"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Wednesday 4 April 2012




source: News.Va  The Vatican Today
2012-04-05 Vatican Radio
In his homily at the annual Chrism Mass on the morning of Holy Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI urged his fellow priests to “be configured to Christ,” and reminded them that the priesthood is a call to service. After the homily, the Cardinals, bishops and priests present renewed their priestly promises with the Holy Father. 
At the Chrism Mass, the Holy Father blessed the Chrism Oil, along with the Oils of the Catechumens and of the Sick, for use in the various liturgies and Sacraments throughout the year. 
The full text of the Holy Father’s homily for the Chrism Mass is below: 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
At this Holy Mass our thoughts go back to that moment when, through prayer and the laying on of hands, the bishop made us sharers in the priesthood of Jesus Christ, so that we might be “consecrated in truth” (Jn 17:19), as Jesus besought the Father for us in his high-priestly prayer. He himself is the truth. He has consecrated us, that is to say, handed us over to God for ever, so that we can offer men and women a service that comes from God and leads to him. But does our consecration extend to the daily reality of our lives – do we operate as men of God in fellowship with Jesus Christ? This question places the Lord before us and us before him. “Are you resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus and more closely conformed to him, denying yourselves and confirming those promises about sacred duties towards Christ’s Church which, prompted by love of him, you willingly and joyfully pledged on the day of your priestly ordination?” After this homily, I shall be addressing that question to each of you here and to myself as well. Two things, above all, are asked of us: there is a need for an interior bond, a configuration to Christ, and at the same time there has to be a transcending of ourselves, a renunciation of what is simply our own, of the much-vaunted self-fulfilment. We need, I need, not to claim my life as my own, but to place it at the disposal of another – of Christ. I should be asking not what I stand to gain, but what I can give for him and so for others. Or to put it more specifically, this configuration to Christ, who came not to be served but to serve, who does not take, but rather gives – what form does it take in the often dramatic situation of the Church today? Recently a group of priests from a European country issued a summons to disobedience, and at the same time gave concrete examples of the forms this disobedience might take, even to the point of disregarding definitive decisions of the Church’s Magisterium, such as the question of women’s ordination, for which Blessed Pope John Paul II stated irrevocably that the Church has received no authority from the Lord. Is disobedience a path of renewal for the Church? We would like to believe that the authors of this summons are motivated by concern for the Church, that they are convinced that the slow pace of institutions has to be overcome by drastic measures, in order to open up new paths and to bring the Church up to date. But is disobedience really a way to do this? Do we sense here anything of that configuration to Christ which is the precondition for true renewal, or do we merely sense a desperate push to do something to change the Church in accordance with one’s own preferences and ideas?
But let us not oversimplify matters. Surely Christ himself corrected human traditions which threatened to stifle the word and the will of God? Indeed he did, so as to rekindle obedience to the true will of God, to his ever enduring word. His concern was for true obedience, as opposed to human caprice. Nor must we forget: he was the Son, possessed of singular authority and responsibility to reveal the authentic will of God, so as to open up the path for God’s word to the world of the nations. And finally: he lived out his task with obedience and humility all the way to the Cross, and so gave credibility to his mission. Not my will, but thine be done: these words reveal to us the Son, in his humility and his divinity, and they show us the true path.
Let us ask again: do not such reflections serve simply to defend inertia, the fossilization of traditions? No. Anyone who considers the history of the post-conciliar era can recognize the process of true renewal, which often took unexpected forms in living movements and made almost tangible the inexhaustible vitality of holy Church, the presence and effectiveness of the Holy Spirit. And if we look at the people from whom these fresh currents of life burst forth and continue to burst forth, then we see that this new fruitfulness requires being filled with the joy of faith, the radicalism of obedience, the dynamic of hope and the power of love.
