Liesl said...

great post! I feel that attending daily Mass more and more often this past year has really strengthened by love for the Eucharist and helped me to try to seek an understanding of the sacrament.

Anonymous said...

Enamored and dependent. It's the one thing that gets me through the day.