June 9, 2021
Do you ever wonder if you are coming or going? Most of us have the sense sometimes that life is too hurried, harried, and unfocused. We pause at the end of a day or a week and are not sure what just happened, or if any of it mattered. We need a source of peace and purpose to lead us to what is most important and give us greater meaning in life. In the Eucharist, we come and go in a different way. We come to Mass with gratitude - the word Eucharist means to be thankful. We experience Christ’s presence in the Word of God proclaimed in the readings, in all who have gathered, in the priest who is in the person of Christ among us, and especially in the bread and wine which become Christ’s Body and Blood. The Eucharist is the source of our lives as Catholic Christians. In the Eucharist, we are formed as Christ’s people and nourished to live as disciples in the world. We come to the source and are sent forth in mission.
What is the high point of your life?
Have you ever climbed a hill or mountain, and from the top, suddenly found perspective? Or perhaps you recall a particular experience that was a high point for you, a time after which life will never be the same. These summits or high points become a reference point for us. In those moments, our lives come into focus and our future direction is clearer, filled with greater hope and strength. The Eucharist is the summit of the Christian life. It is the high point from which we find direction and perspective. When we orient our lives with the Eucharist as the summit, the rest of our lives take shape. The Eucharist becomes our reference point from which our daily decisions and actions come into focus with Christ at the center of our lives. Perhaps we do not always think about this, but every Mass is an opportunity to encounter Jesus. We meet the Lord in the celebration of the Eucharist, and surely having done so, our lives will never be the same.
Are you ready?
We often speak of “going to Mass” like the way we go to a concert, movie, or theater performance. Even though we know that the Eucharist is not a performance, it may be hard to put into words what we do at the Mass. And if we think of ourselves as going to Mass, we limit the ways the Eucharist may shape us as disciples of Jesus Christ. Our role in the Eucharist is much more about participation than about watching. It’s like the difference between watching a sporting match and playing the game. We are called to full, conscious, and active participation in the Eucharist—we are to open our minds, hearts, and spirit, ready to be changed, to become more like Christ. When we truly participate in the Eucharist, we allow Christ to speak to us, be joined in sacrifice, and be nourished in Holy Communion. We are drawn to communion with Christ and each other. Through this encounter with the Lord, we are renewed. We do not simply go to Mass. We take part. And our participation changes us for the better.
Have you ever visited family or friends and reached a point when you knew it was time to leave? It is not that you have overstayed your welcome, but simply that the hour has become late, vacation has come to an end, or your visit has reached its natural conclusion. We might imagine our host saying, “Get out! I need to get to bed!” or you might find yourself saying, “I really have to get going.” At the end of Mass, we are told to get out. Not that our host, the Lord himself, is tired of us and wants us out of his house, but rather, that the natural conclusion to our participation in the Eucharist is to be sent out in mission. We are to go out, “glorifying the Lord” by our lives. In the Eucharist, we receive the Lord, are formed and nourished, and made ready to live as followers of Jesus Christ during our daily lives. When we think about it in this way, being sent out is part of the purpose in our coming to Mass in the first place.
Things to ponder:
- How does Mass form me to live as a Christian?
- How does the nourishment of the Eucharist give me strength to live as a disciple of Christ?
- What experience comes to mind in which I was “set on fire” by Christ’s love during Mass?
- What am I called to do to carry out Christ’s mission of love and mercy?
This article is part of Together, an Archdiocese of Cincinnati initiative to catechize the faithful on the importance of Mass, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the value of Sunday, our obligation to worship, and the advantage of being together physically rather than virtually.