Thursday, May 23, 2024

Eucharistic Revival Series: ‘One Body, One Spirit’

Many years ago, when I taught middle school, the students’ spring concert featured different eras of music. My sixth-grade class got the 70s and I was asked by the director to teach a group of children how to disco. After teaching about 15 students the different steps, we put those steps to music from the era. As we did so, it became obvious that one couple could not keep the rhythm. When I switched their partners, all of the students began dancing in sync. It was almost miraculous! After they finished their dance, the 60 other students in the grade sang and performed a line dance. I remember a girl that stood in the center of the group. The expression on her face was that of annoyance and downright anger. I told her to put on a fake smile, but that correction only made her frown all the more. I turned to the director for some assistance. She went and whispered to the student, “If Helen of Troy’s face launched a thousand ships, your face would sink them.” This got her laughing and smiling! On the night of the performance, I very kindly reminded the student about her facial expression. Because she was at center stage, EVERYONE would be looking at her and it was so important that all the classmates be in unison. She promised me that she would try, and she really did!

I am reminded of this as I continue my series on the Eucharist. In the book Eucharist: Celebrating its Rhythms in Our Lives, by Father Paul Bernier, we read, “The Liturgy is full of reminders that we become ‘one body, one spirit in Christ.’ The commitment to nurturing growth in one another and to fostering the unity that was so dear to the heart of Christ as part of our daily life and practice requires two things. The first is the conviction that there is a link between liturgy and life. The privatization of religion, which served to keep it in the sanctuary and out of the marketplace, has to go the way of the horse and buggy. So intimate is this link that the quality of our Christian lives directly affects – indeed, may threaten – the fruitfulness of our eucharists. … Second, we need the help of the Holy Spirit. Our ability to love others as we ourselves have been loved by Christ is dependent on both our experience of Christ’s love in our lives and in the insight made possible by the Spirit into that nature of that self-giving love.”1

You see, our reception of the Eucharist is not only a “me and God” experience. Rather, it links us with our fellow human beings. We experience a unity that goes beyond what we can “feel.” The joys and sorrows of others become our joys and sorrows. The grief of someone experiencing a loss of a job or a loss of a family member becomes our grief as well. We “carry” their grief and give them relief in a way that only God knows how. The same is true for the experience of the joys of newfound love or the joy of waiting for the birth of a child.

But our oneness of heart does not end there. As Father Bernier states, “[We are] challenged by his word to live a more authentic Christian life that we can nourish ourselves with Christ’s very flesh and blood, knowing that we have received such abundance that even after we have shared there will still be far more than we can imagine.”2

If we are challenged to live an authentic life, so by our example of living such a life, we challenge others. In a sense, we say, “Hey if he/she can do this, so can I!” This is why our life of holiness is not only important to our own sanctity, but also affects others as they journey in their walk to holiness.

Those students in the spring concert truly learned about the importance of being a part of a community. I often wonder if we too take for granted how much community is part of our faith!

1 Bernier, P. Eucharist: Celebrating its rhythms in our lives. Ave Maria Press. 1993. P. 122.

2Ibid. pg. 123.

By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, The Catholic Witness

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