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Father Muench Says...

The Eucharist is about gratitude

July 3, 2019

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

On the day I was ordained a priest, so many things about my life changed completely. I received many gifts through the Holy Spirit. I was asked to accept many responsibilities as a priest in the Catholic Church. As a priest, many activities became part of my life – preaching, teaching, counseling and writing, visiting the sick and dying, celebrating the sacraments of the Church.

Beyond this, the greatest gift and opportunity was to daily celebrate the Holy Mass. More important than all the activities, what was always the most important was the moment when I celebrate the Mass.

I do not remember every Mass I have celebrated. I do believe they were all sacred. There are some I do remember. I once concelebrated a Papal Mass, which means joining the Pope at the altar and assisting in distributing Holy Communion. That day there were nearly 90,000 people in St. Peter’s Square.

I remember the Mass I celebrated on the celebration of my 50th Anniversary as a priest. St. Mary’s was filled with parishioners, my family and so many friends from past assignments. It was a special day. In addition, I can remember many funeral Masses, especially of family and friends.

I must mention one other Mass. My friend, an experienced hiker, Father Philip Allen, invited me to accompany him on a week along a piece of the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire. One day, as we hiked along, the forest opened right up before us, and I remember being able to see all the way down the sunny valley.

Father Allen suggested that we take the time to celebrate Mass right there on the trail. It was a very sacred and special moment – two priests, two friends uniting ourselves with the Lord as we celebrated Mass together.

I think of these things today since recently the Church celebrated the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. This is an important moment in the church year to celebrate the precious sacrament of our faith as Catholics, the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Traditionally, this feast and procession is called in Latin, Corpus Christi.

This feast day is about gratitude. The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is about gratitude. Each and every Mass celebrated every day in every part of the world is about gratitude.

As Catholics, this Blessed Sacrament is central to all that we are. Jesus instituted this Blessed Sacrament at the Last Supper. Since then, whenever we, Catholics, join in prayer, we do it best by celebrating the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, as we celebrate our gratitude to the Lord.

The very word Eucharist means “thank you.” For us, our best gratitude is the very person of Our Lord Jesus, who we believe in faith is truly present in this Blessed Sacrament, Body and Blood. Each time we receive Holy Communion, we are united with Our Lord Jesus in a real and special way.

In the Offertory of the Mass, I want to remind you that we are asked to spiritually place our intentions, our cares and concerns, our hopes and dreams on the altar of sacrifice, as well as all those we pray for at that Mass.
Those people who are chosen to bring the bread and wine to the altar are very special people. For they bring us all forward, with our intentions to be placed on the altar of sacrifice. As the Mass continues, I and all other priests as ordained ministers of the Lord are allowed to say the very words of Jesus to consecrate the bread and the wine and all the cares and concerns, the hopes and dreams that each one of us has placed on the altar. So that we may receive them back in Holy Communion, now blessed and consecrated by the Lord Jesus.

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