Dear Friends in Christ:
Vatican II, in the Apostolic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium (A light to the nations) declares the Eucharist to be “the source and summit of the Christian life” (LG 11). Over the last five decades this has been a most popular description for many. My question is “Is it really?” Is the Holy Eucharist truly the source and summit of Christian life for most Catholics? I know it should be and can be, but for many it simply is not. Not because there is something lacking in the Eucharist, but for many Catholics, we simply fail to allow the Eucharist be the source and summit of our lives. By our actions and choices we sideline the Eucharist. We treat the Eucharist as peripheral to the ‘really important’ things in our lives. We consider Mass as optional. We insist that the Mass be on our terms and at our convenience and pleasure. In doing so, we weaken our faith and diminish our relationship with Jesus. This, in turn, keeps us from having the joy and the grace in life that God desires for us. Simply put,
Life is less without Jesus!
What is the best part of your week? What one action has the biggest positive impact on you in any given week? Can you say the Eucharist? If not, why not? If not, how do you treat the Eucharist in your life? Do you treat the Eucharist as central, as important? Do you make choices to allow the Eucharist to be the source and summit of your life? It isn’t hard but it does take a deliberate and conscious effort.
Try some of these simple actions. 1. Keep Sunday special and different. No chores, no shopping, have a special meal in honor of Jesus and your family. 2. Have “Sunday Clothes”. Dress up for Mass. Have special clothes that you only wear to church. Show the importance of the Eucharist in your attire. 3. Come Early, Stay Late. Try to arrive a few minutes early to Mass. Have a little quiet time to pray and to form your intention for Mass. Read the readings ahead of time. Stay a few moments in your pew after the recessional hymn has concluded to offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God for allowing you to come to Mass, worship him and to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. Pray to use the graces of this Communion during the week ahead. 4. Make a Friend. Make it a point to get know someone or two every Sunday. Know the people around you by name. Say hello, invite them for coffee or to go golfing, pray for them. The best way to have friends at Mass is to be a friend to someone at Mass! 5. Savor the Experience. Think and reflect on Sunday Mass throughout the week. Go back and re-read the Scripture readings. Talk to the kids about the homily. Hum the hymns from Mass or the Responsorial Psalm throughout the week. Reflect on the Eucharist Prayer or one of the other Mass prayers. 6. Invite Someone to Join You at Mass. Invite a neighbor or friend to come to Mass with you. Invite a fallen away Catholic or someone who does not have a church or a non-Catholic who may be interested in learning or experiencing Catholicism. This means that we need to be prepared to answer a few basic questions. That’s Ok you can do it! Just grab your catechism and brush up on a few of the basics. 7. Be Positive and Be Joyful. Attitude isn’t everything, but it is a lot. When the temptation to criticize and be negative assaults you, push it away. Look for the good and you will find it. Put a smile on your face and soon it will become natural. You will not only be feeling better, but you will have a better disposition towards all. Remember that God has invited you to Mass in order to give you something wonderful and special – Jesus! 8. Be Thankful. Don’t take Mass, the Holy Eucharist or your Catholic Faith for granted. It really is wonderful and special and if we don’t regularly practice it, it can grow weak or even cold. Thank God for your faith. Ask the Lord to strengthen and deepen your faith each day. 9. Sacrifice. The Holy Mass is not entertainment. Nor should we approach it as though it is a show, a concert or ballgame. The Mass is Christ’s perfect and eternal sacrifice on the cross re-presented in an un-bloody manner. We should remember the significance of the Holy Mass at every Mass and join our sacrifices, our hearts and our cares to the Lord on the altar. The Mass is not merely about what we get, but what we give! 10. Reverence. Treat holy things in a holy manner. Pray, don’t just say, the prayers of the Mass. Bow, kneel, genuflect and make the sign of the cross with thoughtfulness, devotion and reflection. Know what you are doing and why. Think, reflect and consider the big picture of what is happening. Invest yourself in the moment. Give your heart, mind and soul to Jesus in love and adoration!
In pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately