Consecrated to the Heart of the Redeemer under the patronage of the Theotokos and Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.

07 January 2013

Ahm In

At Mass this morning, one person's response to "The Body of Christ" sounded like "Ahm in" ("I'm in").

The sound of it, the thought of it, seized me for a moment.  Now there were a dozen or more people still in line, so I couldn't just go off into ecstasy right then.  Getting lost in thought isn't an unfamiliar voyage into unfamiliar territory for me!  But, as one of our Scripture profs used to say, "There's a homily in there somewhere!"  (Or a blog post, I suppose.  But blogs weren't around yet.)  So I wanted to keep the idea fresh.

She was receiving the Eucharist, the Body of Christ.  As a fully initiated Catholic she certainly is a member of Christ's Mystical Body.  The recipient of Holy Communion is affirming both dimensions of Christ's Body: two, for the price of One.

The expression Amen derives from the Hebrew word 'emet meaning "truth."  To say "Amen," then, is to affirm the truth.  It does not make truth out of falsehood (for not even God can do that), but it does perfect the one who consciously, freely, and repeatedly assents to a reality outside of himself.

Apud te est fons vitae, et in lumine tuo videbimus lumen (Ps 36:10)
What does the communicant affirm in receiving "the Body of Christ"?  Everything: in terms of the Church's Catechism, we affirm--personally and communally--right doctrine, right worship, right living, and right praying.  The public act of receiving Holy Communion suggests that the recipient is standing (kneeling!) with the Church.  If not, then the person must first "examine himself" (1 Cor 11:28) before approaching the altar.  In nuptial parlance: drop your bouquet, run out of the church (don't mind everyone quizzically looking at you, wondering if there'll still be a reception), and clarify the relationship before declaring your vows.

Now a person's intellectual and moral difficulties--even ten thousand of them--do not equal one doubt (said Cardinal Newman).  Everyone is involved in some sort of struggle, or failure to demonstrate precise correspondence of beliefs and actions.  But the intentional reservation of one's "better judgment" over against the Church is risky--it's far more than risky.  A prompt and earnest beginning to resolve our difficulties always seems appropriate.

All, of course, in the interest of our full investment of self in the Catholic Enterprise, better known as the Body of Christ.  Can I hear an "Ahm in?"

The moment of truth, hands down

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