By Fr. Murphy S.J.
1: Focusing my life (Thankfulness).
2: Passover feast as celebrated of Old Testament.
3: Eucharist as memorial.
4: Jesus celebrating the Last Supper.
5: Eucharist as Sacrifice.
6: Structure of the Eucharist.
1: FOCUSING MY LIFE
It is an invitation to celebrate our Eucharist in our daily life. It is a ritual, and as ritual it must be interiorized, so that it will become a ritual in our own daily life.
EUCHARIST AS RITUAL: it is community prayer; it has a community dimension; others and I in my heart.
Eucharist has a COMMUNITARIAN DIMENSION: we are a THANKSGIVING PEOPLE; Eucharist is Thankfulness. (II Canon: it is our duty and our salvation to give you thanks).
To be a CHRISTIAN is to be a THANKFUL PEOPLE.
To be grateful means: to give PRAISE.
To be able to give thanks is the HEART of being HUMAN.
How could Jesus accept and thank the FATHER for the Passion?
Sometimes it is difficult to find the meaning of suffering, of the mystery of suffering. But Jesus took suffering with great and open heart, and that transformed suffering in the Resurrection.
Sometime suffering has no sense: but if we look at Jesus, we know that we too will be transformed to new life.
If we struggle with openness and thankfulness of heart, we too will be transformed.
We are EUCHARIST PEOPLE. Here the importance of the daily Eucharist, in order to be present to others, now that we are young and so be able to look at the future. We must be people of the present: for this reason we have to put the Eucharist to be the CENTER of our life.
Eucharist is the CENTER of the community. The Mass is not something we do just for ourselves. In the Mass we should bring all the problems of the community, of the world.
AT THE PERSONAL LEVEL
The more I am aware of what is happening in me, the more I can bring to the Eucharist celebration. The more I become aware of my inner world, the more I can grow in myself, and become, me, myself Eucharist.
Trough the Eucharist I can become more aware, more present to myself.
I will become more sensitive to my feelings and to what the Lord ask of me to be and to do.
This is something we must do, reflect on and see what will happen.
2: CELEBRATING THE PASSOVER IN THE OT
(AFFILIATED TO LIFE)
For the Jews society the PASSOVER was the celebration of their liberation, of their escaping from the slavery of Egypt and the possession of the Promised Land. It is the celebration of a life experience. That is why they were coming together to celebrate the event that made them to feel they became a people, their own IDENTITY, their new way of living.
They were farmers, so they were offering and eating the product of their own land, their own work. Later it became wine, bread and the lamb. (The products of the farmers). WINE and BREAD: the summary of the history of their people. The elders, during the Passover celebration, narrated the history of their people, celebrating the great DEEDS of the LORD (the One closed to them). They were experiencing the LORD as LIBERATOR, and themselves as PEOPLE.
It was the celebration of the WORD, and according to their own culture the owner of the house was the one narrating the story of their liberation, the deeds of the LORD. The only request of the LORD to them was to be faithful to the COMMANDMENTS.
The celebration of the Passover as:
3 : MEMORIAL
a: MEMORY; celebration as memorial.
When we remember the things of the past, our memory brings us together. In many things of our life: we don’t have choice about them; we are the Masters of our life; we can control it; the way we meet with ourselves is the way we bring ourselves together. The problem is not to remember, but to remember with JOY AND THANKFULNESS.
Each one of us is in charge of creating himself. We create ourselves in the way we remember ourselves.
If we remember with joy we will be joyful persons; is we remember with sorrow we will be sorrowful persons.
b: REMEMBERING AS COMMUNITY:
The Jews were remembering what happened to them always with JOY AND THANKFULNESS.
People who remember with thankfulness are a GRACIOUS PEOPLE.
c: HOW TO REMEMBER:
We create our people on the way we remember our history, our past and on how we remember.
nA Christian is the one who also remembers; the way he remembers is the kind of Christian he wants to become; and on the way they remember they create the Christian people. What makes us Christian is the way we remember the life of Jesus, his passion, death and resurrection. Sometimes we are challenged on HOW to remember in order to grow up.
nEUCHARIST: it is a remembering, a memorial and this makes the Christian community.
nEUCHARIST: the way through which we remember Christ among us. The way we remember changes, transforms our lives, our attitudes.
