Thursday, April 9, 2009

Eucharist every day, from the beginning

Along with the other unasked-for mail I received at home last week was a brochure addressed to Current Resident, from the local congregation of the Jehovah's Witnesses.

It was slick, tri-fold, full color and invited people to join the congregation's reenactment of the Last Supper. It quoted from the (synoptic) Gospels how the Eucharist was instituted by Jesus the night before He died. Of course the words were familiar: "... this is my body ... this is my blood."

Since the congregation takes the command to "do this in memory of me" (First Corinthians) literally, they are doing so on April 9, Holy Thursday -- on just this one day of the year!

Excuse me, but as a Catholic I have to ask, if it's so important to print a brochure, mail it to every home in the local area, and ask folks to share in this great feast by the Lord's command, why do it only once a year?

I do hope their celebration, in whatever form it takes, leads the participants to a deeper and yes, literal understanding of the Eucharist: Christ, the son of the Father, second person of the Holy Trinity, becomes truly present among the community of the faithful in the appearance of bread and wine. I hope they discover that in the Catholic Church, the Eucharist is celebrated every day of the year as it has been from the beginning of the Church!

The Eucharist is our Lord Jesus Christ's gift of himself to us every time we participate in the sacrifice of the Mass. What a great gift we share as Catholics. Christ established his Church and gave us His real presence in the Eucharist as spiritual food for the journey, as memorial sacrifice to help remember all that he did and said, as a sign of unity and of thanksgiving -- the literal meaning of Eucharist.

This source and summit of our worship bonds us together with one another in the Church and to our Lord Jesus. More than community, this is communion, thanks to the Eucharist whose institution we celebrate tonight, at the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper.

As Lent ends tonight we begin the Triduum -- three days of intense communal prayer leading toward Easter. Tonight we thank God in the most solemn way for the gift of himself.

Personally, tonight I pray also for those who have heard and read the Lord's command to "take, eat, this is my body..." but do not share full communion with the Catholic Church. In a special way, I pray for those people who were raised Catholic with the gift of the Eucharist but have chosen a different path.

May they, through the providence of God acting perhaps in an unasked-for brochure, find their way to Jesus Christ the bread of life, in his most precious body and blood.


the one said...

You seem to know a few things... would you answer some questions I have about religion?

What is the meaning of rabbits and eggs in the Easter celebration?

Is there somewhere in the bible that I can see those symbols explained?

Matthew Gambino said...

These two questions aren't about religion, they're about secular traditions. To put it bluntly, they're about marketing.

Some marketing exec/salesperson at some point said, "How can we capitalize on a religious holiday to move product?" ... In this case, chocolate and cute stuffed figures.

Same thing with Christmas: Department store execs in the 19th century took the St. Nicholas/St. Claus stories and with the help of writer Clement Hurd, created the Santa Claus myth.

Of course secular traditions are not in the Bible, since they developed after and apart from it.

The Easter story of the Resurrection of Jesus, son of God and son of Mary who has redeemed humanity, is what we celebrate. It most certainly is in the Bible and is celebrated in the liturgies of the Sacred Triduum and Easter.

Shelly said...

Matthew, the JW who posted is typical-they focus on something that you-or any Christian-doesn't even consider part of their religious experience or their faith. Eggs and rabbits.

Just to let you know-JWs do not even PARTAKE of the bread or the wine. OR, most of them don't. Out of 7 million, about 9,000 partake because they think they are the only ones going to heaven.

Matthew Gambino said...

Thanks for this extra info Shelly, I didn't know that.

the one said...

hmmm... interesting point. I have to ask 'why is that?'

Is there scriptural support for that position?

I would welcome JWs to show me the scriptural support for that position. If it exists, then who of us can judge them?

Is there scriptural support for the celebration of Easter? or Christmas?

It is all fine and good to point fingers and say "they are wrong"- but show me from the scriptures that they are wrong.

And what makes something right? Is it that a church supports an idea? Or is it that the bible supports an idea?

I will go with the scriptures.

So, I will ask for scriptural references to show me what I should and should not do.

I welcome anything anyone wants to offer.

Daniel said...

Mr. Gambino,
As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, as you do, we appreciate the great love Jesus showed by the sacrifice of his life in our behalf.
To show this love we should, as Jesus stated at John 14:23 “In answer Jesus said to him: “If anyone loves me, he will observe my word…” “ Jesus’ word in regard to remembering him, as you have stated, is found at Luke 22:19. To do this everyday would be a superfluous ritual, one that would not build us up in Christ. Christ,… becomes truly present among the community of the faithful, not in the appearance of bread and wine, but through a study and application of his word as brought out above to the end that, as Romans 6:4 points out “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk [every day] in newness of life.” RS. This Gift is further clarified for us at Hebrews 7:27 “He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this -once for all [time] - when he offered up himself.” RS Christendom has adopted many unbiblical practices which we reject and go through the trouble of inviting others to learn the truth of Gods word.