Tag Archives: Eucharist

Bread of Life: A Mutual Invitation of Participation

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“John’s Jesus has a totally different outlook. He does supply earthly bread to a crowd that hungers; but that is not the real marvel, for they will hunger again and so are not permanently better. The real marvel is that Jesus can give a bread from heaven that obviates hunger: the true (alēthinos) bread of which the multiplied loaf was only a sign”

-Raymond E. Brown, “The Johannine World for Preachers,” Interpretation 43.1 (1989), 60-61.

This quote by Raymond Brown, as an invitation for reflection on the Bread of Life discourse (John 6:22-71), has once again completely captivated me! Here, we are presented with Jesus both as the revelation of the Word, the divine teaching that holds eternal life and as Eucharist, the living bread which “provides nourishment” when eaten (NAB, Jn 6:51; Brown, A Introduction to the New Testament, p.346). What was enlightening for me in appreciating John’s portrait of Jesus, were the parallelisms with the OT understanding of Wisdom as found in Proverbs, Wisdom, and Sirach. These texts, offer us a background in which to grasp our later Christian understandings of Jesus and continuity with the OT. In Sirach, Wisdom is described as Word emanating from the “mouth of God” (Sir.24:3), and that which when drunken in provides fulfillment (24:20). In comparison, John portrays the person of Jesus as divine word, (“I am the bread of life”) to be believed and which promises not only fulfillment but eternal life (Jn. 6:35,40,45,47-48).

Yet, there are also definite Eucharistic allusions present in John 6:51-58, and likewise throughout this discourse. Especially, if we begin just prior to the Bread of discourse with the Multiplication of the Loaves, and consider the discussion on perishable food and the food of eternal life (Jn 6:26-2; Brown p.345-346). In fact, these seem to introduce the proceeding discourse and provide “two interpretations on how this is to be done” (p.346). Once again there are OT references here, in the manna of the Exodus that came from heaven, and the water to drink that broke forth from the stone. This food sustained the Israelites in the desert, yet could not promise life eternal.

In Jesus, was the fulfillment of the Word, made “flesh for the life of the world” (NAB, John 6:51). Likewise, the blood of Jesus is the “true drink” of eternal life (Jn, 6:55). There is a bit of irony to be found here in that the fullness of this meaning could not be understood by the Jews around him, who assert their familiarity with the physical personage of Jesus (Brown, p. 336; Jn 6:42). For them, they will ‘hunger and thirst again’, working for “food that perishes” unable to look past the satisfaction of their earthly hunger or for signs in which to believe (Jn 6:27; 30-32; 58).

Therefore, I would affirm that both understandings of this discourse are present and that it need not be a decision between, but a mutual invitation to participation. The observation, by Brown, that at times churches have “been divided as to which deserves the most emphasis” speaks to my prior faith experience as a Southern Baptist. (Brown, p.378). While the “Lord’s Supper” did have a place of importance in the Baptist tradition, it most certainly did not indicate more than a symbolic remembrance. Not to mention, there was a clear priority on the word of God and in particular on the words printed in red.

Yet, one of the beautiful elements that I became aware of as a Catholic catechist is the liturgical fullness given when both Scripture and Eucharist are equally emphasized. In the Liturgy of the Word, we are called to listen and respond to the Word and prayer. In the Liturgy of the Eucharist we are called to offer our lives to God, receive communion in unity with one another and go forth to share (and be) the good news of Jesus with one another. Yet, I would add that “ideal” is most fully understood when that same balance is not only liturgically placed but felt within the hearts of the believers.

Reflect:

Do I participate fully in the Liturgy of the Word, giving my full attention to both the spoken word and the words God seeks to imprint upon my heart? Am I fully present for reception of the Eucharist, understanding that Christ is fully and intimately present to me in that very moment?

