Occasionally when checking around the church I come across some Cheerios that have fallen on the floor, or pieces of cracker, or a used, empty coffee cup, or some other indication that someone has been eating in church. While I like the church to be neat and clean, the fact that someone has been eating and drinking in the church does not bother me. Because eating and drinking is what we do in church. Mostly we gather in our church for the celebration of Eucharist, and among other things (sacrifice, memorial, etc.) Eucharist is a meal. Let me repeat that, our most central act of worship is a meal. So eating and church go together like, well… coffee and donuts.
I mention this because this is the next article in my series on our church windows, and we now come to the last set of windows in side walls of our church. Fittingly, this pair of windows (at the front on your left as you face the altar) represent the Holy Eucharist. On the left hand window as you face them we see a representation of a bunch of grapes and two stalks of wheat, and on the right side panel we see a host and chalice. It is fitting that the Eucharist be the completion of this set of windows because the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” according to the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) par. 11, of Vatican Council II.
Now we often don’t appreciate the full impact of the Eucharist as a meal because the host, which is made of wheat flour and water only, baked at very high temperature, does not much resemble bread as we know it. Children preparing for First Holy Communion when they first have the practice host do not spontaneously react to it as bread. When I used to prepare children for First Communion I heard “plastic,” “fish food,” and other analogies, but not bread. And many people do not take the consecrated wine at all, and even those who do take only the tiniest smidgeon of a sip, rather than following the Lord’s injunction to “Take and drink.” I always drink, not just sip, but only for religious reasons.
We are very blessed that we have easy access to the celebration of the Eucharist. Since the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life,” such access is indeed a great blessing, and we have the opportunity to celebrate Eucharist every day. But there are many places in the world, and increasingly in our own country, where persecution, remoteness, and especially the lack of priests, makes the Eucharist uncommon, and even rare. In some places people are literally “starving” for the Eucharist. I hope we never experience that.
So as you consider these windows and reflect on them I hope you will offer a prayer of gratitude for the gift we enjoy of easy access to the Eucharist. Do not take this gift for granted. After all, the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.”
Can’t do better than that.
These windows were given in memory of Mr. William Swenson and Family by Mrs. William Swenson.