Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
November 23, 2009
Celebrating the Eucharist demands enthusiasm, gusto
Wiesner tells liturgy conference that everybody must get involved in celebration of the Mass.
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON - Back in 2007, Jarome Iginla was winning the NHL's star of the week honours on a regular basis, leading the Calgary Flames in points, and vying for the league scoring title.
He didn't achieve success in hockey by standing there, and passively watching everybody else skate around. On the contrary, he was fully, consciously and actively participating.
This same attitude and enthusiasm are what Catholics must bring to Mass, said Bishop Gerald Wiesner of Prince George.
As the centre, source and summit of our faith, the Eucharist is an act that parishioners are called to participate in fully, consciously and actively.
"The Eucharist is an action of the faith community. We need to imprint that message deep in our minds," said Wiesner, a former faculty member and president of Newman Theological College.
The Oblate bishop spoke at a two-day liturgy conference, Nov. 13-14, at St. Theresa's Church. The conference, attended by about 150 people, was called Participating in the Eucharistic Banquet: There is Nothing More Beautiful!
PRESENCE OF CHRIST
"We have a whole litany of when Christ is present," said Wiesner, citing Jesus' presence through Scripture, liturgy and through other people in the faith community. "Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist are the two main places we are to encounter Christ."
As an action of the Church, the priest presides over the Eucharist, but everybody else is called to celebrate. Priests must be responsible for ensuring that the faithful are active participants in the Eucharist. Intense participation is demanded by the nature of the liturgy, he said.
Sunday is a day set aside by God. The atmosphere in one's home should be different. It is the first day of creation, and it's also the day Christians are called together to be with the Lord. We are called to have a certain mindset, disposition and an expectation of hope.
"We, as Christians, should not be there in church as strangers or distracted spectators. In the liturgy, there are no watchers. They are all doers," said Wiesner.
Everybody's attitude counts. Songs are for singing, and Scripture is for listening. Silence is called for after the opening prayer, homily, readings and Communion. Being conscious participants means opening every part of ourselves - mind, body and spirit - to the Eucharistic celebration.
"If we insist on sitting in the back pew so we can get out early, it doesn't bode well for community," he said.
The Eucharistic Prayer involves blessing, thanksgiving and petition. Jesus told the faithful to take and eat the bread, and to take and drink the wine, and to do those actions in remembrance of him. In the Eucharist, Jesus gives himself.
The Eucharist is the most simple and at the same time the most divine gesture, said Wiesner. "We don't have the power to make God stop loving us. The Eucharist is the study of God's love for us."
Wiesner advised that people should not participate in the Eucharist more than three times in one weekend, otherwise they are merely going through the motions halfheartedly, rattling off prayers by rote.
With full and active participation, the Eucharist should exhaust us, he said.
A SINGLE ACT
Parishioners ought to be present for the entire Mass because the liturgy of the Word and the Eucharist are a single act.
"We cannot live without words, especially without the Word of God. It is important to have these words to inform us, to instruct us, to inspire us. The first sign is to make Christ present to us as he made himself present to the strangers on the road to Emmaus," said Wiesner.
Our whole faith journey is impossible without the Word of God. Through our friends, God speaks.
"Christ is present in his Word since it is he who speaks when the Scripture is read in the Church."
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