[Editor's Note: This article is the sixth in a series of six articles celebrating the Year of the Eucharist. Click here to read the first article, second article, third article, fourth article, and fifth article.]
Don’t you find the human mind simply amazing? Think of all the things our minds can do in a split second: Recall an event or tiny bit of data from years ago; make a snap decision; direct our bodies in complex movements; even absorb bits of ink on a piece of paper and process them as words and sentences. One dimension of the mind that has always helped me focus, and refocus, on Jesus is the gift of the imagination.
My imagination is probably the most active, in fact, when I receive the Eucharist. It’s then, just before and just after Communion, that I fix my eyes on Jesus and try to sense what he might be saying to me. Sometimes I imagine myself at the Last Supper or at the foot of the cross. At other times, I imagine what it will be like to be with Jesus in heaven. And at other times, I imagine myself joining him and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and sitting down to break bread with them.
I truly believe that the Holy Spirit takes these pictures and thoughts in my imagination and fills them with his grace. Over and over again, I’ve experienced the Spirit opening my eyes to the wisdom of God in the Scripture readings, filling me with Jesus’ love, or convincing me of the Father’s mercy, as I dwell on Jesus during Communion. All of these draw me closer to Jesus, and I believe they are transforming me more and more fully into his ambassador in my home and neighborhood.
I encourage you to take some of the images I mentioned (and others) and dwell on them while you are at Mass, and as you receive the Eucharist. As St. Paul says, test everything, and if something helps you draw closer to Jesus, hold on to it (l Thessalonians 5:21).
Let’s all agree to treasure this special gift of the Eucharist that Jesus has given to us. It is real food from heaven (John 6:56). Let’s allow its grace to renew us and help us love one another more deeply. Love keeps us together. It covers over our weaknesses (l Peter 4:8). It moves us toward greater unity. It’s the main ingredient we receive when we eat the Bread of Life. Perhaps, during this Year of the Eucharist, God will open a special door in each of our hearts and allow us to experience even more deeply the greatness of his love for us.
(This article by Joe Difato, publisher of The Word Among Us devotional magazine, comes from their May 2005 issue. Used with permission. It is part of the sponsorship of the Catholic Man by the National Fellowship of Catholic Men. You may e-mail the NFCM at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the NFCM website.)
Special Note: In honor of “The Year of the Eucharist,” the National Fellowship of Catholic Men is pleased to offer two books on the Eucharist that can be used in small Catholic men’s groups: Worthy is the Lamb, the Biblical Roots of the Mass by Thomas J. Nash (with discussion questions at the end of each chapter) and God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI). These books can be ordered directly from the NFCM on its website.
Reflection Questions on Page 2
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. How would you describe the impact of the Eucharist on your life?
2. What is your experience in trying to use your imagination in prayer, as you read Scripture, or at Mass to meditate on Jesus and his love for you (or contemplate how he might act in a given situation)? Do you find it easy or difficult to use your imagination like this? Why?
3. Some of the images mentioned in the article that can be used at Mass include imagining being at the Last Supper, being at the foot of the cross, being with Jesus in heaven, and joining Jesus and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and sitting down to break bread with them. Which of these images would you be willing to try to use at Mass to draw closer to Jesus in the Eucharist?
4. As the Year of the Eucharist comes to an end, what graces would you like to see poured out in your life? Do you believe that “God will open a special door in each of our hearts and allow us to experience even more deeply the greatness of his love for us?”
5. If you are in a men’s group, pray for one another that the Lord would pour out these graces upon you.