Friday, September 09, 2005

Prayer and the Eucharist

My church fellowship group hosts a Theology on Tap series once a year, usually September. This year's installment (every September, on Wednesday evening at the Downtown Café in Red Bank) focuses on various aspects of the Eucharist, and for our first week we had Fr. Mike and Fr. Garrett from St. James right there in town. The topic was Prayer and the Eucharist. I took notes:

Prayer and the Eucharist are linked in that both are representative of man's relationship with God: man, in the image of God, prays to grow more like Him; in the Eucharist, God is made present to us, is given to us. Prayer reaches upward, with God reaching down to us and coming among us through Holy Communion. Both serve to transform and strengthen us.

In the Eucharist, Jesus' sacrifice, offered to God eternally, is made present to us in time. This offer is made perpetually by the Church, even as we as believers are exhorted to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thes. 5:17; see also Romans 12:12). So there is a further set of parallels - we not only pray to be more like Christ, but the very act of prayer resembles the life Christ lived. We lay ourselves down before God in prayer, just as Christ, the perfect offering, eternally lays Himself before the Father, and just as He laid His whole life down in service while on earth.

The Eucharist is a glimpse of our true home. Look beyond the world! In prayer, we send a message on ahead to our home, a letter from pilgrims travelling to reach their goal. The Eucharist is the return message. How long will we persist in writing those letters if we grow in the habit of ignoring or refusing the reply?

All of this links us to God, and in God to each other. (1 Cor. 10:17) Christ is forever beyond death, body and soul, whole and entire; in Him we are also made whole, and a share in each other comes with a share in Him.

Finally, remember that prayer and the Eucharist both come from the heart: prayer from ours, and the Eucharist from His.

That's what I got while Fr. Mike spoke (with assists from Fr. Garrett). There was also an interesting sidebar coming from an audience question, that I would like to post on separately. I daresay we have enough to start a discussion here...

No comments: