Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Because Our Lord is Eucharistic

The church my family and I attend is nearly 100 years old and, as such, the sanctuary doesn't have central air conditioning or heating systems. During this latest heat wave, the air conditioning unit broke. Starting August 1, we've been celebrating Sunday Masses downstairs in the Parish Hall.

Our Parish Hall is essentially our church basement. It's a modest place with florescent lights, an industrial carpet and, most importantly, a working air conditioning system. As Webster just noted, Our Eucharistic Lord doesn't take a vacation. When a priest consecrates bread and wine, it becomes Christ: body, blood, soul and divinity. And He gives us a part of Himself as a foretaste of heaven. Jesus tells us: "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him." He never mentioned the quality of the music, setting and the preaching, or the social class of communicants.

Sunday's Mass was plain and reverent.  Our 10-year-old and I sat beside my husband, who was lectoring.  Because we have no organ or piano downstairs, three members of our Chant Club sang Gregorian chants and led us in some  hymns. There were many advantages to this makeshift church; because our church is often less than half full, families and couples often stake out a row or section as their own during Mass. We don't have that luxury now; we all sit together, encountering faces and families we might normally not have noticed. In fact, the 11 a.m. Mass was standing room only. Our pastor is physically closer to us too, which gives us an opportunity to experience consecration in a much more intimate way. He had made an altar of a folding table, draping it with elegant altar linens.

And as our parish prayed together, I thought about Catholics who never have the luxury of air conditioning or a heated church or a comfortable office chair on which to sit during a makeshift Mass. Sunday's readings, including Paul's Letter to the Colossians spoke to me about the life of the parish family of which I am privileged to be a member.

First, Paul speaks of how individual Christians must approach their lives.

Brothers and sisters:
If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died,
and your life is hidden with Christ in God....

And then he speaks of how Christian communities work.

Here there is not Greek and Jew,
circumcision and uncircumcision,
barbarian, Scythian, slave, free;
but Christ is all and in all.

May God continue to bless those who encounter Him in the Eucharist and in the faces of their parish families.