Monday, August 13, 2012
Implications stemming from the Real Presence
From last week's bulletin. Pass it on to someone who could use it.
Dearest Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
This last weekend I discussed the Eucharist as the Presence of Christ as we continue in our five weeks of reflecting on the sixth chapter of the Gospel According to St. John. In this week’s column I would like to extend those remarks and discuss an important consequence of our belief in the Real Presence for our participation and assistance in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
Recognizing that Jesus Christ is truly and substantially present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist should have an effect on how we even look at our participation at Sunday Mass as well as our desire to participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice on weekdays when our work permits it. When I talk to our teens and young adults about this I like to put it in terms of dating. I often ask the girls how long they would put up with a guy who only went out with her when he didn’t have something better to do. We should consider that our relationship with God is like any intimate relationship, meaning it requires dedication and sacrifice on our part so that the beloved might know that we truly desire to have a relationship of love. This, of course, is why our relationship with God in Jesus Christ is so often spoken of using marital imagery. Marriage is, in fact, a living witness of that relationship to which God invites each of us.
I also talk to our young people about how they dress for Mass. I know that many people like to object that how one dresses should not be a measure of how faithful they are. I would agree and I do not judge people’s hearts in this (or any) regard. I would point out however that we speak very loudly, not only to the people around us, but to our own spirit as well by how we dress. How do our young people dress for prom? There is something far more profound than prom here. How do they dress even for homecoming? How would we dress for the visit of some important person like, say, the president of the United States? Surely we might agree that there is someone infinitely more wonderful and important than the president here. Finally, what would a young lady think of a young man who showed up for a date in tattered clothes or in a t-shirt emblazoned with a skull or a beer logo? I have also observed that those showing up at Sunday Mass with Packer gear on are typically pretty anxious to get out and on to their game-day activities regardless of the kick-off time.
In the Marine Corps we used to be told that “when you look good, you feel good”. In my life I have found that to be very true. When I dress for an occasion, my mind is focused on that occasion. When I get on my Packer gear, I am focused on gameday. When I get into jeans and a t-shirt I am ready for work or recreation. If I am dressed for Mass I find that I am much more focused on Mass.
Finally, how would your host or a date feel if you got through dinner and then rushed out the door? I am sometimes amazed at how quickly especially the back rows of church clear out immediately after Communion. It’s like receiving Communion was the whole point of coming to church. One can hardly wait for Communion (so keep that homily short!) and as soon as I’ve gotten what I came for I’m out the door. HOW RUDE! The Communion rite is not completed until the Prayer after Communion. The Mass is not over until the priest or deacon has pronounced the dismissal. It would be nice if we’d stay until the priest and ministers have left the church, but at least stay until the dismissal.
Folks, this isn’t about making Father happy, or making for a good show for those around us. This discussion and our response is all about reinforcing in our hearts the primary place of importance this relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, has in our hearts, in our lives. I hope that all of us will carefully consider these words and see if, by putting them into practice, there isn’t a real difference made in our lives and relationship with God and with one another.