4 : JESUS CELEBRATING THE LAST SUPPER
= A JEW: he was celebrating like all the Jews: remembering the history of salvation.
Salvation: is the way Jews look at their history. History is precisely our HUMAN INTERPRETATION, something that is dynamic, living.
The Jews people saw their history as GOD LOOKING after them and GUIDING them. This interpretation created them as people, not as glorification of themselves, egoistic or triumphalistic, but as people CHOSEN BY GOD.
= Jesus in the Last Supper could tell the history of his people as GOD CARING FOR THEM.
History is a human sign and science through which we create ourselves. In celebrating their history it was like to imprint in their mind what was the meaning of being a Jew. They were not looking at themselves as SUPERIOR but as insignificant, simple people that God has chosen and had cared for
= THE INDIVIDUAL:
Regarding the relationship with his Father: Jesus’ teaching was that He was the revelation of his Father; and He was doing the deeds that His Father was doing in Him.
All his decisions were according to the will of the Father. This was the experience of his CLOSENESS with his Father. This is the experience of Mount Tabor.
He comes to know the end of his life: so he celebrates the end of it because to do it later it will be too late (the passionhood). It is the FAREWELL LAST SUPPER. He celebrates it in the context of the Jews celebration as a thanksgiving to the Father for what He has done for Him, to Him, and in Him.
= THE MASTER: He is the one who organizes the celebration and tells the history of his people. But also he does something NEW. He takes bread and wine, as they were HE HIMSELF and commands to do the same in HIS REMEMBRANCE: remembering his life, his teaching. He celebrates as he saw himself in front of his followers. HIS TEACHING: it was something personal, he was teaching his OWN EXPERIENCE. He is what he speaks and he speaks what he is.
Importance of the N. 12: the twelve tribes of Israel; the twelve apostles; the new people; the new teaching and the new experience. The group of the twelve will continue to preach what he has taught them: a new set of values, a new way of behaving. New teaching for a new people in a new relationship with GOD.
He sees himself as the PRIEST in between his people and God. To be fully human is to be, to live like God. The MESSAGE is that to be fully human is to live the fullness of life now, here. The Christian life is the fullness of the human life. Jesus gives to the apostles a ritual as a remembering of him.
Why bread and wine? The supper was almost ending, so Jesus takes a third cup; he wants to separate the new ritual from the old. A NEW RITUAL: BREAD = HIS BODY; WINE = HIS BLOOD. (THE NEW SACRIFICE). (Isaia 49: 1-6; 50: 4-9; 52: 13; 53: 12)
To be present and to pray, for Jesus means to be present and pray searching in the Scripture what kind of person he should be; his IDENTITY and VALUES of life.
5: AS SACRIFICE
Sacrifice = is not to give up something
Sacrifice of the Mass = understood as to give up something is a negative concept.
SACRIFICE: is the way of WORSHIPPING CHRIST.
nThe way a group praises – prays – celebrates.
nIs an offering of what is essential in my life. (Bread and wine).
nOnce offered it belongs to God, we cannot take it back again.
nGOD accepts the offering and so people celebrate because God has accepted their offering. What is important is the act of offering, of handing ourselves over to God. Once accepted by God, we cannot take it back any more and so we celebrate and worship Him as the ABSOLUTE ONE.
nIt is not something magic. Magic is to offer something in order to get back something. The Lord cannot be forced to give back, to reward because we offer to Him something. This is a real danger in religiosity. This is the reason why the Prophets attacked the religiosity of their people: it became something magic. Even in the celebration of the Mass there can be a lot of magic. That is why Vatican II intervened.
What are the most important things in the celebration of the EUCHARIST?
FOUR PURPOSES in our prayer: (in our relationship with God):
nWorship and praise (Alleluia)
nThanksgiving (for all He has done for us etc.…)
nPraying for pardon (ask for forgiveness)
nPetitions (whatever we need)
All this four purposes should be there during our Eucharist celebration. To miss one leads us to an extreme, and something will be missed there.
We must thank always GOD and not ourselves. The more we thank God the less we will thank of ourselves.
The heart of the sacrifice is PRAYER.
The Sacrifice is the way a group is PRAYING. We are united through SACRIFICE to God and also to one another. That is why we bring bread and wine: because it is the fruit of our own work; part of ourselves; a sign of ourselves.
