Wednesday, July 18, 2012
The Mystery of the Blessed Sacrament
The Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of the Catholic faith (I think this is from the Catechism, but it is definitely on the Vatican website and I've heard/seen it many times before) and as Roman Catholics, we believe that Jesus Christ becomes truly and mystically present in the sacred species during Holy Mass. The Creator of the world is physically and truly present in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Holy Communion; not just mere symbols as Protestantism erroneously claims.
So if that's true, I want to know the power behind this Mystery of God. What does this mean for pious Christians who approach the Holy Table to receive these beautiful Gifts? I feel like this is something that is believed in theory among Catholics (although Orthodox seem to wholeheartedly believe in the True Presence), but to me, a lack of Faith seems to prevent us from experiencing the fullness of this amazing Truth. It's so sad. These are things that I notice:
People that attend Holy Mass and receive the Lord seem so hasty about it. There is this crazy idea that we need as many Extraordinary 'Ministers' of Holy Communion so we can speed along the distribution. And although the Second Vatican Council did not intend this at all, people seem to think this is another role to be filled like ushers, and greeters, and people who collect the offering, and what not.
Not to be judgmental, but the way in which a lot of people receive Holy Communion distressed me to the point where I just don't look (there are other reasons I don't look such as the fact that that is a very intimate encounter to have the personal visitation of our Lord and God and should not be disturbed by my eyes). These really fast Signs of the Cross, the quick and hurried bows (or nods of the head)...if people even remember to do them (technically, if you're going to bow, it has to be three bows...not just one...). People walking while receiving Holy Communion. And also not many people offer prayers of thanksgiving for the Heavenly Food, the Bread of Angels, which they just received. Even more, many leave the church while processing away from the Communion line before Mass even ends!
What in the world?! This is just unacceptable and I just want to scream every time I witness these at Holy Mass. I've never seen anything like this in the Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy (actually I love how they receive Holy Communion). How Communion is received in the Extraordinary Form is more acceptable, but still sometimes seems like a lack of piety. As judgmental as that sounds, this is what I've observed.
But I think the reason that I'm seeing this (and maybe you all have noticed it as well) is because we don't take the time to ponder what we have in the Blessed Sacrament. Another thing that bothers me is no one likes to talk about it either (although I can almost always get a conversation about the glories of the Blessed Sacrament from a lot of Orthodox...*cough* Catholics, we need to step it up). Why wouldn't we want to share and give thanks together (not just as Holy Mass) about these things?
Since we are all trying to get to Heaven and should be trying to encourage each other towards our Heavenly Home, why not speak of these Mysteries and help each other to receive them more reverently? I can't tell you how many texts I've sent to Catholics trying to engage them to talk about these things to not get an answer back...
Now, about the comments on my status. Both were from two Christians (one Catholic and one Orthodox) whose piety I greatly admire and thank God for how prayerful they both are and both are very spiritual although the Catholic has a hard time expressing it in words but I know it's there. Well, he missed the point I was trying to make, and she (Orthodox and very much on fire with the Holy Ghost, Deo gratias..and she has really been accompanying me on this journey and it's always great to hear from her because she gives me much good things to think and consider and sends me some great sermons too) wanted to emphasize the "mystery" part of the Sacrament and just have Faith to accept it which is not exactly where I was going, but she did tell me that no matter what we feel or know or do not know, we must trust that the Lord is working on us and purifying us with His Grace through the Sacraments even if we cannot tell.
I think this is key because I do not really feel "changed" or anything after receiving the Sacraments and it sometimes makes me wonder if I 1) received them unworthily or if I 2) wasn't good enough or something and I would get frustrated because these holy means of Grace are supposed to guard us from sin and despair yet that only seems to last for maybe hours at best... And I kinda think to myself, "God must be stronger than that, so maybe the problem is me..." but there's like no help to correct this. Priests don't seem to take me seriously when I ask. My knees are probably all crusty from trying to pray for answers on this so much. Other Catholics don't really know what to say through lack of catechesis (or indifference...I've noticed a lot of traditional Catholic men (I don't know many women) seem pretty indifferent to my spiritual life probably because I don't know as much as they do and as with most guys, you have to show yourself worthy of them ugh), and if I talk to Orthodox men, I'm going to get beaten over the head with the "You need to leave that heretical church and join the True Church so you can get True Sacraments and you won't have this problem!"
Is God torturing me, again, this is another desire that I have that He, for whatever reason, is withholding from me, and what spiritual good is it really doing? I cannot tell at the moment, but maybe something good will come of it.
So I'm going to be in the Scriptures and in the Catechisms again trying to soak in all these words and maybe read some Fathers along the way about the Holy Eucharist and see if that helps a little more.
I just want to run to my Lord and have Him welcome me with open arms and cast away all my doubts and fears and just be wrapped in His Love and have Him keep me there safe from all the spiritual trauma that I feel I go through (internally) on a daily basis. Somehow, I'm still in the game!