Search Rhythm & Respiration blog

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sacrament - Part three

I have been reflecting on the Last Supper, and what 'do this in memory of me' means to those within traditions of Christianity that have Sacramental tradition and those that do not. I am not seeking to drag up arguments about transubstantiation, although these views drive the way we practice our faith and how we 'do this in memory of me.' What I am seeking to do in these two blogs is simply to offer my heart's reflection during the past week. 
_________________________________________________



In my third reflection on the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, I am considering a favorite theme of mine—that is, I should say, a long-standing desire to bring this into my life from the heart of my being: the sacrament to the present moment. To those unfamiliar with this contemplative path, the sacrament of the present moment was taught by Rev Jean Pierre de Caussade in the late 17th century. To Rev de Caussade, it is only in the present moment that we have the precious ability to engage with the reality of eternity. Our past imagination and future concerns are a part of our mortal mind; eternity is, it does not have a past or future. Therefore, we are privileged to meet with the Eternal, engage with God and the heavenly hosts in our indivisible present. The ‘flipside’ of this understanding, is that instead of railing against the interruptions, tensions, and questions of our day, to truly engage with God, we must abandon ourselves to live in these present contentions of our world in our present moment: “the duties of each moment are the shadows beneath which hides the divine operation” (de Caussade).
 The following is a reflection from the Irish Jesuits who keep the site, Sacred Space (http://sacredspace.ie):
One conviction is central to Christian prayer: that God is active in it. We turn to meditation not so much as an exercise in self-improvement, as an opening ourselves to our heavenly father who is waiting for us. Three hundred years ago de Caussade wrote of the Sacrament of the Present Moment. It is only in the Now that we have access to God. Looking forward or back exercises the mind and imagination, but that distracts us from the true meeting of prayer, with the Lord who is present in my inmost soul. ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ (Psalm 46). There is a stage in prayer where we go beyond words and thoughts: the hard bit is to stop thinking. A mystic is quoted as hearing from God, ‘I will not have thy thoughts instead of thee.’ As we grow older, prayer becomes less wordy, less brainy, more like the peasant whom the CurĂ© of Ars used to see in his church, ‘I look at the good God and the good God looks at me.’
I began to wonder how the ‘sacrament of the present moment’ connects with the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper … I began to think of what is happening in the Mass, and began to realize that the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, is itself a moment of engagement, of meeting with Christ and his Body, suspended in time AND eternity. Thomas Howard, in his book, If your mind wanders at mass, writes of this, saying:
This is the famous ‘communion of the saints’ on which we count so earnestly when we pray. The Church teaches that, in a mystery, the veil hanging between time and eternity is drawn back, as it were, in the liturgy, and that we really are one worshiping body ‘with angels and archangels, and the whole company of heaven’ (Preface for Epiphany)  (p. 38).
Let the Mystery and the Moment begin!


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sacrament - Part two

I have been reflecting on the Last Supper, and what 'do this in memory of me' means to those within traditions of Christianity that have Sacramental tradition and those that do not. I am not seeking to drag up arguments about transubstantiation, although these views drive the way we practice our faith and how we 'do this in memory of me.' What I am seeking to do in these two blogs is simply to offer my heart's reflection during the past week. 

__________________________________________________



Packaged jesus


Somehow in the craziness of our drive-through,
instant potatoes, texting world,
we have succumbed to the packaged jesus.
There he is: minimalist, tidy, sterile elements
separated by non-permeable membranes.
Fortune cookie for a Christian economy;
treasure to be discovered a century from now.
Can you see them? Bright shiny archeology students
 digging,
 discovering,
 deciphering,
 decoding the message in jetted ink within the faded tiny circle of grain:
This is my body which is broken for you,
Take, eat: do this in remembrance of me.
In our world, no one is troubled this morning—
No rushing of buying or baking of loaves,
No wine to uncork, pour out to the masses,
No hand to heaven blessing of elements
No eye-to-eye lock and the words, ‘… for YOU,’ host pressed firmly on the palm.

Yet, somewhere, with head-coverings (hard hats or hair nets),
a factory of workers, seven days a week, file in to take their places beside rows of machinery:
 cooking, cutting, stamping, printing, wrapping, shipping, marketing …

Somewhere there stands a row of white coats doing quality control on the packaged jesus’ riding past on the conveyer belt before them.
For this is what we pay for, what we value:
convenience, cost-effectiveness, sterility, and invisibility of effort.

Today, there are no lines of sorry sheep stretching down our aisle,
seeking what-they-do-not-know.
No Mystery, this packaged jesus,
except, perhaps,
where they hid the list of ingredients,
and the expiry date.

Sacrament - Part one

I have been reflecting on the Last Supper, and what 'do this in memory of me' means to those within traditions of Christianity that have Sacramental tradition and those that do not. I am not seeking to drag up arguments about transubstantiation, although these views drive the way we practice our faith and how we 'do this in memory of me.' What I am seeking to do in these two blogs is simply to offer my heart's reflection during the past week. 

____________________________________________

Body and Blood


Body and blood.
They speak of life rough-hewn, raw.
An old West etching of caskets:
side by side by side, eyes penny-ed shut.
There is no room to duck these silent images of black and white death.

Body and blood.
A strange legacy to leave these small soldiers of a new world order
organically grown from the stillness of star and stable.
Eternity sliding beams of sterile light through golden straw?
No, instead birth is chosen.
Blood and water mix,
there is a wrestling of flesh and spirit,
lungs stretch, aching to learn the lesson of air and earth-life,
there is the sting of night, the shock of wet,
and the omnipresent scent of sorrow.

Perhaps that is why the kindness of bread and wine is what he gave
to this raggle taggle group of guardians. See them
reeling at the thought of treachery amongst them.
Side bars of conversation cease,
now they are mouthing, tasting,  slumped in puzzled wonder
at this solemn elevation of bread and wine.
They do not feel the roll and pitch underfoot;
like the Sea of Galilee, their world rocks, quakes, boils.
Body and blood they are to see prolonged.
No awe-full act of birth awaits them,
instead, a slow separation of flesh and spirit.

But, that day, he gave them bread and wine.
Staff of life and heartening cheer—Remember Me:
from the fields of parables they traveled, imbibed Him, embedded that living Word,
bruising grapes under their sandals,
the crush of grain between the Master’s hands,
they walked and talked and tasted.

Bread and wine. An echo through ages,
eons of understanding that this is essential essence of earth-living.
Now, eternity-infused;
there is an awe of things at once so simple (essence) and profound (eternal).

In Memory of Me.
This kingdom of bread and wine;
eternity-infused, transformed,
transforming body and blood.

____________________________________________________