Then the power of the Holy Spirit transforms the bread and wine in the BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST and so transformed in HIM we share each other. Our Mass is standing as a way of praising and thanksgiving to God.
= Danger: to look more to the exterior action: it is to miss the point of the HEART OF THE SACRIFICE. (for instance: to look at candles, altar boys, vestments, etc.…).
Sacrifice is an offering of bread and wine and done by a priest (a person) for the people, for the community. The sacrifice is always somewhere and not anywhere.
The sacrifice signifies always transformation into God and the eating-sharing signifies the union of the community (the oneness).
When we take the bread and wine is to celebrate the INCARNATION of Jesus in a particular time, in a particular person.
The message of being a Christian must be incarnated in a culture but also to overcome that culture and go towards other cultures. It must be UNIVERSAL LOVE.
6: STRUCTURE OF THE EUCHARIST
At the end of the meal, Jesus took the CUP, the third and final Cup. He celebrates His Death, the Farewell, and His Sacrifice. But there was something new: to remember Him in life. The Mass is divided in:
1= Liturgy of the Word
2= Liturgy of the Eucharist
1= LITURGY OF THE WORD = DIALOGUE.
God speaks to us and we respond. What is important is: GOD SPEAKING TO US; only after He spoke to us we answer.
nAfter the first reading there is the Responsorium psalm: it is our answer.
nSecond reading: the answer is : Alleluia
nGospel : followed by the sermon as explanation and by the CREDO: it is
It is more difficult to answer then to listen. Our listening has to do with our feelings; it is not easy to listen to our feelings. It is to listen what is beyond the readings and the words.
When we listen to the feelings of a person: than we enter in contact deeply with that person.
In front of the LORD: this is the kind of listening and awareness we should have. Only when I will be aware of what is happening to me and how the community feels in certain situations, I will be able not only to hear, but also to listen deeply.
GOD is always at work in us; if we listen to his word, if we are more sensitive to his presence, then we will be able to become aware of our feelings, live with them, and listen to them. We discern the feelings and the voice of God through our feelings. We must be able to listen with the whole person.
What counts more is the listening than the answer. What is most important is God speaking to me, what God is saying to me.
After confession we ask for forgiveness and on Sunday there is also the song of joy and praise: the GLORIA.
2=LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST
It starts with the offertory. It is not so easy to offer oneself in the offertory because the time is very short. But there is the possibility to recollect ourselves before the Mass and put ourselves in front of God; to recollect our pieces together and offer them to God at the offertory. “ Here I am, oh Lord”. Our presence to the Lord must be something not impose from the outside, but a silent and peaceful happening coming from the interior. “Everything reminds us of the Lord”.
= We offer ourselves. The priest offers bread and wine for everybody, but only I can offer myself and nobody else can do it for me. My heart should be there and not only my physical presence. Nobody can offer and praise God for myself. The offering is where the HEART is offering. The ritual is external, what is important is what is in me: the interior.
3= THE GREAT PRAYER (THE CANON)
It is the most important part: it is the Eucharist prayer.
Some characteristics of the Canon:
nPreface + Sanctus (to put ourselves in front of the face of GOD).
nPrayer of the SPIRIT. Prayer to the FATHER to change our heart and to be able to remember of what Jesus did and said. We do what Jesus has done in the Last SUPPER and we remember His Deeds and Teaching.
nSecond prayer to the Spirit: we offer what has been changed and share so to become ONE.
nPrayer for the Church
nAMEN: I agree with what I have listened to, with what I have offered and shared.
The Canon is the heart of what a Christian should be, of how we should pray as Christians in our own life.
There are many different Canons and also many different rites. Each rite has its different canons.
Canon 1: it has been evolved in the Roman Church; it is well done. From the 6th century it has been used frequently: it is full of old names of saints that nobody knows. This canon is suitable for great occasions.
Canon 2: Written by Hyppolitus. He lived in the Middle East. Later he came to Rome and he was able to combine the roman and the Middle East liturgy together.
For the first centuries there were two traditions; this canon has been made around the year three hundred.
Canon 3-4: they were made recently. Canon 4 is for special occasions, for small groups who know more about the scripture.