Dear friends, it is clear that configuration to Christ is the precondition and the basis for all renewal. But perhaps at times the figure of Jesus Christ seems too lofty and too great for us to dare to measure ourselves by him. The Lord knows this. So he has provided “translations” on a scale that is more accessible and closer to us. For this same reason, Saint Paul did not hesitate to say to his communities: Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. For his disciples, he was a “translation” of Christ’s manner of life that they could see and identify with. Ever since Paul’s time, history has furnished a constant flow of other such “translations” of Jesus’ way into historical figures. We priests can call to mind a great throng of holy priests who have gone before us and shown us the way: from Polycarp of Smyrna and Ignatius of Antioch, from the great pastors Ambrose, Augustine and Gregory the Great, through to Ignatius of Loyola, Charles Borromeo, John Mary Vianney and the priest-martyrs of the 20th century, and finally Pope John Paul II, who gave us an example, through his activity and his suffering, of configuration to Christ as “gift and mystery”. The saints show us how renewal works and how we can place ourselves at its service. And they help us realize that God is not concerned so much with great numbers and with outward successes, but achieves his victories under the humble sign of the mustard seed.
Dear friends, I would like briefly to touch on two more key phrases from the renewal of ordination promises, which should cause us to reflect at this time in the Church’s life and in our own lives. Firstly, the reminder that – as Saint Paul put it – we are “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor 4:1) and we are charged with the ministry of teaching (munus docendi), which forms a part of this stewardship of God’s mysteries, through which he shows us his face and his heart, in order to give us himself. At the meeting of Cardinals on the occasion of the recent Consistory, several of the pastors of the Church spoke, from experience, of the growing religious illiteracy found in the midst of our sophisticated society. The foundations of faith, which at one time every child knew, are now known less and less. But if we are to live and love our faith, if we are to love God and to hear him aright, we need to know what God has said to us – our minds and hearts must be touched by his word. The Year of Faith, commemorating the opening of the Second Vatican Council fifty years ago, should provide us with an occasion to proclaim the message of faith with new enthusiasm and new joy. We find it of course first and foremost in sacred Scripture, which we can never read and ponder enough. Yet at the same time we all experience the need for help in accurately expounding it in the present day, if it is truly to touch our hearts. This help we find first of all in the words of the teaching Church: the texts of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church are essential tools which serve as an authentic guide to what the Church believes on the basis of God’s word. And of course this also includes the whole wealth of documents given to us by Pope John Paul II, still far from being fully explored. 
All our preaching must measure itself against the saying of Jesus Christ: “My teaching is not mine” (Jn 7:16). We preach not private theories and opinions, but the faith of the Church, whose servants we are. Naturally this should not be taken to mean that I am not completely supportive of this teaching, or solidly anchored in it. In this regard I am always reminded of the words of Saint Augustine: what is so much mine as myself? And what is so little mine as myself? I do not own myself, and I become myself by the very fact that I transcend myself, and thereby become a part of Christ, a part of his body the Church. If we do not preach ourselves, and if we are inwardly so completely one with him who called us to be his ambassadors, that we are shaped by faith and live it, then our preaching will be credible. I do not seek to win people for myself, but I give myself. The Curé of Ars was no scholar, no intellectual, we know that. But his preaching touched people’s hearts because his own heart had been touched.
The last keyword that I should like to consider is “zeal for souls”: animarum zelus. It is an old-fashioned expression, not much used these days. In some circles, the word “soul” is virtually banned because – ostensibly – it expresses a body-soul dualism that wrongly compartmentalizes the human being. Of course the human person is a unity, destined for eternity as body and soul. And yet that cannot mean that we no longer have a soul, a constituent principle guaranteeing our unity in this life and beyond earthly death. And as priests, of course, we are concerned for the whole person, including his or her physical needs – we care for the hungry, the sick, the homeless. And yet we are concerned not only with the body, but also with the needs of the soul: with those who suffer from the violation of their rights or from destroyed love, with those unable to perceive the truth, those who suffer for lack of truth and love. We are concerned with the salvation of men and women in body and soul. And as priests of Jesus Christ we carry out our task with enthusiasm. No one should ever have the impression that we work conscientiously when on duty, but before and after hours we belong only to ourselves. A priest never belongs to himself. People must sense our zeal, through which we bear credible witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us ask the Lord to fill us with joy in his message, so that we may serve his truth and his love with joyful zeal. Amen


