By Sister Sallie Latkovich
I like to say that Fr. Jean Pierre Medaille FOUND the Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph, who had already come together in 1650 in LePuy, France. He discovered that they had divided the city and lived in small groups in order to serve the needs of the people among whom they lived. Medaille was a fine spiritual director, who guided the little group in strengthening its foundations and being recognized as an apostolic religious order. (Learn more about our history here.)
One of his writings was entitled The Eucharistic Letter from which this quote is taken:
“They will have an immense love for this adorable mystery and will recall that this holy sacrament of the Eucharist, having given a beginning to their little Congregation, should also serve to maintain it and cause it to grow more and more in every kind of grace and virtue.” –Jean Pierre Medaille, SJ, LePuy, France, 1650.
We hear in the Acts of the Apostles that in the early Church, followers of Jesus “met in their homes for the breaking of the bread and the prayers.” Of course, the ritual evolved from homes to church buildings; and the celebration of the Eucharist became more stylized and universal. The Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy of Vatican II named the Eucharist as “the source and summit” of Christian life.
There is a familiar hymn which summarizes the meaning of the Eucharist in this way: “We remember how you loved us to your death. And still we celebrate for you are with us here. And we believe that we will see you when you come in your glory Lord: We REMEMBER, we CELEBRATE, we BELIEVE.”
We continue to gather around the table of the Word and the Bread. Indeed, we REMEMBER the life of Christ, the example for living that we hear in the Gospels. He showed us that love, forgiveness and healing are the way to live. And he always sought out the poor and marginalized. He was a prophet, a wisdom teacher, and a builder of community.
Although the Scriptures we hear at the Eucharist always seem to be proclaimed with such seriousness, let us not miss the joy of CELEBRATION which must have been present especially in the accounts of being gathered with others at table. St. Frances de Sales highlighted the gentleness, peace and joy in which we are to live.
And, we BELIEVE. Liturgists use the Latin phrase: Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi . The loose translation is: As we worship, so we believe, so we live. Thus, worship leads to our belief and to our lives.
I realize that there are many hurdles that can get in the way of entering into the Eucharistic celebration fully: poor music, poor lectors, poor homilies, poor presiding, etc, etc, etc. Nevertheless, let us take Medaille’s words to heart: that we be joined in immense love for the Eucharist, that it may cause us to grow in every kind of grace and virtue.
About the Author
After nine years at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Sister Sallie Latkovich was elected to and currently serves on the Leadership Team of the Congregation of St. Joseph.