Monday, July 10, 2006

danger signs

Bishop Vasa of Oregon writes a wonderful column on my favorite encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia.  And he expounds on one of my favorite lines, "There can be no danger of excess in our care for this mystery, for in this sacrament is recapitulated the whole mystery of our salvation."
There can be and often is, however, extreme danger of “defect” in our care for this mystery. It is unfortunately very easy to grow complacent about our Lord in the Eucharist. It is very easy to allow the complacency of routine to replace the vigilance of heart that the greatness of the Most Holy Eucharist categorically demands. It is certainly judgmental on my part, but I often wonder while distributing Holy Communion about the internal disposition and focus of the recipients. I often wonder whether the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion have retained their original sense of wonder and awe, or if this most noble of duties is approached with an unacceptable degree of nonchalance and routine. I experience a bit of anxiety as I see and hear mundane and casual conversations taking place, with outdoor voices as we say to the children, in the naves and sanctuaries of our Churches. There is not much danger of an excess of reverence for our Lord, but there seems to be ample room for concern about a defect of such reverence.

It does require consistent and focused effort to assure that the Most Holy Eucharist is given “the prominence it deserves.” There is after all nothing about the external appearance of the host or the wine in the chalice that cries out, in and of itself, for adoration, wonder or awe. Gazing upon these external elements with the eyes of faith, we need to be driven to our knees, knowing that they have received the Sacred Words and are now different than their accidents indicate.

I have had the experience of being driven to my knees in fear and trembling before the Eucharist.  I trembled as I approached the priest and I cried tears of thankfulness after receiving.  I long for a similar experience again, but so far I can just treasure that I experienced it at least once. 

Our church is setup so that there is much mundane and casual conversations taking place in the church.  Hopefully this will change as people are drawn back to the mystery, but for now, Bishop Vasa says it well:

The danger is that we routinely live in such a way that there is, sadly, no danger of excess in our care for this mystery. Would that there would be more danger of an excess in our care for this mystery!

tip to the Curt Jester

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