To the Curious, Doubting, Lukewarm, or Unbelieving Catholic Laity,
When we attend Mass, we are entering a holy place in which a miracle takes place. Not only are we present when the basic elements of bread and wine are transubstantiated to the body and blood of Christ, but those at Mass are transported in a mystical way to a heavenly banquet. Though the reception of communion happens a few prayers after the Canon is complete, it is vital from a theological and catechetical perspective. With Christ present with his church, the Bridegroom has come for His bride.
After commingling of the body and blood the Priest tells those present to behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. This is the praise of the angels and those in Heaven as seen in Revelation 19. In Revelation 19:9 and Angel told St. John. “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (NRSV).
At this point in Mass the priest is passing on this wedding announcement from Heaven. Like a groom at a wedding, our Lord calls to us and wants to have an intimate relationship with his bride. He does this by giving himself, his own body and blood, as a way to show his eternal commitment to us. Like a bride we process down towards our groom to be united with him.
In the Eucharist we are united with Christ not only spiritually, but physically. Being united with the flesh of Christ is the most personal thing we will be able to experience (Augustine 469).
The Old Testament book of Song of Songs has very vivid imagery between a man and wife symbolizes the love that Christ has for His church. One passage that is particularly relevant to the Wedding Supper of the lamb is Song of Songs 1:2 which states, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” (NRSV)! This is exactly what St. Ambrose says happens during the reception of the Eucharist (Ambrose 354).
The second person of the blessed Trinity has forgiven us of our sin and unites himself with us with his very body. The Wedding Supper of the Lamb is a taste of the heavenly worship that we will experience in eternity and unites us with the church suffering and church triumphant in heavenly praise.
Next time you are at Mass take that extra moment to thank Christ for the very gift of himself. Take the time to realize that we are worshiping the King of the universe alongside those who have gone before us in the faith.
There is much more happening at Mass than meets the eye. It is a place where a true miracle happens, ordinary bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. Let us not merely go through the notions, but truly understand what is happening.
Do you want to transform the church? It begins with understanding what is happening at Mass and who we are receiving in the Holy Eucharist. I leave you with the following quote from St. Ambrose for further meditation:
Perhaps you will say “I see something else, how is it that you assert that I receive the body of Christ?”
And this is the point that remains for us to prove. What evidence shall we make use of? Let us prove that this is not what nature made, but what the blessing consecrated, and the power of blessing is greater than that of nature, because by blessing nature itself is changed.
God bless you all!
Your brother in Christ,
About our guest blogger:
William is a convert to the Catholic faith. Before entering the church he was ordained as a Baptist and Lutheran and earned a Master of Divinity from Liberty Theological Seminary. William lives with his wife and four children in Tucson, AZ and teaches religious education for children and adults. Check out his website/blog at williamhemsworth.com for more great and informative Catholic content!
Augustine of Hippo. “Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John.” St. Augustin: Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homilies on the First Epistle of John, Soliloquies. Ed. Philip Schaff. Trans. H. Browne and Joseph H. Myers. Vol. 7. New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888. Print. A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series.
Ambrose of Milan. “Two Books Concerning Repentance.” St. Ambrose: Select Works and Letters. Ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Trans. H. de Romestin, E. de Romestin, and H. T. F. Duckworth. Vol. 10. New York: Christian Literature Company, 1896. Print. A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series.