Canon 2: Made by Hyppolitus. It starts with an act of THANK to the Father: it should be an ordinary way of life. To say, “ THANK” to a person, means to say to him: “ YOU COUNT FOR ME ”and it can be a base for a new relationship. When we thank God we grow as children of God. What is important is our growth.Usually religious are poor in giving thanks and in saying it among themselves in their own community.
Our thankfulness is a way of building up persons: edification of communities and Church. Canon 2 is much inspired by St. John Gospel. The incarnation is the work of the Holy Spirit.
1= on the Cross
Open the arms: 2= the One who welcome everybody, and everybody feels
Himself fully welcomed.
1= on the Cross
Arms lifted up: 2= Resurrected
He conquered suffering: he conquered it and invites me to conquer it and use it
for my growth going towards the resurrection.
It means: to defeat it and being able to pass through
Holy: a chosen one; the one set apart.
Consecration: breaking of the bread.
The canon is the thanksgiving prayer for the great gift God has given to us.
Blood: scattered over all the people; the symbol of the covenant; the agreement between God and us; the new way of relating to God.
When we remember what Jesus has done in His life, only than our HEART starts to burn and we start to practice it and continue to do it. It is the quality of our remembering that makes Jesus to be present and work in us and in the community.
The mystery of faith: it is the summary of the whole life of Christ; the center of our faith.
In the second prayer to the Spirit we ask Him not only to change the bread and wine in the body and blood of Jesus, but to change also ourselves.
The Pope: our sign of unity. He stands for our being together and so the Bishop for the local Church. They are signs of oneness.
When we remember the dead: we should remember them with thankfulness for what they have done before us.
The prayer of the Church: is to be in contact with all those who come before us and for all the needs of the Church, of the World.
Canon 3: the Benedictine Fr. Vagaggini has made it.
Preface: It is a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to the Father for all the creation, holiness, life etc. through Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.
nThe memory of Jesus: also the eschatological day, the day of the Glory of Jesus when everybody will see Him in His GLORY.
nChange us: in union with God and each other.
nPrayer of the Church: prayer for everybody, for the world. Prayer for every child (SON) of GOD where they may be.
It is the beginning of our Christian life = SONS OF GOD.
But we have no experience of being Christian; we need to remember our Baptism and our understanding of the Christian life and of the Christian community, so to have a living experience of our Christian life in ourselves. It should be an interior experience.
What does it mean to be a Christian?
Christian: to follow Christ, the values of Christ. What is the most important for Jesus and for me? What is coming first, second, etc.…? We should learn to give priority and to what give priority.
It means to be able to discern and to give an answer to myself: what is it for me to be a Christian in my own way? For Jesus it was GOD = FATHER. The way of speaking of God is the way we should be for ourselves; is the way we see ourselves reflected in GOD.
We renew our baptismal vow in the Holy Saturday, during the celebration of the Pascal Mystery.
HOLY WATER and the BAPTISM FORMULA = it is a reminder of our baptism.
AS RITUAL = water, candle, prayers, etc.… their meaning has a linking with my life.
WATER = if there is no water there is no life = death. Water is the source of life, so it must be linked with many different experiences of our life. Symbols are good and meaningful when they are part of our own life. Symbols are good and meaningful when they show our own experiences. If symbols are not linked to our own life they loose their meaning, they become something void, empty.
RITE OF PASSAGE
We pass from the stage of non-believers to the stage of catechumen and to the stage of a Christian.
In this PASSAGE there are three steps:
1: SEPARATION = to leave the life of a child behind and enter a period of a painful crisis called:
2: THRESHOLD = SOGLIA = we are no longer a child nor a mature Christian.
3: INCORPORATION = one body (Incorporated in the community, in the Church, part of the adult Christian world).
The first and the third steps are quite short; but the second can last a long time because we have to leave up the Old World, the old Adam, old thoughts and behavior etc. It is always painful. The more it is painful the more it will become very important and meaningful.
To become a Christian means to change attitudes and take up other attitudes and values, the attitudes and values of Christ.
In order to achieve and enter the threshold, the catechumens must be tested and see how they live their Christian life before to accept them to be incorporated as fully Christians. They must live in a community of Christians so that everybody can evaluate and see if they really live as Christians.
