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Eucharist and daily living

By Msgr Michael de Verteuil

Chair, Liturgical Commission


“For the faithful who have understood the meaning of what they have done, the Eucharistic celebration does not end at the church door” [emphasis mine] (St John Paul II, Day of the Lord, 45).

The community “must practise at the level of life what they proclaim at the level of ritual” (Fr Maloney). The failure to live the truth of what the pope has said, and Fr Maloney’s admonition has been, I think, a major failure in the Church, that our lives have not always reflected what we have celebrated in the Eucharist.

Celebrating the Eucharist should be transformative, should have an effect in our daily lives. We cannot be church angel, and street or home devil. The prophets of the Old Testament speak hard words to those whose prayer and lives are far apart. For example, “I take no pleasure in your solemn assemblies….Spare me the din of your chanting….but let justice flow like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:21–24).

And Isaiah speaks to the people who “honours me only with lip service while their hearts are far from me” (29:13).

Jesus calls out those whose faith was shown in their practice of some of the law but not in the rest of their lives: “You pay your tithe of mint and dill and cumin and have neglected … righteousness, mercy and good faith!” (Matt 23:19).

There is a vital link between our Eucharistic celebrations and our daily lives, between the church door and our homes, workplaces, schools, recreation, and entertainment places; between how we celebrate the Eucharist and how we live outside.

We must, as the old maxim says, practise what we preach. Our Mass-going, our reception of the Eucharist, (1 Cor 10:15–16; 11:17–29) has serious implications for our lives lest we hear the words of the Lord, “I take no pleasure in your solemn assemblies.”

What are some of these implications, those behaviours we cannot leave at the church door on our way out? Well, gratitude for one.

During the Mass, we give thanks, as we do well always and everywhere to do for it is right and just, our duty and salvation. Thus, in our daily lives we should be a grateful people (and grateful people are generous people).

At the centre of our celebration is the memory of the crucifixion of Jesus – Body given, and Blood poured out for us. Total self-gift, total service, and if we celebrate this in church, then outside of church we should be people of service and love.

In our celebration we pray for unity among us, “….nourished by his body and blood and filled with the Holy Spirit we may become one body, one spirit in Christ” (Eucharistic Prayer III).

We give one another the Sign of Peace; we receive Communion and should recognise that thus we come into communion with one another (1 Cor:10:16). Therefore, outside the church doors we should live lives of peace with one another, no causing of division, no mauvais langue, no prejudice.

“What difference does it make if the bread and wine turn into the Body and Blood of Jesus and we don’t” (G. Diekmann). Our reception of Communion brings us into the Body of Christ and this Body has a mission –to proclaim the Good News, first by the witness of our lives.

“The first and fundamental mission that we receive from the sacred mysteries we celebrate is that of bearing witness by our lives” (Benedict XVI).

The dismissal at the end of our celebration of the Eucharist reminds us of this: “Go and announce the Good News”, “Go glorifying the Lord by your lives.” Well, let us.

Photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash