From Our Parishioner - Leilani Zart As a child, I attended Catholic school for grades K-6. My teachers handled sacramental preparation for us at school while my parents separately attended classes in the evenings, but I have no recollection of discussing sacramental preparation with my parents as a young child. At that young age, I had a vague idea at best as to the importance and significance of the sacraments. It wasn’t until years later that I truly began to comprehend the significance of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. It is in receiving the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that we give thanks and are reminded of Christ’s sacrifice – his death to save us from sin. In celebrating the Eucharist at Mass each week, we collectively become like the apostles, witnesses to God’s saving grace.
God has given us this amazing gift. One, that as a parent, I was excited to share with my son, but uncertain about the path forward. This past year, my son underwent sacramental preparation for First Reconciliation and the Holy Eucharist - a continuation of his faith journey in the commitment we made by his Baptism. While I had an understanding of the significance of these sacraments, explaining them in terms he could understand was a challenge and I felt ill equipped to help him. Just as, according to the Igbo and Yoruba Proverb, “It takes a whole village to raise a child,” so to it takes a whole faith community to nurture the seeds of faith in children. Generations of Faith and the sacramental preparation classes, in which I participated with my son, provided a clear path moving forward that provided a framework for conversation and reflection that began during class and continued at home. It provided him with an avenue to express excitement and nervousness about what to expect, and ask questions while reminding me, as a parent, that having the support of the faith community is a wonderful and precious gift as well. With Sincerest Thanks, Leilani Zart
The Sacraments in Scripture… Eucharist
Where do you start and stop with Scriptural references about the Eucharist?
The Last Supper passages in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22 all give us the structure and historical connection. In his first Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul confirms that the community celebrated the Eucharist as the defining act of the community. St. Paul says, “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes (1 Cor. 11:23-26). What I wanted to reflect upon is where we do not find Jesus’ Eucharistic words, that is, in the Gospel of John. At the Last Supper, John highlights Jesus’ action of washing feet (John 13:1-15). In that passage, we garner the same sense from Jesus as he spoke of in other passages: “I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (13:15). We are called to imitate what Jesus did.
The chapter of John that causes the most reflection is the sixth chapter. In his “bread of life” discourse, Jesus says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me (John 6:56-57). Commentators, who reject the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, will often say Jesus was speaking in hyperbole and we are not supposed to take his words literally.
The only problem with this explanation is Jesus’ following words and actions. Many of his disciples said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” (John 6:60). Jesus did not back down or diminish his teaching. As a result of this, many of Jesus’ disciples stopped following Jesus and went back to their former ways of life (John 6:66) and Jesus did not stop them. Further, Jesus asks the remaining disciples if they wanted to leave as well. St. Peter responded, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69).
While it lacks the specific historical and structural description, the Gospel of John gives us the meaning of the Eucharist through both the foot-washing of Chapter 13 and the Real Presence of Chapter 6. From there, we must ask ourselves what that means for us as disciples of Christ and what are we called to do because of it? Fr. David Schatz