Reflections on the most Holy Mass in preparation for the Eucharistic congress Quebec City 2008

Eucharistic Reflection # 10

March, 2008

by Peter Thompson

"The Eucharist is truly a glimpse of heaven appearing on earth." (Ecclesia De Eucharistia Ch.1:19. John Paul II)

Continuing on from the proclamation of the mystery of faith the Eucharistic prayer reminds us again of the truth that it is Jesus who has redeemed us by his death on the cross. He defeated death by rising again and now sits in heavenly glory with the Father.

We can now look forward with a blessed hope to be with God in heaven for all eternity. This is a blessed hope not a false assurance as we still retain our free will to reject God's plan for us by rebelling against his word. By his death and resurrection he has redeemed every man woman and child, past, present and future. However in order that I be saved, I must embrace this truth in faith and live out this faith in love, that is in obedience to God's commandments.

Jesus Christ opened heaven to mankind through his death and resurrection. This is what we celebrate every Easter and at every Mass, the Sacrifice of Calvary is made present. This is the hope we have in Christ, that we will live with him and with Mary and all the Saints in heaven. One thing we can be confident in is that God will always give us sufficient grace to overcome temptation in order that we may safely come home to him. 1Cor.10:13. No temptation has seized you except that which is common to every man. But God is faithful he will not permit you to be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also give you a way out that you may be able to bear it.

Now we through the priest pray for peace, the salvation of the world and for our Pope the successor of Peter, our Bishop and all the clergy, that God will strengthen them. We pray for the faithful departed, that is the souls in Purgatory. Why, because they can do nothing further for themselves and rely upon our prayers in order that they may be purified and made fit for the beatific vision.

The Canon of the Mass concludes with our "Amen", known as the Great Amen. This one word expresses it all, our faith in God, our belief, our yes to all that the Catholic Church teaches and believes. Hell shudders to hear this one word proclaimed in faith by millions of believers every Sunday, and heaven rejoices as angels and saints around the throne of the Lamb cry out with us. " AMEN".

Communion rite: The Lord's prayer.

We are now invited to pray the Lord's prayer, commonly known as the "Our Father", from the first words of this most profound and beautiful prayer taught to the Apostles by Jesus when they asked him. " Lord teach us to pray." A prayer we learned as children, ingrained into our memory and holding fast to an earlier era of speech, with words like,'hallowed' and 'thy' and 'trespasses'. Year in and year out Holy Mother Church invites us at every Mass to pray this prayer. The danger is that familiarity can breed contempt. Are we even aware of the words that we are saying? To even begin to call God, "Father", is a revolutionary concept. It is Jesus, God himself who introduces us to God by calling him "Abba, Father", in the most intimate of terms.

God is not remote, removed from his creatures, but is intensely concerned and caring for our every need. In this short reflection one cannot come close to unpacking the intensity and perfection of this prayer, so I would encourage every person and family to open up their CCC ( Catechism of the Catholic Church)#1759 - 2865 and begin to open up hearts and minds to the wonders of this most perfect prayer.

It is of course preparing us for our reception of the Lord in Holy Communion. When we will once again be fed on the bread of heaven, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ Jesus. We are crying out to God in heaven, praising him, imploring him to heal our world, to feed us and to heal us from our sins. With audacity we agree to forgive every person who has sinned against us. Every injustice, every word spoken against us, every rejection that we have experienced. All is forgiven!! Only then can we truly receive the Lord Jesus with the purity of heart that he desires. There are many who confuse forgiveness with feelings. Often the feelings and hurts are still present but this must not prevent us from forgiving those who have sinned against us. Jesus himself gives us the supreme example from the cross. "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

Sign of peace:

Following our forgiveness of all who have sinned against us, we now reach out to one another with the sign of peace. There is no set formula as to the words to be used, but we are offering the peace of Christ to one another. It is not intended to be a love in, but the person beside us represents the whole congregation. As I offer my peace and receive it, I am saying that I am at peace with all and therefore ready to enter into the fulness of communion with Christ and all God's people. It is not a time to seek out friends to embrace but in its simplicity we reach out to the person beside us who we may not know or even recognize. So when we offer this sign of peace let us be acutely aware of what we are doing. "Lord Jesus there is no one here or in my life that I still hold a grudge against or refuse to forgive." When we offer the sign of peace let us be attentive to that person.

Pope Benedict XVI speaks in Sacramentum caritatis #49 It should be kept in mind that nothing is lost when the sign of peace is marked by a sobriety which preserves the proper spirit of the celebration, as for example when it is restricted to one's immediate neighbours.

We have prayed the "Our Father", we are at peace with all, now we move towards the Communion rite.