Eucharistic reflections in preparation for the Eucharistic Congress. June 2008.

Reflection # 1

June, 2007

by Peter Thompson

Heaven appearing on earth.(Ecclesia de Eucharistia. 19. Pope John Paul II)

To the Church that meets at St. Cecilia's, greetings and joy in the risen Lord Jesus; as we together celebrate his most precious gift to us, his body, blood, soul and divinity made present at every Mass and reserved for us to adore in the tabernacle of the Lord. Over the next twelve months it is the desire of the pastoral team that we all grow in greater love for Christ, in and through the Eucharist. And so we begin twelve monthly instructions on the Mass to assist us to understand in greater depth the mysteries and meaning of each part of this Holy Sacrifice. We will draw deeply from the rich waters that flow to us through the Church using the words of Sacred Scripture, the Church Fathers, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, (CCC) and letters from recent Popes.

Ps 122:1. I rejoiced because they said to me. Let us go unto the house of the Lord.

Every Sunday we fulfill the command of God to keep holy the Sabbath, ( Ex.20:8) The early Church soon moved this to the Sunday from the Saturday to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord and gathered for the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:48. This command to all the faithful to assist at the celebration of the Mass every Sunday has never been rescinded. (CCC 2180 - 2183) She even warns, that to deliberately miss Mass, except for clearly defined reasons is a grave sin. (Mortal sin). The word Mass is taken from the last words in the Latin Mass, "Ite missa est" which roughly translated means, "Go. The Mass is finished." Which sends us forth empowered and nourished by Christ's body to be the body of Christ to the world. But let us return to the beginning and even before we go to the house of the Lord.

We are about to enter into the supreme mystery of faith, the Eucharist. (meaning thanksgiving) Where the sacrifice of Calvary is made present and surely we should try to prepare well. The sacred scriptures will form the first part of the Mass and the readings are readily available to us through missalettes. So read and meditate on the word and ask the Holy Spirit to open our minds and hearts to what he desires us to hear. For many families with little children, to prepare for Mass can often be hectic and rushed, but we can ask Mary our Mother to assist us and bring peace to our family.

Do I throw on an old pair of jeans or dress as though I was going to a barbecue or the beach? If I was to be presented to the Pope, the Queen or some dignitary, I would dress accordingly. Here we are coming into the presence of almighty God, The most Holy and Blessed Trinity, then surely, simple yet modest dress for both men and women, young and old must be the norm.

To receive Holy Communion, the Church has relaxed the law concerning the Eucharistic fast since Vatican II, to one hour before receiving Holy Communion. This includes coffee, tea, juices and gum. The practice of chewing gum through Mass is both disrespectful and breaks the fast. Certainly, water and or medications for the sick are permissible and we need to be attentive to the laws of the Church that Christ also holds bound in heaven.( Matt. 16:19).

There are uncontrollable circumstances that at times delay us but we should always strive to arrive before Mass begins. If invited to a great banquet, would I deliberately arrive late! This banquet is a heavenly meal (Ecclesia de Eucharistia.#16) that begins at the beginning and not a third or half way through.

There are many beautiful practices that we have as Catholics including the Holy water font at the entrance to the Sanctuary. We dip our finger into the water and sign ourselves with the sign of the cross. This is an ancient practice recorded as early as 211 ad with Tertullian . "we furrow our forehead with the sign." What are we doing? Here we remember our Baptism. I have been born again of water and the Holy Spirit. John 3:5. baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I am a new creation in Christ Jesus.

It is amazing how we as Catholics are creatures of habit. We go to our usual pew week after week, never varying and sometimes can even get upset if someone is already sitting there! Nothing wrong in having the usual place but when we get there, what do we do? Some bob, some bow, some will genuflect, that is go down on one knee or others simply enter the pew and sit down. Since tabernacles were moved from the central position on the high altar, people are uncertain of what to do and why. We bow to the altar, it is here that the Sacrifice of the Mass will take place and is an act of reverence towards this holy place. We now look for the tabernacle and genuflect towards it, for it is here that the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, which is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, the second person of the Blessed Trinity truly present. We know this through the revelation of the Lord and by faith, and there is always a lamp burning there to remind us that Christ is present. This is not a time for conversation to catch up on the latest news or gossip or last nights hockey scores. It is a time of preparation.

Lord, prepare my mind, help me to be attentive during Mass. You know how weak I am, how easily distracted I can be.
Help me to listen attentively, that I may hear your word and be transformed.
Lord purify my heart that I may receive you worthily.
Lord, bless Father as he celebrates this Mass, pour out your Spirit on him that he may speak your word to us and that I may hear.
Jesus, I thank you today that we can gather freely and without fear to celebrate once again this Holy Mass.

Next month: The opening rites.
Why not start a folder and collect all twelve reflections for future use?