minoxidil side effects

All is Communion

To accomplish Jesus’ goal of creating Christian Community, the Beloved Community through the medium of the Mass, we need to bring to bear a deep spirituality on the ritual of the Mass, as described in the article, The Mass As Medium. But above all, we need to keep Jesus’ goal in our consciousness throughout the Mass. We can achieve this awareness by expanding our perception of Holy Communion.

We are accustomed to thinking of Holy Communion as the reception of Eucharist taking place at one point in the Mass.In reality, the entire liturgy of the Mass can be perceived and experienced as “Holy Communion.” That is, if our intentionality of creating the Beloved Community is foremost in our minds and hearts throughout the Mass—from beginning to end.

Of course, the manner of experiencing “Holy Communion” at the various parts of the liturgy will differ. Let us break down the concept of “Holy Communion” into three different types of experiences. They are spiritual communion, ritual communion and actual communion. All are experiences of desire for the solidarity and union with the Beloved Community through Jesus that the term “Holy Communion” implies.

Spiritual Communion. The term “spiritual communion” signifies an experience of desiring communion, union with God or others or both. I first heard this term when I was in the Jesuit novitiate many years ago. In the morning we attended daily Mass and received Holy Communion. In the early afternoon, we filed into the chapel to experience “spiritual communion.” For a brief period of time, we would concentrate on experiencing and growing our desire for union with Jesus in the Eucharist.

How can we apply this term to the Mass? Before liturgy begins, we can remind ourselves of Jesus’ goal for the Mass, and attempt to experience and grow our desire for spiritual communion with the Beloved Community. During the early part of the Mass, creating the Beloved Community can become our motivation for seeking personal transformation when we hear Scripture and sermon. Our enhanced motivation grows our desire for spiritual communion with the Beloved Community.

Our awareness of the Beloved Community gives added meaning to our Prayers of Petition. When we pray for those who are sick, unemployed, suffering from natural disasters and others, we are praying for members of the Beloved Community with whom we want to experience spiritual communion. And when we recall friends and relatives who have passed away, we desire and experience spiritual communion with them as living members of the Beloved Community.

Ritual Communion. I am indebted to Joseph Campbell, the author of books on mythology for pointing out the symbolism behind the dance. He explained that the dance is a symbol of intimate love, and a way to act out ritually the relationship. From his concept I have created the term “ritual communion.” By that, I mean that we are ritually acting out our desire for spiritual communion with the Beloved Community. We are all familiar with liturgical dance at Mass. What I am suggesting is that the entire liturgy of the Mass is in fact a “liturgical dance.”

When we offer up our gifts of bread and wine together with the celebrant, we are ritually acting out our desire for spiritual communion with Jesus and the Beloved Community. For the bread and wine symbolize the offering of our lives. Through this ritual we prepare our hearts to join Jesus in his sacrifice for the Beloved Community. Truly the liturgical dance has begun.

When the celebrant consecrates our gifts of bread and wine, we are ritually acting out our desire for spiritual communion with Jesus and the Beloved Community. For he offers up the Risen Jesus and us as members of the Body of Christ. With Jesus, we too are sacrificed for our sisters and brothers in the Beloved Community. The liturgical dance has moved swiftly.

When we receive the Body of Christ and our sisters and brothers in the Body of Christ receive us as bread to eat and wine to drink, we are ritually acting out our desire for spiritual communion with the Beloved Community. For Jesus makes us Eucharist with him, and he grounds our communal solidarity on his real presence in the Eucharist. His presence consecrates us for union and anoints us for unity. The liturgical dance has ended dramatically.

Actual Communion. While spiritual communion seeks to grow our desire for union with the Beloved Community, and ritual communion seeks to act out our desire for union through symbol and ritual, in actual communion we carry out our desire for union by becoming communion to others. The Kiss of Peace is a demonstration of our desire for union with the Beloved Community. Further, the way we greet and relate to others after Mass actualizes our desire for union with the Beloved Community.

As we leave the church, we sense that the Mass has impacted our life vision, our perceptions of God, ourselves, others, life and creation. We want to be more self-giving, more desirous of communion with all.

All is communion. Expanding our perception of “Holy Communion” has transformed the entire liturgy of the Mass into a quest for creating the Beloved Community. And it has kept Jesus’ goal foremost in our minds and hearts.

Conclusion. Jesus revolutionized a thousand years of public worship when he transformed it from a bloody slaughter of animals into a love meal to create the Beloved Community. Unfortunately, it is a revolution that has not been realized—except briefly in the early Church. Most Christians are not even aware of Jesus’ revolution and of the Mass as a love meal. Yet, the reality is that the Mass is a love meal.

We have offered up ourselves to the Beloved Community by offering bread and wine. We have consecrated our offering of ourselves in bread and wine by uniting with Jesus’ sacrifice for the Beloved Community. We have been consumed as bread and wine with Jesus by our Beloved Community and we have received our sisters and brothers in our Eucharistic meal. It is this love meal that could revolutionize the Church and empower us to extend the Beloved Community to all society.

 (See Hymn, Dance of the Mass, which focuses on Jesus’ Love Meal under Music on the masthead.)