Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Four-Fold Eucharistic Pattern for Life

In a posting entitled "Take, Bless, Break, Give" over at Episcopal Café, the Rev. Lowell E. Grisham offers reflections on how the four-fold action of the Eucharist provides a model for the Christian life.



Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." (Lk. 22:19)

Take. Bless. Break. Give. The four-fold action of the Eucharist is something that has become profoundly important to me. It is a pattern for life.

Take. The 18th century spiritual director Jean Pierre de Caussade urged his listeners to give themselves to the present moment with a radical acceptance. Trust that God is always doing the best that God can do within the limitations of creation and our own sin. Accept the present moment, he said, as the sacrament of God's presence. If we are to know God and serve God, it can only be here and now within the circumstances of the present moment. So let go of the struggle of resentment and judging, and accept what is as the context for our experience of God in our lives. Within this moment, in these circumstances, God presents us our communion with the divine.

Abandon yourself to the present moment, Caussade says, and simply intend to do one thing -- to do God's will. And what is God's will? He says it can be one of three things: Either to do some present duty, or to enjoy some present joy, or, in the dark mystery of God, occasionally it is God's will for us to suffer something for the sake of God in the spirit of Christ's cross. When we are doing God's will in the present moment, we are doing our part -- we are doing everything we can to bring near the Reign of God.

It all starts with Acceptance. "Take." Accept this moment as the crucible of the divine presence and will.

Bless. In Hebrew tradition to bless something is to give thanks for it. At a meal someone will "give the blessing." They will make a prayer of thanksgiving over the food. Whenever anything is received with thanksgiving, it is blessed; it is consecrated. Thanksgiving is the characteristic Christian stance before the world. We say in our Eucharistic Prayer, "It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks..." (BCP, p. 361) To accept this moment and to bless it in a spirit of thanksgiving to God is to consecrate the moment, to make it holy. Every moment can be holy.

Break. The word "sacrifice" literally means "to make holy" -- from sacra ("sacred rites") and facere ("to do, to perform, to make"). The bread must be broken to be shared. Offering precedes giving. Jesus shows us the path of death and resurrection. For me, the breaking is always a form of willingness. I must be willing to surrender my own self-centeredness in order to enter into something greater. That sacrifice seems always to be a breaking open into an encounter with the divine, with holiness.

Give. All of life is gift. We have been given all that we are and all that we have. How can we give ourselves, and continue the generative process?

Each moment of this day will contain a Eucharistic opportunity for us to take, bless, break and give. What is this moment about right now?

1 comment:

Janice said...

Thanks for that. I didn't know that, "to bless something is to give thanks for it," and was asking about the meaning of "to bless" in our small group only a week or so ago. Nobody else knew either.