This is Life

 I frequently hear people rejoice in the fact that, as a Catholic, we can enjoy a glass of wine or a good scotch without fearing that it goes against any religious beliefs.  I myself crack a joke every now and then; mostly in jest but with a thread of truth woven inside because I truly cannot understand a life of joy that bans a happy drink.
With due respect to those who for various reasons cannot enjoy a drink or for whom one drink is too many and two is never enough, I am glad that Catholicism understands the beauty of a bountiful earth in food and drink.  I especially am glad about this at the end of a long day while I sit on the porch enjoying a glass of vino!

Recently I was able to journey on the Pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi with others from our Diocese which included my brother and sister-in-law.  We had a marvelous and prayerful time, mingling the beauty of Godly art and a banquet of delicious food, praying in our own English language individually and Latin in harmony, exemplifying the Church Universal.  There is a great beauty to marrying of the two – good food and great art - one might confuse being on a pilgrimage with ascetic discipline, and there is a place for such sparseness, but when one’s soul is being awakened with the eyes, touching on all the senses seems naturally fitting.

One of our final meals consisted of a delightful restaurant in which we were never offered a menu or choices, we simply sat and marveled in each and every dish presented for our feasting.  These dishes, Salmon, Tuna, Anchovies, Risotto, Pasta, Clams, and the like marinated or cooked to perfection and presented as a feast for the eyes as well as the palate, were offered in tandem with a gorgeous white wine.  No foes or grudges were found lurking in this room, only joy, happiness, and laughter.  All twenty two of us delighted in the meal that brought pure gladness.  At one point, I looked over to see my brother savoring the moment, looking around at the group with eyes full of enchantment.  I caught him saying, to no one in particular, “This. This is life.”

This pic shows water.  There definitely was more than water to be had!
And he’s right.  This is the banquet that Christ offers us in His Holy Church.  This is the kind of moment that fills our oil lamps with joy, to sustain us through the drought as we wait for the coming of the Kingdom.  This is the Eucharistic moment in our existence outside of Mass.  This is truly what joy Christ wants to bring us; fellowship, elation, igniting all the senses He bestowed upon us, a precursor to the Heavenly banquet we strive toward as a potential Saint.  This is the oasis in the midst of the long desert that is our short existence.

While it is easy to comprehend at a once-in-a-lifetime event such as this dinner, it doesn’t have to be that way; it doesn’t even need to happen with good wine or strong drink.  The transforming power of joy can happen as easily sitting in the dawning light as the birdsong praises the Wonder of God; yet, where one can be guaranteed to find all of this and more every single time awaits him across the threshold of any Catholic Church.  Christ Himself, noted to us by the single red candle, sits in repose in the Tabernacle.  We may need the reminder of those extraordinary moments to rediscover the Life and Love captured in a tiny host or a drop of Precious Blood, but He’s there, waiting for us with a load of Graces to sustain our days and ripening our hearts so that we may experience the Joy found in family, laughter, and marvelous meals. 

It’s the Eucharist, above and beyond all, that fills our oil lamps in copious amounts.  Proper worship is not a nice thought or a suggestion by God, it’s a command.  When He says “I am with you always” He not only means through the Holy Spirit in an intangible way, He means, quite literally, in the Real Presence of the Eucharist.  Every single Catholic Church has Jesus in the Tabernacle.  We aren’t simply conjuring a representation of the Last Supper, we are participating in it.  We aren’t doing God any favors by dragging our tired bodies to Mass on Sunday morning, or ‘squeezing it in’ between brunch and golf.  We are commanded by God to come and worship Him (guess what, it’s not about you or me or the music or the priest or anything but God! How refreshing is that ability to let it all go for Him!)  Our time spent in Mass is for the good of our soul, for the good of our families, for the good of our communities, for the good of our State, and for the good of our World. 

I pray that God continues to work in me, helping me to recognize His presence as I venture through my blink of existence.  I fervently pray that my time spent in proper worship, the Mass, fills my oil lamp so that I have an abundance of Grace to spend in Awe as I sit with my husband enjoying a drink, laugh with my children over a simple little meal, rejoice in my extended community of friends and family and take a moment to look around at happy, smiling faces and utter that “This. This is life.”


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