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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Eucharist, Prayer group Pt II

June 25, 2012 St Francis Prayer Group

V:  O God, come to my assistance.
R: Lord, make haste to help me

St. Padre Pio – Stay With Me Lord

Precious Lord, Take My Hand 702

Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus page 113 Treasures Holy & Mystical

O Sacrament Most Holy 325


Eucharist Continued:  More about the meal aspect
(from Bread of Life Cup of Salvation, John Baldovin, SJ)

(disclaimer:  one must always read the NT in light of the OT; consider that Christianity and Judaism are “siblings”, not parent-child; it is possible to claim Christianity as the older religion since Rabbinic Judaism did not come about until 70AD, BUT we must remember and re-affirm Jesus’ Judaism)

*Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 47  (pg. 12)

*What does the NT tell us about how to celebrate the Eucharist?
            No detailed rules; St Paul, 1 Cor 11-12 assumes they already know how.

*Eating and drinking in the ancient world:
            -food and with whom you share it was very important
            -Ritual Purity (ritual impurity = inability to offer sacrifice at the Temple): touch,  
            under same roof, eat meal
            -Scarcity of Food: particularly meat – usually only shared after sacrifice;  “we
            need to remember that Jesus’ teaching and actions took place in a world of
            poverty where a banquet would be truly extravagant because people were hungry
            most of the time.” (18) and there was little separation btwn religious and social, so
            feasts would inevitably have a religious character.
            -Jewish meals were framed by formal blessings:  (1)recognize how God blesses
            people/things (“the Lord bless you and keep you….”; (2)God is blessed for
            something, to “bless God” – we adapt this notion: “Blessed are you, Lord God of
            all creation….”.  Pious Jews blessed God continually, morning, noon & night.
            “…nothing seems to be accessible to men and women unless God is blessed for it.
            There is a profound spirituality here and it lies at the basis of the Mass:  things are
            good and holy for us only when we put them in the proper perspective – when we
            recognize God as their source.” (19)

*Formal Jewish meals were framed by blessings:  first cup of wine – for bread broken and shared and the second cup of wine at the end of meal (cup of blessing), this most likely being the major blessing. (berakah – to bless).  “One cannot understand our Eucharistic prayers without recognizing that they have their origins in Jewish formulas of blessing and prayers of thanksgiving for favors that God has granted.” (19)

Take a look at the Last Supper narratives:
Matthew 26:26-29  (Palestinian tradition)
Mark 14: 22-25, Luke 22:15-20; 1Cor 11:23-26 (Antiochene tradition)

*was it a Passover meal?  (the evening of the first full moon of the first spring month of the year) – discrepancy among the Gospels: Mt, Mk, Lk all place the meal on the evening after the Passover lambs are slaughtered, but in John Jesus dies at the same time as the slaughter of the lambs – still debated! So it took place at the time of /atmosphere of the Passover: “For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed.” (1Cor 5:7)

*Pray the Novena Sacramentum Caritatis, pg 14 Treasures Holy & Mystical (start Tuesday to end on July 4)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mea Maxima Culpa

I have been trying to make it to confession on a regular basis.  Our little church does not have scheduled times for the sacrament, so even though I longed for the sacrament I did not receive it.  I now take a one hour ferry trip and then drive another hour just so I can received the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Nearly 3 years ago I returned to Mass.  For 7 months I did not receive Communion, because even though I asked two or three times the priest never had time for my confession.  To be fair, I was exceedingly shy about asking and probably didn't express my great need.  It was difficult for me, feeling the heavy weight on my soul and the guilt that accompanied the weight, to really press for confession from a priest who didn't seem to want to offer it.  In so many ways I didn't feel worthy of the sacrament, and without realizing it, our priest validated that feeling.

Even today, I stand in line, heart pounding and trying to stay put until it is my turn.  It takes great force of will to stand there and not bolt for the door.  Yes, I make an extra effort to receive the sacrament - but it frightens me every time.  Life experiences exacerabate the normal anxiety, and when I am in the confessional I feel exceptionally vulnerable.  I find that I am in a battle between the wall that threatens to shut down my feeling-heart and the fear that threatens to make me run - to find a way to just sit with the vulnerability is a difficult challenge.  I feel sorry for the priest each time, for I enter and then cannot speak for quite some time as I fight that unseen battle. After "bless me Father for I have sinned", I am struck mute!

But even though it is difficult, I find that this is part of the beauty of the sacrament.  For me, feeling that vulnerability reminds me of my ultimate dependence upon God.  If I can remember that the priest is acting in Persona Christi, then I can pour out my soul to the Lord; let my sins be washed away as part of the very act of accepting my vulnerability and offering that to Jesus.

Of course, in confession we are absolved of our sins, but isn't a big part of this accepting the fact that we are vulnerable?  That we can sit there and humble ourselves a little, reflecting on our faults and failings, and confessing our sincere sorrow for them to another person?  Firmly intending to make up for them, firmly intending to be better, and asking for God's grace in the understanding that we truly cannot do it by ourselves?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Eucharist, Week One

June 19, 2012 St. Francis Prayer Group

 V: O God, come to my assistance.
R: Lord, make haste to help me.

