How to switch off your autopilot at Mass

When Emma, mother of three young children, comes back to her pew after receiving Eucharist, she often closes her eyes for a few moments. “My post-communion prayer goes something like this: ‘Thankyouthankyouthankyou,’” she says.

Eucharist is a word whose Greek origin means thanksgiving. The sacrament is also called holy communion, because in the sacrament we unite ourselves with Christ.

At the heart of the eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that become the real presence of Christ: body and blood, soul and divinity. Eucharist is a celebration of the mercy of God, who sent Christ to show us how to live as God’s children and whose death on the cross put an end to death and revealed the resurrection. Christ gave us the Eucharist to strengthen us with his grace, heal us in body, soul, and spirit, and unite us in his love. It’s hard to think of a more appropriate response than Emma’s repeated “thank you.”

But like any other gift in our life, we can so easily become complacent about the Eucharist. As surely as we may look past our family and friends without seeing the presence of God, so, too, can we stand in line for communion and think little about Christ’s presence.

Yet if we are intentional about our approach to the Eucharist—if we come to Mass ready to be given grace and transformed by Christ—we will open ourselves to the healing and love offered by the Eucharist.

Enter into the sacrament. For many people the experience of being filled with God’s love is one that brings them to tears. For this reason some people choose to keep the eucharistic prayers at arm’s length. Keeping the prayers rote and not thinking about the meaning behind the words prevents the risk of actually being touched by God.

Judy, a mother of four adult children and foster mother to babies awaiting either adoption or a return to their birth parents, often finds herself choked up at the Eucharist.

“When I think about what Jesus suffered for me, I am overwhelmed to tears,” she says. “To think that someone would love me that much, I cannot help but be filled with gratitude and love for my Savior and then offer him my life to use as he sees fit. I don’t see crying during the Eucharist as a bad thing. I see it as a human response to God’s love.” …continued next week

—by Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the 2012 Best in Class award from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for the past three years running. Here’s a sample issue.

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