A co-worker recently asked me what my favorite day of the week was. I reflexively answered “My day off!” After giving the question a little more thought I went back to her and said, quite sincerely, “Sunday.” My amended answer gave me pause. I rarely have Sundays off. I’m known to my wife to be quite the complainer in the morning and afternoon because we have to get up very early for church and and then I have so little free time after Mass before I have to go to work. But the rest of the week, I actually look forward to Sunday whether I have to work or not. Why?
First of all, I love singing in the choir. Despite the fact that we have to get to church an hour earlier in the morning after about 6 hours sleep, I hate to miss choir. We’ve met the loveliest people and been made to feel welcome since our first day. My wife and I don’t own a car and I am always touched by the numerous offers we get from our fellow choristers for a ride home. There is a lot to be said for a sense of community.
Unfortunately, we do not always make it to choir on Sundays. Sometimes the reality of needing an extra hour of sleep in order to get through work later that night dictates that we attend a later Mass. On these occasions, the regret of missing a favorite activity is placated by the natural feeling of joy experienced after an hour of public prayer and holy communion. I believe the latter to be the bigger influence. In his book, Our One Great Act of Fidelity: Waiting for Christ in the Eucharist, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser talks about the raw physical nature of Eucharistic communion. As Catholics we believe that the Eucharist is the real physical body of Christ. It is the one time in our lives here on earth that we get to touch, feel, and literally absorb God into our bodies.
Knowing this fills me with wonder and joy. No matter what kind of grueling day I have ahead of me, or how grueling and sleepless a night lies behind me, the moments following receiving the Eucharist, are joyous. How much of the this joy I get to experience and how long it lasts depends on how willing I am to trust in God’s love and let that be the focus of my day. All too often I allow self-pity to take over after we leave church and I annoy my wife with complaints about how we never have any time together on Sundays and how I wish I could be like “everybody else” and have Sundays off from work. She bears these tirades with loving patience. Patience, no doubt supported by the body of Christ moving within her. But no matter how grumpy I get after Mass, I can’t deny that I experience at least a few moments of unadulterated joy after placing the Eucharist on my tongue.
After rethinking my co-worker’s question, I realized just how influential a few moments of grace can be.
God Bless and have a great week!