Welcome to The Society of Saint John the Evangelist

17. The Eucharist

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Read by Br. David Vryhof

Read by Br. David Vryhof

Our worship of God finds its fullest expression in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.  It is the offering through which we return thanks for all that God has given us in creation, and in our redemption through the pouring out of Christ’s life-blood on the cross.  In this sacrifice of bread and wine all that we do and are is joined by the Holy Spirit to the eternal offering of Christ on behalf of the world.  It is the meal which intensifies our union with Christ, draws us together as a community, and nourishes us with the grace needed for our transformation and our mission.

It is the mystery through which we are caught up into the communion of saints on earth and in heaven, the mystical Body of Christ.  It is the gift through which we experience a foretaste of the life to come.

The celebration of the Eucharist on the first day of the week is our central act of worship as members of the people of God.  Our seeking to abide in Christ, and to feed on him constantly as our daily bread, moves us to celebrate the Eucharist also on other days of the week.  Although it is not our custom to offer the Eucharist on our day of rest, and there may be another day in the week at which participation is voluntary, the community will normally celebrate the Eucharist together day by day.  Reservation of the sacramental gifts enables the community not only to communicate the sick, but also to have a sign of Christ’s abiding presence in our midst.

John the Evangelist alludes to a profound dimension of the mystery of the Eucharist in the account of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples at the Last Supper.  The Eucharist is a means for Christ to serve us and to give us the love whereby we can serve and love one another.  Our celebra­tions of the Eucharist are occasions of spiritual hospitality, mutual service and witness.  Eucharistic hospitality is an important ministry to all those to whom we open our worship.  We should be sensi­tive to their needs and order the liturgy in a welcoming way that enables them to participate with us.  Through our celebrations we bear witness to our faith in the presence of the risen Christ in the living word of Scripture and preaching, in the assembled body, and in the sacramental Body and Blood of Communion.  Our eucharistic worship is a primary expression of our mission because it has the power to draw people into a living encounter with Christ, the living bread and true healer.

The frequent offering of the Eucharist is a privilege but it also brings challenges.  We need to work together to keep on revitalizing our eucharistic worship so that it does not become a repeti­tive routine.  Creative variations in our liturgies are important.  Frequent communion is a challenge to us also as individuals.  It is not possible for us to participate in the liturgy with intense devotion and awareness every time.  Often we must accept being borne along by the corporate devotion of the assembly, remembering that the power of the sacrament is not dependent on our mental clarity or warmth of feeling.  However each one of us will need to discover for himself ways of constantly renewing through meditation his self-offering and receptivity, so that we can come to Communion often “with that tender love which is due to Him with whom we are so mysteriously united,” as Father Benson urged us.

1 Comment

  1. Polly Henninger on March 14, 2009 at 00:17

    The Eucharist nourishes me with the grace that I need for transformation and mission; it brings me so much closer to Christ. It amazes me how important this is to me given I was raised without it (Quaker). When I am in Cambridge in July, I attend the eucharistic worship four or five days a week. It is as though I am filling up for the months of the year when I have Eucharist once a week. I am grateful to the Brothers for offering Eucharist daily. They may not alway feel intense devotion but they surely create it by their faithful offering of the communal, holy meal.

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