Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Grace of the Sacraments

Thoughts from Daily Mass and Reconciliation

This morning I attended the Saturday morning mass at our parish of St. George, here in London.  I really enjoy meeting my prayer partners on weekday mornings to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and it is definitely grace filled.  But, the mass . . . the mass has the ultimate grace filled experience in the whole of Christianity, the Eucharist.  There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world.

Today's gospel reading was from John Chapter 6 verses 60-69:
Many of the disciples of Jesus who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”
Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life.
But there are some of you who do not believe.”
Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him.
And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”

As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer walked with him.
Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” 
 What happened here was in direct response to the words Jesus had spoken in yesterday's gospel, John 6: 52-59:

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his Flesh to eat?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you.  Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.
For my Flesh is true food, and my Blood is true drink.  Whoever eats my Flesh and drinks my Blood
remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.  This is the bread that came down from heaven.  Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

In the Catholic Church, we believe the words of yesterday's gospel reading literally, "unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink his Blood, you do not have life within you."  With the eyes of our hearts, we can see that the Eucharist is in FACT the body and blood of our Saviour Jesus the Christ.  We can (though many do not) see the grace that comes from this Most Blessed Sacrament. 

This morning a young family with three beautiful little daughters were present at mass.  The middle one is about 3 years old, and is not old enough to receive the Eucharist yet, but she reveres Jesus in this holy presence.  As she approached with her family to the Eucharist, she knelt down in front of the priest, with a deep reverence that she was in the presence of God, in the Eucharist.  You can teach a child to kneel down, but you cannot teach a child to display reverence as this little one does.  She knows.

As I pondered the words of the gospel from the two days, and the actions of this child and others as they approached the table of the Lord, I was saddened to think about the separation we have with our Protestant Christian brothers and sisters.   Though they claim to be bible based Christians, and largely they are, they fail to believe these particular words of Jesus, that were said unequivocally, and so they have turned away from the Catholic Church to follow Jesus, but on their own terms.  I know so many devout Christians, not of our faith, and pray that somehow they will find the truth of the Eucharist and join us in it.  They have so much to offer us, from their lives of faith and love, but we too have gifts to give.

On Saturday mornings after mass, our priests hear confessions, and this morning I went to confession with Father John Pert, our pastor who has just come back from a delayed return to Canada from Europe. - something to do with an earthquake and flights canceled.

It had been two months since I last went to this beautiful sacrament, and again the grace abounds from it.  I said to him that I have noticed as it becomes longer since my last Reconciliation, that the urges to sin seem greater and harder to resist.  He then told me what one of his teachers from the Seminary many years ago had told him, that as we get further from our last confession, it is like a slippery slope, and I concur with this assessment.  That priest, who taught him this concept was one of my favourite priests, Fr.  Michael Prieur.  It is a very small world, after all.

For my penance, he told me to prayer for Father Sam Johnston, and once again there was a special grace and understanding that came from that.  I wrote about it here.

I admit it.  I love the Catholic Church, and am like Peter when he said in today's Gospel reading, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

He is the Holy One of God, and He founded what came to be known as the Roman Catholic Church.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in your love for all who read these words.

No comments: