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Cecilia Payawal, PDDM, SThL August 19, 2010
1. In your own words, define “Eucharist”. What is “Eucharist”? The Eucharist is a celebration of thanksgiving for the Paschal mystery of Christ. This is the primary meaning which I have come to understand in this very important subject. We ought to give thanks to the Father for having given us the wonderful gift of salvation, given to us through Jesus Christ’s Paschal mystery, or the passing over of Christ from this world to the Father,
through which God’s plan of salvation is fulfilled. We are able to receive the three-fold gift of communion, encounter and reconciliation with God the Father through Jesus Christ. Great indeed is the need to thank God for this wonderful act of love for us that we need to celebrate it as often as possible. Every Eucharistic celebration is a fraternal banquet, in which all are united as brothers and sisters. It is a venue of true communion among brethren who have the same love and devotion for Jesus Christ! And since the Eucharist is a sacramental celebration, i.e., a making present, then it truly actualizes that wonderful event in our human history in which Christ suffered, died on the cross and rose—all because of love for us all! In this remembrance of the one true salvific action of Christ, we experience the same active presence of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the cross. Although we can no longer see with our own eyes the bloody events which Jesus experienced and His glorious resurrection, yet we can actually relive this wonderful moment in time in the celebration of the Eucharist. It is definitely a memorial of such a spectacular Paschal event! Whenever we participate in this great thanksgiving celebration, we cannot but be transformed by the presence of Christ. In other words, we are being transformed by the grace of the person of Christ to be more and more attuned to a life of virtue, of communion, of prayer and sacrifice, one that has a truly dignified Christian existence.
handouts a. See how some significant points are reflected in the movie Padre Pio. b. How can you say that Padre Pio is a “Eucharistic person”? (Based on what he said and did, on some significant scenes in the movie.) c. Who (aside from Fr. Pio) or what incidents reflect/s the meaning or theologies of the Eucharist? I wish to answer this part in an integrated manner—i.e., integrating the questions stated above. I find the questions very much connected and similar that I think it is better to answer them in a single unity. The movie Padre Pio is a story of a holy man who knew, loved and lived the Eucharist in the truest sense. It was a portrayal of a man who lived during the 20th Century, in the jaws of two bloody world wars and before, during and after the great Second Vatican Council.
Sacrament of Sacrifice To start with, his life was obviously a living martyrdom, not only because of the Stigmata which he received but also because of the persecution he experienced from different groups of people: his fellow Capuchin friars, Church men (priests and bishops), lay people, and the Devil himself. For example, a lady named Filomena reported to a bishop: “I’ve
come here to report something terrible…he’s having an affair…her name is Cleonice Morcaldi…” In another scene, the grand Visitator of the Vatican
accused him of something immoral: “Your relationship with Cleonice was not just a spiritual one...” His life was truly a living Eucharist, i.e., a sacrament of Sacrifice!
Memorial of the Paschal Mystery Padre Pio’s Stigmata was a vivid reminder of what Jesus Christ experienced on the cross that caused Him his very dear life for our own salvation. Through the Stigmata, or the very wounds of Jesus Christ himself, Padre Pio was a living reminder of Jesus Christ. Although his cannot be a perfectly the same suffering as that of Christ, nevertheless the Paschal Mystery which culminated in his death on the Cross and his eventual resurrection, was being made present through the very life of Padre Pio.
Thanksgiving It might be difficult to spot the aspect of thanksgiving of Christ’s Paschal mystery in his life because much of the film’s focus was his persecution and apostolate. But I see his happiness and satisfaction, especially in the last stage of his life, notwithstanding all the persecutions and temptations, is actually a form of
thanksgiving, an act thanksgiving to a privilege of being able to encounter Jesus Christ himself by being united with His suffering and pain, as shown in his soliloquy right before his death:
“How many gifts, how many good things, how many miracles you gave me? You came to live and to suffer inside my body. Me in you and you in me…What a great mystery! Thank you my Lord…”
Development of the Liturgical Rite In addition, I have observed one thing in the film: the positioning of the Altar in the times when he was still a younger priest and when he was older. In the scenes in the former, it is clear that he was celebrating the Holy Mass with his back facing the people: a pre-Vatican II Liturgy. On the other hand, in the scenes of the latter, especially when he had the encounter with the possessed lady and when the Vatican’s Grand Visitator came to watch over his presiding over the Eucharistic celebration, it was obvious that Padre Pio, who died in September 23, 1968, lived during both eras: before and after the Liturgical revisions of the Second Vatican Council. This was also tackled during one of our discussions in class.
