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The Communion We Share & The Mission We’re Given

September 2, 2011

Just heard this week’s message (listened in on Tom’s practice) and it is going to be a very strong conclusion to our current and final message series of the summer, “Do This.” Don’t miss it.

We’re still talking about the Mass.  Tom is focusing on the Liturgy of the Eucharist, especially the communion that we share and the mission that we have been given.  The two go together.  The English word “Mass” is a transliteration of the Latin word “Missa.” The dismissal of the Mass says “Ita missa est” which doesn’t mean “The Mass is ended,” it means “The mission is given.” In a sense, the whole context for the Mass is the mission. I think that interesting.

 

In many parishes I have been associated with there is a “get it over with” mentality that prevails.  And the “it” basically comes down to communion.  That’s why people come late and leave early.  Parishioners act like consumers and what they’re consuming is communion, which they approach as fast food.

 

I guess this is a product of the “obligation” approach to churchworld.  The Church tells us we have to do it, so lets get it over with as quickly and painlessly as possible.  Perhaps it is also a profound misunderstanding of grace.  I don’t know that I understand it, but I definitely see it.

 

What I also see, so prevalent in the Catholic Church culture is the absence of any effect or fruit flowing from the communion.  Many people don’t seem to be any different after than before.  Even people who have been receiving communion for years, even people who receive communion everyday can seem the same. Some of the meanest, grumpiest people I run across are coming out of Mass. They receive Christ and then turn around and act very un-Christ like. How can that be? Why is that?

 

Don’t know.  But I do know that there is a difference between receiving communion and living communion. I do know that our communion is given in the context of our mission, and if we’re not accepting our Christian mission, then we’re not doing our part. Our communion, though really the Body of Christ, is not the exchange Christ intended.

 

Communion and mission go together. Christ does his part, we do ours.  That’s why we talk about ministry and small groups all the time.  They’re the specific place where we can go and live our communion.  If you’re in North Baltimore next weekend, September 10-11, plan to join us for our annual fall launch.  In the tent on the plaza you’ll meet representatives of our ministry teams who can explain how easy it is to get into ministry and start serving our communion.  You can also talk to our small group leaders about finding a group that works for you this fall. In a small group you can go deeper in our communion and find a place to really start growing as a disciple.

 

Don’t just receive communion. Live it.

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  1. Hi Father,

    Great post! I’ve been reflecting on it in terms of some discernment I’ve been doing in my own life.

    Per your post, I’ve been reflecting on the question of why the Sacrament of Holy Communion is not universally transformative. As a relatively recent convert I can think back to my own experience at participating in the sacrament as a new Catholic. When I was a new Catholic I marveled at the highly tangible impact of the Sacrament. I could easily feel the difference before and after receiving. The Eucharist gave me strength. As time passed, and life got busier and more frantic, and participation in communion more routine, the effect became less apparent.

    I’m realizing now, not only from the Eucharist but also from my own interpersonal communion with God, the importance of striving for holiness in our lives. When we fail to set ourselves apart for God then it is no wonder that we do not experience Him to the fullest. When we sin it literally impacts our ability to hear, sense, and feel God. It adds static to the line. This must be one of the reasons why we should not receive the Eucharist with sin weighing on us – we can’t experience God as He wants to be experienced. As you have helped your congregation understand, the Sacrament of Reconciliation can clear the static.

    I’m also learning how we must “Sow in the Spirit” in our actions of mind and body. If we focus on the garbage thrown at us by the worldly culture (mostly motivated by a desire to turn a profit) or by our own desires, then we fail to grow in the Spirit and become much less able to experience God. As we “Sow in the Spirit” we must keep our eyes on the two greatest commandments the Lord gives us in Mathew 22: 36-40.

    John the Baptist said (quoting Isaiah) “Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight.”
    Perhaps if we all do that in our minds, bodies, and spirits our communion with God will be truly transformational as He intends for us. With God there is always a choice – we just have to make the right one.

    As always Father, I am so grateful for your spiritual leadership at Nativity.

    Best, Rich

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