The Gift of the Eucharist — By Fr. Rich, O.P.
I’m writing this column on March 2, this being my third attempt to do so. This effort follows the privilege of celebrating the Eucharist, in the morning for the children at St. Peter’s in Fulton, at noon for our community here. As the Spirit would have it, both homilies were drawn from the Responsorial Psalm, “Remember the marvels the Lord has done.” In both homilies, I invited members of the congregation to envision a marvel of the Lord that they’ve experienced.
As I contemplated during the moment at our Mass here, the “marvel” that manifested itself was the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, present on our altar. The moment was not a theological outburst, it was not a revelatory sunrise of unawareness to awareness. It was simply a quiet “aha” moment. It was a gentle reminder of the awesome gift that I was offered at my ordination. The gift was being chosen as the one among equals to offer prayer and be part of the mystery of bringing into our presence our brother, Jesus Christ.
This marvel, this mystery, is the core of our lives as Catholics. Regardless of what transpires in the world around us — hatred, anger, fear, distrust — we can rest in the presence of Christ. The Eucharist offers us grace that nurtures us for our daily challenges, strengthening our defenses, and energizing our participation in ministries, in prayer or studies. Our communal participation in the Eucharist can also encourage us in following through with our Lenten commitments.
Lenten commitments are not unlike New Year’s resolutions. Neither one is likely to survive intact for any length of time, generally. So I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to stop for a moment, find a comfortable place to be for a moment. Ask yourself this question, “How am I moving through this Lenten season?”
If your answers come back with little hesitation, I would ask that you repeat the question, and then take a moment to answer more thoughtfully and insightfully.
Have we chosen the path of denial and penitential action: giving up social media, or video gaming, or television? Have we been faithful to that process of denial? Or have we designed ways around the commitment, justifying our denial in any number of ways?
Have we chosen the path of participating more fully in something: attending Mass more often, reciting the Rosary, or reading more Scripture? Have we chosen to be more intentional about buying extra groceries and dropping those extras at the Food Bank collection; more intentional about going through our belongings and sharing more of what we have with those who have less?
As we have chosen these actions, have we followed through with energy, gladly offering our involvement as an example of what a Christian can do? I would offer that the likelihood of follow through goes up considerably if it is supported by consistent, participation in the Eucharist. The readings at Mass, the interaction with our fellow parishioners, the intentionality that is required to attend Mass during the week, these all help us to remain committed to our Lenten practices.
All of this activity is directed ultimately to coming to a deeper knowledge of and relationship with our God. The more we are committed, the more fulfilled we are, and the more dynamic and passionate is our relationship with our God. It is a package deal.
Hang in there. Soon, we will be celebrating a race well run, a mission fulfilled, a celebration of Resurrection.