By Msgr Michael de Verteuil
Chair of the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission
In last Sunday’s article, we saw that the Church teaches that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. The summit we know is the highest point of something.
How is the Eucharist the summit? What is the summit of our Christian life? The summit of the Christian life on earth is when we become as much like Christ as possible, but there is another summit, and that is eternal life with God.
Jesus glorified the Father in everything, and we are called to do the same – everything about our lives should be an offering to the Lord, a sacrifice (1 Cor 10:31; Rom 12:1).
We bring this sacrifice to the Eucharist to unite it to the perfect offering of Christ to the Father so that, ‘Through him, with him, in him, O God Almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours forever and ever.’
Jesus glorified God perfectly – lovingly obedient unto death so that a perfect offering might be made to the glory of God’s name.
In the celebration of the Eucharist, we join our meagre offering to that of Jesus. Thus, the Eucharist is the summit on earth of our vocation in life to glorify God.
“The Church’s intention, however is that the faithful not only offer this spotless victim, but also learn to offer themselves, and so day by day, to be consummated, through Christ the mediator, into unity with God and with each other, so that at last God may be all in all” (General Introduction to the Roman Missal).
The goal of our lives is our everlasting enjoyment of God. The Eucharist is the summit of our lives because in this celebration we come into communion with the Lord and with one another (1 Cor 10:15–16).
In Heaven, we are in perfect communion with God and one another so the Eucharist is the summit of our Christian life – a foretaste of glory divine where right relationships will be restored, and all will be well.
There are many instances in the Mass in which we focus on this summit, the life to come. Many of the presidential prayers (the Collect, the prayer over the gifts, the concluding prayer) refer to the life to come. The sign of peace too is a reminder as we share a sign of peace with one another, a reminder of the peace we will have in Heaven reconciled with all.
Just before Communion the presider says, ‘Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.’ This is a quote from Rev 19:9 where John is having a vision of Heaven in which the Blessed are getting ready for the celebration – its use at this point in the Mass reminds us that what we are about to do is a taste of glory divine, that glory that is the summit of our lives.
“The Eucharist is a glimpse of heaven on earth, a glorious ray of the heavenly Jerusalem which pierces the clouds of our history and lights up our journey” (St John Paul II).
May the time we have spent away from the celebration of the Eucharist sharpen our desire to be with the Lord present in our celebration and to be with our brothers and sisters in Christ.