An Hour is Not a Long Time

June 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Two simply amazing quotes about the celebration of the Eucharist:

“O admirable heights and sublime lowliness! O sublime humility! O humble sublimity! That the Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles Himself that for our salvation He hides Himself under the little form of bread! Look, brothers, at the humility of God and pour out your hearts before Him! Humble yourselves, as well, that you may be exalted by Him. Therefore, hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves so that He Who gives Himself totally to you may receive you totally” (Saint Francis, Letter to the Entire Order).

(All the emphasis in the following quote is my own) 

“Faith can never be presupposed, because every generation needs to receive this gift through the proclamation of the Gospel and to know the truth that Christ has revealed to us. The Church, therefore, is always engaged in proposing to all the deposit of the faith; contained in it also is the doctrine on the Eucharist — central mystery in which “is enclosed all the spiritual good of the Church, namely, Christ himself, our Pasch” — doctrine that today, unfortunately, is not sufficiently understood in its profound value and in its relevance for the existence of believers. Because of this, it is important that a more profound knowledge of the mystery of the Body and Blood of the Lord be seen as an exigency of the different communities of our diocese of Rome. At the same time, in the missionary spirit that we wish to nourish, it is necessary to spread the commitment to proclaim such Eucharistic faith, so that every man will encounter Jesus Christ who has revealed the “close” God, friend of humanity, and to witness it with an eloquent life of charity.

In all his public life, through the preaching of the Gospel and miraculous signs, Jesus proclaimed the goodness and mercy of the Father towards man. This mission reached its culmination on Golgotha, where the crucified Christ revealed the face of God, so that man, contemplating the Cross, might be able to recognize the fullness of love. The sacrifice of Calvary is mysteriously anticipated in the Last Supper, when Jesus, sharing with the Twelve the bread and wine, transforms them into his body and his blood, which shortly after he would offer as immolated Lamb. The Eucharist is the memorial of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, of his love to the end for each one of us, memorial that He willed to entrust to the Church so that it would be celebrated throughout the centuries. According to the meaning of the Hebrew word “zakar,” the “memorial” is not simply the memory of something that happened in the past, but a celebration which actualizes that event, so as to reproduce its salvific force and efficacy. Thus, “the sacrifice that Christ offered to the Father, once and for all, on the Cross in favor of humanity, is rendered present and actual” (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 280). Dear brothers and sisters, in our time the word sacrifice is not liked, rather it seems to belong to other times and to another way of understanding life. However, properly understood, it is and remains fundamental, because it reveals to us with what love God loves us in Christ….

The Holy Mass, celebrated in the respect of the liturgical norms and with a fitting appreciation of the richness of the signs and gestures, fosters and promotes the growth of Eucharistic faith. In the Eucharistic celebration we do not invent something, but we enter into a reality that precedes us, more than that, which embraces heaven and earth and, hence, also the past, the future and the present. This universal openness, this encounter with all the sons and daughters of God is the grandeur of the Eucharist: we go to meet the reality of God present in the body and blood of the Risen One among us. Hence, the liturgical prescriptions dictated by the Church are not external things, but express concretely this reality of the revelation of the body and blood of Christ and thus the prayer reveals the faith according to the ancient principle “lex orandi – lex credendi.” And because of this we can say “the best catechesis on the Eucharist is the Eucharist itself well celebrated”.  It is necessary that in the liturgy the transcendent dimension emerge with clarity, that of the mystery, of the encounter with the Divine, which also illumines and elevates the “horizontal,” that is the bond of communion and of solidarity that exists between all those who belong to the Church. In fact, when the latter prevails, the beauty, profundity and importance of the mystery celebrated is fully understood. Dear brothers in the priesthood, to you the bishop has entrusted, on the day of your priestly Ordination, the task to preside over the Eucharist. Always have at heart the exercise of this mission: celebrate the divine mysteries with intense interior participation, so that the men and women of our City can be sanctified, put into contact with God, absolute truth and eternal love….

Communion with Christ is always communion also with his body, which is the Church, as the Apostle Paul reminds, saying: “The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Corinthians:16-17). It is, in fact, the Eucharist that transforms a simple group of persons into ecclesial community: the Eucharist makes the Church….

Pope Benedict XVI
 Address to the Annual Convention of the Diocese of Rome
Basilica of St John Lateran
15 June 2010

Well there isn’t much I can really say after that.  Pope Benedict XVI puts it splendidly.  Really, I encourage you to take as much time as you need to read this quote.  I know it seems a bit much but don’t let it intimidate you!  I find myself relating to what he has said in a very personal way.  I wish there was some way to let priests know that when they themselves seem distracted or hurried at Mass, it really affects the way I experience Mass.  Maybe it shouldn’t be like that, but for me, it is.  Mass is one hour long and I want to be ‘in’ that hour, I want to experience it to the fullest.  Don’t rush your way through the homily for the other twenty people behind me who only want to get to their soccer games.  That’s not fair.  I am not trying to blame priests in any way, I know they are certainly busy enough, but Mass is the heart of the Church.  Working at the restaurant, I frequently see couples having a romantic dinner out together.  Even though we waitstaff have places to go after work, you don’t see our customers rushing through meals just to let us get out of there.  No, they take their time and enjoy being in each other’s company.  They engage themselves wholly in each other.  Maybe it’s a weak metaphor, but you get my point? 

Not that I am a saint or anything even close (although I’m sure Danny emphatically, lovingly, and in true preservation of self, disagrees with that!).  I’m not trying to make myself sound like I am.  In fact, I have a lot I could be doing better as far as Mass goes.  Ever since I gave Genevieve the Bible for her baptism day, I’ve been trying to read it with her a little bit before Mass, but as far as my own personal preparation… I’m not going to lie, I get lazy.  And then there’s daily Mass, a habit that I have fallen out of in the past few years.  I used to go a lot when I worked at the elementary school, because the church was right next door.  That was almost 4 years ago though.  Through much personal laziness and also a bit of irritation at the ever-changing Mass schedules due to re-forming the parishes in Nanticoke, I haven’t been to daily Mass very frequently.  I wish that St. Mary’s here in WB had a morning Mass, but their daily Mass is at 12:10.  They probably made it that time so working people like me could just walk over and attend Mass on their lunch break, unfortunately I haven’t been lucky enough in my last two jobs in WB to go to lunch at that time.   St. Nick’s is right down the road, but their daily Mass is 6:30… even that half-hour difference between 6:30 and 7 is incredibly disheartening to a 24 year old who just wants to SLEEP as much as possible and wouldn’t crack an eyelid until noon if she could. 

You see how the words build up, until oh look, another few months have gone by and I STILL haven’t gone to daily Mass the way I want to.  Keep me in your prayers, dear readers, and I’m sure the Holy Spirit will shove me enough that I get back into the habit. 

PS – Have to properly credit Whispers in the Loggia, which is where I first found the quote from Pope Benedict.

PS2- Reading the Temeraire series on my Kindle still!  I mentioned it a post or two ago.  Dragons, battles, heroes… I love it!

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