Tuesday, January 22, 2008
A Word about the Eucharist
Recently, I read a blog post about Catholics from other countries, respecting the sacrament of holy communion to the point that they don't receive every Sunday due their consciousness of sin in their hearts. Or perhaps they eat something right before Mass, or felt that they needed to go to confession before they should receive again. I remember when I was a child, that not everyone went up to receive communion. Our pastor, back in Texas, one Sunday made the remark that he noticed that nearly everyone comes up and receives communion nowadays. He remembered when folks held back to make time to go to confession or wait until they had fasted properly before receiving the Eucharist. Now, if you don't go, people around you think that you have done something awfully bad! You would appear guilty!
Now, the Eucharist is a sacrament, which is "an outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace." What is grace? Catholic Culture's dictionary explains: "it is the unmerited gift proceeding from this benevolent disposition. Grace, therefore, is a totally gratuitous gift on which man has absolutely no claim."
So, essentially, the Eucharist is the outward sign (the body and blood as bread and wine) of Christ's love and salvic desires for us to be in Heaven with God, our triune holy father that we did not deserve. So, that means that it is a privilege to receive and must be treated as such!
Many years ago, when my son was just an infant, I remember attending the 1st Communion service at the parish in my in-laws' small rural town. This service was so beautiful and humble. There was a mom waiting to see her first son go up and receive for the first time, as I watched her watch him go up, there were huge tears of joy streaming down her face. The smile on her face as he turned around and walked back to his place was glorious! I'll never forget that, and when it was time for my son to make his first communion, it was just as wonderful. My two daughters had to wait their turn, too, and I waiting with them. It's all worth the wait, they understand what the Eucharist is and why they waited. They understand that Jesus died for them and in turn gave us something to help us along the way on our mortal journey to immortality. Someday, they will want to receive their other sacraments, when they do, I will be sure they are well prepared and educated.
The solution to this lax attitude toward the holy Eucharist is education. If our young adults wanted to get married, we would expect that they would be prepared with lots of books, pre-canna retreat, and advice before they walked down the aisle. We would most definitely want them to walk down the aisle, too! Casually living together without making a vow, proper preparation, and motivation is not the best way to live (statistics show that). Each of our sacraments require a period of preparation and a ceremony, and making a vow or promise. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Catholic Church, this sacrament extends to and nurtures all the other six sacraments and makes them whole.
Posted by Ebeth