by Ken Rolheiser
Recollections of Eucharistic Mysteries

On the day of my First Communion I was dressed in white. My Uncle teased me that I was wearing underwear. This did little to diminish the significance of the day.

Anamnesis, a Greek word meaning recollection, is used to describe the mystery of Christ’s command, “Do this in memory of me”. In Plato’s philosophy this word described a remembrance of things from a supposed previous existence. Within this context we make Jesus present in the Eucharistic mystery by recalling his death, Resurrection and Ascension.

The word Eucharist comes from Latin and Greek roots meaning gratitude and rejoice. With this backdrop to our liturgical gatherings, it is real and honest to be grateful to all who come. God is pleased that you are there. Your attendance is important to your personal spirituality.

It follows that what we remember in this gathering is crucial to our continued spiritual growth. The choir may invite us through themes like Psalm 34 v.8: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are they who trust in Him!” How gracious the Lord is!

A Eucharistic prayer may echo words like: “Send your Holy Spirit upon these gifts that they may be the Sacrament of the Body of Christ and his Blood of the new Covenant. Unite us to your Son in his sacrifice, that we may be acceptable through him, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

Thus we enter again into the same paschal mystery that we have experienced before, perhaps even in early childhood. Mindful of the words of Jesus, “Do this in memory of me,” we fulfill the wish of Jesus, “Do this to make me present.”

An older version of the Anglican Book of Prayer 1928 included the words: “that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body, and our souls washed through his most precious Blood”. Christ’s real Eucharistic presence is his promise of everlasting life.

“I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:51). Let us be mindful of the mystery that Jesus died for us all when we were yet sinners.

“…every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you are proclaiming his death.” (1 Corinthians 11:26). In remembrance of Christ, we repeat this Eucharistic action; we recall his death and resurrection to become alive in Christ again and again.

The act of recollecting our first experiences of the Eucharist does much to enrich our spiritual lives. Like in the song the “Little Brown Church in the Vale”, our earliest memories often involve family in a Eucharistic community.

My “Church in the Vale” was an old stone church on a hill two miles west of George Rolheiser’s farm. There my parents, my siblings and I gathered every Sunday and Holy Day to be renewed, refreshed and challenged to go forth and bring about the Kingdom of God.

We are still asked to leave the tabernacle and go into the highways and hedges, to look for the ragged and naked, the oppressed and the needy. Those who have lost hope!

It is through service to others that we will enter heaven. The gate of heaven is a service entrance, says Father Brendan McGuire. One golden rule for employees in the hotel service industry once was that if you came in through the front door you were immediately terminated.

(569 words)