Following is the Quick Reflection that begins our study for Chapter 14 and also can serve as an introduction to the study of the Sacraments more broadly. The timing is perfect to invite anyone to reflect on (and hopefully also share!) their experience of the Paschal Mystery of Christ which we just celebrated!
“Our annual celebration of the Paschal Mystery begins on the evening of Holy Thursday and concludes three days later with the dawn of Easter. It is only then that we realize this has been one continuous celebration of the Death and Resurrection of the Lord. The Triduum of the Lord is liturgy “par excellence.” Sadly few Catholics ever take the time to experience it all. Having not followed Jesus in His dying and rising, is it any wonder then that we walk away from the empty tomb on Easter morning, still searching for the Lord?
When we hear other Christians speak of “a personal relationship with Jesus Christ”, Catholics often feel left out, as if the Church offers us no such Faith experience, and begin to look elsewhere for the Lord. The great treasury of the Sacraments celebrated in the Liturgy of the Church are overlooked or dismissed as ineffective. We presume that because we have tried them and haven’t experienced an intense relationship with Christ as a result, they are not working.
But it is precisely in the liturgical celebration of the Sacraments that we come to encounter Jesus Christ. They are the great gift of Christ to His Church. But liturgy takes work on our part. It is only through our full, conscious, active participation in the liturgy of the Church, that our hearts and minds are opened to experience the risen Lord. If we truly want to encounter Jesus Christ, it is not less, but more participation in the liturgical life of the Church that we need. Alleluia! Alleluia!” Very Rev. John W. McEvilly, V.G., Pastor, Our Lady Queen of Peace, Belleville, Illinois