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The gift of bread, broken and shared among friends

Earlier this week, we sat around our kitchen table as a family and broke the unleavened bread made by Chiara’s faith formation teacher as a Holy Week exercise and gift. As we passed the bread around, we talked about Passover and Jesus and the Last Supper and Eucharist, all the while thinking about how fitting it was that we were doing this as our Jewish neighbors were celebrating their own Passover meal in the house next door. Read more

An unchanging message: Drive-by lessons in faith

Here’s my post from OSV Daily Take today:

I’m not one for pithy quotes posted on big signs outside churches. I typically find them distracting at best or silly and inane at worst. But when I drove by the local Reform church in my town yesterday, the posted comment hit home:

“You don’t change the message; the message changes you.”

I found myself giving a little “Amen!” as I turned onto a side street. Sure this sign referred to the general Christian message, but I think it applies even more appropriately to the Catholic message.

We live in a world where everyone tries to change with the times, and too often society thinks the Church should follow suit. We should be more flexible and fluid, more “modern” and adaptive, we hear from sources of every stripe, Catholic and not. And still we attempt to stay true to the message, even when the message is as counter-cultural as it gets, from abortion and embryonic stem cell research to capital punishment and war.

Why don’t we just change the message and take the heat off ? Because our Church knows — we know — precisely what the signage tried to convey in one line. If we keep moving the goal posts, changing the message to suit the times, we don’t move closer to the Kingdom or according to Jesus’ teaching. We move according to our own needs and desires. But, if we allow the message to sink in and to become part of us, even when it’s not easy to accept or practice, slowly but surely the message will, in fact, change us.

In her beautiful book “One Thousand Gifts,” writer Ann Voskamp writes about discovering the fact that living the Christian message means being grateful — counting our blessings — even when the “blessings” are painful or difficult experiences that we don’t want in our lives and can’t understand. That’s some hard teaching, but it’s at the heart of this idea that we can’t change the message. The message is what it is, and it will change us if we let it.

Ann writes:

“Thanksgiving — giving thanks in everything — prepares the way that God might show us His fullest salvation in Christ.

“The act of sacrificing thank offerings to God — even for the bread and cup of cost, for cancer and crucifixion — this prepares the way for God to show us His fullest salvation from bitter, angry, resentful lives and from all sin that estranges us from Him. At the Eucharist, Christ breaks His heart to heal ours — Christ, the complete accomplishment of our salvation. And the miracle of eucharisteo never ends: thanksgiving is what precedes the miracle of that salvation being fully worked out in our lives.”

So the message doesn’t change. The message can’t change. Not if we hope to be changed by it, to be made new in Christ. His message must be our message.

That’s a pretty powerful faith lesson for a little church sign on a hot May morning. I hope I remember it, not only in good times but in the bad times that are an inevitable part of life. Thanksgiving, Eucharist — an unchanging, life-changing message.

Holy Thursday: Anything But Normal

Today I’m guest blogging over at Sarah Reinhard’s blog, I’ll start you here…

By Mary DeTurris Poust

My teenage son came home from school last week and reported that he took his younger Catholic school “buddy” across the street to our parish church to walk him through the Stations of the Cross. After they were done and were getting ready to leave the church, Noah had a strong desire to stay – and not just because he likes missing class. It was something he had never felt before, he said, something comforting that made him want to kneel down in the midday silence.

I know that feeling. I’ve been in our church when it’s semi-dark and completely empty. It feels deeply spiritual and powerfully peaceful. It feels like home.

It’s really not surprising that it would feel that way. After all, ours is a faith that centers on a shared meal, a spiritual version of the kitchen table, a sense of home even among strangers, even in a foreign land, wherever Jesus is present in the tabernacle.

Holy Thursday drives that point home for me. I can easily allow myself to slip back in time and imagine Jesus and the Apostles gathered in the home of a friend…Continue reading HERE.

Missed opportunity on Corpus Christi

I’m sure the visiting priest who celebrated Mass at our parish this morning had the best of intentions when he got up to speak, but his homily on the Eucharist probably served only to confuse most Mass-goers. I, on the other hand, decided to bypass confused and went straight to annoyed.

He tried to explain the meaning of the Eucharist by comparing it to a wedding ring. Yes, that’s right, a ring. He said that, like the Eucharist, a simple ring is changed in the eyes of a married couple through their vows, and each spouse’s ring contains the “real presence” of the other. So does that make my wedding ring on par with Eucharist? Does that mean that Eucharist is only Eucharist for those who believe and, if that’s the case, there could be no such thing as desecration because, according to this explanation, the meaning of the thing is changed only for the people it affects directly and who believe in it.
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