The other day I was thinking about my first memory of going to Mass. It was in Dorchester at St. Peter’s Parish. Theirs is a magnificent church building and the upper church is especially beautiful. Most memorable for me are the windows that contain some of the richest blues I have ever seen. Of course, that time was before the changes in the liturgy and all celebrations were in Latin. Often the Mass was a memorial and so the priest(s) wore black vestments and sang the various parts. Even back then the Dies Ire had a mournful sound. It was fascinating.
At St. Peter’s Grammar School I learned more about the presence of Jesus and about the nature of the sacrifice of the Mass as I prepared for my First Holy Communion. Because I lived very near the Church and had to pass by it each day on my way to school, early on I got into the habit of stopping in for a visit. I continued the practice through high school, college and in fact until today.
The real presence of the Son of God in the Most Blessed Sacrament seems to me to manifest in such a profound way the nature of God’s love for us. Saint Pope John Paul II wrote, “The Eucharist, as Christ’s saving presence in the community of the faithful and its spiritual food, is the most precious possession which the Church can have in her journey through history”.
You and I have inherited a gift too immense to measure or easily grasp. It is for certain a mystery and can only be approached through the window of love. For me, all of the fears and worries of life and of death are somehow manageable in the presence of the God of life who chooses to remain with us – to be available, accessible and present to us day in and day out. Throughout the ages men and women have found comfort and consolation in the awareness of Christ’s presence, especially in the Eucharist.
The Mass is the “source and summit of the Church’s life”. Everything we need to know about God is contained in this celebration. The depth and nature of God’s compassion, mercy, and love for us are all found here. The challenge to each of us to live what we celebrate is the constant echo that follows us when we leave the sacramental banquet. The invitation to communion, over and again, nourishes us and reminds us of Jesus’ desire to befriend us like no other.
This is the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. The strength offered you and me in the daily/weekly sacrifice of the Mass is incalculable. It is time to revisit our personal journey of faith around the Eucharist and to celebrate with humility and joy this most precious gift. It is time to remember to bring to this encounter with the God of life all our fears, hopes, and dreams, and to find the strength to look forward in hope.