Years ago, when I was dating, I was told by an elder within my family that, in marriage, one does not only marry the individual, but their “entire” family as well. Holidays, family traditions, expectations, patterns of behavior and religious practices are all the “warp and woof” of the weavings of family life. Each family is unique, and it takes work for a newer member to understand the nuances of their new family.
You might be wondering, “How does Sister personally know about this? She’s not married.” Well, I’ve got news for you: I live in community with Sisters of different ages and ethnic backgrounds. Each of us come from different families. How do you negotiate it? By learning to listen and learning about each Sister’s love language.
I think of this as I continue my series on the Eucharist and the seven secrets of the Eucharist, as shared by Vinny Flynn in his book on the same topic. He gives this selection the following title: Secret 2— Christ is not alone.
He states, “Jesus Christ is one divine person with two distinct natures – one totally human, one totally divine. These two natures are so inseparable that the divine person of Christ ‘remained united to his soul and body, even when these were separated from each other by death’ (CCC#650); and, when the Father raised Christ up, He ‘perfectly introduced His son’s humanity, including His body, into the Trinity.’ (CCC#648).”1
It is because of this dual nature that Christ completely changes all of creation. You see, with the incarnation, eternity found in heaven becomes temporal. Heaven comes to earth! With the Resurrection and the Ascension, Christ grabs the earthly and brings it to heaven. With Christ, the “distance” between heaven and earth is a mere breath.
Ponder that. But it doesn’t end here!
What about the Eucharist? How does it enter into this viewpoint? Flynn describes: “Christ is never alone. When He becomes present in the Eucharist as He is in heaven, without leaving heaven, that means all of heaven is present with Him. No wonder He told us, ‘The kingdom of heaven is within you.’ (Lk17:21) … Christ doesn’t leave heaven to be present in the Eucharist, and His presence in the Eucharist is not different from His presence in heaven. There are many consecrated Hosts throughout the world, but Christ doesn’t multiply Himself to be present in all those different places. … What does this mean for you and me? It means that whenever we receive Communion, we enter into communion with the Holy Trinity.”2
We enter into communion with the Holy Trinity. So many people just focus on “having a relationship with Christ” rather than focusing on a relationship with God. Do you understand this idea? If you don’t, you are in good company! Philip specifically asked Jesus in John 14:8 to show them the Father. His response? “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
Nevertheless, it also calls us to seek a relationship with each person of the Trinity individually. Father Daniel Barron, director of spiritual formation at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, describes this process.
“As one begins to pray this colloquy (please see note below), one begins to experience that there is a distinct relationship that develops with each of the persons of the Trinity. It’s difficult to put into words, however, and perhaps unique to each person. Still, when we open our hearts to God, he opens his heart to us. We can even trust that God is working in and through our imagination to reply. Don’t be afraid to listen and let the Lord speak! In the process to grow in relationship to the triune God, however, there is much that may need purification and healing. … If a person feels like emotional pain is keeping him/her from intimacy with God, the first step to healing is going to prayer and telling Jesus the whole story of the hurt… It’s even good to ask Jesus where he was when this happened and why he allowed it. As you pray this way more and more, you gradually realize—in faith—that you are not talking to yourself and that you are not alone. If you are not alone, it doesn’t hurt so bad. The more frequently you let Jesus see your wounds, the more quickly his wounds will heal yours.”3
It seems that by our baptism we have entered into a heavenly family – life with the Trinity. This is a family that listens and by listening extends unconditional love that heals! How wonderful is that?
1Flynn, Vinny. 7 Secrets of the Eucharist. MercySong, Inc., 2006. Pg. 22.
Note: A colloquy, as described by St. Ignatius, is an intimate conversation which each member of the Trinity at the end of each meditation and is to be done with a transparent heart, without a fear of showing affection.
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness