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Medicine for Life

06/18/2012

Recently, I went to mass at St Andrews Cathedral in Dundee, Scotland. I was visiting some old friends here and they, not being Catholic said why don't you go to mass at the Catholic Church, its at the same time as ours then we can meet back for lunch. I thought that was very kind and thoughtful of them, so I did.

 

One thing I love about being Catholic is the consistency of the mass. Universally, despite language differences, it is always the same rituals. You know when to stand, sit and kneel. Not saying that Dundonians speak another language, but a mere thought when I go travelling to different countries! As I enter a different church, I am always intrigued by how the interior's are designed, (maybe a bias as I have an architecture degree), but St Andrews Cathedral in Dundee, is very pretty and quaint, but it is relatively small to be called a Cathedral.

 

I am a great believer that God provides wisdom in moments you don't expect. He unintentionally makes opportunities for you, so that He can find ways to speak to you or even offer insights. Three key "ah ha" moments lit up for me during this mass. The first was a short article in the newsletter titled: "Faith in Focus: On Medicine for Life," which I will share in this blog. The second and third epiphanies pertain to our upcoming Ministry of Seekers retreat on 'Vocation in Daily Life,' which I will talk about generally, but want to save to share on our retreat.

 

I always wondered in order to receive the Eucharist, should one attend confession first before  receiving the Body of Christ or like what my mum always taught me, no matter how unworthy you may feel, and if you can't get to confession, still receive the Eucharist. It is healing and one should not miss the opportunity to relieve the Body of Christ into your lives.

 

In following on from what my mum taught, this article I found spoke about this dilemma:

 

There can be nothing sadder than listening to someone who believes that they are not good enough to go to communion. They feel that they are unworthy and they simply stay put in their seat when the rest of the congregation gets up to eat and drink the body and blood of Christ during the celebration of Mass.

 

Of course none of us is good enough. That's why we say 'Lord, I am not worthy...' just before we approach the altar. We realize that we mere human beings cannot presume to receive such a gift without acknowledging our unworthiness. But beneath this idea of unworthiness there lies a fatal error.

 

Communion is not for good people. It's not for saints. It's for people who are not very good, who are sinners but who want to get better. Our feast of the the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus et Sanguis Christi) teaches us that communion is not a reward but a medicine.

 

When we eat and drink (both!) Christ's body and blood we are signing up to be better. Some of the Church's early hymn-writers used a lovely phrase to describe the Eucharist: they called it food for the journey. An ancient hymn (o, Esca Viatorium: O, Food of Travellers) makes it clear that the Eucharist is not some celebratory picnic on the journey but is the survival rations, the staff of life.

At the Last Supper when Jesus instituted the Eucharist he commanded us to eat and drink and to do this in memory of his death and resurrection. God has made an agreement (a covenant) with us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. He will be our God and we will be his people by ratifying the covenant: by eating and drinking in memory of Jesus.

 

The Eucharist is our way of signing-up again and again to the promises of God, showing our renewed commitment and gratefully receiving God's gift. Saint Ignatius of Antioch called the Eucharist 'the medicine of immortality, the antidote which prevents us from dying so we can live forever in Jesus Christ.' On the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ we share in communion here on earth, and we pray that one day we may be found rejoicing together at the everlasting meal of heaven.'

 

I found this tremendously profound and hope that it inspires you to constantly receive the Eucharist no matter how unworthy you may feel.

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