Sunday, July 6, 2014

Called to the Supper of the Lamb

The retreat master of the retreat that I attended in January was very tall, well over 6' tall, so when I received Communion, the paten was about at the level of my head, and when Father presented the host to me it came from above, and for a moment, it was as if I were seeing the Eucharist for the first time. It wasn't just a host like thousands of others I'd received. Oh, it was the same, round wafer I was used to. But it just wasn't. It was, just in that moment, illuminated for me in some way. It's hard to explain, really, but the best that I can say is that it was so very definitely the Lord, and it was so very definitely for me.

In the Office of Readings for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi St. Thomas Aquinas tells us,
[W]hen he took our flesh he dedicated the whole of its substance to our salvation. . . . to ensure that the memory of so great a gift would abide with us for ever, he left his body as food and his blood as drink for the faithful to consume in the form of bread and wine. O precious and wonderful banquet, that brings us salvation and contains all sweetness! Could anything be of more intrinsic value? Under the old law it was the flesh of calves and goats that was offered, but here Christ himself, the true God, is set before us as our food. What could be more wonderful than this? No other sacrament has greater healing power; through it sins are purged away, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift. It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead, so that what was instituted for the salvation of all may be for the benefit of all. Yet, in the end, no one can fully express the sweetness of this sacrament, in which spiritual delight is tasted at its very source, and in which we renew the memory of that surpassing love for us which Christ revealed in his passion.
For the past year, I have been receiving the Eucharist almost everyday, and the longer this goes on, the more aware I am of the truth of this passage. What can be more wonderful than this? Nothing. The more often we receive this precious and wonderful banquet, the more we hunger for it. I often want to stay home on Saturday mornings because I have so much to do, and I can get more done before 10 in the morning than I can the rest of the day, but most of the time I just have to go. 

I remember a conversation that I had with a friend many years ago. She said that the thing about going to daily Mass was that if she stopped for some reason, she missed it, and then after awhile she, didn't miss it anymore, and this spurred her on to be faithful. I've really experienced the truth of what she said.

When we lived in Memphis, I used to go to Mass almost every day. It was easy then. There was an early evening Mass and I only lived a half mile from the church. Once I was in the habit of going, I didn't really even have to think about it. It was just what I did. There were years when I went alone, but there were also years when the whole family went.

Then we moved to rural Mississippi and there was only one Mass during the week at our parish. We would go to that, and sometimes go to another parish about half an hour from home, but that took such a huge chunk out of the day that we didn't keep it up very long. Then I started working and the only time I could go was on my lunch hour, and it frequently took more than an hour and I had to bolt my lunch in the car. So I didn't go often. After awhile, I didn't really miss it anymore. Thankfully, I kept going on Saturday to the parish where I now work, which was how I ended up working there where I am able to renew the memory of that surpassing love for us which Christ revealed in his passion, everyday. 

Could anything be of more intrinsic value? And could anything be so very undervalued? 



  1. Wonderful reflection, Janet, and encouragement too! We find daily Mass too difficult to manage these days. On special feasts we do try to take the family to an evening Mass, but typically the kids are then up until about 10, and we pay for it the next day...

    I hope that someday, when schedules are more manageable, we'll be able to go to Mass more frequently, as we did when we were in university.

  2. When I was being received into the Church I was told to go 'several' times a week. I interpreted 'several' to mean 'more than a couple'. So I usually went to church three times a week. For the past year, and that for the first time since I became RC 30 years ago, the habit has faltered and I'm down to going on Sundays alone. I just had a horrifically busy year. I spoke at nine conferences and put in five grant proposals. I didn't actually chose to - it was to bulk up my green card application. I hope to turn things around in the coming year.

    1. I answered this before, but it disappeared, and I don't have time to respond at the moment--hopefully later.


  3. It's irritating when Blogger throws away comments that other people have made, but it's EXTREMELY irritating when it throws mine away.


  4. Remind yourself of this next time Typepad is having problems. :-)

    This topic makes me feel rather guilty. My office is a hundred yards or so away from a chapel where there is Mass at 12:15 every weekday during the normal school year. I can't remember the last time I went. Probably it was during Lent a few years ago. There have been some somewhat good reasons for it, but not good enough.

  5. Yeah, you should go occasionally. ;-) Of course, now it's summer.