Last week I invited everyone to reflect on hungers we may bring with us as we come to Mass. Then, reflect and give thanks for the ways the Lord can satisfy each hunger. Today, let’s shift focus. Let’s reflect on how we respond to what the Lord offers. But let’s consider an aspect of being Catholic, of believing and belonging in a sacramental church that we may take for granted, or even overlook. At the heart, being a sacramental church is our recognition that faith involves every part of us, body, mind and spirit. That being so, God loves us, not just through the Bible, preaching and teaching, but in concrete, physical ways. It isn’t the ‘idea’ of being baptized that baptizes us into Christ’s life, death and resurrection. It is coming to the water, praying, and our body being immersed in water, or having water poured over us. First Eucharist is all about approaching the altar for the first time as someone called to share the Body and Blood of Christ; realizing that it is in the eating of the bread and drinking the wine that we experience a very special communion with the Lord. When we are called home to the Lord, a key part of sacramental grace flows from our loved ones bringing our body to the church, clothing it in a white garment, this time the funeral pall, bringing us to the altar, celebrating Eucharist, incensing the casket, and then processing with it to our resting place. The very act of bringing an infant to church, making the sign of the cross on his or her forehead, carrying the child to the font – these are physical responses to God’s love in sending this precious child. The church responds with water, with Chrism, with lighted candle; physical, concrete signs of sacramental grace. Our celebration of Mass is filled with physical responses, praying with our bodies, or embodied prayer, from the moment we dip our hand in a font and bless ourselves with Holy Water. Bowing to the altar, signing ourselves with the cross as we begin, standing to greet the Gospel, then signing ourselves again. We pray that the Lord bless our minds and hearts, that we might proclaim the Gospel with our lips, or, that we understand, speak, and take to heart the Gospel – through the gesture we pray with our bodies. Bringing up the gifts of bread and wine - an embodied prayer: Lord, take the little we have, as you took the meager loaves and fish the little boy had, and through your blessing, feed us all with the bread of life. We kneel, praying in reverence, respect and humility. We stand, perhaps even join hands for the Lord’s Prayer. We walk forward to communion, prayer in motion. We sign ourselves with the cross when blessed as Mass ends. Most importantly, we walk out of church in mission, to glorify the Lord with our lives. Peace be with you, body, mind and spirit! Fr. Bob

Tuesday, August 11, 2015