of the Eucharist
times when belief in the real presence of Christ in the
Eucharist is frequently threatened or misunderstood, it
is important to have great saintly priests and religious
to refresh our spiritual understanding.
This is especially so during Pope John Paul II’s
proclamation of a special Year
of the Eucharist.
More recently, he penned the apostolic letter Mane
Nobiscum Domine (Stay with us, Lord) to further emphasize
Father speaks of the many dimensions of the Eucharist, “a
mystery of light!”
First there is the spiritual and actual meal that
unifies us in truth.
Then he says this meal has a “profoundly and primarily
Finally, there is an eschatological aspect that “impels
us toward the future, when Christ will come again at the
end of history.” Most
important of all is Christ’s “real” presence, “the perfect
fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to remain with us until the
end of the world (Mt 28:20).”
Our priests and religious may open up vistas and
perspectives of the Eucharist by their unique presentation.
This can illumine our appreciation and understanding
of the sacrament.
is the source and summit of the Christian life.
It is “the fount and apex of the whole human life”
(Lumen Gentium 10).
We must make every effort to embody this truth in
our liturgy and worship.
In our experience, there have been particular priests
and religious who enable us to appreciate, envision and
promote our “Eucharistic amazement” and “give us a lively
awareness of Christ’s presence.”
They all possess a particular charism, a supernatural
faculty for expressing their deep and profound reverence
for the sacrament.
first charism has been expressed by a particularly holy,
young priest who initially created a stir.
His spiritual gift could be stated as The Charism of Extreme Reverence. At the consecration, he elevates the host, then the cup for
a prolonged period of time while pondering the power of
transubstantiation. One certainly has sufficient time to
say, “My Lord and my God…Body, Blood Soul and Divinity of
Jesus Christ my Lord.”
Initially, one feels uncomfortable with the duration
of this worshipping gesture.
With time and understanding, it becomes a compelling
priest in persona
Christi, comes into spiritual communion with Christ.
At a particular church, thrice rung bells accompany
this consecration, which further emphasizes the sanctity
of the moment.
Perhaps our children need to be versed in mentally
reciting their belief at this time, rather than staring
into a thoughtless void.
charism has been expressed by an especially intense, young
priest who was very dynamic.
His spiritual gift could be stated as The
Charism of Focused Perception of the Triune God.
Throughout the Eucharistic prayer, his eyes are lifted,
almost ecstatically, heavenward.
It is apparent that he is in communion with God,
not merely with the People of God.
Rather than playing to the congregation, he seems
to draw each of us heavenward in an act of communal worship.
It is as if he simulates ad orientum (facing
east), while celebrating ad or versus populum
(facing the people).
The Jesuit, Father Fessio expressed this as a traditional
cosmic and eschatological symbolism.
charism has been expressed by a musically and vocally gifted,
newly ordained priest who was very tender and attentive.
His spiritual gift could be called The
Charism of Melodic Transcendence.
During the consecration, he beautifully chants, a
cappella, the consecration prayers for the Body and
Blood, and then reverently elevates each species.
Again, the sanctity of his expression enfolds one
into the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
charism has been observed in a young priest who is very
modest and unassuming.
His spiritual gift could be called The
Charism of Humble Thoughtfulness.
Throughout the Mass, this priest frequently has eyes
downcast at the times when humility seems appropriate.
In addition, he frequently pauses to allow time to
ponder what is occurring during the liturgy, rather than
rushing through each element.
Many times his demeanor is unhurried and his presentation
whole expression has a constituent of deliberate reflection
on the holiness of the occasion.
A final charism
has been observed in religious orders, most particularly
the often-joyful sisters of the Missionaries of Charity,
Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s order.
This spiritual virtue might be The
Charism of Humble Reverence and Unworthiness. After the consecration of each species, the nuns in unison
bow from the waist, nearly touching their heads to the floor,
while the priest genuflects at the altar.
There is sufficient time to mentally say, “Jesus,
I adore you and I love you…Jesus, I trust in you.”
Seeing this reverence always has a profound effect
on most observers.
At EWTN, the Franciscan servers usually execute prostration
from the epiclesis through the end of the consecration.
Prostration or humble bowing seems appropriate at
the epiclesis, since it is at this time that the priest
calls down the power of the Holy Spirit to effect the consecration.
At no other time than the sacrament of Confirmation
is the Holy Spirit so substantially and spiritually present
amidst us, as at the epiclesis. What better time to be particularly reverent?
Certainly, we are all temples of the Holy Spirit,
when in a state of grace.
But when He makes a personal appearance on behalf
of the priest and all of us, we certainly owe absolute latria
(the worship and honor due God).
We may want to respond quietly, “Holy Spirit sanctify
us! Pour down
Your grace, gifts and fruits on Your People of God gathered
here before You.”
many of you have observed special charisms in your priests
and religious. These
are only a small sample of the ways in which they can bring
us to Christ by their spiritual affinity to Him.
speaks to us in a “still, small voice.”
Oftentimes, our priests and religious express the
Eucharist in a still, small voice.
“The Holy Eucharist unites Heaven and Earth”.
We respond by joining the choirs of saints and angels
in Heaven singing, “Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of Your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!”
November 25, 2004
In thanks to Our Lady of Victory
Nicholas E. Barreca, M.D.
President, Dothan Serra Club