In preparation for Adoremus, the National Eucharistic Congress and Pilgrimage, Father Joe Kendall is offering a series of reflections on Eucharistic themes.
I got to enjoy thirteen months as a deacon before being ordained a priest. It felt like a really blessed time to be exercising that ministry – when I could be close to the man exercising the priestly ministry at Mass, something to which I aspired, and when I could also come to see how I could bring the diaconal ministry to bear in my own life and future ministry as a priest.
The diaconal year, of course, came at the end of my formation journey, yet it served to show that discerning how God was calling me was still very much an ongoing concern, regardless of my being formed for priesthood. One day, though, it did strike me that the deacon at Mass has a part to play for which we should all be very grateful: he tells us to go.
Obviously it is a good thing to be in God's Eucharistic presence, but if we are true to what this presence means for us then we cannot just stay put. The bread and wine have been transformed at Mass and so we must be too. We are changed, and we are sent out with a mission: ite, missa est.
One of the many blessings of our latest translation of the Mass is that the consequences of this sending out are spelt out for us. We might be sent out to announce the Gospel of the Lord or sent out in peace glorifying the Lord by our lives. If we understand these commands and take them to heart then we are sent out with the mission to transform the world around us.
The task of changing the world, binding up a world that is broken, may seem daunting and beyond our capabilities. But remember that we have been changed by the Eucharist. Bread and wine have become the Body and Blood of Christ.
In fact, our sending out from Mass evokes another sacrament too: Baptism. We have already been changed by our Baptism, receiving a call from God that is both personal and universal. This is our call to holiness, and we are nourished by the Eucharist so that we can respond to that universal vocation by living in the way our personal vocation demands of us.
With Blessed John Henry Newman, we can pray at Mass that many people will be open to the call of God in their lives.