Tag Archives: Eucharist

Day 36–March 31

Mark in Forty Days

This year I am reading through the Gospel of Mark during the forty days of Lent. My suggested plan is that you do these readings in Lectio Divina  format.

Today’s reading

Mark 14:66-72

Prayer Thought

Lord we all have times that we deny you in our own way. May these times be used as time of purging and strengthening of our faith and resolve. Amen

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Day 34–March 28

Mark in Forty Days

This year I am reading through the Gospel of Mark during the forty days of Lent. My suggested plan is that you do these readings in Lectio Divina  format.

Today’s reading

Mark 14:27-42

Prayer Thought

Lord may you keep us ever mindful of the weakness of our flesh and our dependence on your strength and grace. Amen

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Worship

Detail of the Holy Communion window at St. Mat...

People silently entered the candlelit sanctuary. In the total quiet of the moment, the intense prayers of those gathered were almost palpable. Each brought to worship years of living with accumulated pain and joy. The lonely came, as well as the exhausted because they are never alone. Some came bearing deep hurts, and some came bearing crushing guilt because of hurts they had imposed. Some came because their pain was nearly unbearable, and some came because they were afraid they could no longer feel anything. Some came because they were afraid to die, and some came because they were afraid to live.

The ancient music washed over us all calming doubts and troubles in our souls. The liturgy began and those souls were lifted up to the lord. Fear and cares receded, and peace and hope took hold. We gave God our thanks and praise and He gave back to us the mystery of His presence. We revisited the crucifixion together as we celebrated Holy Communion. No matter our pasts, our educations, and our finances – we were all the same before God. We were sinners in need of His mercy – and we received it. We left that sacred time forgiven, reconciled, and whole. We worshipped and left with grace for the journey-full of glory.

Monica Boudreaux

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The Bitter Conflict

We are caught in a bitter conflict between flesh and spirit. Jesus has delivered us from sin, but not from the weaknesses and desires of the flesh. We have to reproduce in our life the Cross of Christ so that, have died sacramentally to sin in baptism, we may also put to death sin in our flesh by restraining our evil desires and bad tendencies. This is the basis of monastic asceticism. (Or the Christian walk)

—-Thomas Merton from Basic Principles of Monastic Spirituality

There is not one among us who has not felt the tug of war caused by the conflict of flesh and spirit. This conflict of soul lives in everyone, and the battle rages with little relief. As we face this reality and own it, the conflict takes on a new aspect. The acknowledgement of our fleshly weaknesses allows us to turn to the spirit that is promised by Jesus. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.(John 14:26) Through this spirit we can achieve small victories over our desires, but we have to work at it, and be vigilant.

Prayer young manMerton points to a very important, and the often neglected reality of sacramental grace. Through our baptism the community lift us up so that we might die to sin. That grace is an important tool in our battle with the flesh, and one that should not be neglected. When the congregation (community) says, “-we will so order our lives after the example of Christ, that this child, surrounded by steadfast love, may be established in the faith-” that pledge is the communion of saints in action. We must never abandon the strength that can be garnered from the sacramental community.

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Divine Union

Liturgy of Saint James. Russian Orthodox Churc...

Franciscan Friar and contemplative Richard Rhor asserts the following: “Divine union, not private perfection, is the goal of all religion.” In that very short statement we can find the heart of our faith walk. Our world is busy chasing many goals and movements to find the perfect way to “do church,” and it stares us in the face. Religion is union with the divine. That union is not found in a series of rules that seek to bring us to a state of personal perfection but in quiet steps that bring us closer to God.

This union with the Divine has to start with prayer that carries us away from the ordinary and allows us to reach for the Divine. Perhaps the best start would be a time of silence when we offer ourselves to God, and remain still long enough for Him to respond.

Union with the Divine is found in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. In this Holy Mystery, the Divine comes to us. Countless hours are spent looking for God, and without a doubt, He is present in the sacrament. Do not neglect the concept of frequent communion that is so forcefully expressed by Methodist founder John Wesley for in the practice of this Holy Mystery we find Divine union.

Jesus cries to us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. “ Let us make coming to union with the Divine the driving force of our lives.

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Worship

English: Communion setting at an Evangelical L...

People silently entered the candlelit sanctuary. In the total quiet of the moment, the intense prayers of those gathered were almost palpable. Each brought to worship years of living with accumulated pain and joy. The lonely came, as well as the exhausted because they are never alone. Some came bearing deep hurts, and some came bearing crushing guilt because of hurts they had imposed. Some came because their pain was nearly unbearable, and some came because they were afraid they could no longer feel anything. Some came because they were afraid to die, and some came because they were afraid to live.The ancient music washed over us all calming doubts and troubles in our souls. The liturgy began and those souls were lifted up to the lord. Fear and cares receded, and peace and hope took hold. We gave God our thanks and praise and He gave back to us the mystery of His presence. We revisited the crucifixion together as we celebrated Holy Communion. No matter our pasts, our educations, and our finances – we were all the same before God. We were sinners in need of His mercy – and we received it. We left that sacred time forgiven, reconciled, and whole. We worshipped and left with grace for the journey-full of glory.Advent presents us with unique opportunities for worship. As we come to God honestly confessional, void of pretense, seeking God for who he is, not for what we want from him, we realize that we are living in the very beginning days of eternal life.Reflection – Confess to God everything that stands in the way of your worship.Monica Boudreaux

 

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The Church’s Fourfold Purpose

English: page of the Acts of the Apostles from...

