Betty Duffy

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Q & A

Anonymous said...

"What do you mean when you say you can offer up your Eucharist? I'm a relatively recent revert and this is undiscovered territory, for me."

An Answer:

Hi Anon, I'm glad you asked.

Basically, you can offer up anything in your life--any suffering, any blessing--you accept it as a gift from God, and offer it back to him--because there's really nothing else, no merits of our own, that we can give God that he didn't give us first. And yet, in love, in gratitude, we often feel inspired to offer him SOMETHING.

The Mass is the highest form of prayer because through it, God gives us the greatest gift, which is Himself, the body and blood of his only son Jesus Christ. Receiving that gift from God with humility, provides an outpouring of actual Grace. It cleanses us from venial sin, and provides nourishment for a holy life.

A moment of Theology (because I just learned this last night from our Parish Priest):

(Gen 2:8,9) There were two trees in the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve disobeyed God, and chose to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Therefore she and Adam were banished from the Garden, and forbidden to eat from the Tree of Life.

The decree of excluding humanity from the Tree of Life has been revoked by Christ. The Cross of Christ is revealed as the Tree of Life, and Christ is the fruit. We eat this fruit and regain Paradise. So the Eucharist is not just an outpouring of actual Grace, but it is even greater--because it's also the gift of Eternal Life.

So when we offer up the Eucharist we have received, we are recognizing the Supremacy of that gift, and offering it back as the Greatest thing we have to give Him. It's been said that there is enough Grace in one Eucharist to transform the entire world.

When I say I offer these Graces to Mary, it is because she sees the world through the suffering of her son. And she has also adopted all of humanity because of Christ's love for it. So she is Mother to our Savior, and also Mother to us. A mother knows which of her children are struggling the most, so when I offer my Eucharist for Mary's intentions, they are more effective than when I offer them for my own intentions.

I'm sure there's much more to say on this subject, books have been written on it, and I'm sorry I don't have any titles in my head at the moment. Anyone have recommendations for further reading?


BettyDuffy said...

It's worth noting, that as a Catholic revert, you're really lucky, because Catholics can offer the highest form of prayer daily, through the daily Mass, and up to twice a day, if you happen to attend two full Masses in one day for a wedding or a funeral or something in addition to the daily Mass.

Wish I did it that often.

Sheryl said...

Since you're taking questions, I've got one. I'm in RCIA coming from a Protestant background. Catholic prayer seems very different from Protestant prayer-- I'm not just talking about specific prayers like the rosary or the divine mercy, but the CONCEPT of prayer. So what is prayer? You speak of the Eucharist as a form of prayer, can you talk about what prayer means as a Catholic?

BettyDuffy said...

Damn. I really didn't mean to set myself up as an authority on this stuff. It needs to be said that there are people who make a living studying and answering these questions--and I am not one of them. Peter Kreeft's "Prayer for Beginners" was a helpful book for me, as well as Archbishop Chaput's "Living the Catholic Faith: Rediscovering the Basics." Robert Barron's "Word on Fire" ministries is also an excellent online resource for all kinds of stuff.

But you asked me, so I'll do my best.

It might be better to ask "What's not prayer?" from a Catholic perspective. You can offer up anything, and it becomes prayer. Offer your day in the morning, and the whole day is a prayer. Offerings would probably fall under the category of prayers of thanksgiving or praise, because they are a recognition of God's gifts, and also a reflection back to Him of his glorious creation. We also offer our suffering in recognition that everything that comes from God works for the good, and that we might be united to him in the Cross and attempt to love other souls as he loves them.

There are also "prayers of petition," asking God for something, which might take the form of begging for a particular grace or miracle. It might be making an offering with the intention in mind.

Prayers of contrition recognize fault and ask for forgiveness.

Contemplative prayer is a form in which the soul seeks perfect union with God through meditating on a particular mystery of Christ (as in the Rosary), or by meditating on Scripture. In some cases, the "advanced" contemplative meditates on a particular aspect of the Divinity in order to gain some form of admittance into the unknowable mystery of God (People who practice this kind of prayer might be considered "mystics," and usually pursue it under the guidance of a Spiritual Director who might be a priest or a superior in a religious order).

The Rosary combines several types of prayer, because we can offer it with an intention in mind, then we say the actual prayers (Hail Mary, Our Father, and Glory Be), all of which come directly from the Gospels. Then we contemplate the mysteries of each decade, which are meditations on the life of Christ. So you can say the Rosary on any of those different levels, and they are all good.

The Mass is the highest form of prayer, because it combines all of these forms: praise, thanksgiving, contrition, petition, sacrifice, offering, all into one prayer beginning and ending with the sign of the Cross. The words of the Mass come from Scripture, so they are a deep immersion in the Word. But primarily the Mass is when and where Christ becomes present in the body and blood for us to consume, so it is his most intimate act of love for us, and an opportunity for us to share in his Divinity by consuming the Eucharist.

Edward Sri's "A Biblical Walk Through the Mass" is a good resource for learning the Scriptural bases of the Mass.

That's a rough answer, but hopefully a start. Catholics do also pray spontaneously in the ways Protestants might find more familiar--but spontaneous prayer is usually reserved for our private devotions. I pray spontaneously with the kids so that they can learn the habit of dialoguing with Jesus, but for our communal worship, we stick to the prayers everyone knows to emphasize that we are one body in Christ.

Barb said...

Over the past few years I have learned so much about offering up my life to Christ, all my "prayers, works, joys and sufferings".

I appreciate these last two posts as I have found them very helpful.

I have one question, however. You spoke in the previous post about offering up the Eucharist of your children and the other children at the Mass. I didn't think that was possible. Of course you can offer your own graces, but how can you offer those given to others?


BettyDuffy said...

It was on speculation.

I'm pretty sure, that with my own children, the parents' intention matters before they are old enough discern for themselves, for instance, baptism by desire.

And parents can Consecrate their entire families--and that is something that, usually, the kids are not capable of understanding, or fully participating in.

Kids receive religious preparation to receive the Eucharist, but we all grow into our faith at different speeds, mature later and earlier, etc.

I really have no idea if you can offer it up on behalf of the children--but the worst that can happen is-- nothing happens.

Anne said...

Betty-another great post and I appreciate your answers! You are sharp and the blogging world is blessed by your presence! Thanks for being here!

R.E.O. Johnson said...

"It's been said that there is enough Grace in one Eucharist to transform the entire world."

I heard this story once on ETWN (sorry, can't cite it or anything): A priest had made it over to China, but he was laying low because of the illegality of the Roman church. His neighbors (and secret Catholics) came to the knowledge of his vocation, and invited him to the middle of nowhere one night. Under the cover of darkness, they showed him the rubble of a chapel...and a piece of the Eucharist that had been preserved for years. With him there, they could finally have mass again.

allison welch said...

"The decree of excluding humanity from the Tree of Life has been revoked by Christ. The Cross of Christ is revealed as the Tree of Life, and Christ is the fruit. We eat this fruit and regain Paradise. " WOW. Revolutionary. Knew it somehow. Never heard it expressed in words like that. I will be digesting that one for a long time to come. Thank you, thank you, thank you!