(A Blog Extra to May 29th Homily). On this Feast to the Blessed Sacrament, we ask ourselves: Isn’t each Mass joining us all into something much higher and wonderful than we’ve ever realized?!
Let’s s-t-r-e-t-c-h out our Eucharistic faith.
We can believe it! The Eucharist is so much more than we really “get” in our minds, and it is so in so many ways!
Consider just one thing here about The Eucharist Sacrament’s eternal aspect: In every Holy Communion you now and ever have or ever will participate in, God delights in it and joins it into becoming One Eucharist of Life. It becomes one graced experience. One Eucharist.
But the point is pretty cosmic, so said Jesuit theologian Fr. Chardin, and it’s all a little unclear.
Perhaps it can help for us to do a little review of our Mass participation which takes place throughout our lives. Could I offer such a perspective to you of how they all connect together? If you have been a cradle Catholic, like me, then you could think of perhaps of the times you’ve been to various Masses. Such as, when you went to…
–a Mass as a child, when you were barely tall enough to see over the pew. (I can recall some of those times.) Fine.
Now add that to…
–A Mass sometime when you were 12 and in a stretch of receiving Holy Communion regularly on Sundays. Fine. Now, add that to
–A Mass when you graduated from your Catholic school, or to a Holy Day Mass you went to as a religious ed. student with many other classmates, and its experience. Fine. Now, (if you are older), add that on to…
–A retreat Mass, when you were in an intimate setting for spiritual reflection, with your fellow retreatants, and perhaps a special moment in it (e.g. at the presentation of gifts of such a Mass, we Mass-goers gave away a hard rock into the offertory basket and had them brought to the altar–based on the Scripture of Ezekiel of asking God to turn stony hearts to soft, warm hearts). Fine. (I hope you’ve had a retreat or special Mass in your life.) Now, add that on to…–A Mass on some Christmas, your first one away from family when as a single-adult, or a collegian, or as a traveler… when you found a new meaning to Mass while also meanwhile feeling less familiar but still “home” in that solitary experience…. add that to
–A wedding Mass you attended, either of your own one or of a friend or family member, and how your prayed it in celebrating love and Christ’ covenant bond in the Matrimony Sacrament. Fine. Now add that on to…
–Or a Mass of Christian Burial, maybe of a person dear, and maybe you can remember when you received Holy Communion with tears flowing down your cheek… and add that to…
–A Sunday Mass in the Summer, with the smaller crowds around, and less music–but one you came to with faith and used the longer quiet pauses for some of your best personal thank you prayers of the year… and if you are a senior, add on another Mass memory, such as…
–A Mass with a grandchild coming with you to pray at church… or a Mass when, for the fourth time in your parish membership, another new pastor is installed, in this parish you helped keep going on.
All of the above of Masses during a lifetime. The list will be different for persons, but the Mass has been there for our journey Home.
–and one day for us, there is that Mass of Christian Burial, when we will be the one for whom the church is praying for, because it will be our remains in the casket, as our soul is called forth to fly to God, while our body prepared to be laid down.
Again, it will be a Mass, with people pleading to God in this special liturgy, and we’ll have the behalf of the prayers of Jesus Christ, THE Priest and Head of the Liturgy. He will be THE HEAD to the Body, and apply to us the saving merits of His Death and Resurrection Mystery to our lives. (On last Friday’s Mass, we did just celebrate it again for the passing to God of our charter member Odessa Gore).
Part Two. Now you are reading for the point of the Eucharist as One Celebration.
OK. Here we go. Join all the Masses of your life attended, and mesh them as one in your mind’s experience, for they ARE one prayer, one Communion in Christ bundled up like a bouquet, and given a timelessness to them all, as a living prayer of one’s life.
In that understanding, one could pray: Jesus, I do “take this Body of yours, and eat it,” as You are given up for me in each moment of Sacrament. Jesus, I hear and trust You each time saying, “this is the cup of My Blood, the Blood of the New Covenant, for the forgiveness of sins,” and I do celebrate this cup of salvation in living memory of Thee and for my ransom. Ransom me, Lord, by Your Body and Blood– into the innocent paradise life again, baptized into Grace, and fed by Your Holiness, O Bread of Life.
The Blessed Sacrament joins you and me with others to the Last Supper of Christ, and also to the Lamb of God in the Heavens. It’s united to where Jesus is. He’s in time at the Upper Room of the First Mass, and on the Altar of the Cross and then risen in Jerusalem’s Calvary hill…. as well as here in our Masses at our parish this weekend…. as well, of course, as reigning in Heaven. He is Lord of all.
