Lords of Our Own Existence?
(Inspired by a reading of Jean Pierre De Caussade’s The Sacrament of the Present Moment)
Part 1 of 3
It is the reality of our moment by moment encounter with God. We confess that God is everywhere present and fills all things, but we still largely walk through the world treating all the things that we encounter as just that, things. We carry no sense within us that God is in fact sharing His life with us in and through all things.
This goes to the very heart of living life as though the world were secular, of living life in a “two-fold story” universe; the story in which we live being the one not inhabited by God.
It has been a common observation that when various reformers set about to reform the Church, they declared “all days to be holy days,” and thus rid the calendar of any particular holy day. The unintended result was that before long not only were all days not holy days, no day was a holy day.
The same has been true of the more recent democratizations of the liturgy where the “people” gather around the altar and God is in our midst. Somehow, God becomes lost. All boundary between myself and the holy disappear and I can no longer know the holy.
Strangely, most of these reforms were not misguided. They were rooted in Scriptural truth and embodied a certain amount of truth. But invariably they were reforms that were lost in the “law of unintended consequences.” The general principle triumphed over the particular instance and the result was the abolition of something important.
But God is indeed “everywhere present and filling all things.” One of the clearest examples of this in Scripture is to be found in the resurrected Christ’s encounter with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. They conversed and the disciples did not recognize Him. Indeed, their hearts “burned” within them as they walked along and He instructed them in Scripture concerning the Christ. But things became clear; they recognized the risen Lord when He stopped with them for the evening meal. There He “took bread, blessed, broke and gave it to them,” and we are told, “their eyes were opened.” Those four verbs, “take, bless, break, and give,” are always used in Eucharistic encounters in Scripture. They are keys for our understanding. Nonetheless, the Scriptures do not say that there was a “formal” liturgy or even a clearly demarcated sacred meal. Only that Christ was present, and that He “took bread, blessed, broke and gave it to them.” And He was made known to them.
The Eucharist reveals Christ to us. The Eucharist not only reveals Christ to us, it also reveals the true nature of creation to us. Bread can no longer be the same if Christ has taken it and made it His body.