.Maundy Thursday 2012 

“It was before the festival of Passover, and Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to pass from this world to the Father. He had always loved those who were his own in the world, but now he showed how perfect his love was.”

With the washing of feet, St John begins his Passion narrative, a narrative that will take up one third of his Gospel. The washing of the disciples’ feet is a living parable in which Jesus tries to explain to them the meaning and purpose of his life and the central message of his teaching. This is why St John begins by speaking of the Passover and of Jesus passing from this world to the Father, and then of the perfection, depth and extent of his love. Like all parables it invites us to enter into the mystery of the person of Christ and the fullest implications of his life, death and resurrection. It is a mystery that is not only about Jesus but also about ourselves: why did God create us and what is the purpose and goal of human life, indeed of the whole of creation? The washing of the feet turns our understanding of God upside down, for the Master becomes a slave and shows his disciples that this is the only way in which they can follow him and be faithful to his teaching and example.  “If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me,” Jesus says to Peter. But let us take a closer look at what Jesus does as the Last Supper begins.

The first thing we discover is the presence of Judas with Jesus and the others. The devil has already put it into his mind to betray Jesus, but he is still there with his companions and Jesus will wash his feet too. Jesus does not judge us but bestows his gifts lavishly on us all, even if we have it in mind to betray him. Unfortunately, Judas learns nothing from the humility and humanity of Jesus. Filled with fear and despair, not a proud man but a weak man, he will commit suicide. He cannot believe that Jesus still loves him and longs to forgive and embrace him.

Next we are told that Jesus gets up from the table, removes his outer garment, wraps a towel round his waist, pours water into a basin and begins washing his disciples’ feet. As we’re accustomed to hearing this gospel story every year, it tends to pass us by and have no effect, but what Jesus did was something quite extraordinary, in fact revolutionary. It was no ordinary washing of feet, certainly not the usual ritual offered to travellers and guests even today in many cultures and societies. Now a Jewish servant might wash the feet of his master and of his master’s family and guests, but it’s a very intimate thing to do. Who washes your feet? Whose feet do you wash? Only a slave, a Roman slave, would take off his outer garment in public and set about washing people’s feet in his tunic, a sort of undershirt: definitely not the done thing in a decent Jewish home! Then there was the pouring of water into bowls for washing, woman’s work. Jesus’ actions really do turn the world upside down. Until now the disciples had never really understood what Jesus was telling them, so could tonight be any different?

When he comes to Peter, there’s bound to be trouble. Peter is a proud, outspoken man and he’s never afraid to confront and question Jesus. “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” You have to dramatize a bit when reading an English translation. In Greek the pronouns for “you” and “my” are very strong, something like, “What? YOU wash MY feet? Are you out of your mind?” St John Chrysostom tells us that the words express Peter’s love, but that it’s a defective love. It lacks the very humility illustrated in what Jesus is doing. In Peter’s response we see the pride and self-will that lies at the heart of all sin, the very thing for which the Cross will atone and bring healing. After all this time Peter still has the “get-thou-behind-me-Satan” syndrome. He cannot begin to think like Jesus, his Master.

Jesus knows that what he is doing is scandalous and mystifying for his disciples. “At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.” They will only understand fully after his Death and Resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit, who will guide them into all truth and remind them of everything he has told them. For now they must accept what he is doing and, indeed, everything about to take place. Only after the Resurrection will they understand that there can be no room in the Church, the fellowship of Jesus, for those who refuse to be cleansed by his atoning death, for it is into his death that we are baptised. Likewise, only afterwards will they come to understand that communion with Christ depends on celebrating and entering fully into the great Sacrament of love, the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. 

Yet, even now, as their understanding fails them, Jesus tells them that their love, like his, must go beyond all limits. Once he had told them to forgive beyond all limits, “Not seven times, but seventy times seven,” always and for ever. “If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet.” Because they have been redeemed by the death of the Servant Son of God, they must show their gratitude in service to others, and not any service, but the service of love and sacrifice. We are all called in Christ to be ministers of the love of God in humility and simplicity. Only through love can we die with Christ so as to rise and live with him.

May the good Lord give us the grace always to do his will, follow his example and love others, all others without exception, just as he has loved us. Amen

by Dom David Bird mon. ben.

