Do we celebrate sacrifice?

In previous blog posts, I’ve reflected on paradoxes and how they often frame our everyday lives more than we realize. On the outside they are dismissed as philosophical posturing or empty intellectual puzzles. Just last week I attended our diocesan administrator retreat where we examined our annual theme “One Body in Christ,” by looking at the Eucharist as an invitation for us to celebrate communion as a group rather than individual experience. It gave me pause to reflect on how the Lenten season is more than a time to think about pairing down habits or sacrificing something we crave. It’s about reimagining and renewing our commitment as a community to seeing the grace in all we are, have, and do.

All is gift…

Eucharist literally means “thanksgiving” and it is a moment, a celebration of community that has most recently been sponsored by the U.S. Bishops in what has been called the National Eucharistic Revival. The reason is quite simple. Many Catholics do not see the Eucharist as the true presence of Christ in the bread and wine; they simply regard it as a ritual or passing tradition. While the philosophical details of accidents and substances (which can be traced back to the writings of Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle) are important concepts to be familiar with, the reality of being together with one another to celebrate the living body and blood of Jesus is in many ways the most social action we do as human beings: breaking bread in celebration of and with one another.

All is gift…

The Church recognizes this celebratory nature of the Eucharist in naming the fourth Sunday of Lent “Lateare Sunday,” calling Catholics to rejoice. It is not called penitential, sorrowful, sacrificial, or miserable even! Sacrifice is the means to a deeper understanding of ourselves, one another, and the world around us. It was never intended to be an ends unto itself. Living our lives like “sackcloth and ashes” during Lent only promotes the misguided belief that self-denial is the next step to sainthood. Instead, we should be reflective about what we can rejoice in because we sacrifice.

All is gift…

The next time you participate in the liturgy, renew your senses to be more mindful of those around you, the greetings and smiles, the restlessness of children and cries of babies, and the call to worship that reminds us that the ultimate sacrifice is simultaneously the ultimate gift. It transcends any ritual or tradition we can imagine because it is the recognition of the divine in ourselves and one another. What a gift that is!

It’s a Great Day to be a Bulldog!

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