at the center of Salvation | Faith Friday
I'm excited to introduce a new series here at the CatholicTV blog: Faith Fridays! Each week we'll look at a tenet of Catholic faith, reflect on its meaning and consider ways to deepen the way we live that tenet.
This week at his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis continued his weekly catechesis on the Sacraments by meditating on the centrality of the Holy Eucharist. One of the things that distinguishes Catholic worship from some forms of Protestant worship is that Communion is really the climax of our gathering together (as opposed to the sermon or worship music). While we praise God in song, receive the Lord's teaching in the Holy Scriptures and meditate on our faith through the words of the priest's homily, all of this is actually leading up to our reception of Holy Communion, in which we simultaneously commemorate Jesus' saving sacrifice, give thanks for his continuing presence among us and celebrate an outward sign of our communion with all members of the Body of Christ. Pope Francis observed:
Jesus’ gesture at the Last Supper is the ultimate thanksgiving to the Father for his love, for his mercy. “Thanksgiving” in Greek is expressed as “eucharist”. And that is why the
Sacrament is called the Eucharist: it is the supreme thanksgiving to the Father, who so loved us that he gave us his Son out of love. This is why the term Eucharist includes
the whole of that act, which is the act of God and man together, the act of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
Therefore the Eucharistic Celebration is much more than simple banquet: it is exactly the memorial of Jesus’ Paschal Sacrifice, the mystery at the centre of salvation.
Pope Francis went on to stress how important weekly Mass attendance is for Catholics, not only because the Eucharist "saves us, forgives us, unites us to the Father", but also because in the Eucharist "we feel this belonging to the Church, to the People of God, to the Body of God, to Jesus Christ".
This sense of communion with the Body of Christ is so crucial to our lives as Catholics, and that's why the Catholic Mass is the center of our mission here at CatholicTV. When we celebrate the Eucharist we fortify our communion with not just the people in the pews next to us, but also with every member of Christ's body here on earth. Our hope for almost 60 years has been to give those who are not able to be present at Mass the opportunity to witness this expression of communion and to participate in a spiritual communion with us. Everyone in the world benefits from the act of thanksgiving that takes place at Mass, whether they know it or not, but to be able to turn on your television or computer or Google TV or Roku or phone and see this prayer made on your behalf is a profound opportunity for spiritual communion with the Body of Christ. The result of this spiritual communion is that the home bound and infirm who cannot make it to Mass can be nourished, those people who perhaps would like to attend Daily Mass but can't because of work or school are fortified and those who are estranged from the Church are softened.
This week, make a renewed commitment to attend Mass weekly, or, if you already do this, to more attentively orient yourselves towards thanksgiving during the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Keep someone in mind who cannot be at Mass with you, and meditate on the mystery of your communion with that person. After Mass, send them a text letting them know you thought of them during Mass. Finally, take time to observe your fellow parishioners as they receive communion and meditate on their value as members of the Body of Christ who, like you, will leave church to take the gifts of Mass out to the world.