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Eucharist - a mandate or a privilege?

The other day I was asked to watch this video and comment on it.

Communion in many ways is being taken for granted. It’s kind of like this. If I am given cake every day of my life, having cake at my birthday is no big deal. But if I withhold from eating cake and it is something that I really like. Then, when it comes, the birthday becomes more of a celebration. I get to do something I don’t normally do. I savor it more.

For some, being without communion is being taken as an affront to our faith. Some feel we must have communion in order to have a fulfilling relationship with Jesus. That somehow our Church leadership is failing because they are not figuring out a way for us to receive Christ in the Eucharist. They are demanding that the leadership in the Church find some way to prevent us from having to hold back communion during this time. I think that is wrong minded. God is not only in the Eucharist. God is everywhere at all times. Yes, Mass is the source and summit of our faith. But we sometimes don’t treat it that way. We don’t treat communion as though it is something special, instead it is something that is expected. If we really saw it as the source and summit of our faith, it means we should strive to be receiving it … not expecting it.

In the middle ages most people did not receive communion because they thought they were not worthy to receive it. That is why the 4th Lateran Council made it mandatory that all Catholics receive communion at least once a year and if it was going to be once a year, receive at Easter. The point here is, the Church understands the importance of Eucharist. So the mindset of the middle ages is kind of opposite what people might see today. So why does the Church think Eucharist is so important?

The purpose of communion is to take into ourselves all that went to the Altar. During the time of the mass when we bring up the gifts, that is symbolic of all the prayers, concerns, joys and failings of the congregation being placed on the Altar. It is our sacrifices being brought to the priest so that the priest can offer not only our sacrifices but the sacrifice of Jesus himself to the Father ... all of that enters into Eucharist. When we take communion we are then taking all those sacrifices and prayers and concerns and joys and consuming them along with consuming Jesus. We can then go out into the world and be Christ to others. We can partake in the divinity of God and become more like God to others. Eucharist should be thought of as a battery charger for our spiritual batteries. But we can get trickle charges from other sources such as prayer and participating in Masses through the internet and TV, going out and doing acts of charity, and yes even holding back on things we really like … maybe even Eucharist itself.

The bottom line here is we should take this time away from Eucharist as a sign that maybe God wants us to savor communion. The next time we are able receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, savor it!

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