Passages can be many, more or less long. It is like the Novitiate where the Novice Master must challenge the candidates.
THEOLOGY OF BAPTISM
Jesus was baptized in the Jordan. John started the ritual of Baptism. If we are not able to understand the meaning of that ritual, the ritual will be something empty, void, not in accord with what is going on in our own life, in our own heart.
The preaching of John was = repentance: to make people to change their life and Baptism was the sign of their repentance.
The meaning of the ritual is to be more clean, not a passage.
It was a public sign accepted by people who wanted to change their life and accepted the teaching of John. The sign of all this was to take the ritual of John’s baptism.
For Jesus: it was a passage from one stage of life to another stage, a decision, a choice of life after 40 days of temptation, to change his way of living and start to become the PROPHET. A decision that was implemented little by little. Now came the time to give a public witness of his decision and he has been reconfirmed by the Holy Spirit, and empowered by HIM. This is what we call “ THE SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT ”.
nIt was a very deep experience of the FATHER and he was talking of it very often. It was a personal experience of closeness, intimacy with the FATHER, and so he told the disciples to do the same.
nIt is also a reconfirmation that he was right in his teaching and that he was empowered by the Spirit when the Father called him.
nAn experience that touched the whole his life. To it he was returning very often and of it he was speaking till the end of his life.
nThat is why Jesus empowered the disciples first and later the Church to baptize as an experience of his death and resurrection.
nThe death of Jesus: John in his Gospel: “he poured blood and water”: John was referring to baptism. In Baptism the life of Christ comes to me so that I myself can imitate the life of Jesus.
nJohn 3: Nicodemus; it means to come out of the darkness; to be washed, cleaned again and return to light. Like Jesus who came out of the Jordan and started to show to his disciples what happened to him, his deep experience.
nSt. Paul: his conversion. He searched for God for many years; he was a very committed person. When Jesus touched him he started to see with the eyes of the heart. His own theology is his own experience of Jesus – the Risen Lord who was in him and in others: one body, united to one another, part of the same body. He used his own understanding of the human body as a symbol of his own theology. Theology is the fruit of our own experiences, of what has happen in us and to us, united to the ability of being able to explain it to others: this is the true theologian. When people combine experience and theology, than we have real theology. What is important is the experience and not to be a theologian. It is in the experience of Christ, in the person of Christ that we are united and able to share together the experience of Christ. Paul has the experience and the ability of theologize.
MEANING OF BAPTISM IN ST. PAUL
MYSTICAL BODY: 1COR. 12: 12-13
GAL. 3: 27-29
UNION WITH CHRIST: ROM. 8: 14-17 6: 3-11
GAL. 2: 11-13
Paul starts to experience and talk about it and he defines his doctrine of the MYSTICAL BODY.
Christ is the whole Christ alive in the body, in the community.
Paul is thinking: how to participate to others the life of Christ? From this question and searching for came the doctrine of the Mystical Body and the participation in the death and resurrection of Christ. The death of Christ is the summary of his whole life. When we were baptized it was like to enter into the tomb and to rise to new life, to die to the old way of life, to pass and to rise to new life. To die is a painful and difficult task. Baptism becomes a ritual of dying and rising to new life, to be a new person. To live like Christ is to get a hundred fold here, right now and eternal life later.
What is this hundred fold? We have to learn by ourselves what it is: peace, joy, happiness, etc. This will come out of the good news: the hundred folds are the fullness of life, the essential, important point and the aim. Dying to egoism, selfishness, to the values that are without meaning in life.
How can we compare pleasure to happiness?
The life of Christ is the fullness of the human life; to live up to it means to become fully human, fully alive persons.
We are able to possess the right life of Christ in us only if we live really like Christ and not only when we receive the sacraments; it can be only a ceremony, a ritual and nothing else. Only when I start to live like Christ and behave like him and up to his values, only then I will live my Christian life in fullness.
Not only the body but the heart also should be there. Sacraments are not something magic, but ritual, which are attached to our heart: if the heart is there, then they will become makers of new life.
The Christian message then will become my personal experience, a personal presence of Christ in me, ME AND CHRIST: ONE. ONENESS.
Here the challenge: what do people see in us: the values of Christ, Christ himself, the life of Christ?
What does it mean to be a Christian?