Monday, February 26, 2024

Eucharistic Revival Series: The Rhythm of Storytelling

When I was a child, my brother and I had a small metal swing set in our back yard. It had a two-seat gondola swing that we called “the glider.” In the early afternoon, when we were supposed to go down for our afternoon nap, my mother would call us to the glider and read stories. I can remember leaning on my brother and listening to my mom’s voice as she read from our favorite stories. I loved that glider! Even more so, I loved being read to by my mom. Oh, how I love a good story.

Many years later, I found myself standing in front of a second-grade class in one of the Diocese’s schools during Catholic Schools Week. I do not remember why I was there, but I do remember the class’ reaction to me. They realized that I could tell stories. By the time I had left, they were all giggling over the stories that I shared with them. The following year, to my surprise, the class remembered me and begged me to tell the same stories I shared with them the previous year. The result again was giggles and giggles. I met the same class three years later when I was invited back to the school for Vocations Awareness Day. Once again, the students BEGGED me to share stories with them. This time, though, there was a new student who hadn’t heard the stories before. As the other kids giggled, recalling what I had I shared with them, he just stared in disbelief at their reaction. He didn’t giggle like they did, but he did enjoy listening to the stories.

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, SSS, we discover that the “second dance” of the Eucharist is what Father Bernier calls the “storytelling rhythm.” He writes, “[What is read in the Liturgy of the Word are] stories of collective history and exemplary individuals. [They] are an important part of the tradition which is central to any community. … These memories that tie us to the past also turn us toward the future as communities of hope.1

Jesus’ life, death, Resurrection and Ascension that are explained in the Gospels and foreshadowed in the Old Testament provide the central story of our faith as well as the template of how every Christian should live their lives. Father Bernier declares, “The gospels speak of Jesus’ past deeds. But we listen to them aware of the fact that somehow his story is bound up with our own, here and now. We remain the continuing objects of his love and concern. Challenged to incarnate once again his attitudes, ideals, his sense of mission and calling, Jesus becomes intensely present to our minds and hearts. He is no longer a distant memory, because we know that his saving actions of the past are still effective in the present.”2

Remember: the words found in Scripture that are proclaimed to us during Mass are God’s living word. When we take these words into our hearts and reflect on them, His thoughts become our own and His ways influence our behaviors and our words.

Thinking back on how these holy words have changed me is indeed a story that makes not only children, but also adults, giggle. How about your story?

 1Bernier, P. Eucharist: Celebrating its rhythms in our lives. Ave Maria Press. 1993. P. 54.

2Ibid. pg. 60

By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, The Catholic Witness

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