Thursday, June 24, 2010

At the Crossroads: The Eucharist in Ordinary Time

By Father Benjamin Alforque, M.S.C., V.F.
Parochial Vicar, St. Catherine of Alexandria, Riverside

As schools close for the summer, and we take our vacation break, let us remind ourselves of God’s constant invitation to continue receiving the Eucharist. There is no vacation in our celebration of the Lord’s faithful love and enduring self-giving in the Eucharist.

What is Ordinary Time, in the Church’s Liturgical Calendar? “Apart from the seasons having their own distinctive character, thirty-three or thirty-four weeks remain in the yearly cycle that do not celebrate a particular element of the mystery of Christ. Rather, especially on Sundays, these weeks are devoted to the mystery of Christ in its entirety. This period is known as Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time begins on Monday after the Sunday following January 6 and continues until the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday inclusive. It begins again on the Monday after Pentecost and ends before evening Prayer I of the First Sunday of Advent.

The celebration of the Liturgical Year possesses a distinct sacramental force and efficacy because Christ himself in his mysteries and in the memorials of his saints, especially of his Mother, continues his mission of infinite mercy. Therefore his faithful people not only recall and contemplate the mysteries of redemption but also lay hold of them, enter into communion with them, and live by them.” (Ceremonial of Bishops).

In the weeks after Pentecost, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, three Solemnities follow one after another: the feasts of the Holy Trinity, of the Body and Blood of Christ and of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Feast of the Holy Trinity (Trinity Sunday) celebrates the full self-revelation of God as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in the communion of One Life and One Love. This self-revelation of God is also a revelation of the identity of our being human: with the Spirit in our hearts, by the Redemption of the Son, we are all called to partake in the Divinity of God, in the Communion of One Life and One Love. Thus we are truly, first and foremost, Citizens of Heaven, and, only secondarily and temporarily besides, citizens of any nation here on earth!

The Feast of the Most Holy Body and Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ celebrates our daily sustenance in our pilgrimage towards the fulfillment of our real identity as children of the Living God. “When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ’s Passover, and it is made present: the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the cross remains ever present…As often as (it) is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1364).

Indeed, on vacation time, ordinary time, we need the Eucharist even more.

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