May the working of your power, O Lord,
increase in us, we pray,
so that, renewed by these heavenly Sacraments,
we may be prepared by your gift
for receiving what they promise.
Through Christ our Lord.
The Prayer after Communion on Sunday, the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, reminds us of the process of healing and salvation that we are invited to participate in.
Catholics, and many other Christians, greatly venerate the Sacraments: actions in which we assuredly encounter the risen and glorified Lord.
But they are means to an end, the pledge of what is promised, rather than what is itself promised. The Sacraments are indeed imbued with heaven – as the Prayer after Communion asserts, they are ‘heavenly’. But in heaven there are no sacraments only the reality that they express and that they effect, in the (limited) way that is proper to them.
It is not that Christ is in anyway absent from our assembly or celebration, or that the Sacrament is lacking in its reality and efficacy. Just that the Sacrament is offered to help us to come to heaven in Christ, rather than be an end in itself.
For this reason it is so important that when we celebrate the Sacraments we celebrate, and our ministers minister, in a manner which excites our participation and fruitful reception of God’s gifts.
Again this does not of course mean that the celebrations should be excessively lively, being celebrated in a way which distracts us from our prayerful dwelling on word and symbolic action, so as to draw from them the grace needed for living faithfully.
Prayerful celebration is to draw us into Christ’s presence, and engage us with his real presence, rather than simply excite us, and feed us with the drug of activism and hype.
The horizons of the liturgy are always much more than than us and now. But we ought to expect – and ourselves contribute ourselves to – a celebration that is striving to be the work of the whole assembly, the Body united with its Head and drawn by him heavenwards.
- How do you contribute to the prayer of the assembly at Mass on Sunday?
- How does the work of the rest of the assembly (and its ministers) contribute to your own prayer at Sunday Mass?
- What one thing might enrich your community’s experience of Mass?
Stained Glass. King’s Lynn Minster. (c) 2016, Allen Morris