Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.”
During the Homily on Palm Sunday, my priest mentioned the significance of the word “memory” in Hebrew. The word used in Luke was “shoah“, which means more than merely recalling an event in the past. It meant something far deeper. It means to remember it so intimately that the past event “becomes present” to you. You “come into” the event, it becomes real, not merely a symbol. This is what Jesus meant when he referred to the bread as his body (see this) and that we were to do this again, as if we were present in the event.
What Jesus was establishing was the Eucharist. The Last Supper was in essence, the first Mass. When you attend a Catholic Mass, you are as if you are present at the Last Supper, you are as if you are on Calvary, present at the Crucifixion of Jesus. The Mass is the presentation again of the Last Supper and the continuation of the Sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary, although in unbloodied form. It is NOT a re-sacrifice, or a sacrificing of Him again, but a participation across the chasm of time and the distance of space. The priest, acting in the person of Christ, is carrying out Jesus’ command that we do this in memory of Him. The Mass is the full meaning of the Hebrew word, shoah, we are coming into the presence of Jesus at the Last Supper and on the Cross. We are not merely re-enacting or symbolically “remembering” an event from 2,000 years ago. We are there, regardless of where the parish offering the Mass is located. And if you think of it, this “across the chasm of time and the distance of space” idea also means that you are sharing in all the Masses that are being offered now and ever have been offered in the past.
How does this relate to a Catholic recovering from alcohol? In Twelve Step groups, it is advised that members have a “Higher Power”, or a “God of your own understanding”. For a Catholic, this is the Trinitarian God of the Bible. If you want to have a “Higher Power” that is not some vague, ill-defined spirit force or a god of your own creation, and would rather instead meet the Real Thing, live, up close and personal, right there in the flesh (so to speak), then go to Mass. He is there, waiting for you. No greater love or devotion that you can offer to God than a prayerful attendance and participation at Mass.
Your prayers offered at Mass are heard with greater force than at any other time. For if Catholic teaching on the Mass is true, then the Mass is where Heaven and Earth meet. Angels in Heaven worship God, and since God is physically present in the form of the Eucharistic bread, angels from Heaven descend upon the church where the Mass is offered and worship the Eucharistic God. Whether the church is St. Peter’s Basilica or a lonely mission chapel in the desert, Heaven unites with Earth. Therefore, when you pray in the presence of the Lord, He hears it more clearly than at any other time. (Yes, God hears all prayers, regardless of the person or the place. But despite this, sometimes it is more efficacious to pray with others. Christians of any denomination ask each other to pray for particular intentions, despite the fact that God hears the intentions of the original supplicant.)
Make the Mass the source and summit of your prayer life. Don’t just attend Mass on Sundays, many Catholic parishes offer it throughout the week. (For active, faithful Catholics, Sunday Mass is an obligation, the weekday Mass is optional.) If it’s not available daily, or your schedule prohibits you from attending, watch it on EWTN. If you don’t have EWTN on cable or satellite, go to the EWTN link in the sidebar. EWTN broadcasts their Masses every day, and rebroadcasts them numerous times throughout the day.
Attempting to maintain a regular Mass attendance, and prayerfully participating in Mass, provides a focus for you. A summit, “God’s holy mountain” for you to climb. You will be amply rewarded.
What is your Higher Power? Where is it? How does it compare to Jesus, present at the Mass?Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"