Peace,

Signature

Worth Revisiting: The Grace We Need

If she could stand, she would undoubtedly comprise all of 5 feet. Slowly, age and physical limitations have taken her ability to walk, then stand and the wheelchair that she once could move can no longer be done on her own. Yet on the inside “Grace” towers, a living witness to a profound spirituality, her inspiring reverence and appreciation for the Eucharist is faithfully compelling.  In her suffering, she has shared not only of her struggle but of the gift and essentialness of communion and community.

It was about 6 years ago in the beginning of our Eucharistic Ministry to the nursing homes, that my husband and I first met Grace. My husband, having left Harvard when our economy took a major downturn was initially unsure of this assignment but more than ready to feel of use again. While he was certain that he could impart a bit of company and joy to those he visited in fulfilling this ministry, he was not prepared for what he would receive in return. His week spent researching the classifieds and applying for new jobs, would prove relentless with the exception of Sunday. Always faithful, but at times lukewarm in intensity, Sunday was the day he reserved for God. Little did he know that God had so much more in store for him, by this simple step forward in faith.

While wanting to go with him in these first few visits, I prayerfully held back, feeling God was preparing John for something special. So, with pyx in hand and a head full of concerns I watched as John hurriedly left the house, unquestionably working on the following day’s to-do list. However, no matter how he left the house, one could not help but notice that he never returned the same. In its place, peace and joy had consumed his countenance and he practically overflowed with a renewed strength. For, during this otherwise incredibly stressful time, God had opened a window.

After a bit of time, of observing all of this, the day came when with hopeful expectation he suddenly  asked,  “Would you like to go with me today? There is someone I would like you to meet.”   This was the moment I had patiently waited for.  “Of course, lead the way!”.  Though he carried a handwritten list of names and rooms, with notes beside each, it would be completely unnecessary. He knew each one, and wasted no time in introducing me as we entered with a rap at the door.

As we neared the last room he paused, grabbed my hand and a huge smile overtook his face. This was the one he so eagerly had wanted to share, the one that had inspired the transformation that I witnessed.

“Hi Grace!”, it’s John from St. Peter’s, “I brought my lovely wife Elizabeth with me today..”
“It is really SO good to see you, thank you for coming and making time for me..I cannot tell you what this means”, she exclaimed.
Then chatting for a few min about our families, health and week, John asked Grace, would you like to receive communion?”
“Oh, Yes! I REALLY need that!” , with hands clasped and eyes closing immediately in prayer.
“We all do Grace, we all do..” he answered without hesitation.

Have you ever considered Eucharistic ministry? Be prepared, the life transformed by Christ today, might be your own!

Worth Revisiting: Embracing Advent

As  Pope Francis opened the year of mercy, it is a time to mark our conscious and concerted effort to be a continual witness of God’s mercy in the world. This begins, as he notes, for each of us with our daily conversion of heart, a turning towards Christ and an acceptance of the love and mercy that is available for all. We are to then share and radiate this mercy that we have been given to all those we encounter. Why wait? Today is the day..

This Advent season, I find myself disenchanted with the stores, and the constant promotion of items to be bought in order to win smiles and love. Some years are like that we say to ourselves, and yet I know that there is something much profound at work. Searching, I recognize that while society hasn’t necessarily changed, I have.

The other day, I took a moment with a local homeless man just to talk. As he stood there, leaning uncomfortably against my church, I could not pass him by. That is, without sharing a smile and asking him how he was doing. Even from a distance, I noticed that the cold weather had left his skin and lips weathered, and reddened.  I suddenly realized that I had come prepared. For, inside my car were a new pair of tube socks with lotion, wipes, chap stick, toothbrush and toothpaste enclosed. Gladly, but a bit surprised, he accepted the gift.

Examples of items to include in a care kit..

This morning on my way to take my son to school again I saw him, with a huge smile on his face walking with a couple of other men. What a gift he had given me to see him enjoying a bit of happiness and company. The homeless life can be so very isolating, for mental illness and addictions have often served to distance them from relationships and even recognition. In our hurry and perhaps even fearful, we are accustomed to look straight ahead towards our destination.

