Going forward from the Diocesan Eucharistic Conference: Part 1
Fundamental to our understanding of Christ at the heart of our faith is the question He poses His disciples in the Gospels: “Who do you say that I am?” This is a pivotal question. The disciples’ eyes and ears indicate man, but the experience in their hearts tells them they are in the presence of God.
I see, smell, and taste bread, but when the bread and wine is transformed and the priest states “the Body of Christ”, my response is not a password to be allowed, but an acknowledgment of who I am receiving. The fullness of Christ: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
As we get closer to the National Eucharistic Congress in Liverpool, it’s important to reaffirm our own beliefs and understanding about what occurs during Mass. Father Stephen Wang opened our conference on the 4th and 5th May and spoke on the themes contained in his new book “Meeting Christ in the Eucharist”. As the title suggests, this is more than going through the motions at Mass, and fully understanding our part in the sacred liturgy; actively engaging our hearts in the piece of heaven presented in front of us, and through the Sacrament respond to Jesus’ call to know and love who He is.
It’s easy to let things distract us at Mass. I can feel my blood pressure rising when children are noisy, the altar servers forget what they’re supposed to be doing, or the choir is horrendously off key. I then take great delight in boring my ever-patient fiancée about “everything that was wrong at Mass”. I’m reminded of a picture we were shown at a recent Youth Ministers’ formation day of Jesus healing the paralytic who has been lowered through the roof. You will notice that the people to the right who are gossiping are the only ones who do not have their eyes on Christ and what He is doing!
Similarly, when Pope Benedict began his pontificate he would place a large crucifix on the Altar; a focal point as he celebrated the Mass. This was much to the annoyance of the faithful. After all, they had travelled all the way to Rome to see the Pope and their view was obscured! As Fr Stephen writes, the Eucharist is more than a community meeting, more than a Liturgy of the Word, more than a communion service where we listen to music we approve of and a preacher we agree with. It is a re-presentation of Christ’s one sacrifice.
This raises an important question: Are we as Catholics truly converted? That is to say, are we reaching for a deeper personal relationship with Christ in the Holy Eucharist when we go to Mass? Conversion is an awkward term to get one’s head around. It has uncomfortable and aggressive connotations, yet it bears complete relevance to a faithful Catholic lifestyle, first and foremost through allowing us to be changed through God’s love and mercy. Pippa Baker was our second keynote at the conference, speaking on the concepts of “Metanoia” and “Koinonia”, two Greek terms found in the New Testament. While we don’t have direct translations into English, their definitions help us to understand the meaning and implications of the Eucharist once we have met Christ there. Metanoia literally means conversion or repentance; a literal reorientation away from the things that inhibit our relationship with God and turning to face the Lord. The physicality of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament means that this reorientation is more than metaphorical, and accessible in every Catholic Church in the world in Eucharistic Adoration. We might not necessarily experience a road to Damascus moment, but a period of transformation can begin once we have the humility to adore. After all it’s said that we become like the people we spend the most time with. Why not let that person be Christ?
Three things have happened to me since I’ve become more intentional towards adoration:
1. I know Jesus more personally, and I have become more reverent in Holy Communion as I recognise who He is.
2. I’m much more patient when things go wrong, and when people irritate me as I see others more how God sees them.
3. It enhanced my sense of vocation and sealed my conviction towards the married life.
If metanoia is something to experience personally, koinonia conveys the terms community, communion, joint participation, sharing and intimacy. The terms are two sides of the same coin, as the experiences of each deeply inform and enhance the other. The full meaning of koinonia in the early Catholic Church was the sacrament of communion with one another in the Body of Christ. Eucharistic devotion is not exclusive and private. It is something to pursue collectively as the Church, our friends, family and especially those who have not yet experienced God’s love. It is an encounter with the Risen Lord which leads us into fuller communion with His Church and to witness to His love in service of the poor and working for justice and peace.
Meeting Christ in the Eucharist by Fr Stephen Wang £3.50 CTS Publications
New Christian Music: Since Your Love by United Pursuit
Part 2 next week
Sign up for the National Eucharistic Congress in Liverpool: firstname.lastname@example.org
For support with encouraging Eucharistic devotion to aid:
Evangelisation and Mission in your Parish: email@example.com
Young People in your Parish: firstname.lastname@example.org
Diocesan Eucharistic Congress 4th-5th May 2018
We had an amazing weekend with our Diocesan Eucharistic Congress held in the New Theatre Royal Portsmouth on Friday 4 th and Saturday 5 th May 2018.
First we had the schools day on Friday and then the rest of the diocese, parishes, families and friends on Saturday. The day climaxed in Eucharistic Adoration in the Cathedral and the celebration of Mass.
Our speakers were outstanding: Pippa Baker and Father Stephen Wang, hosted by Sarah and Sean from the FOCUS Missionary team.