True Nourishment in the Eucharist
Originally posted in Facebook by Fr. Michael Cheong, FMVD
How can one expect to be strong if he does not eat? And neither is it only about eating, but of taking the right nourishment. Have you ever thought for yourself what would make up a healthy spiritual diet? And do you invest time and effort to be healthy in body as well as in spirit?
Proper rest, a correct diet and regular exercise are three essential things that need to be taken care of for a healthy lifestyle. In the same way, spiritual rest, spiritual exercise and a spiritual diet are components to live a harmonious and healthy inner life. Learning how to rest, to be disciplined in your diet and having the proper exercise ensures a life that is fruitful and happy both on the inside and on the outside.
The feast of Corpus Christi is about being nourished in our faith through our active participation in the Eucharist, and the principal nourishment is the Person of Christ Himself, in the table of the Word and the table of the Eucharist. "I am the living bread", says Jesus, a bread that is alive and dynamic. It is a kind of nourishment that does not come by mere reception, but by active participation. In other words, we are not invited to the mass to receive the body of Christ like an object; but rather, we are invited to the mass to participate in a meal with Christ as a subject - a Person. Let us explain further.
The Eucharist is a meal, not a feeding session. When one goes to a feeding session, all that is expected is to be fed. The most we do is to stretch out our hands, and perhaps even say 'thank you' at times. There are those who also help in the feeding session, which is definitely preferable to being mere recepients in mass, but they might be in danger of missing the point and not feeling nourished at the end of the mass. Being active in mass does not only mean participating in the activities or ministries in the mass, but to encounter the Person of Christ who ministers to His people. On the other hand, when one goes to join a meal, one expects to engage in conversation, to encounter the host, to be enriched not only by the food in our stomachs, but especially by good company and fruitful conversation in our hearts.
How active are we when we come to mass? What is our preparation in order to receive the Eucharist? Are we as enthusiastic about it as if we were being invited to go out with a group of friends, or to catch up with a loved one? Do we go with the disposition to be heard or also to listen, to engage in a real dialogue with God in an interpersonal encounter? As friends, does our listening lead us to action, to be affected by the situation of the other and to do something about it? The Eucharist is definitely the most nourishing meal in our Christian faith, if we go there to meet Friends, good friends who are committed to each other.
This week ahead, let us reflect on spiritual nourishment. How do you rest spiritually? How do you exercise your spirit in in life's difficulties and in charity? What diet is most suitable to nourish your spiritual life today?
The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life and worship, but it is not the be all and end all of being a Christian. It is meant to make us more Christ-like in our daily dealings with people and in our responsibilities, to model our lifestyle to Christ in the Eucharist.
Corpus Christi is not only about receiving the body of Christ, but rather, it is about making our own bodies the presence of Christ in the world, by our lives, words and actions. As we receive the Body of Christ, let us not just say 'thank you' and forget about him during the week; but to say 'Amen' and try to be Christ to others during the week.
Fr. Michael Cheong is a Singaporean missionary priest of the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity. His current assignment is in Rome, Italy.