One could pray in acknowledgement: You, the Eucharistic Christ of the ages, should be celebrated! For You do unite all of us and all of our times in Communion with You to be part of one Offering.
Yes, I borrow from a Jesuit priest’s ideas on the Cosmic Christ and our Lord’s ability to bring into one EVERY liturgy and its participants into an Eternal Now and Oneness. I’d like to have you think on Fr. Chardin’s idea that all our Eucharistic experiences are a grace that becomes one united experience.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Jesuit priest and scientist (1881–1955), taught that, for him, the risen Christ was also the cosmic Christ, the Lord of creation. Reflecting on the words of consecration at Mass, Teilhard wrote:
When the priest says the words “This is my body,” his words fall directly on to the bread and directly transform it into the individual reality of Christ. But the great sacramental operation does not cease at that local and momentary event. Even children are taught that, throughout the life of each man and the life of the Church and the history of the world, there is only one Mass and one Communion. Christ died once in agony. (The Divine Milieu, Wm Collins & Sons, London, 1964, pp.123–124)
He then points out that the individual acts of receiving Communion by different people are the dividing up of one unique act in order that all may benefit from Christ’s saving action. In fact, from the beginning of the Messianic preparation, up until the Parousia [the coming of Jesus in glory], passing through the historic manifestation of Jesus and the phases of growth of his Church, A SINGLE EVENT has been developing in the world: the Incarnation, realized in each individual, through the Eucharist. (The Divine Milieu, p.124)
This is a wonderful insight into the place of Christ in our lives, namely, that the Word of God became flesh in Jesus (Incarnation) and now through the Eucharist becomes embedded in the flesh of each one of us. Teilhard then has this grand vision, (which explains my review above of a lifetime of Masses):
All the communions of a life-time are one communion.
All the communions of all men now living are one communion.
All the communions of all men, present, past and future, are one communion.
(from Chardin’s The Divine Milieu, p.124)
I find this a fascinating study! While there is theological speculation in his works, and some development needed and agreement with other Eucharistic Theology, I just love the big idea Chardin throws out to us, all in honor of the Blessed Sacrament, and how more awesome God is by His Son’s work that we could possible know well!
Past Pope (and present Saint) John Paul II picked up this wonderful panoramic vision of the Eucharist. He tells of the many different venues where he has celebrated Mass: basilicas, chapels on mountain paths, lakeshores and seacoasts, stadiums, city squares. Then he said, “This varied scenario of celebrations of the Eucharist has given me a powerful experience of its universal and, so to speak, cosmic character. Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world. It unites heaven and earth. It embraces and permeates all creation. (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 8)
What a grand vision! St. John Paul the Great says how ‘On the altar of the world’ it gave him a picture of the blue planet with a large bread (paten) and a chalice of wine poised above it, and the risen Christ offering himself as spiritual food and drink for all the people. Then he saw Christ as Lord of all creation, One Who is lifting up His eyes to include all the stars, all the galaxies, all the black holes, all the as-yet-undiscovered material, even all the ‘dark matter’ of the cosmos. The Eucharist has a cosmic character. Yes, cosmic!
When Teilhard was in China in 1923 on a scientific expedition he was unable to celebrate Mass, but his cosmic vision helped him to make up for the loss.
“Since … I have neither bread nor wine nor altar, I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself. I, your priest, will make the whole earth my altar and on it I will offer you all the labors and sufferings of the world … I will place on my paten, O God, the harvest to be won by this renewal of labor. Into my chalice I shall pour all the sap which is to be pressed out this day from the earth’s fruits. (The Prayer of the Universe).”
So, what this is saying, is in times when we are unable to participate in the Eucharist, we can always take time to pause and be aware that in many parts of the world, the Eucharist IS being celebrated and we can be there in spirit if not in person. We can pray to be united to the Sacrifice of the Mass as being celebrated world-wide that day, and in the Eternal dimension of Christ in each one.
At Mass, when we can get to it, we gather about the altar of The Lord to unite with Him, with brings us into eternal dimensions of invitation. Then, in each Eucharist received worthily and faith-fully, one may be brought into a participation with Christ Jesus. While living on earth, we can still somehow be united to Jesus, Lord of Heaven and earth.
God can take all the Masses prayed with Him, and join them unto Himself with every one ever celebrated, or to be celebrated— for this Mystery is Divine and Everlasting. As Jesus’ Sacrifice is One Sacrifice, so it can be so forever.
I hope you got some of the points of this blog.
Over and out!