Have you noticed that, when the institution narrative remembering the Last Supper is proclaimed by the priest, the words "Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my body which will be given up for you" are not addressed to the people, nor are they an incantation pronounced over the bread and wine; nor do they even refer to the host that the priest holds in his hands.   They are addressed to God the Father in a prayer and refer to the bread held by Jesus at the Last Supper.   Likewise with the chalice, the priest says,
 "In a similar way, when supper was ended, he took this precious chalice into his holy and venerTable hands, and once more giving you thanks, he said the blessing and gave the chalice to his disciples saying,
Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this in memory of me."
Once again, the words are spoken in a prayer addressed to God the Father, and the chalice concerned is that that was held in the hands of Jesus two thousand years ago, not that in the hands of the priest in the present; though the two chalices are identified by the word "this".

This is not like any other sacrament.   At least in the Latin Rite, the priest says "I baptise you", "I absolve you"; but the priest in the Mass does not say, "I consecrate this bread/ wine".   Instead, addressing the Father, he recalls an event two thousand years ago, the Last Supper, and identifies what he is doing with that event.  He does not say that, because he is commemorating that event, God is repeating it in the present:the two events are completely identified!   It seems that the priest's mind and words are wholly occupied with the Last Supper, and that he shows the people the host and the chalice to be adored by them, not because of what he is saying but because of what Jesus said in the Last Supper.   It seems that there is only one consecration at all Masses, that which Jesus did in the Upper Room on the night before he died.   In fact, this is what St John Chrysostom said:
The priest says, 'This is my body', and these words change the nature of the offerings.   Thus the word of the Saviour, pronounced once, has sufficed and will suffice to fulfil the most perfect sacrifice on the altar of every church, from the Last Supper of Jesus Christ right up till our time and till his coming again.   (John Chrysostom: Homily on the Treachery of Judas 1, 6..PG 49, 380)
Thus, the words of institution are absolutely central to the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I) as they were to St Ambrose.   They make present Christ's own consecration at the Last Supper.  St Thomas is only giving the mainstream Latin tradition when he calls the words of institution the "form" of the sacrament.   

However, this Latin tradition is not universal.   In the IVth century, St Cyril of Jerusalem gives a commentary on the Eucharist, including a word for word commentary on the Anaphora (Eucharistic prayer); and there does not seem to have been the narrative of the Last Supper said by the celebrant at Mass in Jerusalem in his time.   To this day, the Assyrian Church of the East, called by the Vatican "a proper local church of orthodox faith", has the "Anaphora of SS Addai and Mari" without the words of institution; and this liturgy is in Aramaic and goes back to around 200AD.    In place of the institution narrative there is the epiclesis or invocation, asking the Father to send his Spirit on the bread and wine and on the community that the bread and wine be changed into Christ's body and blood and the community have the grace to benefit from the Eucharist.  St Cyril of Jerusalem writes:
The bread and wine of the Eucharist before the holy invocation are ordinary bread and wine; but after the invocation the bread becomes the body of  Christ and the wine the blood of Christ.  St Cyril of Jerusalem, Mystagogical Catechesis I, 7, (S.C. 126, pg 94)

The Byzantine tradition accepts that Christ consecrated the bread and wine by his words and thus gives importance to the words of institution, but they also have an epiclesis after the the institution narrative and, if pushed, would say that the moment of consecration in the Divine Liturgy is at the epiclesis and not at the words of institution because it is the coming of the Holy Spirit that fulfils the Word and thus gives reality to the words of institution..

How can such a variety of practises exist side by side?   Are they differences of doctrine or different liturgical expressions of the same basic faith?   I believe it to be a sound theological principle that when there are differences between fully Catholic rites from different cultures and histories, then we must find the common basis for these differences, because there we will find a solution to the problem.   Thus we are exploring, together with the Orthodox, the position of the papacy in the first millennium in order to find a common Christian solution and a new context by which we can interpret our present opposed positions.   This theological principal assumes that the Holy Spirit is fully active in both our Eucharists and thus guides our traditions, and so there is a way of integrating them, however opposed they may seem at present: all is required is our humble obedience and the work of the Holy Spirit, and patience to wait on God.

The basis of  a solution about different practises of consecration is indicated in the words, "Do this in memory of me".   Jesus did not say, "Say this in memory of me".   He is referring to the action of "taking, blessing and giving thanks,breaking and giving to his disciples", what the Anglican Benedictine Gregory Dix called "The Shape of the Liturgy".    Taking bread and wine is the offertory; blessing and giving thanks is the anaphora or eucharistic prayer; the breaking of bread is the equivalent in the Latin Rite to the Agnus Dei; and giving to his disciples is communion.   "Do this in memory of me" is Jesus' command: the celebration of Mass is the Church's humble obedience.

