The sacrament of consecrated life
When the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord is approaching, many memories associated with the Blessed Sacrament come to my mind. There are so many documents, books, sermons and conferences on the Eucharist … I don’t remember where I came across this term: Sacrament of consecrated life. The author argued that since two states in the Church – priesthood and marriage – have their own sacrament, the Eucharist is the sacrament proper to consecrated persons, because in it they unite with their Bridegroom.
Most often, we have the opportunity to attend Holy Mass every day in our religious convents or parish churches. The time when, due to illness or other circumstances, I cannot participate in it is an unpleasant experience for me, a reminder of my own poverty and human limitations. Many believers have had similar experiences, especially today in an ongoing pandemic. Participation in the Holy Sacrifice is a daily source of grace and light coming through the Word of God or the texts of mass prayers, invitations or songs. Likewise, the bread and wine which Christ chose to become his body and blood,
in the simplicity of their matter, they remind us of God’s love for what is small, humble and fragile. The gesture of breaking the Bread before the rite of Communion reminds me of God’s humility and submission to man. And when the Lord Jesus comes in Holy Communion, He allows me to experience His transforming closeness and trust in me as a weak person. I am in communion with Him and with the Church, my community. Having contact with many people with different views, faith or lifestyle, when I come to church for the Eucharist, I feel more that I am at home. My Lord’s house is my home. Being at Holy Mass, I do not act individually, but in a community. The gestures, spoken words, and body postures lead to the transition from “I” to “we”. I discovered the unifying value of the Eucharist by spending many years in a small community when we could experience it together on Sundays, and as a community feast and distinction when the Holy Mass was celebrated in our community chapel.
Caring for a chapel with the Blessed Sacrament in each of our houses is an expression of the wisdom of the Church and Congregation. We really live under one roof with our Lord. His silent presence accompanies our daily affairs. When I remain in silent adoration in His presence, I am amazed by His love expressed in the sign of the Eucharistic Bread. I am to be His monstrance when I go to the sisters, to the apostolate in catechesis, always … and although I do not experience spiritual raptures, being in His presence is my peace, my strength. Daily communal adoration, which is on the agenda and faithfully practiced both in my old small community and nowadays, is of great value to me. By remaining with my sisters communally before the Lord, we strengthen each other with the testimony of faith and love.
Another form of Eucharistic worship is characteristic for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi – processions with the Blessed Sacrament. Since I was a child, I was aware that I was participating in the Eucharistic processions along the streets of my city in a particular form of manifestation of faith. I had a sense of distinction walking as if in the retinue of the Lamb, as St. John the Apostle: “They are those who accompany the Lamb wherever he goes; these men were redeemed as first fruits to God and the Lamb, and no lie was found in their mouth: they are blameless” (Rev 14: 4-5). And in another place: “And I did not see a temple in it: for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb. And the city does not need sun or moon to illuminate it, for the glory of God has illuminated them, and the Lamb with his lamp. And the nations will walk in his light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour to him ” (Rev21: 22-24). The image of Christ the Lamb illuminating the city and the nations suited the crowds of processions stopping at the four altars and Jesus blessing us in the Blessed Sacrament.
The First Holy Communion celebrations usually fall on the time around Corpus Christi, and later their subsequent anniversaries. Finishing my reflections on such a day I will share one more memory. On the day of my First Communion after the celebration in the church in the family circle I was asked by someone from the guests who I would like to become when I grow up. Without thinking, I replied that I was to become a nun. There was consternation among those present because nothing foreshadowed it, nor did anyone expect such an answer. Time passed, and to this day I do not know where this answer came from, although … today I can repeat from St. Paul: “by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace was not in vain; on the contrary, I worked (…), not I, admittedly, but God’s grace with me” (1 Cor 15:10).
Sr. Michaela Musiał