Welcome to this special Thanksgiving week series, "Why the Eucharist Matters [for Families]." Since Eucharist means "thanksgiving", we're going to take some time this week to look at why the Eucharist is essential for healthy family life.
Mass can be beautiful. Catholic churches can be amazingly gorgeous. And I think that that really leads to some misconceptions. Plenty people accuse the Church of being overly concerned with material wealth. They mistakenly think that the "fancy things" matter, just for the sake of being fancy.
I have two little girls. Little girls. Oh, my goodness, do you know how fun it is to get little girls dressed up? The bows! The taffeta! The ruffles! The frill! The hair ribbons! You better believe that I go out of my way to make sure that they have beautiful clothes to wear, that I comb and fix their hair as nicely as I can.
I don't do that because I love baby dresses. I don't do that because I cherish tiny hair bows. I do it because my girls are so incredibly precious to me. And I want the whole world to see how loved they are. I love them and think they're beautiful even when they wet the bed or have a blow-out diaper. But I want the whole world to see how loved they are, and how lovable they are.
Of course, the reason why we use gold and stained glass and silk and all manner of finery at Mass and in Churches is because Jesus (present there in the Eucharist) is a king. But it's not just for that reason. It's because we love Him, plain and simple. And we want the whole world to see how much He means to us, that He is beyond precious in our lives.
But here's the thing about the Eucharist - it isn't fancy. Jesus didn't choose to change a fillet mignon into His body. He chose bread. Bread is, and always has been, one of the most ordinary, plain things in the world. This sort of thing is the case for pretty much all the Sacraments. The Sacraments use such ordinary things - water, wine, bread, oil. As ordinary families, this can be immensely reassuring.
My family is ordinary. Sometimes disappointing ordinary. I lose my patience, Maria cries, Therese is your average 4 year old, and Andrew has his own things he struggles with. We aren't saints, although we hope that one day we will be! I think I hoped that one day I would have a family who prayed together all the time, and who prayed reverently when we did pray. I hoped we would sit around talking about heaven all the time. When we do pray, it's chaos with the little ones, or it's squeezed in before Andrew and I doze off. We talk about the same things that any family does. We're hopelessly ordinary.
But the Eucharist gives me so much hope. Because if God can use ordinary bread and change it into His Body...well, maybe there's hope for our family, too.
Thanks for joining us this week! I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving weekend (for our US readers) and a wonderful weekend (for everyone else).