Grace of Reconciliation, commitment to the mission and pledge of eternal life In the many scenes of the film in which his confession apostolate was featured, two theological meanings of the Eucharist were and a presented: Transforming instance, eventually staunch lay
Reconciliation Presence. when became In
particular who his
Emanuele, one of
supporters, was given absolution by Padre Pio he was filled with intense joy because of being reconciled back to God. At the same time, he was also transformed into a better and more virtuous man. Indeed when a person encounters Jesus in the Eucharist, he cannot but be transformed into Jesus’ very likeness, albeit slowly but surely. When Padre Pio built the hospital, I see the sense of communion of the a Church: a communal gathering and a sharing in the mission of saving lives and caring for the sick, which Christ Himself did during his earthly existence. The community makes present Jesus Christ through their concerted effort of loving and caring for the sick and war-victims.
3. PASTORAL IMPLICATIONS: From the discussion in class/handouts in class/handouts, what struck you most? What is it telling you, your community/parish, the Church, the world?
What are some points, from our lessons, from the movie, that you are challenged to live out? Among the many wonderful discussions we have had in this subject, what really struck me most was when we discussed about the professor’s article in the Lantayan Journal entitled “Know, Love and Live the Eucharist: A Challenge to Asian Youth Today.” First of all, I felt that the discussion was not only highly interactive but a reality check for me. After realizing that there is still a great need to completely understand the beautiful theological meaning of the Eucharist, I am challenged to do everything in my capacity to reach out to these Asian youngsters, specifically in my own Filipino context. The Eucharist is primarily a Thanksgiving. Hence, the disposition of
those who attend the Eucharistic celebration must be that of joyful gratitude because of the Paschal Mystery of Christ, in which we all received the grace of salvation—i.e., the relationship with God our Father which we earned through Christ. Personally, I’m now compelled to teach as faithfully as possible this profound meaning of the Eucharist, especially to the young inasmuch as I am a Salesian, an educator of the young. I’m inspired all the more to become both a pastor and companion to those who wish to see Christ! Moreover, I’ve become more conscious of my duty of bringing down to the level of these young people the correct or precise theological meaning of the Eucharist without compromising its fullness. I realize that indeed the world, at least in my own Philippine context, still needs many human persons
who are ready and willing to commit themselves in teaching these wonderful things concerning our Catholic Faith, especially the Holy Eucharist. Making the people understand the rich meaning of the Eucharist is actually leading them to Christ himself. Furthermore, I’ve come to realize that my Christian community needs a lot of catching up to do! The result of the survey presented in the said article is an indicator, in my opinion, that there is a kind of negligence on the part of the Church, beginning with the bishops themselves. However, since I have no control over them, I can do something which can be effective, especially in making the young people know, love and live the Eucharist. If I may suggest, first there is a need to look into the different Religious education programs of our elementary and high school departments. We need to start from the very basic. The Eucharist is so rich with symbolism, meaning and theological significance that it must be an impetus for those responsible of making, producing and approving the manuals or texts in the said topic. Aside from the school apostolate, another area which can be rehashed is that of the Catechetical programs of every diocese. If the said survey gives an empirical, nay obviously real data that many young Asians don’t have a precise understanding of the Eucharist, then the Philippine Church should be able to do something whether in the national or local church level. Each diocese can actually produce instructional texts that can cater to this particular issue. Since the Eucharist is the center of our Christian life, that is
to say the uniting factor of the Church, then it is of paramount importance to let every Christian, especially the youngsters, understand the rich meaning of the Eucharist: a celebration of thanksgiving of the Paschal mystery of Christ. I don’t exempt myself from this impetus of reviewing my own lessons on the Eucharist. As far as I am concerned, there is also a need to keep on reading materials that can help me become a better educator: both in life and in the classroom! I understand that I am now in the threshold of the Holy Orders. Will I ever receive the gifts of diaconate and priesthood? Let me cross the bridge when I get there. I realize that it is my duty to equip myself with all the necessary tools to promote and teach Jesus Christ himself. In my Theological formation, I challenge myself to really study, study and study the truths