Friday, May 23, 2008
I love this feast.
As someone for whom the Eucharist has made sense even at times when nothing else in life or faith hung together, the idea of a whole day dedicated to thanking God for this amazing gift was bound to delight me.
I do, though, tend to struggle with the more florid externals of traditional catholic devotion - the processions with rose-petals, and the priest only permitted to lift high the sacrament during Benediction if he (I think it would probably tend to be "he" in this context) is swathed in the humeral veil.
I know of some churches where this is so intrinsic to devotion to the Sacrament that what should be gift, grace, welcome becomes "Keep out...this is too rarefied, too holy for the likes of you" - or, for the casual visitor, "Whatever is happening here is far too esoteric to connect with my reality".
That makes me sad.
Surely the point of Christ's presence in the sacrament of bread and wine is that he makes himself accessible to us, that he can be touched and held by our ordinary, grubby hands - that he blesses us in our humanity.
That is what I most love about the Eucharist...
That we are invited to come and eat regardless of our condition, that God trusts us with himself, makes us an incalculable gift through his presence in that fragment of wafer, that sip of wine.
Last night, FabBishop presided and preached at a lovely service here
where the emphasis was very much on
"come as you are,- but see what, through God's grace, you will become".
Though we didn't use it in the liturgy, this was the prayer that resounded for me throughout the service, and indeed all day long.
It's just about the best expression of what the Eucharist means to me, and why I will always hope to celebrate Corpus Christi
Most merciful Lord, your love compels us to come in.
Our hands were unclean, our hearts were unprepared;
we were not fit even to eat the crumbs from under your table.
But you, Lord, are the God of our salvation,
and share your bread with sinners.
So cleanse and feed us with the precious body and blood of your Son,
that he may live in us and we in him;
and that we, with the whole company of Christ,
may sit and eat in your kingdom. Amen.