A few years ago Fr. Marc Linc in a homily guide for priests quoted a local Bishop from a diocese in Nigeria who wrote the following in describing the annual procession that took place on the feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord. “The Lord sent rain. But all along the two mile route the people danced and sang in the rain… the Blessed Sacrament was carried into the place of benediction to the sound of resounding cheering and clapping. Everyone was drenched, but no one thought of seeking shelter or running away. Judges, lawyers, doctors, mothers, and children stood their ground as if nothing was happening but the Eucharist. I have not seen anything like it before, here or anywhere else.” Reports like this make us ask ourselves what the Eucharist means to us. It is one of the tragedies of life that we tend to lose our appreciation for precious gifts like the Eucharist. Fr. Linc suggests that part of the reason for this is the psychological process of “habituation”. We would go insane if we tried to give full attention to everything that we know. So we block some things out of our attention. The negative side to habituation is that we tend to habituate everything after a while—sunsets, flowers, friends, parents, children. We tend to lose our appreciation of them and our excitement over them. We tend to take them for granted. This can be true even of a wondrous gift like the Eucharist in which we receive the very life of Christ which prepares us for our own Resurrection. We might ask, for example, whether we value Holy Communion as much as we did at another time in our life. Perhaps we need to overcome habituation by attempting to receive the Lord as if we were doing it for the first time, or the last time. In the week ahead perhaps we could add a prayer of thanksgiving to our regular daily prayers in which we praise the Lord for the gift of His Body and Blood to us. For each time we come to communion we receive the same Christ who was born in Bethlehem, who died on the cross for us, who rose from the dead for us, who shares his risen life with us. If there is one place we need to avoid habituation, it is here.
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