Where are our eyes focused this Advent? Upwards toward heaven, forward in completing the day’s events, or all around seeking God in everything? Are we, as Mother Teresa observed, “seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor”?  [1] Times have been difficult in my suburban community, and many more families are either finding themselves cutting back, overextended, or without.  Yet, while we can’t do or be everything to everyone we can greet, love, and support one another in whatever way we can. Today, an invitation was extended for more volunteers at our parish food pantry in order to serve more people, and provide rest for regular helpers. Maybe an hour this Advent season is a gift you too can give.

How are our hearts this Advent? If we are serious about preparing for Christ’s coming, it’s time now to think about the condition of our hearts. Are we hardened by our own circumstances, and the pitfalls we have found ourselves in? Where are my thoughts this Advent? Trusting the path and journey we are on isn’t easy to do alone, for the temptation is to seek control.

Prayer and the Eucharist– are for me the most transforming corrections for my squinted vision, stiffening heart,  and human tendencies to control my world.  In quiet prayer, I can silence the noise and hear Jesus’ voice once again. All my pretences fall away, as I stand like a child at his feet. Feeling his embrace, my heart melts and I long to stay with him. His smile reminds me who and whose I am. Created and loved I am asked to see as he does. His daughter, I am called to be ever close to him. This intimacy of the Eucharist draws me not inward but outward.

 I am called to be more than I could have ever imagined, and all that you know I can be.  “Let faith arise..open my eyes!” 

[1] Mother TeresaIn the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

Peace,

Signature

Worth Revisiting: Invited into Community

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

Have an hour to spare and share on a Saturday/Sunday afternoon or weekday morning after mass?  I cannot think of a better way to spend such a short amount of time than bringing communion to others. These ineffable moments of grace are truly invitations to not only bring the body of Christ, but to recognize the fullness of being the body of Christ.  What if for reasons of health, age or circumstance, you could no longer receive communion? Hear a knock? Open your heart today..


Invited into Community: The Joy of Eucharistic Ministry

eucharist-2“The Eucharist is not something we do simply to commemorate what Jesus did for us. Rather it is something that Christ does for us, filling us with grace and nourishing us with His own life. Let us live the Eucharist, in a spirit of joy and concern for all our brothers and sisters in need”. Pope Francis

This morning, I was thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know) about how incredibly busy, but restful and fulfilling my Sunday had been. While it seems odd perhaps to hold these adjectives together I believe that they highlight what it really means, to me, to “work six and rest one” in keeping the Sabbath holy. As so often the case, in anticipation of Sunday, there was an extra spring in my step as I reflected and then prepared for the day ahead. You see, my joy is not solely in going to mass with my immediate family, but is found in joining my larger family in Christ, in sharing communion together. Here, I am graced with brothers and sisters from varied backgrounds, of all ages, and nationalities each praying to the same Father. Each resting the work of their own hands, to bring all that they are- to be blessed and broken and enjoined as one in the beautiful sacrifice of Christ.

As a Eucharistic minister, I witness this so profoundly as each person steps forward to receive Christ. Some hands are soft, others rugged and worn, nonetheless within their eyes, I see God…and what a beautiful sight that is to behold!  At times I sense their sadness, others times their joy and still others their deep appreciation for this moment to pause to recognize Christ present with us. Each carrying the deep imprint of God on their souls, and each with the invitation to make Christ visible today.

Yet, what of those in our community, who because of age, illness or injury cannot be with us on Sunday? While many of us were able to experience the beautiful mystery of Christ’s presence this Sunday in the Eucharist, imagine if you could not. So often we might take for granted the ability to come and partake in communion together, yet for so many of our “family” this not an option.So in reading this,  I am asking you to please consider offering your gift of faith, love and service  to bring Christ, made truly present in the Eucharist and in our community, into their lives as well.

