Humility Penetrates the Mystery of the Eucharist

Author: Cristoforo Bove

Humility Penetrates the Mystery of the Eucharist

Cristoforo Bove

Reflection: "Year of the Eucharist"

The First Book of Kings (19:9, 11, 13) recounts the story of Elijah; he was the Prophet who fled from Queen Jezebel, who was persecuting him and wanted him dead. and followed the itinerary of Israel by reaching Mount Horeb: here he had an experience of God.

In the solitude of the cave, where he took shelter for the night, the prophet searched for God according to traditional methods, according to his own way of seeing things from the wind strong enough to rend mountains and crush rocks, to the earthquake and fire that suggest disturbing phenomena tied to the Presence of God.

God, however, was not to be found in these manifestations.

Solitude inflaming the spirit

The Lord is unpredictable and appears in the peace and tranquility of a light breeze: Elijah understands that the Lord is familiarity, simplicity, a gentle presence perceived in the rumble of a silent solitude that crushes the body while inflaming the spirit.

Likewise, in front of the Mystery of Bread, meditation allows us to see ourselves as "lost children" who refuse to accept the unacceptable.

The tears of the saints, like those of every person pure of heart, demonstrate lost unity and the experience of defeat in order to once again find God in the solitude and silent intimacy of extended adoration.

Adoration is penance and supplication. The glory of the mystery becomes the memory of the death of Jesus and expectation of the impossible: of love stronger than death in the mysterious "nothingness" of bread and wine, the Paschal Sacrament announcing the Lord's death proclaiming his Resurrection, awaiting his return.

In this memorable intimacy, like a "divine breeze" invading the entirety of the person, the heart of stone is again made one of flesh in the waters of Baptism; once again it is made pliable to the Spirit.

"Memory of death" is transformed into "memory of God", of the Crucified and Risen God who promised to remain with us until the end of the world.

The Mystery of Bread is also this promise; when meditating upon this promise fulfilled, daily anxieties are calmed and complete silence envelops the spirit, here where the Face of all faces is imprinted. God "is seen".

Closer to God: we are alone

"The closer we are to God the more we are alone", as L. Bloy said. In this infinite solitude, like the breeze experienced by the prophet Elijah. the words of the prophet Hosea resound: "I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord" (Hos 2:20).

Here, faithfulness is not used in the sense of "believing" in a revealed truth; rather, it implies a nuptial faithfulness, faithful surrender in the "hidden" God.

Solitude, silence, prayer and all types of religious ascetics prepare and mold the soul for this mysterious encounter.

The journey, however, is long and rough so to as arrive at a limpid vision which derives from a poor, humble, empty heart where the mysterious presence of God is able to water and "fertilize" activity and daily life.

Humility of heart is especially needed in front of the Eucharist. This frees Religious from the illusions they have created between themselves and reality, strips them of vanity by a "healthy despair", where they finally experience the useless battle to make a god of themselves.

They then come to realize that they live fully in God, although God does not make himself visible; nonetheless, everything has changed since God has become "all in all".

Purity and humility are key

Humility is an assent to God's secret action in the fragility of normalcy and the dissatisfaction of daily life: it is accepting our limits that God alone can fill. It is our surrender and peace in the whirlwind of relentless questions and in the storms of fluctuating darkness.

In this newfound purity of heart we are able to continue to acknowledge ourselves as weak sinners but loved, redeemed and changed by God, under whose tent we have the privilege to live and work.

"To seek God", Thomas Merton wrote, "means to live in Christ, to find the Father in his Incarnate Son, participating through faith and the denial of self in Christ's obedience, poverty and charity".

Christ, Sacrament of God for the salvation of the world, can be perceived in the Mystery of Bread only by the "pure of heart"; that is, by the simple and humble, for the humblest of all is the sign of bread wherein Jesus wished to remain with us until the end of the world.

In Patristics this interior disposition is often defined as puritas cordis; some people clearly affirm that the finality of Religious life is to rise up to this vortex of purity and humility of heart.

To reach this luminous mountain it is necessary to take up the Way of the Cross, of the Crucifixion, the silent adoration of the mystery of the will of the Father to the glory of the Resurrection.

In this sense, the Mystery of Bread contains in itself the proclamation and memory of the death of the Lord, proclaims the Resurrection, and each day, in vigilant worship of the mystery, awaits the glorious Second Coming.

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
14 September 2005, page 4

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