The Bread of Life, the Chalice of Salvation
In his pastoral letter to the Church at Corinth (in present day Greece), St. Paul reminded the community of faith of the truth that he had taught them, the truth about the Bread of Life, about the Chalice of Salvation. Written in about 54 A.D., St. Paul wrote:
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me .”
(1 Corinthians 11.23-25).
This pastoral letter, written while he lived with the Christian community at Ephesus (in present day Turkey), served as an instrument for the instruction and formation of the early Church and was written fifteen years before the first Gospel was recorded (the Gospel of Mark, c. 70 A.D.). It is the earliest mention of this greatest of gifts: the Risen Lord, though ascended into the mystery of the Father’s Heaven, remains Emmanuel, remains present to us, living with us…in the Sacraments of Faith; and at each Mass at Saint Brigid, you and I participate in this greatest of gifts…as we share communion with the Lord.
At all the Masses this weekend, our pattern of receiving this greatest of gifts will change. This weekend, we will begin a new pattern for the reception of holy Eucharist. Fr. Josh and I will use part of our “homily time” this weekend to describe this new pattern for the reception of the Blessed Sacrament.
WHY DID I INITIATE THIS CHANGE IN PROCEDURE?
I listened to our deacons. I listened to Denise Ballard, for many years now the Coordinator of our Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (and the Ministry of Adoration). I listened to the thousand concerned opinions expressed in our completed Survey of some months ago. And, I watched and observed our parish at prayer. After reflection and prayer, I worked with Fr. Josh, our deacons and Denise Ballard; and am initiating this new pattern for the reception of Holy Communion, for two reasons:
1) This new pattern for receiving Holy Communion will allow you two additional stations for the reception of the cup, the Chalice of Salvation. Receiving the Eucharist under both species is a blessing and affords all of us the ability to follow the Lord’s own words, spoken at each Mass, in persona Christi, by the celebrating priest….take and eat, this is my Body…take and drink, this is my Blood.
2) Having all of the stations in proximity to the Altar of Christ allows all that are receiving the gift ofChrist to remember that Eucharist is both communal meal and participation in His once-for-all Sacrifice, His Passion. This will enhance our liturgical worship, keeping us attentive to its richness, and its depth of meaning. In addition, having all of the stations in the front of the Nave of the church might help in correcting a habit of some of our parishioners who remain in the Narthex for the entirety of the liturgy, even when seats are available in the Nave. At Saint Brigid, we have the enviable problem of crowded liturgies, especially at 9 and 10:45 AM. Even when most are cooperatively sitting close together in the pews like a family, many others have to stand around the perimeter of the Nave during the liturgy. Still, my hope in eliminating the “rear of the Nave – Narthex stations”…is that all of our people will be with us in the Nave…the place designed for liturgical worship.
And so, we begin with this new way of receiving the greatest of gifts. I’ll offer this simple suggestion: even ifyou are frustrated with change, let’s all focus on the gift given…and deal with the changed pattern as we deal with all change…a day at a time.