Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Eucharist: Sign of God and God of the Sign

The roads of England like this one are quite beautiful. As I was traveling on it today, it was a kind of sign, an analogy, a life experience, through which I experienced God speaking to me. I felt as if his Heart is full of these beautiful winding paths, mysterious roads that are full of adventure and discovery, the first of which is the realization of his love for me.

The Jews asked Jesus for a sign. They pointed out that Moses gave them bread from heaven, so mysterious and wonderful that it is named, Manna, which means, "What is it?" Jesus told them that he would give them a new sign, THE Sign, THE Bread from Heaven, Himself. The Eucharist is really the most pre-eminent sign of God's love for us, because it contains THE Signifer, or Author of all signs of God, God Himself.

Many people, fathers in particular, want to do wonderful things for their children, earn money for them, give them gifts, a good education, but the greatest gift that children look for, need, are really aching for, is none other than the gift of their father himself. The Presence of God is the same. The power of the Holy Eucharist to reveal God's love to us rests in this, that it is God's very presence on earth. All other gifts follow this one, that he heals, sanctifies, blesses, restores, and makes us whole, because his divine essence is present to us first.

Faith, is the necessary ingredient for us to be able to receive the Sign and Signifer who comes us under the humble appearances of bread and wine. The audacious humility of God, his great constancy and faithfulness in always coming to us can be manifest only when we have faith. The Eucharist is said to be a Sacramentum fidei, or sacrament of faith because we have access and understanding of the mystery and it's power only after we believe.

Faith also implies faithfulness. A minister of the Eucharist must faithfully preserve the sacredness of the rite in order to fully transmit the power it had to reveal the holy love of God. When the integrity of the rite is preserved, as prescribed by Jesus himself at the last supper and in the 40 days after his resurrection before ascending to the Father, the power of his divine love is permitted to shine forth on the earth. Also the holiness of minister himself, the quality of his homily to explain the grace given in the Mass to the people, the sacredness of the music, has the power to transmit more fully the Person of Jesus and dispose us to receive him well in Holy Communion.

How do you receive him well? Of course it is important to have the dispositions of faith, humility, and attentive reverence, but there is a deeper change of attitude that needs to orient a person. Let me point out two things Blessed Pope John Paul said in his Encyclical on the Eucharist, Ecclesia de Eucharistia.

First, we must be aware that Jesus is receiving us. We think a lot about receiving him, but this focuses us on whom? Ourselves. What is Jesus doing in the Sacrament? He is receiving us, taking us up into himself, transforming us, healing us, gracing us with his divine Mercy. There needs to be a polar shift here, from being egocentric to being Christocentric, so that the true Eucharistic pole of heaven and earth may eternally orient us to looking at what God is doing first.

Second, what does it mean for Jesus to receive us? We may have a concept of this in our minds but we don't know what this is experientially. Mary, the Mother of God, does know from experience. She allowed Jesus to take her whole being and transform it. and so, Bl Pope John Paul repeats an ancient practice reinvigorated by St Louis de Montfort, to listen to the conversation of love between Mary and Jesus, to receive Jesus' Heart with the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Ask Our Lady to prepare us for Jesus.

May Our Lady help us allow Jesus to transform our Heart like unto his own.

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