by Sister Elise Cholewinski
“Behold God’s love for you.”
Three times a year, on the feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, Jews would make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. On each occasion priests would bring forth a golden table from inside the Temple. On the table were twelve loaves of bread that had been consecrated to God. This bread was a reminder of the sacred meal that Moses and the elders ate in the Presence of God on Mt. Sinai. Called the Bread of the Presence, or the Bread of the Face of God, it was a sign of the covenant between God and Israel. The priests would exhibit the Bread of the Presence to the pilgrims while proclaiming, “Behold God’s love for you.”
This Sunday we celebrate Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. We listen to the story of how Jesus, at the Last Supper, gave us His Body to eat and His Blood to drink, the gift of His very self. It is a time to renew our faith in His Real Presence in the Eucharist and to recall the everlasting covenant that was established through His life, death, and Resurrection.
Catholic parishes celebrate this great feast in various ways. Whether through processions, Eucharistic adoration, Benediction, or recitation of the Litany of the Blessed Sacrament, these forms of prayer draw our attention to the Sacred Bread in the monstrance. They invite us to “Behold God’s love for you.”
What if, every time the Host and the Chalice are elevated after the consecration during Mass, we were to recite those same words to ourselves?
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Thich Nhat Hanh does a wonderful mindfulness meditation, using an orange. Before consuming the orange, we are asked to hold it, feel it in our hands, rub our fingers on it, feel the stem part, the skin, smell it ... We are asked to 'see' the grove and the orange tree from which it came; to 'see' the workers, the harvesters; to feel the warmth of the sun that helped it grow and ripen, to feel the rain that watered it, the clouds that shaded it; to 'hear' the birds that rested on its branches; to 'see' and 'smell' the soil from which this particular tree-of-life grew; to 'see' those who packaged and transported the crates of beautifully-grown and tree-ripened oranges ... Then he leads us into slowly beginning to peel it ... Peel away a layer ... Smell and feel the orange again ... How is it different now? How is it the same? On and on goes the meditation, until we are consuming "all" that this orange 'is' for us. Not only the physical nourishment and juice that satisfies thirst, but the much larger dimension of inter-being, of truly being connected to all that is: our inter-connectedness with all of creation, with all of humanity as we live and work, side-by-side on one planet, in one community -- each one, in some way, being nourishment and wholeness for another, for all others, if we but let ourselves be. This mindful meditation has so much deepened my interior understanding and appreciation of "ALL" that we are saying "AMEN" to when we affirm "Body of Christ" and "Blood of Christ" as it is declared to us in sharing communion with other members of 'the Body and Blood of Christ.' "AMEN!" -- Linda
An excellent suggestion and practice. Thanks. -- Fran