June 2, 2013

aliquantulum quiescit

There are about thirty friars assigned to the house where I live. Most of them are priests. Many of them live itinerant lives in their service to the Order, so at any given moment two-thirds or so of the group might be at home. This means that as a priest one gets to be principal celebrant only once or twice a month. I really look forward to it, especially for the particular circumstances of Holy Communion.

After the Behold the Lamb of God...(the phrasing of which is curiously inverted in Italian, i.e. it goes, first, Blessed are...and then Behold...) the concelebrants begin to approach the front of the altar, where the acolyte has already placed the paten and chalices for them. Given that this procession of the concelebrants takes a few minutes, the principal celebrant is left with all the time he could want in receiving Holy Communion. I really appreciate it. One can even observe the brief period of meditation prescribed in the Extraordinary Form after receiving the Host and before receiving the Precious Blood. Tridentine accretion or 'mutual enrichment'? I don't know...but the great thing is that nobody else is paying you any mind such that he might render an opinion.

I just love the stress-free nature of the moment, the chance to receive Holy Communion in total peace. No worried temptation to look out of the corner of your eye to make sure the full complement of EMsoHC has assembled, no anxiety over whether you will soon find out that you will be expected to engage in some bizarre 'local custom' or illicit Communion Rite procedure.

As I received Holy Communion today, the gospel came back to me. (Luke 9:11b-17) I knew myself as one of those tired faces in the crowd, finding myself in the 'deserted place' of this world--and is if that weren't bad enough, finding myself as the 'deserted place' of my own soul, my own prayer and devotion having been made a desert by my negligence and sin. But it was precisely for me and all my brother and sister miserable sinners that Jesus Christ gave himself as bread to the Twelve, that they might give him to us. And it is in just this way that the bread that was more than enough for the hungry crowd, passed on by the apostolic Churches down to today, comes even to me.

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