Approx. read time: 2:30 min.
For Sunday morning worshipers, the deepest dark days of pandemic threw us off our routine.
Well, I think, with churches closed, I suddenly have occasion to sit deeply, at home, with the Eucharistic Prayer.
Again and again, a simple line from this ancient prayer draws me into untethered contemplation: And so, Father, we bring you these gifts …
These gifts. The bread, the wine.
Well, on a Sunday morning I don’t feel inclined to fetch a slice of homemade bread from the kitchen, nor a glass of jug red wine.
Somehow it’s not about finding substitutes.
But I begin to wonder … If bread and wine, then why not … everything else? Not just things that “stand in” for the sacred offering, but the sacred things themselves.
I begin the prayer again. And so, Father, we bring you these gifts.
Instinctively my hands extend, palms up, and I see the offering of the labors of my past week: the writing, the video-taping, the listening, the ways I was present to others. I pause, and offer it all.
Now the door of my heart and imagination swings open, and I see the week’s labors of bus drivers, students, older folk with their shopping carts, the man struggling with his 30-gallon bag of empty cans. I pause, and offer it all.
I see the labors of the helpful librarian, the postal clerk, the tired teen, the frazzled teacher, the hidden labors of people with good hearts whose labors go mostly unappreciated. I pause, and offer it all.
I see the labors of dentists and medical workers tending their patients. The labors of researchers, knowledge seekers, those who hold a vision. I pause, and offer it all.
I see the labors of folks who work with their hands, their muscles, their backs. I see the labors of helpers, caregivers, moms who hold a sick child through the night. I pause, and offer it all.
I see the tired faces of those who labor faithfully in low-pay thankless jobs in order to provide for their families. I pause, and offer it all.
I see the labor of those who struggle with all their might against the impulse of addictions. I see those who walk with them, counsel them, encourage them on their tortuous journey. I pause, and offer it all.
And so, Father, we bring you these gifts.
Gifts of creativity and fruitfulness; of obedience and patience. Gifts of justice, generosity, and joy. Gifts of compassion, forgiveness, and unexplainable hope. Gifts of good hearts, of those who choose the good road.
I think back to Père Teilhard de Chardin, Jesuit priest, scholar, scientist. On a World War I battlefield, he wants to celebrate Eucharist, but has no bread, no wine. So he takes, as his matter of sacrifice, the great suffering of humanity.
All of life is meant to be a eucharistic celebration. Is this not our imperative?
We labor with dignity. Our work is holy. We wear the vestments of our calling.
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Be well. Live in peace. Love one another.