Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Everyday Grace: Being bread, blessed and broken
by Mary Cronk Farrell
(From the Aug. 2, 2001 edition of the Inland Register)
When my son Dylan received his first Eucharist we were privileged to bake the Communion bread for the celebration. When the priest held it up during the Eucharistic prayer everybody in church could see the large, flat, brown loaf. A little friend of Dylanís attended who was not especially familiar with the Mass. Afterward his mother asked him if he enjoyed it.
That line still gets a laugh at our house, though itís been repeated many times. The juxtaposition of a cookie with the Eucharist seems startling. And yet, itís easy to slip into the comfortable habit of seeing the Body and Blood of Christ as something of a treat. Most of us are deeply aware of the significance of Communion. But we also take Eucharist with some of the same feelings of enjoying a delicious dessert ó our hunger is satisfied, we feel special, warm, grateful, loved, and we may not want to share.
Itís important to have a personal experience and enjoyment of the Sacred. Jesus gave his body to nurture and sustain us. But he also invites us to much, much more.
The breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup summon us to join in the very life of Jesus. We stand in wonder and worship of our Savior, but we also need to roll up our sleeves and participate in Christís concern for people of poverty, for those without a voice and those outcast from society. Weíre asked to be not only blessed by Eucharist, but broken as well, so as to join in the Resurrection. Through the example of Jesusí life on earth we learn the cost of true love, not giving when itís easy, convenient or we have extra, but giving until all have what they need.
What does this mean in terms of everyday family life?
You are probably living Eucharist in many ways already. Bringing dinner to a sick friend, staying up all night with a cranky child, honoring the needs of your toddlers at the dinner table when youíd rather be having adult conversation with your spouse. When you love unselfishly, you participate in Christís saving mission, you live Eucharistically. But itís also important to stretch a bit, not get too comfortable eating your cookie.
One year I struggled with how we might be more generous with the bounty of Godís blessings to our family. It was easy enough to write a check, but I wanted to do more. Through discussion with the children we decided to make one night a week ďbread and broth night.Ē By limiting ourselves to eating just bread and broth for dinner, we hoped to share somewhat in the situation of those less fortunate. With our refrigerator and our well-stocked pantry, we couldnít really understand what itís like not to have enough to eat. But we hoped that even this small effort of solidarity with the poor would open our minds and hearts to Godís grace, and would lead us to give of ourselves in ever more meaningful ways.
We soon tired of broth, and even good homemade bread, but we continued this simple meal tradition through Easter. We gained more of a sense of gratitude for the many food choices we have, and I hope we grew in compassion for the poor. This is the very essence of the Eucharist: thanksgiving to God and solidarity with a suffering world.
Take stock of your blessings in light of Eucharist. Try these ideas or something similar to stretch gratitude and compassion in your family. We truly receive a treat when we gather at the Eucharistic table, but we also experience the power to be Christís hands and heart in the world, to be bread, blessed and broken for others.
(Mary Farrell is a Spokane free-lance journalist and childrenís writer.)
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