Sunday, April 14, 2024

Eucharistic Revival Series: The Oneness of Community

I’m writing this article on a snowy day, as the weather has permitted Diocesan Center staff to work from home. It’s amazing to think that with today’s technology, if someone calls my office phone, my laptop will “ring.” Who needs to actually BE in the office, right?!

As I look out my window at the dancing snowflakes, I am mesmerized at their performance and the beauty of their dance. Each of them, science tells us, is a unique water vapor crystal. Not one of them is the same as another. Their individual beauty is only amplified as they come together to form a white woolly blanket over the ground and tree branches. The beauty of each individual flake takes on an entire new dimension as they form a “community” of water vapor crystals.

There is a lesson in this as I continue my series on the Eucharist. In the book Eucharist: Celebrating its Rhythms in our Lives, Father Bernier reminds us, “Communion is an act of solidarity with the entire community. … We speak of ‘receiving’ or ‘going to’ Communion. It is as if Communion were an act of personal piety rather than a gift to all of God’s people gathered precisely as members of one family. It is a sharing that we receive in common and which, in some mysterious way, includes all others.”1

I don’t believe that we contemplate long enough to really recognize that the Eucharist is a communal celebration. We gather individually around the table. We share stories from the Bible and listen to the teaching of the deacon or priest about how those stories are relevant to our lives today. We sing songs reflecting these stories and the lesson, and then we partake of a meal that unifies all of us gathered. Our lives should be shaped through the experience of this kind of community. When we leave the sacred ground of the church, we go out to feed others by our lives. We are fed and then called to feed others, by words of kindness and love as well as by actions that mimic Christ’s self-gift. This is how the Eucharist gives us the strength to work to make the Kingdom of God present now.

When we fail to respond to this call, we sin. I believe that we truly don’t understand the ramifications of our sin, not only on our relationship with God but also with the person we might sin against. In short, our sin affects all of humanity. Yes, my personal sin affects all of humanity! Because we are part of the Body of Christ, when I sin, I wound the Body. The reverse is also true. When I am most Christ-like, the Body is strengthened. If you are interested in reading more on the Mystical Body of Christ, Pope Pius wrote an encyclical on it back in the day. You can read it here.

Yes, Communion does indeed unite us with all other humans in a truly profound way. We are united in such a way that their joys and their sufferings become our joys and sufferings, and vice versa. In a sense, our hearts are melded into one heart that beats with the Sacred Heart of Christ. This is the rhythm that the entirety of creation knows about. You see, even the snowflakes danced to it! I was the one who was clueless to this rhythm and am just now beginning to understand the One heart and One soul of community. What about you?

1 Bernier, P. Eucharist: Celebrating its rhythms in our lives. Ave Maria Press. 1993. P. 105.

By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, The Catholic Witness

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