I promise, the joy and love that God provides in this ministry is one that can forever change your own life and serve as a continual source of blessing. This has been the experience of my husband and I, who have been serving for the past five years. We feel graced to have been witnesses to the sacred, these moments of profound gratitude, and light of Christ’s love into their lives.

So, what does this gift require? Our time spent in total at a facility is about an hour, although admittedly quite often we choose to spend longer! Perhaps you may be able to go once a week, yet if you can only go every other week, or visit someone home bound, you will be providing an immeasurable gift that might make their reception of the Eucharist possible.

In faith and prayer, I ask that you consider this beautiful ministry. God Bless-


The Grace We Need

If she could stand, she would undoubtedly comprise all of 5 feet. Slowly, age and physical limitations have taken her ability to walk, then stand and the wheelchair that she once could move can no longer be done on her own. Yet on the inside “Grace” towers, a living witness to a profound spirituality, her inspiring reverence and appreciation for the Eucharist is faithfully compelling.  In her suffering, she has shared not only of her struggle but of the gift and essentialness of communion and community.

It was about 6 years ago in the beginning of our Eucharistic Ministry to the nursing homes, that my husband and I first met Grace. My husband, having left Harvard when our economy took a major downturn was initially unsure of this assignment but more than ready to feel of use again. While he was certain that he could impart a bit of company and joy to those he visited in fulfilling this ministry, he was not prepared for what he would receive in return. His week spent researching the classifieds and applying for new jobs, would prove relentless with the exception of Sunday. Always faithful, but at times lukewarm in intensity, Sunday was the day he reserved for God. Little did he know that God had so much more in store for him, by this simple step forward in faith.

While wanting to go with him in these first few visits, I prayerfully held back, feeling God was preparing John for something special. So, with pyx in hand and a head full of concerns I watched as John hurriedly left the house, unquestionably working on the following day’s to-do list. However, no matter how he left the house, one could not help but notice that he never returned the same. In its place, peace and joy had consumed his countenance and he practically overflowed with a renewed strength. For, during this otherwise incredibly stressful time, God had opened a window.

After a bit of time, of observing all of this, the day came when with hopeful expectation he suddenly  asked,  “Would you like to go with me today? There is someone I would like you to meet.”   This was the moment I had patiently waited for.  “Of course, lead the way!”.  Though he carried a handwritten list of names and rooms, with notes beside each, it would be completely unnecessary. He knew each one, and wasted no time in introducing me as we entered with a rap at the door.

As we neared the last room he paused, grabbed my hand and a huge smile overtook his face. This was the one he so eagerly had wanted to share, the one that had inspired the transformation that I witnessed.

“Hi Grace!”, it’s John from St. Peter’s, “I brought my lovely wife Elizabeth with me today..”
“It is really SO good to see you, thank you for coming and making time for me..I cannot tell you what this means”, she exclaimed.
Then chatting for a few min about our families, health and week, John asked Grace, would you like to receive communion?”
“Oh, Yes! I REALLY need that!” , with hands clasped and eyes closing immediately in prayer.
“We all do Grace, we all do..” he answered without hesitation.

Have you ever considered Eucharistic ministry? Be prepared, the life transformed by Christ today, might just be your own!

Worth Revisiting: Bringing Forth Our Gifts

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

In better discerning where we are meant to be and what we are being called to do, there is usually the internal assessment of those gifts we have to offer. Many times we might feel that we have nothing of value to bring, and thereby discount all that we have been given that God seeks to use. Yet there is courage found in recognizing that God perfects all that is lacking within and is more than ready to fit each of us for the task.  Can we step forward today, and do as the small boy from the Gospels has done..can we offer our gifts from the heart?


Witness to the Miracle: Bringing Forth Our Gifts

In discussion of the Gospel Reading of the miracle of loaves and fish, I asked the children gathered at mass what should we do with the gifts that God has given us? What if what we have is thought to be little? Conversely,  if we have acquired much, and have leftovers, what would we do with it? While,  I thought that I was leading them to provide typical answers of the things that they would buy or do with the new wealth they, much like the boy in the Gospel, truly offered gifts of the heart.

