March 20, 2018 | Reflections from Abbess Hilda
My friend John recently put a request to me. He is a principal in a Catholic Diocese of Australia and the Catholic Education office there encouraged all their staff to take a focus for the year, a theme of life I suppose. John decided to take “Eucharist” as his focus and asked me for a book and some suggestions. He didn’t want a heavily theological approach; he wanted a “user friendly” way to access the mystery of the Eucharist, a way to have the Eucharist speak to his life. This is an adaption of my reply, it has worked for John, I offer it now again, in case it speaks to you too.
“I would suggest four ways to you in focusing on the Eucharist, pick whatever you wish, all or none!
Firstly, the book that seems best to me is ‘With Burning Hearts: A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life’ by Henri Nouwen; having said that any book that speaks to you is the right one.
Secondly I suggest a slow un-pressured daily reading of John’s Gospel chapters thirteen to eighteen, only reading until a word or line speak to you. What you do is claim those words, talk to God and then leave it until the next day, when you take up the reading again. It will nourish the Eucharistic life in you without you doing anything except taking it on board. Even if you never give it another thought, it will be working away in your heart and soul nonetheless. The Word of God you hear and claim, will sit on the altar of your heart and Jesus Himself will lift it up to the Father as He does at Mass.
Thirdly here are a number of “Eucharist Words”. It strikes me as a good sort of practice to put all these words in a box and before you go to Mass pick one out, but don’t look at it until after Communion. Whatever word you get, take it with you for the rest of the week, see how and where you meet it, how it gets enacted in your life, where you see God in it, etc. etc. Here they are:
Christ, Celebrate, Thanksgiving, Nourishment, Covenant, Thirst, Bread,
Jesus, Unity, Passover, Sacrifice, Friendship, Blessing, Word, Promise,
Equality, Many, Love, Person, Real, Memory, Consecration, Gathering,
Ritual, Worship, One, Presence, Transformation, Resurrection, Wine
Faith, Mystery, Chalice, Mercy, Forgiveness, Altar, Receive, Life, Divinity
Completion, Humanity, Generosity, Heart, Silence, Suffering, Joy,
Healing, Broken, Change, Prayer, Salvation, Offering, Life, Victim,
Eternal, Gift, Surrender.
Then the following weekend and every weekend after that, do the same, only in addition take all that has happened around the “Eucharist word” thus far and put it on the paten at the Offertory or the Consecration. For instance you might be given the word “Presence” and during the week you might have been struck by the people who are present in your life, Cecily, the boys. You might be moved to consider what their presence does in your life and what your presence does for them. You might catch sight of God’s Presence in their presence or in a situation that works out for you or doesn’t. This is what you will place on the paten. In a sense you might say, you are joining your Eucharist to God’s Eucharist, which is the ONE Eucharist. Then after Communion you receive from God the next word and so it goes on.
Fourthly make a note of what Eucharistic quotes speak.
For example the now saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta said : “I held the Host with two fingers and thought: How small Jesus made Himself, in order to show us that He doesn’t expect great things of us, but rather little things with great love.”
St. Augustine said “Behold what you are; become what you receive”
There is no end to the Gift of the Eucharist, God truly Present to you and me, His Life……. your life, His offering…. your salvation.