To see the significance of this we must look at the Lucan Annunciation narrative which shows us how the Christian reality works.   The Archangel Gabriel tells Our Lady that the Holy Spirit shall come upon her.   She replies, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord.   May it be done to me according to your word."  The Holy Spirit acts together (synergy) with her humble obedience; and thus she truly becomes Mother of God, something she could never have done on her own.   In the same way, the humble obedience of the Church in celebrating the Mass is an anamnesis because it is done in memory of Christ, and it is an epiclesis because it calls down the Holy Spirit who makes Christ present, empowering the Church to celebrate the Eucharist, something it could never do on its own.

Note that the Eucharist is anamnesis and epiclesis as an act of humble obedience before any set of words have been laid down.   The words of an early anaphora could have been Christianised table prayers of Jewish origin as in the Didache, a work that may well be contemporary with the writing of the Gospels.   Nevertheless, it was normal that, very soon, the prayers came to reflect  the reality that was being celebrated. This concentration on the eucharistic action explains the variety of ways that the Christian Mystery was expressed.

If the Mass is simply the Spirit-enabled extension in time and place of the Last Supper, we can learn much about the Mass by learning from the Last Supper.

For instance, when did Jesus become present at the Last Supper?   Clearly, he was there from the very beginning with his disciples.  Without the presence of Jesus, there would have been no Last Supper.   So it is for the Mass.   For the Early Church, Christ's presence was always dynamic, never static: he was always approaching, challenging Christians to open their hearts to him, never simply in their pocket.   The words "Dominus Vobiscum" and the response "Et cum spiritu tuo" that are said before any priestly activity express both "The Lord is with you", and "The Lord be with you", thus expressing the Lord's presence and that he get nearer.  There were moments in the Mass when Jesus was coming very explicitly, using signs that indicated his new entrance into their lives.   The entrance of the Celebrant was met with great joy by the congregation because he came in persona Christi, not just legally but, more important, sacramentally, standing in for Christ who is present by the power of the Holy Spirit.    The celebrant's entrance was combined with that of Jesus entering for the Liturgy of the Word, his presence symbolised by the Gospel book which was received with great reverence as an icon of Christ's presence.     This corresponds to the Little Entrance in the Byzantine Rite.    Christ enters once more to celebrate the Eucharist at the Offertory, at what is called "the Great Entrance", this new dimension of his Coming is symbolised by the bread and wine that is brought to the altar.    The wonderful hymns of the Eastern rites at the Offertory, like the Cherubikon and "Let all mortal flesh keep silent", bear witness to the reality of Christ's coming at the Offertory. (It is well worth listening to Metropolitan Kallistos Ware in the video below).   The climax of Christ's Coming in the Mass is the consecration and communion which is our participation in what has happened at the consecration.   This in no way calls to question the reality of the other comings and presences of Christ in the Mass.   It is a great pity that our awareness of transubstantiation has made us unaware of the other ways that Christ is present; and real presences appear to us as real absences.   It is important to bear in mind that, as in the Last Supper, Christ is present and is approaching us from the very beginning of the Mass.

What was Jesus doing when he took bread, blessed and gave thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples sating, "This is my body"; and what did he. took a chalice at the end of the meal and said, "This is the chalice of my blood...."?   We must remember that there was nothing about the execution that took place the next day to make people intimate that it was a sacrifice.   Visibly, it was merely a Roman execution, a political act of legalised murder.   It was only because of the Last Supper that the disciples knew the true nature of the crucifixion.    The disciples heard Jesus offer his death up to the Father, his broken body and poured out blood, as a new covenant and as a sacrifice for sin.   It was only a true offering because of what was going to happen on Good Friday, and it revealed the true nature of what was about to happen.  The disciples would have recognised that it was not only a revelation of Jesus' intentions at the Last Supper that turned his coming death into a sacrifice; it was also a prophetic act by which the Father, through the use of these signs, was declaring Christ's offering in loving obedience to death was the sacrifice that brought about the new covenant.

In the Mass, the Church obeys Christ and does what he did, and through this humble obedience, the Holy Spirit brings about what the Church could not do on its own: Christ's offering of his own death to the Father becomes the Church's offering and we become one body with Christ in his sacrifice, and thus we share in his life. 

