“Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ!”
At a recent Mass for Persecuted Christians in Africa held on the feast of St. Peter Claver, the sounds of a Ghanaian choir burst out rejoicing through St. Patrick’s Cathedral during the eucharistic prayer.
When you think about it, such a response to the act of bread and wine becoming the body and blood of Jesus Christ seems quite appropriate.
It reminded me of a baptism I attended at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. We were upstairs in the baptistery, and as the baby became a Christian, we heard voices coming from below: “Viva Cristo Rey! Viva Cristo Rey! Viva Cristo Rey!” They had no idea what was happening above them. They had just finished Mass. Again, an appropriate response to the reality before them.
This is eucharistic coherence: being so in tune with the Lord in the host, that our voices and our lives proclaim what it is that we receive.
So why is it that just the other day at Mass, as we were approaching the moment of consecration, I saw a woman answering her phone? Why was I thinking about a deadline?
“Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world! Have mercy on us! Grant us peace!”
My primary concern is this: Do we know Jesus is present before us? Do we know how precious the priesthood is, that Jesus comes to us through the fiat of a priest?
I recently attended a Mass with a family in their home. After Mass, the three young sons, all under eight, thanked Jesus for coming to their home in such a powerful way. (The younger one may have needed a little more prompting, as is appropriate: He is a little boy, after all.) Later in life, I pray they can grow in appreciation for the tremendous gift of a Mass in the home, a gift in some ways their late father helped give them by the way he lived his life.
Let’s face it though: most of us don’t believe as we ought or sufficiently thank Jesus for dwelling with us. Of course, we can’t. Unlike the Blessed Mother, we’re all imperfect. But are we at least asking for the grace of silent, perseverant listening?
Jesus speaks to us in the words of Scripture and within our hearts where he and the Father and the Holy Spirit dwell. Our Trinitarian lives ought not be so mysterious. There’s a practicality to them. If we believe, the Eucharist is our fuel. We know we should not receive him unworthily, so it follows that we should receive him in a state of grace, helped by the sacrament of confession. Right?
If we leave Jesus to Sunday for an hour only, do we really believe he is Our Lord and Savior? Do we want to live with him as the center? Do we ask for the grace of eucharistic coherence in our lives? This current discussion among the U.S. bishops about this concept — important as it is — is about so much more than politicians or policy.
Eucharistic coherence is about the way we are called to live our lives. Do we hate our political enemies, or fellow Catholics who think differently than us? Do we consider what it means to be radically loving and welcoming? Do the young people in our lives know that we would help them, should they face hardships like unplanned pregnancies? Have we ever considered what that might look like? Do we care that there are foster children who need permanent homes — forever families who will give them the kind of love and support we may take for granted in our lives?
Eucharistic coherence shouldn’t be a matter of controversy. It should be a challenge. It should be how we wake up in the morning, keep focused during the day, give thanks, and ask for forgiveness as the day draws to a close.
Are we prepared for the coming eucharistic revival being planned by our shepherds if we’re answering phones during the liturgy, walking in right before Communion, or allowing ourselves to be distracted? Do we believe that Jesus comes to us in the Mass — and in all the sacraments? If it’s just box-checking for living some surface of a moral life, there may not be much left to revive.
If you believe, share the joy of the truth. Eucharistic coherence in our time will not come from a statement, report, or even one beautiful Mass and time of eucharistic adoration livestreamed to the world. It’s going to come from believers sharing the joy that comes from Christ dwelling in us.
We are so angry and confused because we do not believe as we ought. That’s partially because we’re human. But it’s also because we are letting ourselves be distracted.
Go to Christ. Stay with Christ. If Catholic bishops can show us they believe, their witness will do more than any statement ever will. Bishops, teach the truth. But, for goodness sake, live it. As you raise the host for us at Mass, raise our hearts to live with a singular focus and unwavering faith in the Lord whom you make present for us.