The first little girl said, “I would give ten percent to the church”. 

Another boy answered “I would seek to build shelter for the homeless”

Still another profoundly replied,  “I would keep only very little, enough for my family to be able to live and eat”.

Oh, out of the mouths of babes!  I had to smile, as I then asked, “Do you know that this is exactly what Jesus has entrusted us to do as followers, in caring for the needs of our community?”

As a church, and individually as disciples we need to ask ourselves if we are committed fully both to evangelization and service. This is a demanding call to imitate Christ’s love for humanity both in word and deed, in the tasks of “pastoral mission, communion and participation”.[1] While Vatican II reemphasized these, it was Evangelii Nuntiandi that so clearly issued the challenge for us today as a Church. Here, the Christian ‘life of prayer, the Word, teaching, charity’, and “sharing of bread…only acquires its full meaning when it becomes a witness, when it evokes admiration and conversion, and when it becomes the preaching and proclamation of the Good News”.[2] The contextual situations of poverty, oppression, homelessness, and disease particularly prevalent in the Third World do not allow them to adequately provide for themselves.[3]

Today we too are to answer the directive posed to us by Christ.  First, following the model of Christ, we are called to a greater awareness of the material and spiritual need of those within our local and global communities. In order to do so, requires that we are truly transformed by the gift, and a witness to our encounter with Christ present in the Eucharist. Then, bringing our gifts and resources with confidence, we offer them to God to be blessed, multiplied and shared, turning none away. Finally, we are reminded of our task as disciples to gather our surplus, to allocate it appropriately so that none is lost and that all are filled.

May God bless you in your gift of self, service, and love!

Signature

How fitting is the naming and mission of this Massachusetts food pantry..  http://www.loavesfishespantry.org/  Now, do you know of one in your area? 🙂 St. Vincent de Paul


[1] Francis, Journey to Rio de Janeiro on the Occasion of the XXVIII World Youth Day. July 28, 2013.

[2] Paul VI, Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi. “From Christ to the Church’s Evangelizing”. I (15)

[3] Manus, “John 6:1-15 and its Synoptic Parallels”, 69.

Embracing Advent with Open Mind, Heart and Eyes

Linking up with Laura at Day by Day In Our World for 40 Days of Seeking Him!

This Advent season, I find myself disenchanted with the stores, and the constant promotion of items to be bought in order to win smiles and love. Some years are like that we say to ourselves, and yet I know that there is something much profound at work. Searching, I recognize that while society hasn’t necessarily changed, I have.

The other day, I took a moment with a local homeless man just to talk. As he stood there, leaning uncomfortably against my church, I could not pass him by. That is, without sharing a smile and asking him how he was doing. Even from a distance, I noticed that the cold weather had left his skin and lips weathered, and reddened.  I suddenly realized that I had come prepared. For, inside my car were a new pair of tube socks with lotion, wipes, chap stick, toothbrush and toothpaste enclosed. Gladly, but a bit surprised, he accepted the gift.

Examples of items to include in a care kit..

This morning on my way to take my son to school again I saw him, with a huge smile on his face walking with a couple of other men. What a gift he had given me to see him enjoying a bit of happiness and company. The homeless life can be so very isolating, for mental illness and addictions have often served to distance them from relationships and even recognition. In our hurry and perhaps even fearful, we are accustomed to look straight ahead towards our destination.

Where are our eyes focused this Advent? Upwards toward heaven, forward in completing the day’s events, or all around seeking God in everything? Are we, as Mother Teresa observed, “seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor”?  [1] Times have been difficult in my suburban community, and many more families are either finding themselves cutting back, overextended, or without.  Yet, while we can’t do or be everything to everyone we can greet, love, and support one another in whatever way we can. Today, an invitation was extended for more volunteers at our parish food pantry in order to serve more people, and provide rest for regular helpers. Maybe an hour this Advent season is a gift you too can give.