Alone among the sacraments, the Eucharist is brought about, not by the celebrant saying what he is doing, but by him saying what Jesus said, did and commanded two thousand years ago.   We saw that, for St John Chrysostom, Jesus consecrated the bread and wine at all subsequent celebrations of the Mass by what he said at the Last Supper.   Now I am going to seemingly contradict  all I have said about the identity between the Last Supper and the Mass by stating that there is an enormous difference between the Last Supper celebrated before Christ's death and the Mass celebrated after Christ's death-resurrection-ascension.   This difference does not arise from what we do but from the totally different context in which Christ operates; and this alters the context in which we celebrate.

In the words of the Letter to the Hebrews, 
When Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God...For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. (10, 11 - 14)
Jesus, risen and ascended, is sitting on the throne of mercy, making intercession for us and all people.   When he pleads his loving obedience unto death, it has become a past event and a present reality because it is a dimension of his own identity.   He is no longer in the Upper Room but in the Holy of Holies in the celestial Jerusalem; and, as we approach him we remember that 
You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.  (Heb. 12, 22-24)
Thus , by obeying the command of Our Lord, "Do this in memory of me", we share in his death, but in the new context of the heavenly liturgy, with the angels and saints.  No anaphora illustrates this with such clarity and beauty as the Roman Canon.   The very centre of the prayer is the institution narrative, but it is in a new context.   There is no emphasis in the prayer on God coming to us, no explicit petition for the Holy Spirit to come down, no mention of the Second Coming.   Instead, there is an emphasis on an upward movement.   Consecration is seen as bringing our offerings to the heavenly altar by the hands of an angel so that they become one with the heavenly offering, the body and blood of Christ   We too are entering into communion with the saints, sharing their liturgy and praise.   If pride comes before a fall, humble obedience lifts us up into heaven.

I can recommend the videos offered at the end of this post.   All are good, but that of Metropolitan Kallistos Ware and that of Dr Scott Hahn are especially good and complement what I have written, and all complement each other.

LIFE POURED OUT by A Monk Of The Eastern Church

The breaking of bread is the central act of Christianity.

At the Last Supper Jesus breaks bread and distributes it. He pours wine and distributes it. It is not enough to say that Jesus gives Himself. He gives Himself as a piece of broken bread and as poured –out wine; He gives His broken body and His shed blood. The Lamb of God is immolated for the life and salvation of the world.

O Jesus, grant me union with You in Your immolation. In Your hands make of my life a libation poured out to God and to men. 

Pour me into Your cup as spilt wine. Make me a piece of bread broken by Your very own hands, held in Your hands, distributed by Your hands. 

I am willing to be broken by You. Drown my sins and my person in Your blood. Grant that I may die to myself in order to be born to You, to Your brethren! Since I am a member of Your body, offer me to God, and give me to others with Your own body and blood.

Only when the Master broke bread were the eyes of the disciples of Emmaus opened and they recognized Jesus. The presence of Jesus and the breaking of bread are inseparable. Wherever the bread is broken Jesus is there. 

The Gospel does not specify what the breaking of bread at Emmaus was. Was it a renewal of the mystery of the Last Supper or simply an act of love?

Whatever this broken bread may be – whether it be the mystery of the body and blood of Christ communicated to men, or the help brought to those who are hungry, or that friendly sharing of life which a meal symbolises – this broken bread is the sign by which the Saviour’s disciples are recognised. 

It is a profound and complex sign in its very indetermination. By the breaking of bread performed in the Saviour’s spirit, the Saviour’s presence is made known.

Jesus is the “bread which cometh down from heaven.” The Gospel also calls it the “bread of life.” There is much more in the notion “bread of life” than in that of “living bread.” 

To speak of a living bread is to say that life is a quality belonging to this bread. To speak of the bread of life is to state that this quality can be communicated. The bread of life is a food which gives and engenders life.

Life poured out
by Monk of the Eastern Church
September 12, 2010 8:31pm
Filed under: 

ed out
Jesus A Dialogue with the Saviour
Chapter XXXIV


The Mass and the Apocalypse 1 & 2
The Inner meaning of the Divine Liturgy

Our Participation in the Heavenly Liturgy

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