Sacramentum Caritatis

Psalm 40
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the desolate pit,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.

He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.
Blessed is the man who makes
the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after false gods!

You have multiplied, O Lord my God,,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
Were I to proclaim and tell of them,
they would be more than can be numbered.
Sacrifice and offering you do not desire;
but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
you have not required.

Then I said, “Behold, I come;
in the roll of the book it is written of me;
I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is written within my heart.”
I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O Lord.

I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your mercy and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.
Do not, O Lord, withhold
your compassion from me,
let your mercy and your faithfulness
ever preserve me!

For evils have encompassed me
without number;
my iniquities have overtaken me,
till I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head;
my heart fails me.
Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
O Lord, make haste to help me!

Day One: Novena Sacramentum Caritatis
(From Treasures Holy & Mystical Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP)
I.                   Opening Prayer
II.                Day One:  Christ Makes a gift of himself: Reading
III.             Meditation:  What do I find amazing in the Eucharist?  What wonders do I experience?  What does it mean for me to know Christ loves us “to the end”?
(take 10 minutes to meditate on these questions, come back and discuss)
IV.             Closing Prayer

:-) Homework: Using the book, Treasures Holy & Mystical, pray the Novena Sacramentum Caritatis. 

Shepherd of Souls
O Sacrament Most Holy

Anything to share?

Food, Glorious Food (chapter 1: Bread of Life, Cup of Salvation by Baldovin)
“ Ever since Eve ate apples, much depends on dinner.”  -- Lord Byron

Eating: fundmental, without food – no life, without sharing food – not much significance in life
Why bother with the Eucharist? 
I believe in God – why can’t I practice my faith at home, in nature, doing service?  Why must I go to church week after week?
Easy answer:  Because Jesus told us to, at the Last Supper “do this in memory of me”
            (Jewish idea of memorial)

The Liturgy Constitution:
            From the liturgy, therefore, particularly the Eucharist, grace is poured forth upon us as from a fountain; the liturgy is the source for achieving in the most effective way possible human sanctification and God’s glorification, the end to which all the Church’s other activities are directed.

Mass is central to Christian living – goes right to the heart of what it is to be Christian

“For Catholics the Eucharist is not simply a way of worshipping God, it is the privileged means of experiencing the presence of Jesus Christ and participating in his work of redeeming the world.” (3)

From what did Jesus save the world?  Is there something about the human condition that needs saving?  (yes) We are trapped in a sinful condition and cannot be united to God through our own efforts.

We are more than our bodies; we have difficulty dealing with our limitations (need to eat, drink – grow old, die).  We know there is more than this, but we cannot escape our physicality:  we cannot escape this as we strive to be more.  Outside the body, there is no salvation.(3-4).  But we never consider enough to be enough – there has to be more.

Origin of sin centers around eating – cannot live without food, nor can we live without meaning.  This story combines eating and significance: they clearly have “enough”, but they want more, and they want it their way, not God’s – so they get more by eating what is not theirs to eat.  So, if eating is the form of the Fall  it is also the form of Redemption – the Eucharist is the powerful antidote to original sin, the antidote to the “apple” taken in Eden.

Could we define sin as: “a radical turning away from God and a turning in toward oneself in a desperate effort to achieve self-significance”? (5-6)  (selfishness….or better, self-centeredness)  We cannot let “God be God” – consider:  is this “first” sin deliberate disobedience? Or a sign of immaturity?

So humankind “grasped” at being like God, and Christ came to undo this.
See Phil 2:5-9

“If sin is grasping, then redemption is letting go.  If sin means symbolically grabbing at food, then redemption means sharing it and giving it away.” (6)  The reality of the Mass is seen in the process of divine self-emptying in ritual.
“Jesus makes himself literally the food of Christians. And so what is potentially the source of sin and self-centeredness becomes the source of reversing sin.” (7)

Eucharist (or Thanksgiving”) – sharing food and drink signifies the sharing of oneself just as Jesus did – important to remember Jesus gave not “something” but gave himself, and the only appropriate response is our own self-giving.

The “Eucharistic sacrifice” – there is difficulty in the idea of sacrifice – free self-sacrifice, for the sacrifice of Christ arose from his own freedom and the same needs to be true of us.  (Rom 12:1)

Jesus showed that true sacrifice is about offering oneself freely to God, others – in faith, hope, trust.

Shared ritual meal – antidote to selfishness: sharing and acceptance = true humanity; “communal sharing in the context of faith in God is the true source of joy.” (9)

Reflection questions:

  1. What moves me or leaves me cold in the celebration of the Mass? Why?
  2. What’s the connection between eating and drinking and the celebration of the Eucharist?
  3. How does Jesus undo the sinfulness of the human condition?
  4. How does the Mass relate to Jesus’ person and activity?
Intercessions, closing prayer