My wife and I took a small trip to San Antonio/San Marcos/Austin area between Friday-Tuesday. Sunday rolled around, and I knew I had to find a parish to celebrate the Sacred Mystery of the Holy Eucharist.
Without naming the particular parish we visited that day, I noticed something very off-putting, the mass was horribly rushed. I noticed this during the first 5 minutes of the service while the penitential act was done. During the Liturgy of the Eucharist, my wife whispered: “does this service seemed rushed?”
I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed it!
I’m sure to the faithful gathered, it was a normal service. However, I’ve always experienced at least a 1 hour and 10-20 minute Mass on average on Sundays. In contrast, Sunday’s service was about 45 minutes long, which means it ended 30 minutes earlier than normal!
Something interesting that I’ve done over the past several months is making the transition from sitting in the middle or back of my huge parish now to the front. All because of the Eucharist and here’s why.
To some looking from the outside in, the Eucharist is just an act the priest gives out, purely a symbol for Jesus Blood and Body, or that strange mysterious “Roman” belief that Jesus is physically present in the host.
Interestingly enough, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the faith (CCC, 1324) which means it’s a monumental sacrament. The change of the bread and wine into the Blood and Body of Jesus Christ is what the Church refers to as “Transubstantiation.” Despite popular belief, the doctrine of the Real Presence in the Eucharist wasn’t created in 1215 by the Fourth Lateran Council but was actually present in many of the early Church fathers such as Sts. Justin Martyr or Ignatius of Antioch. Even further, this was something the apostles learned from Jesus Christ that he taught.
You might ask “Where is that in the Bible?” The paramount chapter in John 6 when Jesus declares that his flesh and blood are the pathways to the abundance of eternal life (Jn 6:51-56). The people that heard this were confused as to how this could be. Some like to think his (Jesus Christ) words were purely symbolic in this discourse, but the fact that Jesus didn’t clarify any misunderstanding regarding something so pivotal speaks volumes about the intent of his words.
Moreover, there have been few instances in the gospel when Jesus clarifies confusion to those he speaks to. For example, Nicodemus was totally confused about being born again in John 3, but Jesus had to make his teaching explicit about baptismal regeneration.
Instead of our Lord telling the bystanders that his words were a parable or some form a figurative meaning, he lets them walk away allowing them to chose darkness vs light.
Furthermore, you can’t get any clearer than Jesus himself declaring the bread and wine are his bodies. He says “This is my body….”This is my blood (Mat 26:26-28).” Jesus was very explicit in his words about what each part represents.
So at the mass, when the priest is about to begin the consecration, I’m blown away by the miracle about to happen in front of my eyes. I want to make sure I’m wholly invested by this moment. It’s not a spectacle where I need first row seats as if I’m viewing a musical act to be entertained. Instead, I obtain a front-row seat so that I can better be in awe and appreciation of the mystery present before my eyes.
Although the physical appearance of bread and wine are seen, the substances are changed imperceptibly to the Blood and Body of Jesus. By Christ’s power, his authority mysteriously transforms the bread and wine through the priest to ultimately make present the sacrifice of he performed 2000 years ago (CCC, 1330). As a result, whenever the chalice or host is taken, Jesus Christ Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity are being consumed! All of Christ present is in the Eucharist.
I would’ve loved to see the Mass go a bit smoother, and show more appreciation for the most important sacrament of the Church. When you take time to think about what’s truly happening at the altar, you obtain a better honor for the sacrament.
Overall, the Mass I attended this past Sunday had little or no reverence for the Eucharist. The consecration bells were rushed, the Eucharistic prayer seemed rush, and it just seemed like a horrible way to perform the Lord’s Supper. It’s more than a symbol, but a true supernatural experience that happens before our eyes every Sunday.
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