Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On this Feast of the Body and Blood Christ, the words of St. Augustine speak to the transformative power of the Eucharist in our lives: “Be what you see, and receive what you are” (Sermon 272).  As a Catholic Community we become the body of Christ that we receive.  Below is a humorous reminder of the importance that the liturgy does not end once we have received the Eucharist.  May it be an important reminder that what we do together in the Eucharist demands our attention, reverence, and time so that we may celebrate with full active conscience participation by arriving on time and waiting until the final blessing to depart.

In the peace of Christ,

Fr. Mark

You know the line about opera: “It’s not over till the fat lady sings.” The same is true about Sunday Mass. And no, the “fat lady” is not the cantor. She’s us—all of us— the church! Sated (miraculously with just a morsel and a sip), stuffed on grace, a bit tired from sincere thanksgiving and sustained praise, the assembly has to finish this liturgy before it’s over. Would the cast leave before the final curtain?, the orchestra before the finale?, the team before the final buzzer or last out? At Mass, we are all the cast, all the orchestra, all the team. 

The end of Mass comes quickly: After the silent reverence that follows communion, there is a prayer and maybe a hymn.  Some announcements follow, then a blessing and dismissal, perhaps a final song. So is it really asking too much of each other to see it through to the very end? Sure, you might be blocking in someone’s car in the parking lot. But if we all stay till the end, what difference does it make? Of course the little ones are antsy; we all are at this point.  A few minutes more won’t hurt. (Nor will cries and squirming now.) And yes, not slipping out early means rubbing elbows with everyone, people jamming up at the doors and a procession of cars crawling out of the parking lot, but isn’t this a consequence of the communion that we just shared? Isn’t this how we know that we are becoming what we have shared: the body of Christ, risen from the dead, going out into the world to give to others what has been given to us?  It’s a simple act of kindness—finishing the liturgy before leaving.

And if we slow down just enough to finish our liturgy, maybe we’ll slowly learn to finish well other things in life, too. And when we learn to relish and not rush the end of things—the last minutes of a movie, the final words of a conversation, the last hand of cards and the final set of pins to knock down—what we are truly learning is to relish and not rush the end of our days—a final act of gratitude that gives God praise.

 Copyright © 2001 Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1800 North Hermitage Avenue, Chicago IL 60622-1101; 1-800-933-1800; Text by David Philippart. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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