Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Eucharist, The Cross, The Empty Tomb

If we were playing a game show like the $25,000 Pyramid or Jeopardy the response might be "Things a Catholic Priest is Likely to Mention at the Mass of the Lord's Supper".  And, sure enough, Monsignor Rick Hilgartner mentioned these three--not just independently but together at the Mass on Thursday.

The Catholic church sees the time from the Mass on Thursday (a very special mass at which we celebrate when the Lord served his apostles by washing their feet--most likely the topic for my final Lenten experience blog tomorrow) through the Easter Vigil mass as the Triduum.  The Triduum is the great three days--or the three day period during which we celebrate the Last Supper, the crucifixion, and the waiting the apostles did before the discovery of the empty tomb on Easter.

Monsignor not only mentioned these three, but, amusingly, he mentioned it within the context of the Baltimore Orioles.  How did he link those?  With the mass on the day before the opening day of the Orioles season, he reflected on local expectations of the Orioles season (which are poor, although the Orioles did win their first game).  When he talked about how low the expectations are, he also mentioned that solving the problems the Orioles have is not something that can be done with a single change.  The Orioles have a set of problems and solving the set of problems would require a whole set of solutions.

Similarly, Catholics celebrate the Eucharist each week.  It is in celebration of the Last Supper.  The Last Supper would have been only a philosophical discussion if it were not for the crucifixion on the cross (the cross behind the altar being a prominent feature in Catholic churches) the next day.  And the value of either of those would have been lost if not for the empty tomb on the third day.  So, if a person liked feeling like a part of the body of Christ (literally and figuratively as the members of the church today act as the hands and feet of Christ on earth) by receiving the Eucharist but don't buy how harsh the crucifixion was or don't buy the Resurrection then what is there.  Or if a person likes to believe in Resurrection but not the other two, there is something lacking.

What Monsignor emphasized was the need to buy the "whole package".  To buy all of what Jesus did.  And while the discussion was mostly about the things between the Last Supper and Easter, Monsignor also alluded to buying the whole set of things that Jesus preached and Jesus did.

So, once again, I was reminded of being "all in."  Except in this case instead of putting "my whole self in" (to quote the Hokey Pokey) it is putting my whole self around a whole set of beliefs.  Sometimes taking just part of the beliefs really doesn't work.  And this is one of those times.  It is a challenge to buy the "entire set of beliefs" for any church, religion, or philosophy.  But there are difficulties with being a cafeteria Catholic as well.

So, am I "all in" when it comes to this set of issues?  As far as the Triduum yes.  For all Catholic beliefs--there are some with which I struggle, but that is a part of my continued growth.  

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