One of the great challenges of today’s Church is the quest for vitality. Recent years have been marked by an increasingly rapid decline in church attendance and dwindling interest in the organized church as a whole. Many people are seeking new ways of expressing their spirituality, or simply abandoning spirituality all together. The movement of being “spiritual but not religious” borders very closely to agnosticism.

People are looking to the ancient writings of the mystics and monastics for answers to this disturbing situation. In my own journey, I have discovered some very helpful materials in that arena of thought, but there is more. Perhaps we can look to the foundational story of the Church as found in the Book of Acts. This sacred writing chronicles the formation of Christianity as a separate movement. Acts is an eyewitness account of the birth and growth of the early church. This book begins with the coming of the Holy Spirit and ends with the preaching of Paul. Acts 2:42 gives us a foundational model for the Church that is well worth a look today. The scripture proclaims to us: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Let’s unpack that fourfold charge of the church.

Teaching – We are told that the early church devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching. Indisputably, they taught the words and actions of Jesus as only an eyewitness could. They spoke of His miracles, retold His parables, and made His teachings come back to life. Today we have a movement within the Church known as “Red Letter Christians.” These Red Letter Christians get their name from the day when Bible publishers printed the words in the Bible that were attributed to Jesus in red. I believe that those words should once again become the heart of our teaching.

Fellowship – This means that all Christians were a part of a community that shared in the common commitment of the good news of Christ. By sharing all things, they took this concept a little further than we can in our world. We may not be able to live in community, but we are called to be a community. A community shares, loves, supports and lifts one another up in all ways possible. If the Church neglects the concept of community, it ultimately fails. Today’s Church must take community seriously.

Breaking of Bread – Scholars and theologians are not completely on the same page on this issue, but the end result is the same. People who eat together, sacramentally or by sharing a meal, feel a great bond to one another. My own view is that the early Church practiced Communion every time they met. In was through that common bread and cup that they gained great strength. As a Church of today we should not neglect the fellowship of the table sacramentally or otherwise.

Prayers – The early Church prayed. They prayed as an act worship and not just for the things they wanted or needed. Prayer was a regular part of their day whether they were assembled together or not. Prayer has to become more than it is in the Church of today. The practice of mental prayer, silence and sacred reading are a “must do” for the Church if we are to see greater vitality.

That is a fourfold formula for the revitalization of the Church. Nothing new is expounded at all: it is a simple call back to the foundational purpose and work of the Church. Victory is not found it the new, but in the birth documents of our Church.

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Into the Expectation

We who ourselves used to have pleasure in impure things now cling to chastity alone. We who dabbled in arts of magic now consecrate ourselves to the good and unbegotten God. We who formerly treasured money and possessions more than anything else now hand everything over to the treasury for all, and share it with everyone who needs. We who formerly cheated and murdered one another and did not even share our home with those who were different or from a different tribe, because of their customs, now, after Christ’s appearance, live together and share the same table. Now we pray for our enemies and try to win who hate us unjustly so that they too may live in accordance with Christ’s wonderful teachings, that they too might enter into the expectation.

 —–Justin Martyr 

Justin guides us to recognize the way of the Christian. When we come to Christ all of life looks so different, and we enter into the expectation. The expectation is that we can change and become the person that we could only imagine before we embraced His grace. Our prayer is that we can fully realize the life that Christ has for us.

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Wesley and Communion

Institution of the Eucharist

Institution of the Eucharist

John Wesley was a high church Anglican, when it came to the sacrament of Holy Communion. He very much believed in constant communion. He writes in a sermon of the same name.

I say constantly receiving; for as to the phrase of frequent communion, it is absurd to the last degree. If it means anything less than constant, it means more than can be proved to be the duty of any man. For if we are not obliged to communicate constantly, by what argument can it be proved that we are obliged to communicate frequently? Yea, more than once a year, or once in seven years, or once before we die? Every argument brought for this, either proves that we ought to do it constantly, or proves nothing at all. Therefore, that indeterminate, unmeaning way of speaking ought to be laid aside by all men of understanding.

—–John Wesley

Wesley received communion several times a week. He believed that it was commanded by Christ, and that the benefits (forgiveness, grace, assurance) of receiving communion should motivate one to commune constantly.

Wesley asserted that a Christian should study the passages in the Gospels and in 1 Corinthians 11  to come to a better understanding of the sacrament. He did not believe that Paul’s reference to “eating and drinking unworthily” referred to a lack of understanding of the meaning of the sacrament, but rather referred to celebrating in an unworthy manner in selfishness, and in a divisive ecclesial spirit. Infrequent communion also constituted eating and drinking unworthily.

Wesley never addressed the issue of whether an unbaptized person could receive communion, but given his context, he probably assumed that baptism was a prerequisite for coming to the Lord’s Table. He did, however, state that someone who is “earnestly seeking” may come to the table and find the grace they need. On occasion, Wesley did exclude some from receiving the Eucharist for various reasons. His understanding of open table was not a blanket invitation to everyone. Sinners must be earnestly seeking the grace of God, and in most cases one must be a member of a Methodist society. Soul-searching and prayer were important prerequisites, although Wesley did not exclude someone if daily events did not give time for such preparation. It was Wesley’s ecclesiological-oriented understanding of the sacrament that led him in this direction. It was the influence of the private religion in America on Methodism in the nineteenth century that led to open table as one of general invitation to all no matter what (J. Fitzgerald, in the Wesleyan Theological Journal, pp. 141-142, Spring 2007).

Wesley rejected with strong words the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, but as in baptism, he understood the sacrament as an actual means of the grace of God.

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Basic Disciplines for Liturgical Worship, Part II

I posted part 1. This is part 2,and I recommend a reading.

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