Sunday, June 23, 2024

Eucharistic Revival Series: Embracing the Body of Christ

At a Mass recently, I sat behind a young family with a three-year-old girl. She wore a pink princess dress, white tights and sparkly pink shoes. She had pink and purple hair clips in her long blond hair. I have never seen such a princess!

As the organ began the notes of the opening chant and the choir began to sing, this little girl watched as a group of altar servers, a deacon and the presiding priest walked down the center aisle. She began to dance to the music as she stood on the seat of the pew. Her body swayed in tune to the music as her arms gracefully spread out and welcomed those in procession with an embrace. As the priest passed her pew, he waved to her as his way of accepting her airborne embrace.

I am reminded of this as I continue my reflections on the Eucharist. In the book “Eucharist, Celebrating Its Rhythms in our Lives” by Father Paul Bernier, SSS, we read, “A parish should be a sort of organic unit whereby the people are related to one another through participation in a common life. By sharing the responsibilities of mutual care and concern, they help each other become free to be what God wants us to be – liberated from the self-centeredness that provokes sin and strife. A group that has truly put on ‘the mind of Christ’ (1 Cor 2:16) and addresses itself to the betterment of its communities gives powerful witness to the power of the Holy Spirit in our midst.”1

The organic unity Father Bernier speaks about is created by Baptism. Through its cleansing waters, we become a people of God, a family of believers, disciples of the Lord. As we grow mature in our faith, we should become sensitive in spreading Christ’s love to those whom we meet as well as those with whom we work and live. Isn’t that what this little one was doing as she hugged the Entrance Procession?

Think of this in another way. Because the Eucharist is central to our faith, it demands that we meld together as one body, no matter what might seem to divide us. As the Entrance Procession walked up the center aisle and my little friend welcomed them during her dance, it reminded me that the “rhythm of the Eucharist requires that we make a conscious effort truly to live the fellowship that we celebrate.”2

I type this as I point to myself: Do we readily open our arms in a true and heart-felt embrace to the homeless, racially diverse, incarcerated or LGBTQ+ populations? These individuals are part of the Body of Christ. These individuals, just like you and I, Christ has redeemed. Because of this, they innately have a dignity that nothing can diminish.

Some of you may be tempted to click away from this article, but please note, I am not condoning any sinful behavior or lifestyle from any child of God. My three-year-old friend’s dance of welcome is profound!

1 Bernier, P. Eucharist: Celebrating its rhythms in our lives. Ave Maria Press. 1993. P. 50.

2 Ibid pg.  43.

By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, The Catholic Witness

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