Revive Alive - The Eucharistic Revival in the Diocese of Colorado Springs
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands. it will become our spiritual drink.
— From the Roman Missal: Preparation of the Gifts.
Every Sunday at Mass, we profess that God is the maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. God is the creator of all that exists. Everything that is not God is a creature, including us.
Human beings are part of creation, born into a reality not of our making. This has big implications. Among them is the fact that the world does not belong to us — it is God’s. We are simply its stewards, not its owners. The truth of existence does not belong to us, either. We belong to it. In other words, we do not get to decide what is true or false, or even the meaning of life. We discover them and act accordingly.
In the beginning, Adam and Eve were given charge of the garden to till and keep it. As Pope Benedict XVI said, “The Creator’s directive to mankind means that it is supposed to look after the world as God’s creation, and to do so in accordance with the rhythm and the logic of creation.” To accept our status as creatures also means working with nature, not manipulating it towards ends other than its intended purpose. The fall of man was not only disobedience toward God, but a perverted will to power over the created order. Unlike any other creature, the human person attempts to claim for himself the ability to determine good and evil. This was the first sin, and we have gotten more sophisticated since. There is a logical similarity between something like a reckless exploitation of natural resources and sex-reassignment surgery or artificial contraception. Both express a disregard for nature (human or environmental) and a desire for mastery over it. The human person can fall out of harmony with creation and grasp after the status of creator, treating the world as if we stood apart from it as its arbiters.
Since the fall, what was created as “good” seemed to have turned “bad.” We experience a disharmonizing alienation from God, our neighbor, creation, even ourselves. But that is only part of the story. Immediately after the fall God reached out to human beings to reconcile his creatures. This process of redemption came to a head when God entered his creation as Jesus Christ. Perfect God and Perfect Man, Jesus reconciles what had been separated. He redeems what was lost. He reminds us that not only is creation still good, though broken, it can be healed, redeemed, and sanctified. Creation retains a place in God’s work. It is true for human beings. We have a capacity for friendship with God and can participate in his life. The mystery of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ implies the reconciliation of the human and the Divine.
Jesus dignifies his creation still further. In his public ministry, Jesus used water, oil, bread, wine, words, and gestures. He entrusts such things to the Church to definitively apply the grace of redemption, won on the cross, to souls. There are the sacraments. Jesus came to reconcile us to the Father by healing and perfecting our human nature. He continues to accomplish this in a particular way through created things; the water of baptism, chrism in confirmation and ordination, anointing with oil, gestures, and words, too.
The highest of these sacraments, the “Source and Summit” of our Christian faith, is the Eucharist. This employs bread and wine, both the fruit of the earth and work of human hands. They become, by God’s grace, the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. There, God remains truly present until those elements are consumed. When consumed, the creation that has become its Creator transforms the human into the Divine. As astonishing as it was for God to become man in the first place, it is perhaps more so for him to become truly present in the Host. God made himself unimaginably vulnerable in the crib and on the cross. He does so again in the Sacred Species of the Blessed Sacrament. Yet this is how he chooses to redeem us. And, by our participation in the Eucharist, we are invited to extend this work of redemption. Not just of our own souls. Not just of our own families. But of the entire created order.
A disciple strives to become increasingly like the master. As the first Adam was given stewardship of the garden of creation, so Jesus as the second Adam is given charge of the garden of redemption, which is the Church. (It is no coincidence that the resurrection took place in a garden, and that Mary Magdalen initially mistook Jesus for a gardener.)
The cross is the tree of life. The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Redemption, joining heaven to earth. Truly receiving the Eucharist brings us into greater harmony with the Word through whom all things were made. It produces harmony with the Creator. Such a harmony must extend to our lives as his creatures. As the late Pope Benedict XVI said, “Therefore the Eucharist, as the presence of the cross, is the abiding tree of life. To receive it . . . means to receive the crucified Lord and consequently to accept the parameters of his life, his obedience, his ‘yes,’ the standard of our creatureliness.”