Excerpt on the Eucharist from Holistic Christianity (Conti, 2005): The Vision of the Catholic Mystics

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Excerpt on the Eucharist from Holistic Christianity (Conti, 2005): The Vision of the Catholic Mystics

Post by Admin on Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:23 am

The Bread of the Mystics:
The Eucharistic Christ

Catholic Churches have a curious piece of furbishing that, though plain and inconsequential in appearance, is a dramatic piece of mystical teaching.  It is a sink called the sacrarium, which may be found in the sacristy, a room adjacent to the altar area.  

In appearance, the sacrarium resembles, more or less, a common household sink.  However, a handyman examining it closely would be puzzled because the drain completely bypasses the conventional plumbing system and feeds directly to the earth.

That is because it is used for one purpose: as a basin to wash the vessels of the Mass, vessels which still contain particles of the Blessed Sacrament after the consecrated bread and wine of Holy Communion have been distributed to the faithful.   For two thousand years the Church has believed on the word of the Savior that the Mass makes present the Mystery of the Last Supper: that the bread and wine really become the Resurrected Christ.  

The Eucharist is truly Christ, not a symbol of Christ.  To receive Holy Communion is really to bring into our being the very Eternal Christ of Heaven, by which indwelling Christ advances his Mysteries in us.  

That is why Catholic Churches are furbished with this curious little basin, the sacrarium.  After Mass, the chalice which has for a few minutes has borne Almighty God are washed in this basin, carrying What is left directly to the earth, which is thereby blessed.  

The Poem Becomes Real

In the soul of the poet are born “phrases which toll with a pang in our hearts.”  We are drawn to rest beneath the fronds of music in the poet’s garden.
Christ is the primordial Poet.  For He is the Incarnation of the Logos, the very creativity through all things came to be-- all things which poets, His progeny, sing with delirious clarity.   Ralph Waldo Emerson aptly called Christ “the Bard of the Holy Spirit.”  For Gibran, Christ was the “Master Singer”:

Master, Master Singer,
Your tears were like the showers of May,
And your laughter like the waves of the white sea...
You laughed for the marrow in their bones that
was not yet ready for laughter;
And you wept for their eyes that were yet dry.

According to Aristotle’s Poetics, the supreme poetic skill is "to be a master of metaphor.  It is the one thing that cannot be learnt from others..."  Let me suggest that uniquely in the Mass, mastery of the metaphor attains its superlative degree: a symbol finally and completely attains the real.  For on the altar, the symbols that Christ selected to represent Himself, bread and wine-- actuallt pass from metaphorical figures to metaphysical reality, not only becoming not real, but Reality Itself, the Lord of the universe.

Master, Master Singer!

Think of a painting of a rose-- which suddenly startles you by gushing the lush fragrance of a real rose.  Think of holding the photo of a lion-- who overleaps his two-dimensional captivity and begins to roar.  Think of a map in your hands-- that unexpectedly gleams with rivers, frosts with snowcaps, burns with deserts.    

All of this happens at every Mass, as symbols --bread and wine-- all of a sudden cease to obey the laws of matter, in order to obey the words of Christ, “This is my body, This is my blood”-- and thus become really and substantially become Him under the appearance of bread and wine.   The appearance of bread and wine continues for our senses, but the original substance of each, their ordinary created ground, is now gone-- replaced by Christ Himself.  In this wise, the poet Claudel suggested that just as an ancient star continues to show its light to us though it is long gone, so bread and wine continue to appear to our senses after consecration, even after they are long gone-- having really become the eternal Christ.  

If you are twenty five feet away from the Eucharist at that moment, you are twenty-five feet away from your Creator.  If fifteen feet-- then fifteen.  Then suddenly, He who holds your destiny in His hands is now in your hands.   And then in your very being-- as He was in Mary.  But now you are not giving birth to Him, but He to you.  

It is not by accident that poets are drawn to the Mass.  The Mass itself is the Great Poem-- the poem that attains the real. The metaphorical becomes the metaphysical in the Mass.  Ritual become Actual.

The Eucharistic Presence inverts the great flow of creation.  It is the earth herself that grows from the mystic Wheat, and it is all space and time that draws sap from the cool vineyards of its mystic Wine.

 “The Catholic faith is the reconciliation both of mythology and philosophy.  It is a story and in that sense one of a hundred stories; only it is a true story.  It is a philosophy and in that sense of hundred philosophies; only it is a philosophy that is like life” (G.K. Chesterton).


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