Every now and then, I come to compose an article and find myself at a loss as to where I should begin. When an opening story doesn’t come to me at first, I always know that it is time to let the article sit for a bit. The Holy Spirit never fails me!
Such is the case now.
It’s been a week of contemplating, and I still don’t have anything to illustrate the essential aspect of something being in the center. I’ve thought about the importance of a capstone to a building or an archway, the “importance” of being a middle child within the family, the strength and dominance of our third finger as we use our hands for work, the psychological attribute of words centered on a page as seen through the experience of a graphic designer … and on and on.
My mind has been spinning but absolutely NOTHING is coming to me because no story can adequately illustrate the profound mystery of the Church’s relationship with the Eucharist.
Let me explain. We become part of the Church at the moment of our Baptism. We are also graphed into the Mystical Body of Christ. Christ is our head and we, the members of the Church, make up His Body. This body is the Church!
Let’s look to an expert. In the book The Eucharist, Our Sanctification by Raniero Cantalamessa, we read: “It is not sufficient to say that the Eucharist is at the center of the Church, because actually, the Eucharist makes the Church! It builds it from within and weaves it round itself like a robe. It is said that two sacraments, in particular ‘make’ the Church: baptism and the Eucharist. Whereas baptism makes the Church grow qualitatively, in strength, because it transforms her ever more deeply into the image of Christ, her Head. The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal (cf. Matt. 13:33). The Eucharist too is like leaven; Jesus placed it in the mass of meal, his Church, so it would ‘raise’ it and make it ferment and become ‘bread,’ as he is! If the Church is the leaven of the world the Eucharist is the leaven of the Church. In various ways, or stages, the Eucharist makes the Church by consecration.”1
Consecration is one of those “churchy” words that we Catholics like to throw around. But what does it mean? According to New Advent Encyclopedia, “Consecration, in general, is an act by which a thing is separated from a common and profane to a sacred use, or by which a person or thing is dedicated to the service and worship of God by prayers, rites, and ceremonies.”2
Through the consecration of our Baptism, Jesus says to us, “Allow me to offer the Father my own body; do not keep me from offering myself to the Father. I cannot offer myself completely to the Father while there is still one member of my body who refuses to offer himself with me! Therefore, complete what is still missing in my offer; make my joy perfect! … Then I understand that to ‘do’ what Jesus did [during the Last Supper], I must first ‘break’ myself and that is lay before God all hardness, all rebellion, toward him or towards others, curst my pride, submit and say ‘yes’ fully, to all that God asks of me. I too must repeat the words: Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God! You don’t want many things from me; you want me and I say, ‘yes.’ To be Eucharist like Jesus signifies being totally abandoned to the Father’s will.”3
Now you understand the dilemma I faced as I began this article! What an awesome God we have and what an awesome gift of the Eucharist!!
1Cantalamessa, Raniero. The Eucharist, Our Sanctification. St Pauls, 2016. Pg. 17.
3 Cantalamessa, Pg. 17-18.
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness