Friday, July 04, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different . . . The Eucharist

The Church is truly a house of life, and not merely some lifeless, empty building, because the Lord is truly there.

Wherever Christ has been present, afterward it cannot be just as if nothing had happened. There, where he has laid his hand, something new has come to be. . . .

What is happening [in the Eucharist] is not a “change of use” [of the bread and wine], but a genuine transformation; the Church calls it transubstantiation. . . . What happens to bread and wine in the Eucharist is more profound; it is more than a change of use. The Eucharist transcends the realm of functionality.

That is, in fact, the poverty of our age, that we now think and live only in terms of function, that man himself is classified according to his function, and that we can all be no more than functions and officials, where being is denied. The significance of the Eucharist as a sacrament of faith consists precisely in that it takes us out of a functionality and reaches the basis of reality. . . .

The more the Church grew into the Eucharistic mystery, the more she understood that she could not consummate the celebration of Communion within the limited time available in the Mass. When, thus, the eternal light was lit in the Church, and the tabernacle installed beside the altar, then it was as if the bud of the mystery had opened, and the Church had welcomed the fullness of the Eucharistic mystery. The Lord is always there. The church is not just a space in which something happens early in the morning, while for the rest of the day it stands empty, “unused.”
-- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Eucharistie – Mitte der Kirche (Munich, 1978) (republished in God is Near Us (2003))

Wherever the Eucharist is, there is Christ. The adoration aspect of the Eucharist is something to treasure as well. Even when we do not receive Him into ourselves physically, still, we can quietly be there with Him and enjoy His presence. As with John, the beloved Apostle, sitting by Him and resting his head on the Lord, so too can we approach the tabernacle and simply take comfort in being near Him, and just as John stood there at the foot of the Cross, so too can we faithfully remain there in love and quiet contemplation.

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