Hunger for the Eucharist
“What are you hungry for?” It was a question my mother would ask the members of our family from time to time as dinner-time would approach. My mom returned to working full time outside the home while I was in high school, so she would usually plan dinner menus for a week at a time. In turn, that generated the weekly grocery list. However, once in a while, Mom would turn to us and ask what we would like for dinner – especially if there was a favorite that we might like. Her question would lead to a special meal, prepared with loving care.
Several years ago, following the conclusion of a Mass at which the dismissal of catechumens (those to be baptized) and candidates (those to make a profession of faith) had taken place, a concerned parishioner approached me and asked quite bluntly, “Why do you make them (the catechumens and candidates) leave? That doesn’t seem very welcoming!” In response, I shared that the purpose of the dismissal of the catechumens and candidates is not meant to be rude or exclusionary. Instead, the dismissal serves several functions. First, with the assistance of a trained catechist, it offers the catechumens and candidates an opportunity to reflect on God’s Word as they have just heard it proclaimed at Mass. It is also meant to acknowledge that they are not yet ready join us in the celebration of the Eucharist. Their catechist-led dismissal is meant to continue to form their understanding of the Eucharist and to intensify their hunger and desire to receive it once they are fully initiated into the Church at the Easter Vigil. In a sense, it is like my mom’s question: What are you hungry for? Hopefully, over time, our catechumens and candidates come to understand that they hunger for the Eucharist as real food for their journey of faith.
In this month’s issue, you will meet Gregorio Escutia and his son, Joaquin. As Joaquin was preparing for his first Communion, he also realized that his dad, who had been baptized as a Catholic as a child, hungered for Eucharist, too – even if Gregorio did not realize it at the time. Joaquin’s love and hunger for the Eucharist were intertwined with his love for his dad, and it made all the difference. Gregorio was fully initiated into the Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (the RCIA) at the Easter Vigil in 2018.
What are you hungry for? I hope that all of us hunger for the Eucharist and all that it offers. The Eucharist is a source of salvation, forgiveness, unity, love, self-sacrifice, loving service, spiritual and physical nourishment, and so much more. The celebration and reception of the Eucharist is both the source and the summit of who we are as a people of faith. May we always hunger for the Eucharist as we continue our journey through these days of Easter and beyond. May we also do what Joaquin did for his dad, and lead others to this greatest and most precious gift – Jesus’ gift to us and to many for the salvation of the world. And so, our journey in FAITH continues.