"I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me shall not hunger. He who believes in me shall not thirst."
The Gospel of St. John 6:35
From the moment of our baptism, we are members of the People of God. Therefore we do not come to give thanks to God as isolated individuals practicing personal devotions. We come as a People who worship God in ritual words and actions that “sacramentalize,” give external expression to, our deepest beliefs and desires.
It is most appropriate, then, to join actively in all of the prayers, songs and gestures that compose our communal worship of God. The liturgy calls us to participation rather than to a privatized silence.
Our meal is set in the context of prayers and acclamations that recall God’s loving deeds on our behalf, culminating in the death and resurrection of Jesus. In the course of this great Eucharistic Prayer, we invoke the power of the Holy Spirit to transform these gifts of bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus. We then ask the Spirit to enable us, God’s People, who are nourished by the body and blood of the Lord, truly to become “one body, one spirit, in Christ.” Together we respond with the Great Amen.
Ritual, by its very nature, is repetitive. Repetition can enable us very often to readily participate in praying and singing. Repetition can, however, turn ritual into mere routine. Praying the same words, using the same gestures, singing the same songs can slowly drain them of real meaning for us and no longer allow them to be an authentic expression of our deepest beliefs. Good liturgy is hard work – on the part of the presider, the ministers, and all of us who participate. But it is truly worth the effort. Good liturgy transforms and enlivens all of us and sends us with genuinely renewed vigor into the opportunities and challenges of our daily lives.