Getting the Most Out of the Eucharist

Thanks to all who have left comments so far on the posts below, if you haven’t commented yet please do add your comments. I was mentioning to Amy the general tone of most of the comments (you can read them for yourselves under the appropriate posts)and in a nutshell she captured the ultimate source of frustration–powerlessness to change the situation. Ironically, if you quizzed the majority of priests, liturgists, choir directors about the state of the liturgy they would all say exactly the same thing. Who they would blame would differ depending upon who you asked but I know from experience that just about everyone involved feels the situation is out of their control. I even heard Cardinal Arinze speak to this recently. Feel free to comment on this, it is a work in process and all the reaction helps me to clarify my thoughts.

So where do we start and I mean all of us?

Realize that God is in control…

even when the modern Judas (fallen Apostles), Caiphas (priest who’ve forgotten God), Pilate (politicians who do what they think the crowd wants), and the rest of us who like the Apostles are never quite sure if we too might betray Our Lord and ever need to ask “Is it I Lord?”

Jesus told his disciples to expect persecution. “If they do this to the wood when it is green, what will happen when it is dry?” St. Paul told the early disciples to “Walk by faith not by sight.”

The Eucharist is the memorial of the Lord’s Passion. We should never lose sight of that! Whatever we experience at the Eucharist we should never lose sight that God is in control and we should trust in God more than anything else that irks us. We need to crush our own egos–all of us, priests, musicians, ushers, and the rest.

The Passion of Christ which every celebration of the Eucharist makes present begins in Matthew’s Gospel with Jesus announcing it! In Matthew 26, the Apostle tells us that “When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and he Son of man will be delivered up, up to be crucified,” (Matthew 26:1-2). The next verse details that “then” the chief priests set into motion their plan to kill Jesus. The evil they intended only could happen, once God allowed it to happen. This is a great mystery but one that applies to every aspect of our lives and is applicable to what we do when we attend Mass.

Some might think that the “novus ordo” or the “new order of the Mass” is the problem. I attended a funeral a few years ago that was conducted by the schismatic SSPX and I encountered as many “liturgical abuses” at that celebration as I have at any Mass I have attended over the course of my life. The priest, a convert stumbled over the Latin prayers, allowed a lay man who clearly was directing the Mass to do parts that are reserved for the priest alone and the same poor taste in music was illustrated throughout.

I have attended an Eastern Catholic liturgy in the past year where the lay women stopped the priest in the middle of the liturgy to screaming that they did not know where he was in the books they were using to follow the liturgy.

Abuses, imperfections in the liturgy are inevitable. Human beings are imperfect. St. Paul even says that we do not know how to pray as we ought but that the Spirit makes up for what is lacking.

The first step to getting the most out of the Eucharist is to accept that God is in control, not me. Whether I am the presider, the cantor, the reader, the congregant it is not about “me” it is about doing what Jesus told his disciples to do. Trust in God!

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