The Holy Spirit forms us as we worship – we can see it most clearly when we celebrate the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is the Church as it should be: a community of faith, in which different gifts and ministries are exercised. The priest doesn’t have to do every task. But, on behalf of the bishop, the priest presides over an array of ministries, letting other people step forward. The priest does not read all the Scriptures; lead the intercessions; lead the music…others fulfill these ministries. But the priest is the focus of unity; holding the celebration together…absolving, consecrating, representing the people to God in the act of Thanksgiving; and in some way, repesents Christ to the people; feeding them, blessing them. The Priest, as Eucharistic President, is an overseer in love of the many ministries of the Christian community.
There are some moments in the Eucharist which are particularly special: there’s the Proclamation of the Gospel: the priest is not just another reader: he is proclaiming the Word of Life: all stand to hear the message of their salvation.
Intercession: the priest should introduce and conclude them. The priest calls God’s people to listen both to God, and to the needs of the World; This is the moment in the Eucharist where we are in touch with the compassionate heart of God, in a world that needs healing.
Offertory: the priest takes the people’s bread, “which earth has given and human hands have made” to the Holy Table, and accepts the chalice which holds “wine to gladden the human heart” (Ps. 104:15) but it also represents the cup of suffering (Mark 14:36). The drama of the Eucharist is at the Table – LOOK UP – JOIN IN! Put down your leaflets. You don’t go to the Theatre and take a copy of the Play to read! This is The Moment. You are Here – so is He!
Communion: at the Communion, we experience the presence of Christ, in some way. The Eucharist celebrates “the Word made flesh”; strengthening us to then go out into God’s world. St. John Chrysostom reminds us ‘The One who said: “This is my body” also said: “You saw me hungry and you gave me no food”, and “whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me…” The Eucharist is not just another service. Jesus commanded us ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’ So we obey His command. And for century after century, in every continent and country, the Eucharist has been offered, for every human need from infancy to Old Age – and after it! People have found nothing better to do for kings at their coronation, and for criminals at their scaffold.
For armies in triumph, or a bride and groom in a little country church; for school children sitting an examination, or for Columbus setting out for America, for the relief of famine, on the beach at Dunkirk; secretly, for an imprisoned Bishop in a Russian labour camp, or as today in Ireland, to remember St Patrick or other saints.
Best of all, week by week, on a hundred thousand successive Sundays, faithfully, in churches like ours – The Eucharist has been celebrated and forms us into God’s Holy People. That’s why we should always prepare ourselves beforehand, by prayer and confession, regarding Paul’s warning not to eat or drink unworthily – and then thank God afterwards – always remember your please and thank yous! – and never treat it informally or casually, as if it were our right to receive it, rather than our duty. The Eucharist, The Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, The Mass – is the Church Visible and the Church Invisible – when with Angels, Archangels, and all the Saints we do what God made us to do : Worship Him! AMEN