How are our hearts this Advent? If we are serious about preparing for Christ’s coming, it’s time now to think about the condition of our hearts. Are we hardened by our own circumstances, and the pitfalls we have found ourselves in? Where are my thoughts this Advent? Trusting the path and journey we are on isn’t easy to do alone, for the temptation is to seek control.

Prayer and the Eucharist– are for me the most transforming corrections for my squinted vision, stiffening heart,  and human tendencies to control my world.  In quiet prayer, I can silence the noise and hear Jesus’ voice once again. All my pretences fall away, as I stand like a child at his feet. Feeling his embrace, my heart melts and I long to stay with him. His smile reminds me who and whose I am. Created and loved I am asked to see as he does. His daughter, I am called to be ever close to him. This intimacy of the Eucharist draws me not inward but outward.

 I am called to be more than I could have ever imagined, and all that you know I can be.  “Let faith arise..open my eyes!” 

[1] Mother TeresaIn the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

Currently Vol 3: A New Perspective

Currently,A New Perspective
with “A Mama Collective”!

Currently, I have been thinking about the people that enter into our lives, albeit sometimes unexpectedly,  who enable us to glimpse a new perspective.  We are reminded that the beauty of our journey as Christians  is that as questions arise, our faith tradition is filled with deep convictions, “emerging” methods,  and new beginnings!  How thankful I am for those times that as God has sought to move me, and has opened my eyes to see  a different perspective or the need for a more pastoral approach. What a vision God has of the whole picture!

It reminds me of an art class where everyone is painting the object in the center. The object isn’t the same all the way around, even the light from the windows casts the colors and shadows differently. Yet, the artists paint what is before them in the truest way possible, faithful to the teacher, and the methods that they have learned.

Listening// This week I listened to an elderly friend, who I bring communion to, describe the sightless, hard of hearing world that he lives in. Not in a complaint, but in a matter of fact way-inviting me into “seeing” his perspective.  Though the light behind his eyes has made sleep extremely difficult, he asks to be awakened for communion because this is so essential to him. As we part, he tells my husband and I how he wishes he could see us but how much he loves and is thankful for our time spent in community.

Watching// with excitement at the new appointment of Bishop Blase Cupich as Archbishop of Chicago!  Just a few days before the announcement, twitter was all abuzz. Eagerly, I studied his pastoral journey to gain a better understanding of the perspective he would bring to the position.  He appears to be moderate in his approach on most religious issues, and in touch with both the teachings and the people.  How heartwarming it was to hear him personally address the 44% Hispanic population of Chicago in Spanish!  In everything that I have seen and heard so far,  I have to say what an exciting time  it is for the people of  Chicago. 

Reading// Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization by Scott Hahn.  Another essential book I have placed on my learning syllabus for my Field Education work! This book  provides a necessary perspective on the mission calling us forth in “creating intentional disciples” and in deepening our own faith life. For it questions whether we can be convincing witnesses of the faith if, instead of embracing and living our faith, we tread only in the shallow end. It is a beautiful reminder to probe the deeper meaning of the sacraments in a life lived, rather than seeing these as an end in and of themselves.

bookRemembering// The love of learning that my mother and her family passed down to me.  As the daughter, granddaughter, niece, and cousin of educators, I recognize that this is something I could not escape (Those genes are strong) even if I had wanted to!  Not knowing where God will lead me when this degree is completed, I know that in my heart that this desire to learn, grow and share will always be a part of whatever I do.

Wisdom” , Rustic Verses by (my Grandpa) Carl Wyatt Ferrell

 It seems the older that we grow,

The more we don’t know-

At least I’ve found it true.

My wisdom I begin to doubt,

For there are things I’ve just found out,

That once I thought I knew.

 

For Knowledge is a growing thing;

Each day, more wisdom it will bring

if we take care to see.

A grain of learning should each day,

Like precious gold be stored away,

If we would wiser be.

A loving granddaughter,Signature