May/June 2003
Carmelite Ponderings: Community and the Eucharist

Sr. Rosmarie Cameron of the Eucharist, O.C.D.

The Eucharist holds everything that life as a Christian is meant to be. In the first paragraph of our Holy Father’s new encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, he writes: "Ever since Pentecost, when the Church, the People of the New Covenant, began her pilgrim journey towards her heavenly homeland, the Divine Sacrament has continued to mark the passing of her days, filling them with confident hope.” Community and communion are one profound, dynamic reality. Here one encounters the person of Christ, the meaning of His life with us, and with one another. It is a relationship that flows into every aspect of our lives. Again, our Holy Father writes in his encyclical: “In the Eucharist the world which came forth from the hands of God the Creator now returns to him redeemed by Christ.”’

That truth has a profound effect, when at the moment of the reception of the Eucharist, Christ draws the one who receives Him into Himself. Every time we approach this sacrament, even more than our taking Christ into our hearts, He holds us, with all that we are and possess. Father Raphael Kitz, O.C.D. once told us that, every time we say “Amen” before going to communion, we acknowledge with faith, and enter into, the “mystery of Christ.” Jesus comes to reveal His Person, to reveal His Father, and to carry us in the Love Who is His Spirit, to rest in the embrace of the Father.

The Third Eucharistic Prayer asks the Father: “Grant that we, who are nourished by His (Christ’s) Body and Blood, may be filled with His Holy Spirit, and become one body, one spirit in Christ.” While it is the second Person of the Trinity who gives himself at every Eucharistic Sacrifice, we find ourselves also in a profound communion with the whole Christ — with His Mystical Body. The branches of the Vine, “abide in Him and He in them.” Before the consecration, the priest prays, in the third Eucharistic Prayer: “From age to age you gather a people to yourself, so that from east to west, a perfect offering may be made to the glory of your name…” The new Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us; “the Eucharist, by which, really sharing in the body of the Lord, …we are taken up into communion with Him and with one another.” Here communion and community become one reality. “Each of us receives Christ,” and “Christ receives each of us.”

Once on a retreat, we were told that we go before the Father not only for ourselves, but also as part of Christ’s entire Body. This becomes especially meaningful to me at the moment of receiving the Eucharist. I come, and I bring not only myself, but also all whom the Father has given me — His people. Not only my person receives the Lord, but while placing before the Lord my uniqueness, in that same moment all of humanity can be brought with me to become more intimately one through Him, with Him and in Him. It is not only my personal need that seeks answers and light in darkness. One’s personal praise and consolation are not the only gifts to be sought upon the reception of our Lord in this awesome sacrament. We are given the opportunity to respond to an invitation from Him. “He who said: ‘This is my Body’ is the same who said ‘Whatever you do to the least of my brothers you do also to me.’ What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying his hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well.” Every tear, every joy, every accomplishment, every striving, in strength and in weakness and need, all have a place before the Father. Christ has made us a unity, embraced by this loving God. In the Eucharist, all humanity is one community, one family, one Body where every member has a place prepared, has meaning, purpose and dignity. “The Eucharist is truly a glimpse of heaven appearing on earth. It is a glorious ray of the heavenly Jerusalem which pierces the clouds of our history and lights up our Journey.”

May every effort be made to receive the Eucharist often, for the need we have is great, and Love, Who calls us, is even greater. In humility and confidence we can join St. Teresa of Jesus in saying: “O Eternal Father! — What treasure do we have that could buy Your Son? The sale of Him, we already know, was for thirty pieces of silver. But to buy Him, no price is sufficient. Since by sharing in our nature He has become one with us here below — and as Lord of His own will — He reminds the Father that because He belongs to Him the Father in turn can give Him to us. And so He says ‘our bread.' He doesn’t make any difference between Himself and us...”

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