Communion, Community, Mission: Our Easter Meditation

What strange and wonderful days these are, these days between the Resurrection of Christ and His Ascension! He lives, yet is clearly in a bodily form that is not instantly recognizable. He bears the wounds of His crucifixion, yet is able to walk and talk and eat with the Apostles.

There is a sense of urgency. From the moment Mary Magdalen rushed from the empty tomb to tell the Apostles that the Lord was not there, to the men on the road to Emmaus who hustled out to find the Apostles and tell them that they had seen the Lord, to Christ’s compelling promise that, as He left, He would send the Spirit to them. As writer and priest Henri Nouwen says, “Everything has changed.”

We can only imagine the wonder of the Apostles. They were lifted from the very depths of despair as their Master was tortured and killed, and they themselves hid in terror. Yet, now: everything has changed. There is hope and life and joy and awe.

There is something else. On the night before his death, Jesus broke bread and shared wine with the twelve, telling them this was the New Covenant and calling them to share this meal “in memory of me.” Christ was calling them (and us!) not just to a meal, but to a way of life – the Eucharistic life. Again, Henri Nouwen:

The Eucharistic celebration has summarized for us what our life of faith is all about, and we have to go home to live it as long and fully as we can. And this is very difficult, because everyone at home knows us so well: Our impatience, our jealousies, our resentments, and our many little games …

Yet, we forge on. Like the two men on the road to Emmaus who suddenly realized “This is the Christ!” we should be compelled to rush out and share the news with our friends, our family, our community. We should be, as Nouwen points out, on a mission.

The Eucharist is always a mission. The Eucharist that has freed us from our paralyzing sense of loss and revealed to us that the Spirit of Jesus lives within us empowers us to go out into the world and to bring good news to the poor …

For Nouwen, these strange and wonderful days from Resurrection to Ascension flow from communion – that shared meal of Christ’s Body and Blood – to community (as the earliest Christians learns what their roles are to be within this New Covenant) to mission. They come together, they pray, they eat and drink as the Lord directed, they go out and share.

As we continue to celebrate this Easter season, it is good to meditate upon these forty days. How is the Resurrected Christ present to us, to you, to me? Do we recognize Him in the Eucharist? When we are sent forth at the end of Mass, where do we go? What do we do? With whom do we share the Good News? The strange and wonderful days between Easter and Ascension deserve our prayerful attention.

[Quotes from Nouwen are from  his book, With Burning Hearts: A Meditation on the Eucharistic Life.]


EH headshotElise Hilton is an author, blogger and speaker. Her role at Diocesan Publications is Editor & Writer with the Marketing Team. She has worked in parish faith formation and Catholic education for over 30 years. A passionate student of theology, Elise enjoys sharing her thoughts on parish communication, the role of social media in the Church, Franciscan spirituality and Catholic parenting. To enquire about booking her as a speaker, please contact her at


Go, You Are Sent: Preparing Well For The Week Ahead

A few days ago, we talked here about preparing well for Mass. Just as important, however, is how we prepare for our week at the end of Mass.

We all know that far too many folks leave right after Communion. If this seems rather, um, impolite: it is. Imagine that a dear friend invites you over to his home for a sumptuous dinner. You can tell he has put much time and thought into its preparation and presentation. As you clean the last bite of food from your dish, you grab your car keys and head for the door. No word of thanks, no time spent after the meal enjoying each other’s company. Now imagine that friend is Christ. You can see how leaving right after receiving Communion is an ill thought-out plan.

After we receive Communion – the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ – we should spend time in prayerful thanksgiving. We can join in song and also use the time of silence after all have received the Eucharist to do this.

At the end of Mass, the priest gives the final blessing. It is hard to imagine the person, in today’s world, who does not need the grace of this blessing.

The word “Mass” gets its name from the Latin ite, missa est: go, you are sent. The priest (or deacon, if he is present) dismisses the people. The liturgy does not simply end; we are sent forth into the world to carry out the Good News in our everyday lives. Like the disciples, we all have the mission of living out and sharing the Gospel with all we meet. This is our baptismal right and promise.

After the final hymn, it is also good to spend just a few minutes in silent prayer. You have just received the greatest gift on Earth (the Eucharist), and have participated in the greatest prayer on Earth (the Mass). A moment of thanks to God is the very least we can offer.

Let’s face it: all of us have hardships, trials, skirmishes and difficulties in our lives. We have joys and celebrations as well. Sunday Mass is the high point of our week spiritually, and it is also our time to prepare for all that life has in store for us in the week that follows. The graces received at Mass are immeasurable; they are the “soul food” necessary for us to lead holy lives.

Don’t leave early, and don’t miss out on the final blessing. And remember to thank your gracious Host for the heavenly meal you’ve taken part in.