Year of Eucharist

Parish Diary

Fr. Peter Daly

February 25, 2005

 

            Our poor ailing pope has proclaimed this the “year of the Eucharist.”

As we get older, we realize that life has to get back to basics. In his last days as pope he is calling the Church to get back to basics.

            The Eucharist is at the heart of Catholic spirituality.

Whenever I have been angry or disappointed in the Church, it is the Eucharist that keeps me inside her embrace. It is the mystical presence of Christ. I draws us together in worship. It defines us as a people. We are the people that celebrates the Eucharist when we gather. It makes us “Church.”

It also gives us strength. Food for the journey, both personally and as a community of faith.  

            Other churches might be based on ethnicity or nationality. Some churches are based on worship style and music. Others on a type of preaching and a particular reading of the scriptures. These are all distinctions and traditions created by human beings.

But our Church is based on what the Lord has given to us, namely himself. We do what He has handed on to us, as St. Paul says in the first letter to the Corinthians.

In the sixth chapter of John, he told His followers that unless we join ourselves to him completely, that is “eat my flesh and drink my blood” we would not have life within us.

What is true for us as individuals, is true for the Church. If we do not have the Eucharist, the Church has no life. At least not as a Catholic Church.

Our parish, like many others, is trying to refocus ourselves on the Eucharist this year. As usual, it is the parishioners who have taught me and been the most creative in our devotion.

At the entrance to the Church, we have a banner proclaiming the “year of the Eucharist” made by two ladies in our parish who are great seamstresses.

At Christmas, we gave out 500 copies of the Pope’s letter proclaiming this year and meditating on the role of the Eucharist in our Church.

Each Sunday, we entrust a different family with a “traveling chalice” to carry to their home. They are supposed to put in a prominent place where they eat their evening meal (but not on top of the television set). Each night for a week they pray for more vocations to the priesthood and the religious life and lay ministry. This is to make a connection between our Eucharistic worship and the priesthood. If there is no one to celebrate the Eucharist, there will be no Eucharistic church. The families seem to like coming forward and it makes the work of vocations a family matter.

For several years now we have had Eucharistic adoration three days per week. This year we began Lent with a week of perpetual adoration. More than 370 parishioners came to the church to pray in the first week of Lent. I think that will be an enormous source of grace and blessing to us.

In June we are making plans for a Corpus Christi procession. We have the parade permit to go around the center of our little town, past the Courthouse and Post Office and Bank and shopping center. This procession does, metaphorically, what each one of us should do each Sunday. It takes the presence of Christ that we have received in the Eucharist out into our secular world. It makes the whole world a sanctuary, a holy place.

            In the bulletin each week we print quotes from the Pope or church fathers on the importance of the Eucharist.

            Each of these things is only a step. A way of renewing our devotion to the presence of the Lord. A way of calling our spiritual life back to the basics. The Pope, even in His infirmity, has reminded us of what stands at the heart of things. Christ.