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Vol. XX, No. 10 May 20, 2016
Conversations with Father General
In the month of May, the Church celebrates Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. In this short conversation, Father Patrick Mulemi, Director of Communications and Public Relations at the Jesuit General Curia in Rome, speaks with Father General Adolfo Nicolás about the Eucharist.
Eucharist - Sacraments and Transformation
For some Catholics, the Eucharist seems hard to understand. What would you say to someone who feels that they do not have a great "devotion" to the Eucharist? How might they develop that?
R. Sometimes, we are victims of our own misunderstandings or a bad catechesis. In the Eucharist, we have emphasised so much and for so long the Real Presence that we have forgotten many other aspects that touch and relate to our daily life and could be points that evoke our devotion. Take, for instance, the simple fact that the Eucharist is an exchange of gifts - we receive bread as our daily nourishment; we take a portion of this bread and offer it to God; the Lord transforms this bread and gives it back to us; and we correspond to such generosity becoming GIFT to others. The Eucharist is an exchange of gifts that never ceases, and that can change our lives.
Alternatively, we can take our memories, which are usually negative, if not mean; the celebration changes our memories. We do not want to be slaves of the memory of an offense, or the bad marks of a professor... Well, when Christians meet to celebrate we learn that we can remember God's love, we remember Jesus' self-gift to the end, something bigger and deeper than our petty offenses and discomforts. In other words, the Eucharist trains us to be generous, human, open in our relationships, and to go beyond the bad memories that we all collect along the journey of our lives.
We could continue with the many meanings of the Eucharist: Reconciliation, Thanksgiving, Communion, Sacrifice, etc. but we do not have the time or the length for this.
Jesuits can lead very scattered and busy lives. Do you think it is necessary for Jesuits to find their centre in the Eucharist? Why?
R. I think that the Eucharist has for us a great unifying power. We lead - as you say - a very busy and scattered life. Our mission takes us to others, to different personal and social situations. We need a centre, a time and space when and where we can put everything together and know that it is the Lord that does it because He is present to us. The Eucharist is such a place and time. Saint Ignatius lived this reality and took his most important decisions during the Eucharist.
Do you think that there is a distinctive kind of Jesuit spirituality around the Eucharist and the Mass?
R. I think this question can be answered affirmatively, and at the same time, without making it so peculiar that other Christians would not feel at home in our Celebrations. Our practice is not too bad, in this regard. Jesuit Masses are celebrated with pause, dignity, in a rhythm that invites meditation and interiorization. I am inclined to say that Jesuits celebrate the Eucharist, very much like the present Pope celebrates it. There is meditation of the Word of God, there is pause to interiorize every memory in the ritual, and there is fire in the communion with Jesus Christ.