of my Catholic Faith. Ultimately, I must be able to live everything that I’ve learned in the classroom and in my study desk. I’ve come to realize that my life is not all found in books and lectures but also in the real apostolate. Whenever I go for the Apostolate, I will make a point that I will lead the people, both young and old, to Jesus Christ. My teaching can be more effective if taught not only through lectures, talks, classroom discussions and formation sessions but also via showing good and edifying examples. This latter part seems to be the most important, based on what I’ve experienced. In my present apostolate in one Salesian parish in Makati, I’ve learned that people don’t listen to a priest’s sermon or homily unless he himself lives a virtuous life—one that is a living sacrifice for the
sake of the salvation of souls. Many have approached and told me about this brother this and that priest because of either their edification or because of their getting scandalized of their lifestyle! This is a clear message for me that my life is no longer a private matter—i.e., for my own consumption only! My life can also be an example for others to imitate; my life can actually make or break another person’s life. Just like Padre Pio, one can live the Eucharist if there is also the aspect of sacrifice. This teaches me to be humble, first of all. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is a clear example of His own humility and obedience. One popular Pauline passage made a lasting impression on me during our class in Pauline Letters. It is the Kenosis passage in the Philippians 2:6-11. I actually wrote a song based on this inspired passage and I treasure my own composition in that it reminds me that Christ’s self-emptying is the best example of all as far as humility is concerned. My own kenosis would be nothing compared to Jesus’. However, I can become humble only when I learn to live a life that is ever-faithful to my vocation: a Salesian, a religious, a follower of Christ. The demands of the evangelical counsels seem to be too
overwhelming for me at this age. Nevertheless, I am compelled to follow Christ because of a fundamental option of loving Him. In my theological formation, there is a need to sacrifice so many things. First of all, there is a need to sacrifice my precious time for leisure and pleasure just to study and fulfill my basic duty in the Theologate. Another area is disregarding my selfish interests for the sake of the community. I have my own preferences
as far as schedules and activities are concerned. Instead, I put aside these penchants and listen to the voice of the community. Another is in the aspect of acquiring things. Letting go of the opportunity to buy my favorite MP3 player or cell phone or laptop is already a big sacrifice on my part. It’s part of the pledge that I made in my religious profession—the spirit of poverty, which is the total trust in divine providence and not relying on my own. There is also the real sacrifice of not having a beautiful wife and children. At present, there are a lot of appealing options the world is offering me! Am I willing to let go of these mundane attractions? Yes I am! It is because I have chosen to love my Jesus, the one who has called me among His worker! It is indeed a daunting task! But I believe and am convinced that my fundamental option of loving Jesus Christ will make me give away my life for the sake of the salvation of others—my family, friends, students, everyone whom I
encounter and have not met yet. Understanding the meaning of the Eucharist a very crucial stage that when hurdled, it is much easier to proceed to the next phase: loving the Eucharist. As what they say “you cannot love a person without knowing her first,” a Christian cannot definitely say he or she loves the Eucharist if he or she doesn’t grasp its full meaning. Ultimately, it’s not only the sacramental Eucharist that everyone is enjoined to love. It is also the person of Jesus Christ, who eventually leads us to the Father, in the Holy Spirit. In this way, the relationship with the Trinitarian God is so much clearer because there is already an adequate understanding of the basics. Loving Jesus Christ can
make us appreciate the value of our Christian existence—one that is geared to holiness. We are called to live the Eucharist by actually desiring holiness, but always in the context of the Church. The best venue where we can live the Eucharist is none other than the Church, for it is where we receive the grace of the person of Christ. When we gather in the Eucharistic banquet for example, there is the aspect of praying as a community, in which Jesus is actually present among us (Matt 18:20). Living the Eucharist also consists of charity or love. And there is no better way of reaching sanctity than by increasing our love for the one who also loves us very much: Jesus Christ our savior and, I say, friend. We ought to love Christ in the perfect sense of the word. We ought to follow his life, which is one of obedience to the Father, of selfless and unconditional love for others, of virtues and of sacrifice. -End-
Submitted by: BRO. GINO GODINEZ, SDB
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