November 12, 2021

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

United in the Eucharist, we are called to community

Kimberly PohoveyI imagine most Catholics have a favorite prayer or Scripture passage. There is a prayer in the liturgy of the Eucharist at Mass that has had a profound impact on my way of thinking.

When it comes to favorite prayers during Mass, I would guess mine is a bit more obscure as typically the priest prays this prayer silently. However, I formerly was a member of a parish at which the pastor would audibly recite the old version of the Roman Missal just prior to Communion: “May the body and blood of Christ bring us to everlasting life.” Only, he would insert the word “all” as in: “May the body and blood of Christ bring us all to everlasting life.” The new version is similar: “May the body and blood of Christ keep us safe for eternal life.”

When I first paid attention to my former pastor reciting these words out loud, it had such an impact on my understanding of the Eucharist. Inserting the word “all” made, for me, such a difference in the purpose of the Eucharist. (I’m sure there are differing opinions on whether the priest should have said this prayer out loud. I’m not here to debate that; I simply want to share my experience and reaction.)

These spoken words drew my attention to focus solely on the body and blood held up at the altar. Instead of distractedly looking around, checking my watch or making “to do” lists in my head, I really began to ponder the sacrifice of the Eucharist, and I began to thank Jesus for suffering for me.

As I pondered the fact that the Eucharist was meant to spiritually nourish me, I began to ask Jesus to enter my body, mind and heart so that I may be Christ to others. Last, I would get emotional thinking that the Eucharist unites all of us in Christ’s love and the promise of eternal life. I found myself scanning the congregation, seeing each person as God’s child and my fellow disciple. I came to realize that, through the Eucharist that strengthens us, it is up to all of us to help one another attain heaven.

Nov. 6-7 was intention weekend for the United Catholic Appeal (UCA). This year’s theme of “United in the Eucharist” could not be more meaningful at this time. After more than a year and a half, COVID-19 has diminished church attendance. I believe that only through Christ will we be brought back together. This year’s UCA marketing efforts include a series of videos that express individuals’ encounters with Christ. Collectively, they tell a story of how Christ unites all of us in community with one another.

When I was young, I thought—as I assume many people do—that it was OK to skip Mass and experience God privately. Today when I hear someone say they get more out of their relationship with God if they go alone for a walk in nature, I wince. While I think it is a lovely idea to talk to God in nature, I believe Christ came to create among us a community. And attending Mass is the most powerful way to experience that community while focusing on the Eucharist that binds and brings us all to eternal life.

To view this year’s UCA stories, visit: www.archindy.org/UCA.

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of major and planned gifts for the archdiocese.) †

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