The Mass; Part 4: Come Receive Him

300px-Michelangelo's_Pieta_5450_cropncleaned_edit

There are many ways to prepare your heart to receive the Eucharist. This is just one of my favorites. It comes from The Way of the Cross meditations in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi. During this part of the Mass is it the pinnacle of everything we believe and everything we hope in. The Eucharist is Jesus Christ and he has given his very body for us. This is an expert from Station 13:

Jesus did not descend from the cross but remained on it until He died. And when taken down from it, He in death as in life, rested on the bosom of His divine Mother. Persevere in your resolutions of reform and do not part from the cross; he who persevereth to the end shall be saved. Consider, moreover, how pure the heart should be that receives the body and blood of Christ in the Adorable Sacrament of the Altar.

O Lord Jesus, Thy lifeless body, mangled and lacerated, found a worthy resting-place on the bosom of Thy virgin Mother. Have I not often compelled Thee to dwell in my heart, full of sin and impurity as it was? Create in me a new heart, that I may worthily receive Thy most sacred body in Holy Communion, and that Thou mayest remain in me and I in Thee for all eternity.

 

When I reflect on how pure and humble Mary the Mother of God is, I do not feel at all worthy to receive our lord. When I go to receive the Eucharist I am filled with such gratitude that he would allow me to hold his body, when I am no where’s near the level of holiness that Mary is.

Advertisements

The Mass: Part 3; The Fiery Serpent

Image

Take a look at this stunning picture and recall the story from the book of Numbers. The Israelite people complained about being in the desert and doubted God’s plan for them. The Lord in turn sent them serpents. Appreciate for a moment the stern parenting of the Old Testament God, he really is trying to teach his unruly children to trust him. Anyways, the people then repent and go to Moses for help. Moses asks God for forgiveness for his people and God tells him “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived” (Numbers 21:8-9).

Now I want you to put yourself in the shoes of the Isrealites.  You have been given a life full of good things, and you come across some hardship. You doubt God, and you speak ill of his path for your life. Things get worse for you and you are ‘bitten by the snake of sin.’ Where do you go? Well if you have been reading along, you’ll know I’ve been writing about the Mass. The Mass is the answer. When you look at the staff with the serpent on it, you are healed. In our case, there is no fiery serpent at Mass. However, there are two symbols of this Old Testament story that will help you truly appreciate the healing power of Christ.

First, when the Priest (or Deacon) goes to read the Gospel he does so in a very ceremonious way. He lifts up the book from the altar and raises it above his head. At this moment I always think about Moses holding the staff with the serpent. The book is the Gospel, and the Gospel is the Word of God, and the Word of God is Jesus Christ himself. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Christ is our healer, our savior, and or deliverer. We must not let such a beautiful sign pass before out eyes without taking notice of it.  When the priest lifts up the book, he is lifting up Christ. Be present in this moment. This is in a symbolic way, not in the same way as the priest lifts high the Eucharistic Host.

Which brings me to my second point. The symbolism of the story of Moses as seen through the Eucharist. The Eucharist has saving power. Just as the serpent was held high on a staff, Christ is held high on the cross to cure us of the snake bites that we suffer from.

I will stop talking about the Eucharist now, before I get carried away. Look for my next post on the altar, it will contain more Eucharistic goodies.

To close, I want to remind you about how beautiful the connections between Old Testament and the Church today truly are.  Don’t miss out on how full of tradition an hour in Mass is. Also, to point out something interesting. The next time you see an ambulance look closely, you’ll see a staff with a snake. God reminds us that he is very present in our world through the little things in life

Med Unit