Friday, August 26, 2011

Communion—More Than We Thought!: 22nd Week of the Liturgical Year, August 28-September 3, 2011

1Thessalonians chapters 4-5; begin Colossians; begin Luke with chapter 4


What is different—in fact, unique—about the Immersed in Christ daily reflections, is that they are designed to give formation. They are not a series of stand-alone thoughts that give you an unconnected insight or boost each day. For roughly ten weeks at a time they keep developing one theme (five per year), using the readings from Mass to explain the same thing from different angles, urging for seventy-plus days in a row various ways to live out just one of the five mysteries of Baptism. Instead of random thoughts, they give formation— defined as “reiterated instruction with insistent intentionality”—or “Say it till it sinks in; urge doing till it takes root.” This week we are changing themes.

Since we began Ordinary Time after Pentecost (June 13), we have been showing how we both learn and live out our baptismal consecration as Priest during the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass. (This year we are showing how all five mysteries of Baptism are celebrated successively during Mass). From now until Advent we will focus on the Rite of Communion and on what it says about our baptismal consecration and commitment as stewards of the kingship of Christ. This involves the mystery of the “end time.”

Communion looks like a bunch of individuals going up to get a sandwich out of a vending machine! That is not the image the Church desires, but so far we have not been able to give Communion the appearance of a family meal that the instructions call for. We don’t touch that this week, but we do point out five things Communion is that we may not have noticed.

1. A pledge: when we receive the chalice, we “drink to the Covenant.” Eating the sacrificed Victim says that we accept and make our own all that has been expressed in the Mass.

2. A shout of defiance: The words, “This is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world... Blessed are those who are called to the wedding banquet of the Lamb” really say, “Blessed are those who are going to die!” We fear nothing. Who kills us just gets us into the party.

3. An anticipation of Christ’s triumphal return, We put ourselves into the “end time,” waiting in “joyful hope.”

4. A foretaste of the “peace and unity of the Kingdom.” We take a moment after Communion to just “feel” in silence how it will be when Christ in every person is making all humanity one as we are at this moment.

5. A sacrament; that is, a human, physical experience of interaction with God. We make physical contact with Jesus Christ.

All this motivates us to go out and ready the world to receive the reign of God. This is our work as stewards.

To order your own Daily Reflections for the Immersed in Christ program, click here to visit

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Surprise! Surprise!: 21st Week of the Liturgical Year, August 21-27, 2011

1Thessalonians chapters 1-4; Matthew, chapters 23-25.

I like this Sunday’s readings because they give a chance to clarify a few things that might be sapping our joy without our even noticing what is wrong.

The first is the feelings we bring to Church. They are just as important as the feelings we bring to a wedding (joy) or to a funeral (sympathy). We need to think about what will get us “in the mood.” Have we ever been taught that as an obligation?

Then there is the meaning of “mercy”—that is has to be based on a recognition of relationship. That invites us to look at what God’s goodness toward us is based on, and what attitude our help to others needs to come out of to be truly Christian.

Monday we begin 1Thessalonians. Take this week to read it all. It makes us appreciate the Intercessions during the Eucharistic Prayer. (What intercessions?” Pay attention!) And a great principle: “What we do not praise we will not appreciate.” Men: if you do not understand that, ask your wife.

Tuesday – Wednesday paint a beautiful picture of the unity we should experience at Mass and show us how to get into it. Not by laws (not mentioned once in the Eucharistic Prayer) but through steady, selfless service and attentive awareness that what we celebrate is what we are, and what we celebrate consciously is what we become. By praying for each other in the Eucharistic Prayer Intercessions (found them yet?) we give support and draw support.

And how about the two lists of saints in Eucharistic Prayer I? Had you ever noticed how inclusive they are by categories and gender? How many of the names can you identify after twenty to fifty years of hearing them?

Thursday takes us into the mystery of past, present and future made present in the Mass.

Friday reminds us “It is God’s will you grow in holiness.” And explains the stages we grow through. Guess how many?

Saturday explains the “three elevations” during the Mass, the three “great deeds” of Jesus they express, and the three anointings that consecrate us to continue them in our lives. Omne trinum perfectum (Google it).

Monday, August 15, 2011

E pluribus unum: 20th Week of the Liturgical Year, August 14-20, 2011

Judges chs. 6,11; Ruth chs. 1,2,4; Matthew, chs.20-23.


Everyone knows the Latin words on our coins mean “Out of many one.” But how many think about this fundamental principle of our country every time they spend a dime? It may be the same at Mass.

