Eucharist in 30 minutes
by Jenna Legg
Soon I am speaking at a local parish to parents of children receiving their first communion. In some sense, this has nothing (and everything) to do with being a vocation minister. Apparently my degree in theology and the fact that I have children was reason enough to be invited.
When I agreed to this 30-minute talk about a month ago, I assumed it would be fairly straightforward. I've taught the sacraments to high school students, I've spoken to parents and even presented for parishes. But as I sit down to write some brief notes, I'm overwhelmed. How do I cover the Eucharist in 30 minutes? Do I speak about the theology of mystery and transubstantiation, do I share spirituality and meaning of the Precious Blood, or do I use my personal experience about what the Eucharist means to me?
Addressing just one of the above topics would take more than 30 minutes. And, honestly, I'm not sure 2nd graders will be worried about that information. They've gone through their own sacramental preparation and hopefully been attending Mass regularly. Their biggest concern will be what they have to wear, where they have to sit and what if they drop the Eucharistic Bread. So, I'm still left with the question - God, what do you want me to say to their parents?
I know one point I do want to make and that is, the Eucharist is a gift. A sacrificial gift of love, given over and over from a God who deeply knows us, loves us and wants what is best for us. How we receive the Eucharist is how we receive God as gift to us. Too often, I take this gift for granted. I work with the Sisters who have daily opportunities for Mass and prayer and I have a variety of options nearby for Sunday Mass and other sacramental celebrations. Many days, I get distracted with my children's behavior or my to-do list that I forget about the God-gift presented to me in the Eucharist.
So how can someone who doesn't always take the time to recognize the gift of Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist speak to other parents about doing so? God gives us yet another gift -- reconciliation. When we do mess up, when we fall short, we have the opportunity to return to God and like the father of the prodigal son, he will run out to greet us. The Eucharist itself is mode of reconciliation, of reunification with the Beloved.
Please pray for me as I speak to the parents this week. I know I'm not the perfect speaker, that I fall short. But perhaps my shortcomings can inspire others to try again as well. Pray that the Holy Spirit guides my words and allows the parents to hear the beauty of the Sacrament.