During my recent silent retreat, I found myself writing some odd things.
I was thinking about the nature of the Communion/Eucharist/Mass. This was triggered in part by an encounter with the centrality of the Mass within the Catholic church. Rightly so of course- it is one of the few specific things that Jesus told us to do- when you meet, do this in rememberence of me.
For many of my brothers and sisters the Mass is a place of mystical exchange. It has power that must be mediated through the ministry of Priests- and the exclusion of those outside the boundaries of the church. Having said that, many Catholics bemoan some of the power stuff that has attached itself to the church, and there is a long tradition of openness, generosity that warms my heart.
However, at one of the celebrations of mass that I attended recently, a Priest said something like this- “Each time we take this bread and this wine, it is doing its work of salvation within us.” I found myself in a place of divergence.
And I started to think about that final meal in the upper room- Jesus looking around at his closest friends, holding them in his heart, longing for them to get it. Get that it does not get any better than this- friends who laugh and love and share life together. Friends who take the stuff of their humanity- their bodies, their life blood, and lay it out for one another. And how Jesus knew that he would soon be gone. That a place at the table would be empty. How his heart must have ached.
Then I started to think about all those people who do not get to share a table like this- ever. All those people who life has broken and split off to live a kind of discommunion. Unmass. Nocharist.
And I suddenly felt a grief that our communal remembering of who Jesus was could ever become exclusive.
And I wrote this;
Make me a mass from the broken bread
Of the schizoid on ward C
And for wine there’s a pool of Rogers blood
After suicide number three
And mix me some bread from the words he said
To Carrie when she was nine
The secret stains that drip from her
Will do for communion wine
Tear me a piece of the angry bread
Of Leroy on ICU
It took three nurses to inject his wine
They’ll need more before he’s through
Bake me bread in the boozers head
His clothes they sure do stink
Instead of wine have the turpentine
That was all he could find to drink
These are the holy broken ones
Gone soon and not much missed
From the first and the last of the least of these
We make our Eucharist
Now that is what I call poetry….
Your silence wa worth it for us to to share in that poem!
Your thoughts about the eucharist are very true. Jesus would never have wanted his memory to be so exclusive and power based. We believed that joy in life should be a sacrament and so in fun when ever I hear the phrase “Holy Communion” I always feel it should be followed by the phrase “Batman!”.
Thanks for all you share,
Mark & Dee x
PS Ashley is 18 today!!!!
As others have said I’m sure; the beauty of your words and your mind is the reason you are here on earth. Keep on with the poetry. Many thanks.
I have often felt the same about communion. My brothers also write poetry and I think I once stole the idea for a poem from them which went something like:
“And since when did an intimate meal
between a teacher and his friends
turn into ceremony
where those with access
dole out His forgiveness
to the universal
priesthood of believers”
I guess you get my drift. It’s a serious question, which one day perhaps I will find some dusty theology books to confirm that the “evolution” of communion was about power…
Sadly Sam, I think you are right.