WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Are we really celebrating eucharist?

Fr John Greally

For centuries, Christians have gathered to keep alive the vision, the words, the actions of one person – Jesus Christ. The celebration of what we call the Mass or the Eucharist has given meaning to a particular part of church and human history.

How faithful are we to what Jesus really wanted when he said ‘Do this in memory of me.’

When Christ gathers the church together as a visible sign of his presence, what and who gets changed?Rejoice in the many presences of Christ

We can never limit the way that Jesus will continue to work in our world, be it in seconds or centuries, in ways that we know and that we are unfamiliar with and even in ways that we do not like. One person writing about the many presences of Christ put it this way:

“We know all too well how the Christian churches pick and choose among the modes of Christ’s presence. Some have claimed that Christ is present primarily (even solely) in the word; some that he is present only in the Eucharistic food; still others that he is present ultimately in the assembly or in the ministers. But the ancient belief of the Church, echoed in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy a generation ago, has startled all of us, … and has opened our eyes to our selectivity. For if each of the churches has held to some of the truth about Christ’s presence with us, each has also forgotten or ignored some of the truth. Now in this generation the churches have the opportunity to learn from one another that part of the wisdom about Christ which they held onto and cherished, so that all might be enlightened and changed.”

Would Jesus be happy with our celebration of the Eucharist?

What then does Jesus actually mean? We are to eat his flesh and drink his blood in the sense that we are to appropriate, to assimilate totally into our very being all that he teaches, his vision, his values, his understanding of the meaning and purpose of life. We are to be able to say, with Paul, “I live, not I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20). Or elsewhere, “Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:5). His thinking is our thinking; his dreams are our dreams. This is the basic meaning of eating the body and blood of Christ: total union with him in our way of thinking and living.

Everybody’s right?

It seems that the Eucharist, the source and summit of our Catholic lives, the sacrament of our unity can also be the very sacrament that leads to many an argument and behaviour that can only be described as anything but Christian. Maybe this says that we feel passionately about the heartland of our Catholicism, but does it also say that we need to continue to reflect on our attitude and what causes the deep-seated ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’ mentality?

Archdiocese reflects on the Mass

Recently, there was the opportunity for various groups in the archdiocese to reflect on the Eucharist. This time of reflection had its origin in the forthcoming national catechesis on the Mass, which is to prepare us for the introduction of the Revised Roman Missal with its Revised General Instruction soon to be published. Some 200 people took part in the seminars held in various parts of the diocese. There was a real eagerness to look at ways of rediscovering the beauty of the Mass, but more than that, a real enthusiasm for the way we gather as people of faith, wanting to celebrate God in our lives and take this celebration beyond the church to the world in which we live. These gatherings really captured the heart of the recent synod.

Coming soon to a parish near you

Worshipping Under Southern Skies is launched on 15 October in a parish near you. Over the next two or so years the opportunity will be given to reflect on the mass. The material provided will give ample scope in the way that the parish or pastoral area can take part. For those who aren’t that keen on small groups, there is the chance to reflect on the material from the comfort of your own computer screen.

The Eucharist the parish makes

A parish gets the Eucharist that its parishioners make. It is not only the architecture or design of the church, not the quality of the preaching, nor the brilliance of the music. It is all these things with a deeply united community as its foundation and with Jesus as the centre, the very heart of the parish. Let that be the basis of all our ongoing reflection.