“See you in the Eucharist.”
Those five words have become a fairly common farewell among my pals in the Catholic group at college.
Is it just Catholics being weirdos again? Perhaps.
But, more likely, it’s a simple reminder to us of the transcendence of the Eucharist—the power the Mass has to unite us. Only there, before the Eucharist, do we come together as one Church. Not one parish, or one diocese even, but one eternal, universal, and united Church.
GOODBYES DON’T EXIST
My college chaplain told us about how a lady in his parish was leaving to enter cloistered religious life (think nuns from Sound of Music). She had to say goodbye to one of her good friends, who was sad to realize that she would probably never see the nun-to-be again.
“But that’s not true,” she told her friend. “I will see you every day in the Eucharist.”
So what does that mean? How could this holy woman believe that this wasn’t goodbye?
Well, it wasn’t. Maybe it was the last time they would physically communicate with one another, but now they would be closer than ever.
The two friends would be united for the rest of their lives—and after. Through praying for one another, they would be constantly in each other’s hearts. Through thinking of each other, they would be constantly in each other’s minds. And through going to Mass, they would “see” each other continually. In fact, they would see each other more clearly than if they were standing face to face.
The Eucharist brings us intimately close to each other, in such a way that cannot be experienced more fully until we reach heaven.
Why is that? Well, Mass—the Celebration of the Eucharist—is heaven touching earth like an unforeseen kiss (or a sloppy wet kiss, if you’re one of those people). Each time we participate in Mass, we enter into a mystery that has been celebrated since Christianity’s genesis. We remember a God who has existed since the beginning of time. And we prepare our hearts for a paradise that will persist with no end.
The Mass isn’t merely repeating simple phrases because someone holy insists it. The Mass is not boring, or meaningless ritual. NO! The Mass is a holy union with God and His Church, a celebration of His victory that knows no earthly or timely limits.
Think about this: every Catholic who has ever lived has gone to the same Mass as you. Sure, maybe their language was unfamiliar or certain responses a bit different, but the Mass’ core essence has remained unchanged.
Name your favorite saint. St. Thomas Aquinas (uber brilliant mind), St. Philip Neri (rockin’ jokester), St. Therese of Lisieux (lil flower of awesomeness), St. JP2 (patron saint of hipsters), and more… all of them experienced the same thing we experience each time we go to Mass.
And not only did they experience the same Mass as us, but they still are experiencing this Mass. Each time the Holy Spirit descends upon the Bread and Wine, we look up at the Eucharist… and the saints look down, gazing upon the very same Eucharist. From up in heaven, they adore the same Real Presence of Christ.
In fact, they adore the Lord constantly, celebrating the Eucharist without end. Heaven is a never-ending Mass, and not the so-called “boring” kind either.
Alright, let’s blow even more minds.
Not only do you see all your saint BFFs at Mass, but also… you see every Catholic on earth right now. NBD. You see your brothers and sisters in Christ, those who, regardless of their geography or language, partake in the same mysteries and same Church as you.
For this reason, when my friend says goodbye to me to leave for a year-long trip, I don’t have to bawl my eyes out. I can assure her of my prayers and say, “See you in the Eucharist.” Then I know that, no matter where in the world she is, we are united each time one of us kneels before His throne.
Pretty cool, huh? As Catholics, we are together as one Church always, both here on earth before the Eucharist and in heaven after our passing. Goodbye does not exist.
Say goodbye to goodbyes.
And perhaps the most mind-blowing part of the Eucharist…you see Jesus. You see Him more clearly than you can ever hope to do through Scripture, each other, or even prayer. Because the Mass is heaven on earth, it is a preview of how clearly we will see Christ once we pass from this life.
Yes, this clarity is clouded by our human doubt and distractibility (been there many times, especially when babies are present). But that doesn’t diminish the FACT that Christ is there on that altar, more real than the pew beneath your butt.
There was a time when that pew didn’t exist. The wood for that pew didn’t even exist. And one day it will stop existing. But Christ? He’s not going anywhere.
“I will not leave you as orphans,” He tells us. “I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:18-20).
Christ is not just in us; we are in Him. We are the Church. Each one of us makes up His Body. For this reason, the past, present, and future converge in celebration before Christ’s altar. We see Him and all those in Him.
The God that knows no limits brings us into His embrace. For that hour of worship, the Church celebrates as one family. We stand eternally united and infinitely treasured, closer than ever before.
There is no goodbye, just see you later.
See you in the Eucharist, friends.