Authentic Eucharistic Spirituality
We live in a world that is influenced and regulated by the “quick fix” to life’s many problems, or the easy “escape” from enduring difficulties. Today many people in and outside the Church are searching for spiritualities to suit their needs, especially desire or what Rolheiser calls “The Holy Longing.” In order to satisfy their yearnings, some have embraced all kinds of spiritualities. The Liturgy of the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B speaks about the need to cultivate and develop an authentic Eucharistic spirituality. The question is: what does it mean to receive Holy Communion? St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower, described her First Holy Communion in this way: “Ah! How sweet was that first kiss of Jesus! It was a kiss of love; I felt that I was loved, and I said: ‘I love You, and I give myself to You forever!’” (Story of a Soul, c. 4). What was your own experience about when you received your First Holy Communion? Is that experience still active and alive in you? From such experience we can begin to speak about a Eucharistic spirituality and its authenticity.
The Eucharist as a gift from Jesus Christ is a huge one that we can never exhaust. The more we try to unravel it the more we get mystified. Be that as it may, there are special attributes to hold on to as we aspire to embrace and live out a sound Eucharistic spirituality. An authentic Eucharistic spirituality is threefold: a celebration, contemplative and missionary.
A celebration: We can understand the celebrative aspect of the Eucharist through the meaning of the term Eucharist. “Eu” means “good” and “charis” means “gift.” Putting them together, we have “a good gift.” The “good gift” refer to the Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Paschal Mystery which has transformed and is still transforming our identity and story as Christ’s faithful. Therefore, in response to the transformative love of God, we celebrate with an “attitude of gratitude” as we attend Holy Mass daily. If we keep the celebration on, we shall keep getting the most out of life.
Contemplative: We are highly privileged to have Jesus Christ with us under the Sacrament of the Altar. Therefore, there is a need for us to respond to the love of the Son of God. Prayer becomes a special sign of response to the love of Jesus when we imitate Jesus who prayed as we pray with our hearts and lips with love in practice. In the language of the Mystics as revealed by St. Teresa of Avila, “It is going before the Lord who loves you and telling him, ‘Lord, I love you!’” The Mystics also say that the language of prayer is the language of love and according to St. Teresa of Avila, prayer is not so much about thinking or speaking, but loving a great deal. Our task is to understand prayer as a raising of our hearts and minds to God with love and affection. It is looking at God with love and we can achieve the contemplative dimension of an authentic Eucharistic spirituality by our adoration of the Blessed Sacrament because it is in the Eucharistic presence that we can find the best moments of prayer.
Missionary: At the end of Holy Mass the Priest usually proclaim the missionary dimension of our Eucharistic spirituality when he says “Go forth, the Mass is ended” or “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord” or “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life” or “Go in peace.” In the concluding rites of the Mass, there is the missionary mandate “Go” as we have it in Matthew 28:19 “Go and make disciples of all nations…” Meaning we have to apply the fruits of the Holy Mass in our daily work, contacts and interactions. We have to touch people through our thoughts, words and actions that have been informed and transformed by the Holy Mass and by extension adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Jesus in the Holy Eucharist – be the food of my soul!
Fr. John-Mary Atep