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Experiencing the Mass: Rite of Communion (Part 1)

Monday, January 30, 2023

by Fr. David M. Knight

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Dear Readers: Since the Church is presently engaged in a Eucharistic Revival, we thought it would be helpful to post excerpts from his booklet called Experiencing the Mass, for the next few weeks. (This is not a sales pitch. However, the booklet is available for order on this website for $5 per copy if you would like have a copy.)

Since the Eucharistic Celebration is the Paschal Banquet, it is desirable that in keeping with the Lord’s command, his Body and Blood should be received as spiritual food by the faithful who are properly disposed. [1]

The Rite of Communion is an anticipation of the “end time.” We celebrate Christ’s victory, the triumph of his coming in glory at the end of time to “gather up all things in Christ.” It is a preview of the “wedding banquet of the Lamb.” A foretaste of heaven.[2]

The “end time” is our focus, and our all-absorbing desire. We long for, dream of, strive and work for the realization of the “mystery of God’s will,” that he “set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time.” That is to “bring all things in the heavens and on earth into one under Christ’s headship.” Communion is a preview of this that motivates us, as stewards of the kingship of Christ, to abandon to God all we have and are, to manage and use everything under our control only to accomplish God’s plan, to transform society by bringing every area and activity of human life on earth under his lifegiving rule.[3]

In the “eternal now” of God’s time, Christ’s victory is already an accomplished fact. But in our earthly time it is still to be brought to completion. This is our task. This is the meaning of our baptismal consecration as “kings,” or stewards of the kingship of Christ.

The soul of stewardship is responsibility. By Baptism we are committed and empowered to take responsibility for establishing the reign of God’s peace and love over every area and activity of human life until Christ comes again. We are responsible for everything, from ecology to economics to ecumenism.

This seems a hopeless undertaking. What will it take to transform and renew family life, social customs, education, the prison system, health care, business, politics, the Church, everything that is either a root or fruit of human culture?

That is the key word: culture. We are called, consecrated and sent, not just to convert individual human beings, but to transform human culture.

For the Church it is a question not only of preaching the Gospel in ever wider geographic areas or to ever greater numbers of people, but also of affecting and as it were upsetting, through the power of the Gospel, humankind's criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation....

What matters is to evangelize human culture and cultures, not in a purely decorative way, as it were, by applying a thin veneer, but in a vital way, in depth and right to their very roots.[4]

The task is not hopeless, because it has already been achieved. In “God’s time” Christ has won. Jesus declared victory on the eve of his apparent defeat on the cross:

I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”[5]

In the Rite of Communion we celebrate his victory. More than that, we experience in anticipation the “peace and unity of his kingdom” in a preview of the “wedding banquet of the Lamb.” This is a “mystical experience”—a conscious awareness of being in touch with the mystery of God—that renews our hope and gives us motivation to keep working to establish the Kingdom.

[1] See the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, 2002, nos. 80-88. [2] See Revelation 19:9. This text gives the theme of the Rite of Communion. [3] Ephesians 1:10. This is the NAB (1970) version. [4]Paul VI, Evangelization in the Modern World, nos. 19-20.And see no. 70: the task of the laity. [5]John 16:33.

Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry

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