Sunday: Unity is a unifying theme in the liturgy. We declare our communal identity in the Introductory Rites; “pledge allegiance” in the Gloria; become “one mind” in the Liturgy of the Word; present many hosts to be made “one bread, one body” at the Presentation of Gifts; and bask in the peace and unity of the “wedding banquet of the Lamb” in the Rite of Communion. But the core mystery of union is made present in the Eucharistic Prayer.

Monday: The recurring duo throughout history of Israel’s infidelity and God’s mercy are combined into the revelation of God as steadfast love. The main events through which his love saved us—Christ’s Passion, Resurrection and Ascension with its promise of Return— are made present as one in the Anamnesis: a “remembrance” that makes the past alive.

Tuesday: In the Anamnesis we “recall and encounter” the Lord “with us” now as offering himself on the cross, rising, seated at the right hand of the Father, and returning in glory. At Mass all these moments are one, and all are present to us.

Wednesday: Jesus died for us and accepts to rule over us because of the Covenant—which God established for our benefit, not his. The full meaning of anamnesis (and “Do this in remembrance of me”) is: 1. God makes a covenant; 2. he establishes a sign of it (the events of Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension, made present in his Body and Blood on the altar); 3. the sign is offered to God in Eucharist so that God will “remember” and act once again according to the covenant. All is in a spirit of thanksgiving.

Thursday: Jesus “gave thanks” when he offered his Body and Blood, because his offering was not a “punishment” or a “payment” for our sins, one which God was bound in “justice” to exact, but a process—and the only possible process—by which sins could be truly “taken away.” He gave thanks that this process was the will of the Father in the shared love of Father, Son and Spirit. His Incarnation made it possible for him to incorporate us, with our sins, into his body on the cross so that we could be one with him and our sins could be “taken away” by our dying “in him.” We give thanks for this mystery.

Friday: Unity (in one shared divine life and “communion in the Holy Spirit”) is the essential characteristic of the Church; and the essential characteristic of unity is love. We show love when we minister to each other in word and action.

Saturday: To love is to give life; not only physically, but spiritually. When law replaces love it kills. Jesus condemns those who enforce laws heedless of the burden they are imposing. This is more likely when authorities “separate” themselves from others by accepting marks of prestige. In the “communion of the Holy Spirit” there is no “higher” or “lower,” but all are one in Christ.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Wholly Holy: 19th Week of the Liturgical Year, August 7-13, 2011

Deuteronomy chs. 10, 31, 34; Joshua chs. 3, 24; Matthew, chs.17-19.


We can all use the word “holy” correctly in a sentence. But what does it mean? Not in itself (various meanings), but to us? How much place does the sense of the “holy” have in my consciousness? How much difference might it make if it were more?

Sunday: The Eucharistic Prayer is prefaced by the acclamation, “Holy, holy, holy!” and celebrates how God’s holiness and ours is made visible 1. in an event (Calvary, made present in Eucharist); 2. in the union (“communion/fellowship in the Holy Spirit”) made possible by that event and realized during Mass; and 3. in the perfection of that union at the “wedding banquet of the Lamb” (experienced in preview in the Rite of Communion). Eucharist thus celebrates the “source and summit” of Christian life.

Monday: The opening words of the Eucharistic Prayer “Lord, Father, you are holy indeed,” give us reason to keep our Covenant with God who is to be loved with all our heart and soul because he is All. The All Holy, the “fountain of all holiness.”

Tuesday: When we “cross over” from the Liturgy of the Word to the Liturgy of the Eucharist, we are aware of crossing over from what could be (but isn’t) just a human prayer service into the mystery of the event, the sacrifice, that made us divine. At Baptism we “became Christ” by dying and rising in him. At Mass we offer ourselves with him and in him for the life of the world.

Wednesday: At the moment of the “Consecration” during the Eucharistic Prayer we are aware of the awesome holiness of the Church—all of us—whose united prayer God unfailingly answers by changing the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus.

Thursday: God uses visible signs—the Ark of the Covenant, Eucharist—so that “we may know” his holiness present among us.

Friday: We get to the heart of our religion when we remember we were saved by an event that was a personal act of love. And that Person was the All Holy God. To “celebrate” is to “single out for grateful remembrance.” That is Eucharist.

Saturday: To choose God we must choose him as All by surrendering all. We did this at Baptism by giving him our body. We died in him and rose to live ONLY as his risen body on earth. We offer ourselves again: through him, with him, in him, at every Mass.

Mass puts us in the presence of the Holy. If we really keep aware of this at Mass (body language, silence during the celebration, reverence of heart) it will help us keep a sense of holiness of God—in us and around us—all week. Especially if we remind ourselves.