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The Eucharist is not only the “source and summit” of the Christian life, but it also encapsulates the Christian life. The sacramental reception of communion is at once the pre-eminent symbol, the fulfillment, and the cause of the life of grace, and thus it is the essence of the Christian life this side of Heaven.  Therefore, it contains pre-eminently those two dispositions with which the Christian finds Himself, dispositions which seem to run counter to one another: peace and longing, peace insofar as the Eucharist is the essence of grace and longing insofar as the essence is given only in a sacramental seed.  Both of these dispositions must be carefully cultivated so that we may enjoy that paradoxical tension as we await our final redemption.  The final two joyful mysteries of the rosary instruct us by giving us wonderful examples of the two dispositions.

We ought to have the same sense of finality and fulfillment that Simeon does when he, after waiting for so long, receives the promise of the Holy Spirit, that he might lay his eyes on and hold the Savior of Israel, the Son of God, before His death. When the promise is fulfilled, he does not insist that He might never return Christ to His Mother, nor does he mourn that he will never see the Christ child again before death. Rather, he thanks God and sees His encounter with the savior as the conclusion of the promise made to him.  He says, “Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; Because my eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” He acknowledges that just one opportunity to see and hold the Son of God is enough for Him, for His peace will now remain with him until death. He has found the conclusion of his life. Likewise, one mass is enough for us. In justice, we do not even deserve one mass. In just one mass, our chest is adorned with the breastplate of justice that will not rust, our feed are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace that does not wear, and our loins are girt with the truth that will never fail. One mass is enough.

Yet, we ought also to have that longing of Mary when she loses the Child in Jerusalem. She does not see His face for three days, and how awful must have been her sorrow! For a mother to lose her son must be difficult enough, but how much worse for the Mother of God, who loved her Son with a perfect Charity above that of the angels! Again, this must be our disposition when between our communions. We are but wanderers, awaiting when we can find our Lord again in the temple. We trust God that all is held in his providence and that He desires us to find His Son again, but until then, our most frequent thought ought to be our next communion, when we, after much struggle, discover Our Lord again.  He will be seated on a throne in the temple of God, a Child and a Sage, teaching us with divine Wisdom as Christ taught those Jewish priests two millennia ago. I do not think that it would be impious for us to cry out to Christ in the temple, as Mary did, “Why hast thou done this to us?” Why must we continue to live in this shadow of death, and why might we not serve at this liturgy continuously? Why must we wait for the eternal Hossana’s of Heaven?

If we could begin to think of our relationship with the Eucharist as a perpetual losing and finding, if we could begin to think of our lives lived outside the mass as always ordered back to our next mass, we might begin to see that this is the character of the Christian life itself. We have found Him, and lest we turn away, we have found Him for good. We can rest peacefully, yet we must also strive longingly.  We have found Him whom we cannot see. We have come to His throne, been cured of our blindness, yet we find ourselves in a new blindness, seemingly inflicted by Him, in some ways harsher and in some ways sweeter than the last. We can rest in the fact that we sit before His throne, but at the same time we must strive to train our eyes and ears to see and hear His glory. In our Earthly pilgrimage, we cannot yet see the Divinity behind the veil, and so it is our grace to both sit and sprint, rest and strive. We must have the peace of Simeon and restless longing of Mary. We must eat the Bread of Life even as the hunger pangs increase, for they are the labor pains of our salvation. It is our grace today to endure a hungry fulfillment.

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