Pastors Corner

Eucharist Means Thanksgiving

November 18, 2023

The Church derives the word Eucharist, the Sacrament of the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, our Lord, from the Greek word eukharistia, which translates to English as thanksgiving. In this way, when we celebrate Mass, we do so out of thanksgiving! What a beautiful reality! There is so much to glean from that simple understanding of where our word comes from. Words have meaning, and meaning affects us, it draws us in more profoundly. I pray we grow and sustain the desire always to look deeper!

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. – Colossians 3:15 –

I have been asked: “what it is that we (the congregation) should be doing while you are cleaning the sacred vessels after Communion?” I’ll first clarify what I am doing, and then give some suggestions for what you can do while that is being done. The part of the Mass in question is sometimes called the purification. This is the time right after the sharing in Holy Communion when the remaining consecrated hosts are gathered into the ciborium and placed in the tabernacle, and the door is closed, the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion bow to the tabernacle and the Communion hymn stops and either an instrumental piece or silence ensues. What the Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, are doing is seeing to the sacred vessels, not cleaning them per se, but rather purifying them. That is making sure that there are no fragments of the consecrated host, or precious blood, remaining in the sacred vessels. We do this with water. You may find it interesting that the tradition was to ‘step down’ more slowly by using unconsecrated wine first and then rinsing with water. Reverence is essential, but it can get out of balance. The reality at stake here is that a single crumb of the consecrated host, or a drop of precious blood, has the fullness of Christ: body, soul, blood, and divinity. In other words, that crumb, and that drop ARE the fullness of God. Obviously, we don’t merely wash this down the drain. We consume it, we receive into ourselves the body and blood of Christ as He commanded us at the Last Supper. There is a special prayer, a secret prayer as it is sometimes called, prayed by the priest during this action. It may help to reveal the nature of what is taking place:

What has passed our lips as food, O Lord, may we possess in purity of heart, that what has been given to us in time may be our healing for eternity.

So, with that, I return to you, and what you might do during this time of otherwise awkward silence and possible uncertainty. My suggestion is to use this time for your own prayer of thanksgiving. Give thanks to God in your own words or, if you like, copy down the prayers above. Either the passage from Sacred Scripture or the priest’s prayer will do, or another prayer that speaks to you. It doesn’t need to be complicated, and if you are uncertain what you are thankful for, ask God to open your heart to gratitude. After all, you have probably just received the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ – He is now in you. How do I give thanks? When I return to my chair, before the prayer after communion, I am not making you wait. I am praying a Glory Be out of my own desire to give thanks without drawing the Mass out unnecessarily. To be grateful is to be Christian – allow the gratitude of Christ to fill your mind, your heart, your very being!

Two Parishes, One Heart,

Fr. Adam