“Only when we recognize the rich network of connections between the Eucharist and our life in the world can the Eucharist be “worldly” and our life “Eucharistic” – Henry J.M. Nouwen, With Burning Hearts: A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life.
This quote from Nouwen’s book is so very true. All things in our lives are connected. There is not one single life event that is isolated to itself, all events influence other events. Everything we experience does and ought to affect everything in our lives. Many life lessons we learn, such as do not touch a hot object because it burns, are learned and applied to life through the experience of something hot burning us. That one experience influences the rest of our lives.
The same thing is true of relationships. As we open our hearts and souls to another we begin to change, we begin to love. This changes our lives forever and no matter if the relationship lasts or ends, the experience of the relationship changes our view on life and the way we think.
These experiences, from the very minute to the very grand, are carried with us always and we can never leave them behind unless we chose to suppress them and not be true to ourselves. To suppress our living experiences causes our true identity to be blurred and our self knowledge is destroyed. Our experiences build upon each other and make us who we are and make us behave in the way we behave, good or bad. So, it is essential for us, that in order to have fulfilling life, we fill ourselves with good experiences and allow those to influence us.
The Eucharist, the true presence of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus (what we Catholics hold as absolute truth), is the fullest experience of the divine. It is in this sacrament that we become one with Christ and with his whole body, each other. Here we are invited into complete union with the divine. Through the word Jesus exhorts us to follow him, to do the will of God and to love God and neighbor. Then in the Sacrament he strengthens us by giving us his grace, shows us his deep, unconditional love and allows us to enter into deep relationship with him. But that is not the end. After we have rested in him and recharged, he sends us out to the whole world so that we might “Proclaim the Gospel with our Lives“. We are sent to take our experience of the divine to the experience of the world setting the world on fire with the living flame of Christ.
Jesus is not limited to the chapel or to our prayers. He is not just a Sunday comfort or obligation. Jesus is not simply a feel good event; he is more than the bread, wine, gold cups and plates and perfect liturgy. He is God. He is everywhere, in everything and everyone, he is in you and me. He is in the poor and the rich, the sick and healthy, sinner and the saint, Christian and non-Christian. He is! He is present in all our daily experience and quietly awaits for us to invite him into all our living moments. However, the Eucharist is the sacrifice he made for us. It is the Eucharist which helps us to be mindful of his presence in our lives, giving us the grace and calling us to follow him, giving up our lives for the sake of the other; to offer ourselves for the world so that through us Christ can be spread to the whole world.
Therefore, the Eucharist, which we receive, should be a moment in which we are recharged with courage and with grace so that we may go out to the world professing the living Christ in our lives. Our daily lives should never be divorced from our profound religious experiences. Rather, each experience should compliment and nourish each other. When we come to Eucharist we bring all our anxieties and troubles to the Lord, but, how often do we bring the Lord to our anxieties and troubles? We allow our thoughts into our time with the Lord, but, how often do we allow the Lord into our thoughts?
Truly the Eucharist and our daily lives are connected and should be mingled into one. It is through this united experience of Eucharist and life that our Eucharistic Lord can be made into a worldly experience bringing all people to become Eucharistic people, a people of thanksgiving and self giving love.
“Go out into the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15) Do this not necessarily with words but through our lives, through our experiences, living as the Franciscan’s are known to say, “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary”.